Mop It Right: The Best Way to Keep Your Floors Clean

One of the most abused parts of the house are the floors. Apart from thousands of footsteps, floors also bear the weight of heavy furniture and get dirtied by a lot of things -- mud, pet hair, food particles, various liquids, and even the occasional chemicals.

Wood floors are especially prone to damage, so you really have to take care of them if you want them to last. But no matter what kind of floors you have, the key to keeping them in great condition is to keep them clean. How do you do this? Here are a few tips.

Remove Those Shoes!
Simply removing your shoes before you enter the house can save you a lot of trouble in terms of keeping your floors free from dirt, mud, oil, sand, water, and other substances that can damage the finish and eventually, the actual material. Just wear indoor slippers or light socks if you don’t want to go barefoot.

Know How to Mop
Believe it or not, not many people know how to mop floors the right way. One common mistake is using too much soap, which strips the floor of its protective coating and makes it dull. Either reduce the amount of soap that you are using or use a non-toxic cleaner that doesn’t lather and is appropriate for the floor you have. Make sure that you use overlapping strokes so that you don’t miss even the smallest areas, and pay attention to the corners as well. Remember to always check your mop pad and rinse it as needed (about two to four times, depending on how big an area you are mopping), so it doesn’t get saturated with dirty water and end up smearing dirt back onto the floor.

Another thing that most people forget is that one round of mopping isn’t enough. You need at least two or three complete passes, with the final one being the rinse stage. Lastly, remember to dry the floor thoroughly after rinsing. This is to ensure that dust and dirt won’t stick to the floor, rendering all your cleaning useless. Use a separate mop to dry, preferably a microfiber mop, to do a quick and thorough job. Again, use overlapping strokes to make sure you hit every spot.

Sweep or Vacuum Often
The ideal schedule for mopping your floor is about once every week. Sweeping or vacuuming? As frequently as you can. This is to prevent dirt and other debris from burrowing deep into your floors. You should also clean up any spills immediately; allowing them to dry will only leave you with unpleasant stains, smells, and smudges.

Use the Right Product
Know which products can be used on your kind of floor. For example, only pH-neutral cleaners are appropriate for marble floors. Anything acidic will etch, while anything alkalinic will strip the shiny surface and cause roughness and dullness. Meanwhile, water and moisture are the number one enemies of vinyl and wood floors, so you’ll be well-advised to choose only vinyl- and wood-specific products to make these materials last. Linoleum and ceramic are the easiest to care for, but remember to regularly clean between the seams and grout using a soft brush.

Use the Right Tools
Microfiber mops are one of the most important tools for keeping your floors clean. They just make everything easier, from sweeping to dry- or wet-mopping. If you can find a mop with an extendable and/or bendable handle, much better; this will make it easier to clean hard-to-reach areas like under and behind furniture.

For vacuum cleaners, make sure that there is a bare floor mode. The carpet mode engages the brush, and these bristles will both scatter dirt around and scratch the finish of your bare floors. If your vacuum cleaner doesn’t have a bare floor setting, then use it only on carpets and just use the appropriate kind of broom or a microfiber mop on your non-carpeted floors.

Much like any other piece of furniture or appliance, your floors will also last and look like new for a long time if you take care of them properly. Follow these cleaning tips and you’ll have an easier time keeping your floors in good shape.

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