So You Think You Know How To Clean Your Floor

Do your homework, or you might do permanent damage.

Cleaning your floor well can be intimidating because it seems rather tedious. It’s recommended that you run a damp mop over your highly trafficked floors once a week, or at least twice a month.

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It’s easy to tell when your floor needs to be cleaned by simply looking at it… or by checking the bottom of your feet after walking around your house barefoot.

Tips and tricks to cleaning your floor

There are a few key tricks to floor cleaning that can make a huge difference. For example, the amount of soap and water you use is important. You don’t want to over-soap, even if your floors are filthy, because it’ll leave a grimy residue and defeat the whole purpose. And you definitely don’t want to use too much water and run the risk of over saturating your floors, which might cause them to warp. A sopping wet mop is bad news. Then there’s the rinse bucket. No, not the soap bucket. That’s right, you use two buckets. Doing a once-over after soaping with clean, warm water is essential. Also, you want to be sure your mop head or mop pad is clean from the get-go, otherwise, the entire chore is pointless.

Sigh. So many rules! *And you thought you knew how to clean your floor. *

It’s really important that you mop correctly based on what material your floor is made out of. Using the wrong cleaning product or detergent on your floor could do irreparable damage, and then you’ll end up with a way more colossal chore on your hands.

See below for specific instructions on picking the right cleaning products for your floor’s material. And if you follow these simple floor cleaning guidelines, we’re confident that the payoff of having a sparkling clean floor (and clean feet!) will be worth the bother.

Step 1: Sweep or swiffer + move obstacles

If you skip this step, the next step (mopping) will be entirely pointless and you’ll just be pushing wet dirt, dust, hair, and fur around into wet tiny clumps. Want to sweep or Swiffer? Being able to simply toss away a dirty Swiffer Dry Pad is nice considering it traps dirt, dust, and hair for you. But hey, the choice is yours. Pick up any rugs, chairs, and other obstacles off of the floor to make sure you remove all debris.

Step 2: Pick the right mop + detergent for your floor type

Your mop and detergent are crucial tools. And the choice is personal, based on your floor type. There are old school string mops (hello high school), strip mops, sponge mops, or spray mops like Swiffer Wet Jet – which also has disposable pads – can be used on most floor types, from finished hardwood and laminate to vinyl and linoleum. Plus, it’s gentle enough for daily use for dust and light dirt.

Here’s a handy guide for what type of detergent or household items you can use to DIY the appropriate detergent for your floor type:

Hardwood Floor
If you’re going the traditional mop route, hardwood floors are easily cleaned with a simple white vinegar + water mixture (½ cup vinegar to one gallon of warm water) and a microfiber head mop once a week or so. You’ll want to use a barely damp mop, because too much water can easily cause warping, on both finished and unfinished wood floors. Be sure not to leave any puddles or standing water while cleaning. Alternatively, any pH-neutral soap, such as dish detergent, and water combination will suffice.

For tough hardwood stains on soft oil finished floors (typically found in older homes), you can use steel wool and floor wax. If your hardwood floor has a hard finish, just wipe the stain clean with a soft cloth and avoid any chemicals that might remove the finish.

Laminate Floor

Laminate floors like strip mops or spray mops with a microfiber head. Simply mix a few drops (about a teaspoon) of dish soap and hot water together for a mopping solution. Avoid anything with polish or oil in it. And don’t use too much water, as it could seep beneath the laminate planks and cause awkward swelling, warping or bubbling of your floor. Run a dry mop over the clean floor when you’re done mopping — another great use for your Swiffer Dry Mop!

Vinyl Floor
The benefit of vinyl is that it is super easy to clean and maintain. For your mopping solution, try apple cider vinegar and water. Vinyl is hearty and can handle products with high acidity, which will both disinfect and get rid of dirt without leaving a soapy residue. If it’s not too dirty, you can just use dish soap and hot water.

Linoleum Floor
For your mopping solution, mild dish detergents are best – even just a few drops of dish soap and hot water will do for linoleum. Also, any combo of apple cider vinegar and water or even a baking soda scrub for tough stains is fine for linoleum.

Stone Tile Floor
Something pH-neutral is ideal for stone. Avoid bleach, vinegar or ammonia so you don’t accidentally remove any sealant from your tile.

Ceramic Tile Floor
A simple non-toxic mixture of warm water and white vinegar will do for ceramic.

Step 3: Time to mop the floor

Need a refresher on how to best mop your floors? We’ve got you. But here are some quick techniques:

  • Avoid over-concentrated detergent: follow instructions on your detergent label to know your ratios.
  • Dip and wring out your mop: damp mops will help avoid floor damage and your floor to dry faster.
  • Research your techniques: there’s the straight line for sponge or strip mops, the figure-8 for the strip mop, and the spray and swipe for the spray mop. And make sure that you don’t op yourself into a corner.
  • Get all the hard to reach places: it’s not every day you deep clean your floor – make sure to get into those corners, nooks, and crannies.

Step 4: Final rinse

Once you’ve soaped up and rinsed your entire floor section by section, give the entire thing a once over with clean, fresh warm water. Let everything dry before replacing furniture, rugs, etc. Crack some windows or turn on a fan to help the drying process. Barricade everyone in your house from walking on your floors until they’re dry – because you’re proud of your hard work and masterpiece.

Step 5: The clean up

Have you ever hung your mop up immediately after using it without giving it a good clean? Yeah, us neither. It can be super tempting to just toss your mop back into the laundry room, garage, or wherever your cleaning products live when they’re not being used, but it’s important to clean those things and let them dry before their next use. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did it. Most mop strips or pads can be cleaned in a bucket with a little bleach and warm water, then wrung out to dry. Often you can just toss the microfiber pads into the washing machine and dryer. Or save all that time and effort with Swiffer. Either way, the cleaner your mop is, the cleaner your floor will ultimately be. And isn’t that why we’re learning all about how to clean floors in the first place?

Ah, clean floors! Enjoy them while they last (for the next two hours anyway). Getting in the habit of regularly sweeping or using a Swiffer Dry Mop on your floors, no matter what they’re made of, will help prevent scratches, scuffs, and scrapes in the long run. Not wearing shoes in your house is a good way to keep the floors cleaner longer, as is wiping down your pet’s paws (kids too!) after outdoor walks.

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