Many people assume cleaning hardwood floors should be a delicate task, but that’s not necessarily the case. These days, most modern wood floors are finished with polyurethane, which can make them one of the most durable choices out there. Even so, it's best to clean them well and often, especially those in high traffic areas like hallways or kitchens. As a general rule of thumb, wooden floors should be vacuumed once a week and wet cleaned – either with a mop or Swiffer squeegee (if Swiffer is the brand, should this word come after Swiffer?) – every one to two months. Just take care to wet-clean treated wooden floors (think those with a lacquered or oiled finish) with a dedicated wood surface spray, working in one small area at a time and using a microfibre cloth to pick up any obvious dirt or grime. If there’s a minor stain or contained spill, using a wet paper towel to quickly remove it is usually the best course of action. Finally, say no to steam cleaners – they can breakdown the finish as well as potentially cause damage to floorboards.
Expert Tip: “If you’re mopping your hardwood floor, go for the two bucket approach. One to clean the mop and one to re-stock it with fresh water. That way, you won’t end up rubbing dirt and grit across the floor, which could scratch it.” – Tom Fanthorpe, wood flooring specialist, JFJ
Marble is a natural stone that’s often used for countertops, accents on furniture and floors. At its core, it’s limestone that has undergone metamorphosis and combined with other natural elements to result in a material that’s veined with ranges of patterns and colours. If you want it to last, you should know how to properly take care of it as it’s easily dulled, stained and etched. When it comes to quick spills, some liquids will stain this kind of surface a lot quicker than others, including red wine, coffee and fruit juice. Be sure to clean these things up quickly using a soft cloth and warm water in circular motions. Afterwards, use a soft, dry cloth to completely dry the surface and ensure no pools of water are left behind – if they are, this could also leave an eventual stain. When it comes to large surface areas, like floors, deep cleaning should be done using a marble cleaner or natural, light soap. Start by spraying a thin layer of water on the floor before applying your specific cleaning product. In terms of removing your cleaning solvent, instructions will differ product to product, so be sure to read instructions carefully.
Expert Tip: “Do not use standard floor cleaners made for linoleum or ceramic tile. Most of these are strongly alkaline and contain chemicals that will gradually attack your floor and dull the shine. Only use cleaning products made for cleaning marble on your floors. These products are made to be pH neutral and do not contain any harmful chemicals.” – David Allen, Abbey Floor Care
There are many types of stone floor, so it’s imperative you understand exactly what surface you are trying to clean and maintain, whether it be granite, travertine, porcelain, or tiles (which are often made of clay). The vast majority of the dirt in your home is dry – think dust, dander and grit – and will damage your stone and the sealer, and even cause scratching. With that in mind, it’s best to dry sweep a stone floor at least once per day – but perhaps more if you have pets and or small children. Because stone floors – particularly flagstone – tend to be uneven in surface, a traditional mop and bucket isn’t going to cut it, and can often result in much of the dirt being left behind. Instead, a modern microfibre mop will pick the damp soil off the stone and trap it in the fibres. The dirty mop heads can then be machine washed, rather than squeezed, making them much more hygienic. As a general rule of thumb, only use neutral pH cleaners on stone floors, and check sealants regularly for signs of break down. It might be that your cleaning efforts go to waste if the sealant is disintegrating.
Expert Tip: “A floor sealer need not be completely worn away before being re-sealed. Your floor will last longer and you will save money if you schedule a yearly visit with a local stone floor restoration company. But interim deep cleaning and polishing or sealing will make the finish last much longer. It is also cheaper, with less upheaval than a full restoration.” – David Allen, Abbey Floor Care
Before you opt for stain removers and steam cleaners, you need to get rid of any loose dirt, dust and hair (particularly if you have pets). Afterwards, it’ll be much easier to locate any marks, scuffs or stains on which to apply a stain remover. Rub in using medium pressure for a few minutes but be careful not to damage the pile. Wait around an hour for the patch to dry before trying again if the stain hasn’t lifted. For light or neutral coloured carpets, it might be necessary to invest in a proper carpet cleaner. These work by injecting a cleaning solution deep down into the carpets fibres, before rotating brushes penetrate the carpet to loosen and lift dirt. From there, a powerful vacuum motor extracts further dirt and stains from the carpet, before the suction mechanism ensures a quick and professional dry finish.
Expert Tip: “To make sure you clean every inch of your carpet, you’ll need to remove any potential obstacles. Furniture such as coffee tables, chairs and bookcases can block the path of your machine. These areas are important to remember as they often cause a build-up of dirt and grime. If removing furniture proves difficult, place it in the middle of the room so you can clean around the outside.” – Rug Doctor