Keep Out Grit
The Asian tradition of taking off your shoes when entering the house is a great way to preserve wooden and vinyl floors. Like sandpaper, the grit on your shoes abrades the floor finish, shortening its life. If you are not up to going shoeless, clean the floor frequently to prevent grit from getting ground in.
Choose a Good Doormat
Any dirt you can keep outside is dirt you won’t have to clean up, so doormats are the first line of defense in extending the life of your floors. The traditional welcome mat is helpful if people remember to rub their feet on it. An extended “walk-off” mat might be a better idea since it is long enough so that both feet rub across it. Mats for outside your door are usually made of rubber- or vinyl-backed synthetic turf. The indoor variety is available in several dark, dirt-defying colors to coordinate with your décor.
Vacuum and Mop-A Lot!
No matter what your floor is made of, frequent vacuuming or sweeping will prevent dirt from grinding in. Wipe up any spills immediately and clean the floor with a damp mop at least once a week. Use plain water and change the water when it gets cloudy.
Make Your Own Floor Cleaner
When floors get too dirty for damp-mopping with water alone, you can use a commercial cleaner designed for floors. Or, you can literally brew your own cleaner by seeping 2 teabags in 1 L of hot water. Another option is to mix 1/2 cup of cider vinegar in 4 L of warm water. Whatever cleaner you choose, don’t slop water all over the floor. Instead, dip a soft cloth or sponge in the solution, wring it out and wipe the floor. Buff with a soft, dry cloth.
Bring Brightness Back to Marble
To clean marble, just add a couple of squirts of mild dishwashing liquid soap to a bucket and fill with warm water. Frequent washing over time will actually brighten a marble floor as the floor absorbs oils from the soap. Don’t use wax on marble.
Clean Stone Floors With Sawdust
It’s low-tech and effective: Sprinkle damp sawdust over your stone floor, scrub with a stiff brush and then sweep up the sawdust with a broom and dustpan. Follow up with a good vacuuming.
Keeping Ceramic-Tile Floor Clean
Ceramic tile usually needs nothing more than a quick pass with a damp mop to clean it. Indeed, cleaning ceramic tile would be a breeze if tile were all you had to clean. It’s that pesky grout between the tiles that’s the problem. One way to prolong the life of grout is to seal it. When damp-mopping isn’t enough, mix one of these cleaning solutions:
- 1 capful of rubbing alcohol in 4 L of water
- 1 teaspoon of borax and 2 tablespoons of ammonia in 4 L of water.
Keep Vinyl Flooring Vital
When it comes to vinyl flooring, the key to longevity is to use the mildest cleaning method possible. Sweep or vacuum frequently so that dirt doesn’t get a chance to grind in. Clean up spills right away. Use a warm, damp mop for dirt that you can’t sweep or vacuum away. If dirt still remains, try mixing 1 cup of vinegar into 4 L of water. Dirt too stubborn for vinegar? Then try 2 tablespoons of borax in 4 L of water. In either case, apply a small amount with your mop; then rinse thoroughly by mopping with plain water.
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