Tips for Cleaning Different Types of Hard-Surface Floors

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Home Improvement
Dirt and grime from outside can easily make their way into your home, creating a mess on your floors. Spills, marks, and footprints accumulate quickly, making it important to clean your floors regularly. However, cleaning different types of hard-surface floors requires different methods as one cleaning method may damage another type of floor.

This article provides tips and guidelines for cleaning a variety of hard-surface floors, including asphalt tile and wood. Knowing what your floor is made of is the first step toward efficient floor cleaning.

A Heavy-Duty Floor Cleaner can be made with the following recipe:
  • Mix 1/4 cup of low-sudsing, all-purpose cleaner, 1 cup of ammonia, and 1/2 gallon of cool or cold water. Wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when using this powerful solution.
  • Apply the solution to the floor with a sponge mop, and use pressure for heavily soiled areas. Rinse with cool, clear water for spotless results.
  • Dry the floor with a soft cloth.

Asphalt tile floors are durable and do not retain footprints when furniture is moved. However, harsh cleaning products and solvents can damage the surface. To clean, damp-mop weekly and use a cleaner that can withstand damp-mopping. Do not flood with water and remove heel marks with fine-grade steel wool dipped in liquid floor wax. Brick floors are porous and require sealing and waxing. Use a commercial sealer for brick and avoid using varnish or lacquer. Damp-mop after vacuuming with a solution of water and vinegar. Use a solvent-base wax and remove buildup with a wax-stripping product. Do not use acids, strong soaps, or abrasives. A homemade solution containing ammonia can be used for quick and inexpensive cleaning.

The article discusses how to clean and maintain different types of flooring. Glazed ceramic tile is easy to clean, but unglazed tile needs to be sealed to resist stains. It is important to use gentle cleaners and avoid harsh abrasives that may scratch the glaze or damage the tile. For unsealed concrete floors, sweeping and washing with an all-purpose cleaning solution can help remove surface dirt. Kitty litter can also be used to absorb oil and grease stains. Sealing a cement floor with a commercial sealer can save time in the long run. It is important to keep the garage door closed to prevent windblown debris from collecting in the garage. A simple garden hose can be used to wash the dirt off the garage floor.

Once you have removed any loose dirt from your garage floor, apply the Heavy-Duty Floor Cleaner mentioned in the previous section to achieve spotless results. This cleaner is a cost-effective alternative to commercial heavy-duty cleaners. Use a sponge mop to apply it to the concrete floor, applying pressure to heavily soiled areas. Rinse with cool, clear water and allow the floor to dry.

Moving on to flagstone and slate floors, these natural-stone materials have rough, porous surfaces that require sealing with a commercial sealer for terrazzo and slate. Once the sealer has dried, apply two thin coats of an acrylic floor finish with a long-handle wax applicator fitted with a lamb’s wool pad, or use a floor-polishing machine to apply paste wax. If a self-polishing liquid builds up on the floor, strip the wax buildup and rewax according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Damp-mop flagstone or slate floors with clear water, an all-purpose cleaning solution, or water with fabric softener added. For a glistening finish, mop the floor again with water containing a cup of white vinegar.

Linoleum floors are easy to maintain once they have been waxed. Vacuuming and occasional damp-mopping are enough to keep them shining and resist foot traffic.

To bring up the shine on linoleum floors, add a cup of vinegar to the mop water. Removing heel marks from linoleum can be done by gently rubbing the spot with fine-grade steel wool dipped in liquid floor wax and wiping with a damp cloth. Avoid using solvent-base products, scouring the floor, flooding it with water, or using very hot water as they can damage linoleum. The best way to clean a linoleum floor is to mop it with an all-purpose cleaner dissolved in warm water, rinse, and apply two thin coats of self-polishing liquid. Marble floors can be beautiful if cared for correctly. Nonpolished marble is porous, stains easily, and must be sealed with a commercial sealer. Polished marble is less porous but can still be stained and requires a commercial marble sealer. Damp-mopping with clear water or an all-purpose cleaning solution in warm water works well for cleaning marble floors. Self-polishing liquid wax is a fast, shiny finish for marble. Quarry tile is porous and requires up to three coats of sealer and further protection by wax. Seal a quarry-tile floor with a commercial sealer and apply two thin coats of an acrylic floor finish. To keep your sealed and waxed quarry-tile floor looking new, damp-mop it occasionally after vacuuming and restore shine by mopping it again with water containing a cup of white vinegar.

vinegar to remove the film.

  • For stubborn spots, use a nonabrasive powder and a synthetic scouring pad.
  • Do not use strong solvents, scouring pads, or hot water on a vinyl floor. These can cause damage to the surface.
  • That concludes our guide to cleaning different types of flooring. Remember to always test cleaning products in a small, inconspicuous area before using them on the entire floor. With proper care and maintenance, your floors will stay looking clean and new for years to come.

    To keep your floors looking clean and new, it’s important to use the right cleaning methods for the type of flooring you have. For vinyl floors, avoid using water and instead clean with a mixture of vinegar and water. Scouring or flooding the floor with water can damage the adhesives that hold the flooring down. If your vinyl floor is old or not a no-wax variety, use an all-purpose cleaner and rinse with clear water before applying a self-polishing floor finish.

    For wood floors, the type of sealant used will determine the best cleaning method. Polyurethane requires no further treatment, but varnish, shellac, or lacquer finishes need to be cleaned and polished with solvent-based products. Water should never be used on wood floors, except those treated with polyurethane. A one-step cleaner/polish is a quick option for lacquered, varnished, or shellacked floors, but for a long-lasting shine, use a liquid wood-floor cleaner and buff with a floor polisher.

    Each surface has its own distinct cleaning needs, so it’s important to take care of them properly to maintain their integrity and beauty.


    1. What is the best way to clean hardwood floors?

    The best way to clean hardwood floors is to use a microfiber mop or a soft-bristled broom to sweep away any dirt or debris. Then, use a damp mop with a mild cleaning solution specifically designed for hardwood floors. Avoid using water or harsh chemicals that can damage the wood.

    2. Can I use a steam mop to clean my floors?

    It depends on the type of flooring you have. Steam mops can be used on tile and vinyl floors, but they are not recommended for hardwood or laminate floors as the heat and moisture can damage the surface.

    3. How often should I clean my floors?

    It’s a good idea to clean your floors at least once a week, but it may need to be done more frequently in high-traffic areas or if you have pets. Regular cleaning helps to prevent dirt and grime build-up, which can be harder to remove over time.

    4. Can I use vinegar to clean my floors?

    Yes, you can use a solution of water and white vinegar to clean floors, but it’s important to dilute the vinegar properly and avoid using it on certain types of flooring, such as natural stone or waxed surfaces. Test a small area first to make sure it doesn’t cause any damage.

    5. How can I remove stubborn stains from my floors?

    For stubborn stains, use a specialized cleaning product or a mixture of baking soda and water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse with water and dry the area thoroughly.

    6. Should I use a floor wax or polish?

    It depends on the type of flooring you have. Some floors, such as hardwood and vinyl, benefit from periodic waxing or polishing to protect the surface and restore shine. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your flooring before applying any products.

    7. Can I use a vacuum cleaner to clean my floors?

    Yes, a vacuum cleaner can be used to remove dirt and debris from floors, but it’s important to use the appropriate attachment for the type of flooring you have. Hardwood floors, for example, require a soft-bristled brush attachment to avoid scratching the surface.

    8. How can I prevent scratches on my floors?

    To prevent scratches on your floors, avoid wearing shoes with hard soles or high heels indoors, and use furniture pads on the legs of chairs, tables, and other furnishings. Regular sweeping and cleaning can also help to minimize the risk of scratches.

    9. Should I hire a professional to clean my floors?

    It depends on your needs and preferences. If you have a large area to clean or if your floors require specialized care, such as refinishing or deep cleaning, it may be worth hiring a professional. However, for regular maintenance cleaning, it’s often more cost-effective to do it yourself.

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