Warning: What you don't know can
damage your floors.
During 12 years professionally cleaning homes,
I felt it was an important part of my job to study the proper care
of all floor surfaces and spent hours doing so. During this process
it became clear that 100% cotton was the safest, best and fastest
way to clean any hard floor surface.
*NOTE: Please see my section
below for warnings about Microfiber mops and the new premoistened
Before we start on the actual care of floors,
I will warn you that I recommend cleaning most floors with hot
only based on the information I have gathered from floor manufacturing
companies. I do not recommend disinfectants or detergents as
can ruin the sealant on the floor. Do you need to disinfect your
floor? Let me ask you this: do you disinfect your feet? Right,
don’t. So why worry about the floor? Your carpet contains
billions more germs than your hard floor surfaces. Don't worry
those few germs. If you have dropped a raw egg, meat, milk or your
pet has an accident and the resulting bacteria will cause odors
or more serious problems then yes a disinfectant is needed. Otherwise
those germs are as harmless as the bottom of your feet.
Hardwood floor care. Cotton dust mops are
the safest way to dust a hardwood or laminated floor without
the floor. The long strings prevent grit from scratching the surface
of the floor. If your floors are large and the cotton mops in
grocery just aren’t large enough, head to a janitorial supply
store. The folks are very knowledgeable and will be happy to assist
you in getting the right size dust mop for your home.
A word of warning about Murphy’s Oil
soap and similar products on hardwood floors: When I was professionally
cleaning homes one of my clients had to refinish their wood floors
because their prior cleaning lady had used Murphy's Oil Soap.
of my seminar attendees have repeated this same story.
The vegetable soap in the products sticks
to the floor causing the sealant to become gummy and eventually
the floor needs to be refinished. An even larger problem occurs
when using these products on laminated flooring. You cannot sand
and refinish laminated flooring. It must be replaced.
Older wood floors: The wood floors in this
category usually range from 35 to 100 years old. They require different
care than newer floors. Dust weekly with a cotton dust mop. Spot
clean to avoid frequent damp mopping. Dry the floor immediately.
Clean these floors by mixing one-quarter
cup of white vinegar per quart of water in a spray bottle. Lightly
spritz the cotton dust mop to barely dampen it. Then damp mop your
floor and launder the dust mop.
Older floors should be treated with a paste
wax made for wood floors to maintain their luster. Depending on
household traffic, usually two to three times a year keeps them
in sufficiently good condition. Get the best kind of wax possible
by checking with several companies who sand and refinish wood floors.
Generally they are quite knowledgeable on this subject.
Clean newer wood floors and laminated floors
in the same manner. Do not use excess moisture on any wood floor.
The water works between the boards and will warp them. Lightly spritz
a terry towel with the above white vinegar and water mixture. Mop
the floor shifting the towel as it soils. Generally drying wood
floors is unnecessary if you are using a lightly dampened towel.
Otherwise damp mop a section at a time drying the floor with a second
towel as you go. Newer wood floors generally do not require waxing.
Stone floor care: Do not use any kind of
detergent, cleaner or disinfectant on stone floors especially tile.
Tile floors are porous. The detergent seeps down into the tile where
removal is impossible. The sticky residue then attracts dirt and
the buildup begins. Over time, the detergent softens the adhesive
on the back of the tile causing them to loosen.
*A soft nylon scrub brush and very hot water
removes some of the dirt trapped in the tile. Dry with a clean towel
as you scrub the floor in small sections. Never use vinegar on tile
or stone floors. It will pit and damage any kind of stone flooring.
Clean stone floors; marble, tile, granite
and slate with hot water only using a heavy duty terry towel. Marble
and granite floors must be dried as they are mopped to prevent water
spots from forming.
Grout stains are a common problem but can
be difficult to remove. Grout is porous so most cleaners soak right
through. Sudsy water and a toothbrush will help. Immediately wipe
after any spill. Prevention is always the key to easy cleaning and
this is true for tile grout. Seal your grout after getting it clean.
Apply a five year grout sealer. Wait three to four days and seal
it again. Wait another three to four day then spray a bit of water
on the grout. If it stays on top, the grout is sealed. If it soaks
through, apply a third coat.
Linoleum floors: Use a terry cloth towel
and clean these floors with hot water. Add one fourth cup of white
vinegar per gallon of water for a cleaning boost if desired. If
the floor has deep groves, borax usually does a good job cleaning.
It will not soften and damage the sealant like the phosphorous found
in most cleaners. Detergents cannot be rinsed off a floor. The sticky
residue deteriorates the sealant causing the floor to dull and become
difficult to clean. Fill a sink with hot water and half a cup of
borax. Scrub the floor with a nylon scrub brush then rinse with
white vinegar and water.
If your floor has dulled and is not coming
clean, then it could be time to strip and wax. I recommend purchasing
your floor stripper, sealant and non-yellowing wax from a janitorial
supply store. The supplies are more expensive but replacing your
floor costs considerably more. You will be well pleased with how
much easier they are to use and the lasting results.
Strip the floor following bottle directions.
Then mop with one half cup vinegar per gallon of water. Apply the
sealant allow to thoroughly dry then add two coats of wax waiting
for each to dry before apply the next layer. A sealer is necessary
or the wax will not give the proper results.
Now for the warnings:
Let's take an in depth look into the new
floor care products on the market. This information comes not only
from hours of research but first hand information from far too many
of my seminar attendees when they speak of the damage the products
have caused their floors.
Microfiber: This fabric has been touted as
the neatest thing since chocolate and it does have a place of honor
when cleaning glass or mirrors. When microfiber first came out,
the packages warned about not using them on any kind of sealed or
painted surface. Some packages still carry this warning.
Microfiber is made from 80 to 85% polyester
which is plastic. Plastic scratches. Given time and repeated use,
plastic will scratch the clear coat sealant off any vehicle including
RVs, cars, boats, motorcycles, airplanes etc. It will scratch the
sealant off wood, laminated, linoleum, marble or any sealed flooring.
It will scratch the paint off a wall and the finishes from your
furniture. This information was also verified by two microfiber
companies at a large industrial trade show recently.
Wood floors, although expensive can be sanded
and refinished. Laminated floors must be replaced. Marble and granite
floors may not be able to be restored. Linoleum at least can be
stripped and waxed.
Premoistened towel mops: The towels on these
mops are so thin that the towel itself is incapable of cleaning
a floor – besides being extremely expensive. The sticky
residue left behind on a floor over time deteriorates the sealant
Detergent of any kind softens the sealant
on linoleum, wood and laminated wood flooring and will ruin a stone
floor. You can tell that is happening because the floor is sticky
underfoot after cleaning. By the time you notice that your floor
has lost its shine, the damage is done The only solution is to refinish
the floor. Seminar attendees have also reported that they have removed
the color from the edges of carpeting next to the flooring.
This article may be reprinted with the express
written consent of Mary Findley with proper credit give to her,
owner of Mary Moppins at http://www.goclean.com/.
About the Author - Mary
Findley is a veteran cleaning expert and President of the Mary
Moppins. For the past several years, Mary's cleaning seminars
articles have helped people become more proficient in their cleaning
tasks. Her website – www.goclean.com - offers a wealth
of cleaning tips and advice, with even more information when
site goes live March 1st, 2005. Her line of specially designed
cleaning products is steadily growing in popularity nationwide.