The Do’s and Don’ts of Floor Cleaning

by James Florence


A crucial part of maintaining your floors is using the right cleaning products. Photo: Empire Floors (2013)

Regular cleaning is an essential part of maintaining any floor, but many homeowners fail to realize that there’s often a right way and a wrong way to go about it. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in this regard is using a cleaning product that’s excessively harsh or contains “contaminants.” Here are a couple examples of how using the wrong cleaner can have undesirable consequences.

Hardwood flooring
Steering clear of the wrong cleaning products is important when dealing with hardwood floors. In particular, labels such as “finish revitalizer” or claims to “bring back the old shine” should be red flags. These products usually contain an oil, silicone or wax component, all of which are regarded as contaminants by the flooring industry because of their tendency to penetrate floors and remain there. The presence of a contaminant in a wood floor can actually prevent future refinishing, which inhibits proper adhesion between the finish and the floor.

Stone flooring
While stone is often associated with toughness, as a flooring material it’s surprisingly sensitive, which is why using an overly acidic or abrasive cleaning product can cause more harm than good. The continued application of an acidic cleaner can gradually strip the sealant off a stone floor, while the use of an abrasive cleaner can leave scratch marks. For this reason, it’s important to always use a non-acidic, neutral cleaner on your stone floors to avoid damaging them.

Whether hardwood, stone or another flooring material, the best cleaning products tend to be the simplest. While it’s good to pick a product that’s geared specifically toward a particular flooring material, products that are milder and contain the least amount of ingredients are preferred. Even a home remedy like a water and vinegar solution can provide an effective (and inexpensive) cleaning. In any case, using a safe, appropriate cleaning product to clean your floors on a routine basis will enable you to keep them looking and performing their best.

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