For any type of hard flooring, daily sweeping is essential in keeping the floors dust free, scratch free (stones brought in from outside under shoes are a big culprit), and will mostly avoid a build up of dirt. The important thing is to use the right type of broom. You can see my post about sweeping floors, and different type of brooms here, so I won't be dealing with sweeping n this post but rather the washing of floors... and cleaning carpets... well that's a whole different post, but I'll put it on my posts to-do list.
Lets' get to it then, below are tips on how to mop, different types of flooring and how to clean them followed by the different types of mops you can get, and what they are best for.
Mopping should be done on a weekly basis to avoid the build up of dirt and grime. Easier said than done, I know - especially with an uneven floor surface like slate tiles. Always, sweep the floor thoroughly, followed by dry dust mopping or vacuuming before wet mopping a floor. You can use two buckets of water - one with a cleaning solution, and another with clear hot water to rinse the mop in. Change the rinsing water when the water becomes dirty. When you have finished cleaning the floor, tie a cloth or an old t-shirt over a dry mop and wipe over the floor (thanks Anthea Turner for this tip!) to dry the floor and avoid streaking or cleaning solution deposits.
Types of flooring:
Sealed laminate floors
This is what we have throughout the majority of our downstairs floor. The first time I cleaned laminate flooring I used dish washing liquid, and couldn't understand why the floor looked dull after I cleaned it. That's because a soapy solution will leave a film on the surface making the floor look dull. The best solution to use is 1 cup of vinegar in a bucket of luke warm water, this is what I use, and it works brilliantly. Tough stains can be removed with denatured alcohol and a soft cloth.
Vinyl & linoleum
Use a pH neutral household detergent such as dish washing liquid, but remember to wash away any soap with clear warm water.
Sealed with polyurethane
Most wood floor boards nowadays are sealed with polyurethane which is durable. But water should never saturate the surface as it can penetrate the cracks and damage flooring. Use 1/4 cup vinegar to a bucket of water. Avoid oil soaps that can leave a residue attracting dust.
Finished with wax
Use only plain tepid water to wash waxed wooden floors, but make sure the mop is only very slightly damp, not wet. Therefor it's best to use a mop that can be rung out easily and sufficiently so as not to saturate floors. Spills must be wiped up immediately, and small surface scratches can be buffed away with a soft cloth.
For almost all types of tiles, avoid an acidic cleaning solution (so for once forget the vinegar) as this can etch glazed surfaces and damage grout. Once again, it's best to use a mild detergent such as good old dish washing liquid, removing soap by following up mopping with warm water.
Unglazed tiles such as terracotta or unsealed slate are very porous, and can be damaged with water spills. These tiles should preferably be sealed, and can benefit from an additional layer of protective wax.
Stone tiles especially should not be washed with an acidic solution. Because stone tiles are often uneven, dirt can become trapped in cracks and crevices. Using a hard bristle broom with uneven bristles (such as a natural corn broom) to sweep the floor with regularly followed by a soft bristle broom to remove finer dust particles should prevent these floors from becoming clogged with dirt. But you will most likely find that a once a year scrub with dish washing liquid and a floor brush is necessary. For mopping, use a string mop which withstands uneven floor surfaces better.
Brick and concrete
As with stone floors, indoor brick or concrete floors need to be glazed to protect the porous surface from staining. Use warm water and a pH- neutral all purpouse cleaner along with a rag or string mop.
Cork floors are generally sealed with a synthetic plastic like finish. Never let water stand on this floor surface as it can seep in around the edges and cause the cork to swell. Use a well wringed mop that is only slightly damp and a pH neutral cleaning solution.
Have I missed out a type of flooring you would like me to write about? Leave me a comment and I will add it on.
Types of mops
Rag or String mop
The old-fashioned kind of mop. They are great for absorbing big spills immediately and can cover a lot of surface area. They are great for withstanding wear and tear from uneven surfaces and are more likely to get into the crevices to clean them. This is my choice for our slate floor kitchen. You do get rag or string mops that are self-wringing attachment, alternatively use a bucket with a wringer attachment. A cotton-rayon blend rag head will dry quicker than an 100% cotton mop, and looped ends will last longer resisting fraying. These mops also now come in synthetic microfibre mop heads, I've not tried these myself, have you?
These mops tend to come with a wringer lever so that the mops heads aren't saturated with water, so these mops are best for wooden floors, cork floors, and laminate floors. They are best on flat smooth surface floors, as uneven floors can snag and damage them. Look for these mops in your local supermarket where they sell replaceable mop heads separately for when yours need replacing.
Wow, personally I've never come across these, they look great for quick touch-ups! They have an attached container for water and a spray nozzle attached to the head eliminating the need for a bucket. Most all-in-one mops come with disposable cleaning pads, and you can easily attach your own cloth instead. Mopping a large floor surface with one of these would be a bit of a pain as the cleaning pads may need to be replaced or rinsed out quite often. But for small smooth surfaced rooms where a quick mop is needed regularly, this is great.
Also known as dry-mops, can be used in place of a vacuum or soft bristled broom. Unlike brooms, they are often pre-treated to attract dust, rather than spread dust. Before using a dust mop, make sure any wet or sticky spills have been cleaned up. When you're done, shake out the dust, or vacuum the mop.
That's it for today on floors. I hope I've covered everything you might like to know about cleaning floors - but if you have any extra tips you'd like me to add, or anything I might have missed or even got wrong do let me know and I'll add it or correct it.
Now that reminds me, I better go clean our floors!
Next up is my monthly post on pests, and this time, I'm on about fleas. So if you have PETS (and as a result PESTS), then this post will be very handy.
Have a lovely Sunday!
PS: Thanks to Melmel from At Home with Memel who alerted me to the fact that Oxfam in the UK are selling bicarbonate of soda cleaning products and big boxes at great prices. And what a great tip to sprinkle bicarb on a mattress before vacuuming to leave it smelling very fresh! Thanks Melmel!
Many tips on this post was written with the help of the book Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, a wonderful resource for all sorts of home keeping questions.