Cleaning floors: how, when and with what
Cleaning floors properly doesn’t mean just giving them a quick wipe. But you don’t have to work magic, as long as you know how different kinds of floors need to be cleaned, and when you need to exercise caution in your fight against dirt.
It’s a bit of a Cinderella chore: cleaning floors. As soon as you’re finished, new dust and marks appear on your tiles and parquet flooring. Your inner wicked stepmother points her finger mercilessly: ‘It’s all dirty again. Go and get your mop and bucket!’
In principle, and this should come as no surprise, we should clean our kitchen and bathroom floors once a week. Other rooms can be done depending on the reason, the season or your living situation – if you've got a St Bernard or a budgie flying around the place, you’ll probably find you need to clean your floors a little more often.
The right way to vacuum
Fortunately, the vacuum cleaner has been invented since Cinderella’s day. This is an easy way to get rid of the largest amount of dirt, at least. Approach it methodically – from corner to corner or in strips. Otherwise, Cinderella will get pretty cheesed off later when dust and grit get stuck to the floor wipe.
Once the floor has been swept clean (yes, even with a vacuum cleaner), you can get started on the deep clean – mopping it with water. How to get rid of the crumbs from Mia’s birthday cake that Anton somehow didn’t manage to see and stomped all over? How to remove the sticky juice stains from last Sunday’s brunch on the new laminate flooring?
Flooring isn’t just flooring, of course. Broadly, we can break it down into textile and non-textile floor coverings, such as PVC, linoleum, cork, parquet and tiles or flagstones. For ordinary cleaning, standard all-purpose cleaner with hot – but not too hot! – water should usually suffice.
Get your brush and start scrubbing!
Use a brush on tough stains on normal tiled flooring or flagstones, and a standard descaler on limescale or toothpaste stains in the bathroom. For kitchen wall tiles, which usually attract grease spots, the best thing to use is warm water and washing-up liquid. These can also be cleaned using a brush. Other options include cleaning with an all-purpose detergent or hard soap. If using the latter, the residue should be scraped off with a plastic spatula. The tiles are then wiped with clear water and dried with a microfibre cloth.
For tiled flooring, brooms mostly play a supporting role. But you must exercise caution; excessive use of any kind of brush can cause damage and scratches. What’s more, grout reacts to acid, so don’t leave acidic cleaning products on the floor for too long!
Cleaning parquet flooring
Parquet flooring should ideally be swept, not vacuumed. As parquet isn’t just parquet, different approaches are required. The best thing to use on oiled or waxed parquet flooring is hardwood soap or wax-based products, respectively, while special lacquer soap should be used on sealed and lacquered parquet. Leave your aggressive cleaning products and steam cleaners in the cupboard! If you’re not sure, the best thing to do is ask a specialist. You should use a cotton cloth to wipe the flooring.
Wood and water don’t make good bedfellows: don't leave cleaning water on your parquet or laminate flooring! Otherwise, the water will penetrate the flooring and make it swell up. In the worst case scenario, mould can form. If you’ve used too much water, mop up droplets and little puddles quickly.
Long live the kings of cleaning
Instead of chemical products, you can use natural household products to clean your floors. For instance, normal household vinegar is great for cleaning smooth flooring such as laminate, tiles or PVC. You don’t have to use a lot of it; vinegar is the king of natural cleaning products and can remove grease, limescale and rust with ease. Its antiseptic properties also kill germs and bacteria. Unlike vinegar and vinegar essence, vinegar-based cleaning products can be used in undiluted form.
When it comes to lemons, Mr Clean has the right idea: these truly are nature’s little miracles for cleaning and disinfection. Citric acid can be used to clean tiles in the bathroom or kitchen. Perhaps you’ve got grout that’s become dirty and grey. Citric acid can help with this, too. However, although ceramic, stoneware and porcelain tiles are acid-resistant, natural stone such as marble, slate or sandstone does not tolerate acid!
For dirty marks, keen cleaners also recommend hard soap, baking powder, brightening toothpaste, orange peel or – yes, really – buttermilk. Sauerkraut is said to work miracles on carpets and rugs. But that’s a whole other (fairy) story.