Floor Cleaning Tips & Tricks

Regardless of how tidy you are, your floors, rugs, and carpets get dirty. Between the dirt you track in on your shoes, the accidental spills, and the inevitable accumulation of dust, your floors can get quite grimy. Here are a few cleaning tips and tricks for all types of flooring.

Natural Stone Floors
One of the most important rules when it comes to cleaning natural stone, is to steer clear of acidic products like vinegar, ammonia, or bleach, as they can ruin the stone. Your best bet is to use a pH-neutral cleaner that won’t react with the minerals in your stone floor.

Tile Floors
Tile is easy to clean. Simply combine ¼ cup of vinegar and one drop of dish soap in a spray bottle. Fill the rest with water and mix well. Spritz the mixture onto your tile surface and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth or mop. Steaming the tiles and grout will provide a deep cleaning.

Carpets
Unlike other flooring surfaces, carpets have their own set of rules. For a deep clean, it’s best to steam clean your carpets. For regular cleaning, using a vacuum should suffice.

Hardwood Floors
Wood floors need a lot of attention. Start by determining whether your floor is sealed or not. If it’s unsealed, avoid using water and instead try mineral oil and periodic coats of wax. If the floor is sealed, a simple mix of hot water and soap is a safe bet.

Linoleum
Start by sweeping or vacuuming the floor to get rid of dust, hair, and dirt. Then add about six drops of mild detergent or dish soap to a gallon of warm or hot water. Dampen a mop with the mixture and use it to clean the floor in sections. Avoid getting the mop too wet, and make sure to dry the floors with a towel when you’re done. Standing water can damage linoleum.

Easy Solutions To Everyday Messes

1 Put ordinary white candles to use for more than romantic dinner lighting. Rub them on bathroom grout to shield against mold and mildew.

2 Take an Alka-Seltzer tablet from your medicine cabinet and drop it in your toilet bowl for a quick, fizzy clean.

3 Icky buildup on the face of your iron? Lay out a piece of aluminum foil, and iron it. The buildup will stick to the foil. You can also use foil to dispose of cooking grease.

4 Line a cup with foil and pour in the grease. Once the grease has solidified, seal it in the foil and throw the package away.

5 Tackle spilled food in the oven right away by pouring table salt over it. The salt will form a crust that makes the food easy to wipe up. It also reduces the burning smell.

Green Cleaning

It’s time to get your home spring-ready. More than likely you have been buying the same cleaning products for years. However, it’s a good idea to consider switching to cleaning products tagged green or good for the environment. They aren’t just at specialty stores anymore; they’re popping up every day at grocery stores and supercenters. With more options comes confusion and uncertainty.

To cut through it all, we talked to Matt Pliszka, a scientist with Simply Safe Products. His company’s mission is to bring green cleaning to the mass market at an affordable price.

What should you look for in a green cleaning product?

First, look at your mainstream traditional brands. If the label says “warning, corrosive, danger,” that should be a big tip-off. If it burns the skin, then chances are it’s not good for you or the environment. Things to look for on the label are “non-hazardous,” “mild or nonirritant,” and “neutral pH.”

What does neutral pH mean?

A pH in the 7 range, that’s the pH of water. Alkalinity can cause skin irritation and other issues. Generally, if there is no mention of pH, then the product is either an acid or alkaline.

If it has a neutral pH, how does it clean?

Neutral pH cleaners use detergents and get underneath the soil to loosen it from below. Then wiping takes soil away. The detergents release the soils from the surface.Chemical cleaning agents attack the soil and surface, which can be very aggressive. Chemical cleaning also doesn’tjust stop at soil, which is why the surface you’re cleaning can become marred or ruined.

I have noticed a lot of cleaners use citrus or say they are all-natural. Are these green?

There’s an assumption that if it’s all-natural, it’s safe and environmentally friendly. Not necessarily true. Many orange cleaners use d-limonene from orange peels. It is a great cleaning agent for grease, but it’s flammable and an air pollutant. If you see a cleaning agent that says all-natural, be suspicious; there’s a lot of chemical processing involved in converting fruits into cleaning agents. Likewise for nontoxic because household cleaners are never meant to be consumed.

Which cleaning products are the biggest offenders?

Drain cleaners are the most hazardous. There really is no other option, so buyjust enough for one use. Of the most commonly used products, dishwasher detergents, tub-and-tile cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners are the worst. Look for dishwasher detergents that contain no phosphates. Waste-treatment plants cannot remove phosphates, so they end up in natural water areas. •