A Guide to Floors – Cleaning and Maintenance of All Flooring Types

A Guide to Floors – Cleaning and Maintenance of All Flooring Types

Floors are bound to get dirty, no matter how sturdy they are – after all, they are the ground we step on everyday. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be looked after. On the contrary – clean and well-maintained floors can add value to your home, as well as a more refined look. Here are some handy tips on how to clean and look after all flooring types.

Solid hardwood cleaning and maintenance

Wooden floors are classic and timeless. Hardwood floors are generally comprised of the following types of wood:

  • Oak
  • Walnut
  • Beech
  • Teak
  • Maple
  • Cherry
  • Ash

Hardwood styles for flooring can include parquet, solid planks, strips and ‘tile-like’ in appearance. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor flooring, wooden floors are a popular choice for those in Singapore.

In order to remain in good condition for a long time they do need to be looked after. Some tips to have your wooden floor in tip top condition are:

Preventive measures

Better safe than sorry, always! Try to avoid dust penetrating your wooden floors as much as you can, as dust can give your floors a dull, old look overtime, as well as increasing scratches on the panels. Placing a mat in front of your main door is a good idea to combat this. In addition, if you see a recent spill or mark, clean it right away – it’ll prevent nasty marks on the floor.

Other preventive measures include removing hard-soled or extra heavy shoes around the house, using felt pads on furniture legs to avoid scratches when moving it (such as chairs), keeping your pets’ nails short to avoid scratching, and using a rug if your wooden floors are close to wet/humid areas such as bathrooms and the kitchen.

Hardwood floors are made from full solid wood planks (we look at engineered woods soon), and so can react to chemical agents differently to other materials. When untreated solid wood is a porous material, so it’s more common for wood to be treated with lacquer or an oil treatment in order to increase the longevity of the flooring. pH-neutral cleaning formulas are recommended for all types of treated wood.

A full list of chemicals/cleaning agents to avoid using on your hardwood floors include:

  • Vinegar – as mentioned in the example above.
  • Ammonia – ammonia can discolour, dull and deteriorate the finish on your hardwood floors. Using an ammonia cleaning agent could result in years more wear and tear on your floor than usual.
  • Some popular cleaning products – Unfortunately a lot of cleaning products contain ammonia or similar chemical agents that can remove the finish from your hardwood floors, leaving them vulnerable to scratches, discolouration and dullness. Ensure your floor cleaner does not use harmful chemicals or harsh agents.

Regular cleaning

Make sure your floors are generally clean at all times. This can easily be achieved by sweeping with a soft-bristle broom or microfibre dry mop twice or three times per week. As mentioned above, dust and friction can cause scratch marks, so try to get rid of all dust and dirt regularly, but gently.  

You can also vacuum, just make sure it is suitable for wooden floors – vacuum heads designed for carpets can also end up scratching the wooden panels.

It’s recommended that if you wet-mop a hardwood floor, that you ensure the mop is only slightly damp. The wetter your mop, the more damage will be caused to the finish and ultimately the wood of your flooring.

bio-home Floor Cleaner is gentle on wooden floors, and is also made from 100% natural ingredients. It’s also completely child-safe, and its pH-neutral formula contains no harsh chemicals that may damage the wood.

Use suitable products for a deeper clean

If you’d like to bring a bit of shine back and are keen to give your wooden floors a fresh makeover, instead of using wax, choose products specifically tailored for wooden floors. If you don’t use these, your floors can end up looking dull, damaged, or can get quite slippery.

It’s recommended that you do not use a steam cleaner on hardwood floors, as this can cause peeling, cracking, and cloudiness in the finish.

Maintenance

By ensuring you use appropriate cleaning measures, such as opting for bio-home Floor Cleaner, and avoiding harmful products/cleaning practices, your ongoing maintenance should be minimal.

However, sometimes things happen outside of your control. If you find a scratch on your wooden floors, hide it with a kids’ crayon! Simply find one that matches the colour of the floor, colour the scratch and remove all excess/polish it with a cloth.

In addition, you should always ask your flooring installer/manufacturer their recommendations for how often the wood should be refinished, and any other advice they can give to ensure your flooring looks new and shiny for as long as possible.

Veneer (engineered wood) cleaning and maintenance

Engineered wood floorings are a great alternative to solid hardwood floors if you’re looking for flooring that’s a little easier to maintain. It’s ease of maintenance is due to its dimensional stability (as the wood is made to fit, there is little expansion/contraction issues), the quality of the top layer of timber and how well it is treated, and it is less moisture-absorbent and so reduces the risk of moisture problems traditionally associated with wooden flooring. With proper cleaning and maintenance your wooden veneer flooring is likely to provide many years of durable, high quality flooring for your home.

While they are easier than solid hardwoods, they do require regular cleaning and maintenance in order to ensure they remain in top condition throughout their life.

Preventive measures

As engineered wooden floors are very durable, there is less concern about wearing hard-soled or extra heavy shoes. However scratching is still an issue, so felt pads are recommended for furniture legs, and keeping any pets’ nails trimmed short. In addition, spills should also be cleaned right away to prevent staining – this applies to solid wood too.

A full list of chemicals/cleaning agents to avoid using on your engineered wooden floors include:

  • Vinegar – its acidity can cause damage to the flooring veneer.
  • Ammonia – ammonia can discolour, dull and deteriorate the finish on your engineered wooden floors.
  • Steel wool or scouring pads – never use steel wool or scouring pads on a wooden veneer floor as it can etch deep scratches into the finish.
  • Wax-based cleaning products – these can result in a slippery texture to the wood, and may cause injury to a person who slips.

Regular cleaning

A dry microfibre mop is recommended for bi-weekly cleaning to remove dirt and dust with minimal scratches to the finish.

You can also vacuum, just make sure it is suitable for wooden floors – vacuum heads designed for carpets can also end up scratching the wooden panels.

It’s recommended that you do not wet-mop or steam clean an engineered wooden floor, as this can result in moisture being forced into the wood, causing damage and rot over time.

bio-home Floor Cleaner is gentle on wooden floors, and is also made from 100% natural ingredients. It’s also completely child-safe, and contains no harsh chemicals that may damage the wood.

As mentioned above, if you’d like to bring a bit of shine back and are keen to give your wooden floors a fresh makeover, do not use a wax-based cleaning product. Instead choose products specifically tailored for engineered wooden floors. If you don’t use these, your floors can end up looking dull, damaged, or can get quite slippery.

Maintenance

By ensuring you use appropriate cleaning measures, such as opting for bio-home Floor Cleaner, and avoiding harmful products/cleaning practices, your ongoing maintenance should be minimal.

There are two options when choosing your engineered wooden flooring – you can either choose a wooden material that will only require ‘refinishing’ after a set period of time, or those that will need ‘replacing’ and so can’t be refinished. Once you have chosen which type is best for your home, you should always ask your flooring installer/manufacturer their recommendations for how often the wood should be refinished/replaced, and general maintenance and cleaning guidelines.

Laminate cleaning and maintenance

Laminate floors are an excellent alternative to wooden floors. They look nearly identical, but come at a much more convenient price and are easier to maintain.

Laminate floors are a multi-layered synthetic flooring product that is then fused together with a lamination process. Traditionally it simulates either wood or stone, with a photographic applique layer designed to appear beneath a clear, protective layer.

Some tips to keep your laminate floor looking spick-and-span are:

Preventive measures

As laminate flooring is generally impervious to dents or scratches, general common sense is all that’s needed as a preventative measure. However, wet mops and steam cleaners can cause the same damage to laminate floors as they do to hardwood floors, so it’s recommended these are avoided.

Cleaning

It is important to note that liquid-based solutions should not be used too regularly on laminate floors, as the humidity is bad for them. For your regular clean it is recommended that you use a microfibre dust mop to get away of the dust, sand, and dirt.

A more thorough clean can be done once a fortnight. For this, you can choose to use wet solutions such as bio-home Floor Cleaner, as long as they are suitable for laminate floors. When applying them to the floor only use as much is recommended on the back of the bottle, and be mindful of drying it soon after you’ve applied it. Don’t wait too long, as you don’t want the laminate flooring to absorb too much humidity.

Here are common chemicals and cleaning agents to be avoided when cleaning your laminate flooring:

  • Vinegar – its acidity can cause damage to the flooring veneer.
  • Ammonia – ammonia can discolour, dull and deteriorate the finish on your engineered wooden floors.
  • Steel wool or scouring pads – never use steel wool or scouring pads on a wooden veneer floor as it can etch deep scratches into the finish.
  • Wax-based cleaning products – these can result in a slippery texture to the wood, and may cause injury to a person who slips.

Maintenance

Removing stains

Remove stains using little tricks like an eraser, grease or even bubble gum. These will gently remove stains or elements stuck onto the floor without the need to use harsh chemicals.

Marble / stone cleaning and maintenance

Marble and stone floors are aesthetically beautiful and elegant. Common natural stone flooring materials include:

  • Marble
  • Slate
  • Limestone
  • Travertine
  • Granite and
  • Sandstone

Each of these can be used for both the interior and exterior of the home, and each bring a different element of style to the home.

Look after these natural stones with the following tips:

Preventive measures

Steer clear of waxing. Contrary to what some people believe, marble and stone floors don’t need to be waxed. Also be sure to clean up any spills quickly so as to prevent food/drink stains from seeping into the stone*.

*Floor staining occurs only when a substance is absorbed into the pores of the marble
below the surface. When that happens, it will leave a spot that is darker than the marble, and will not affect or alter the surface finish.

Regular cleaning

Regularly sweep your marble and stone floors to remove all dust. After sweeping, mopping is a good idea. Marble and stone floors can be wet-mopped with bio-home Floor Cleaner, which is 100% plant-based and contains no harsh chemicals that would etch into the marble or stone.

Avoid using the following chemicals and cleaning agents when cleaning your natural stone flooring as they can cause etching to the surface**:

  • Vinegar/lemon-based products – their acidity can cause damage to the natural stones.
  • Acid-based products – Any commercial cleaning agents that contain acid-based chemicals should not be used on stone flooring.
  • Steel wool or scouring pads – never use steel wool or scouring pads on a marble or stone floor as it can etch deep scratches into the finish.
  • Wax-based cleaning products – these can result in a slippery texture to the marble, and may cause injury to a person who slips.

**A floor etch mark appears when marble is exposed to an acidic substance, or when
harsh alkaline products are used for cleaning.

If you’re trying to get rid of stains, use a sponge or soft cloth with baking soda and water solution to target them specifically. Be gentle when rubbing. If what you’re after is giving your marble floor a sparkly finish, then consider getting a ‘coating-friendly’ marble cleaning solution.

Another trick to get rid of tough stains is to mix talc and water, and place the solution on the stain. Right after, use a piece of cling wrap and cover the solution on the floor, making sure there’s no air coming into it. Leave this for 48 hours and remove it gently. The stain should be completely gone.

Maintenance

Periodic upkeep and polish is essential for your marble floors to last longer. Choose a high-quality, acidity-reduced product to avoid re-etching the stone surface. If you’re after an extra polished look, use an alkaline-based protective sealer. It will provide better abrasion resistance, increased slip resistance and a more lustrous shine to your marble floor.

Concrete flooring cleaning and maintenance

Concrete flooring has received a resurgence in popularity over the past few years in Singapore. Concrete flooring is a composite material made from an aggregate of rocks, river stones and granite chips, which are then combined using a cement binder.

Look after your concrete flooring with the following tips:

Preventive measures

Treated concrete floors, like laminate floors, are very hard to scratch (although it is possible to chip them), while untreated concrete floors are easily scratched, dented, chipped, and can turn powdery. If you have treated concrete floors, minimal preventative measures are required. However it is essential that your concrete flooring is sealed correctly (both above and below the layer of concrete) to ensure that mould and/or mildew does not grow and to ensure the durability of it.

Regular cleaning

Regularly sweep your concrete floors to remove all dust. After sweeping, mopping is a good idea. Concrete floors can be wet-mopped with bio-home Floor Cleaner, which is 100% plant-based and contains no harsh chemicals that would etch into the marble or stone. It’s essential that only ‘neutral’ cleaners and not acid-based cleaners are used on your flooring.

Avoid using the following chemicals and cleaning agents when cleaning your concrete flooring:

  • Vinegar/lemon-based products – their acidity can cause damage to the concrete.
  • Acid-based products – Any commercial cleaning agents that contain acid-based chemicals should not be used on concrete flooring.
  • Steel wool or scouring pads – never use steel wool or scouring pads on a concrete floor as it can etch deep scratches into the finish.
  • Wax-based cleaning products – these can result in a slippery texture to the concrete, and may cause injury to a person who slips.

Maintenance

Periodic sealing and waxing is required for concrete floors – particularly in high-traffic areas of the home – is essential for your concrete floors to last longer. Speak with your concrete flooring installer/manufacturer for their recommended care instructions in more detail.

Tile cleaning and maintenance

Tile floors are minimalistic, practical, and very easy to clean. They are ideal for humid rooms, such as the laundry, kitchen and bathrooms, and are made from a composite of clay and other natural materials.

Keep your tile floors looking premium with these tips:

Preventive measures

While tiles are really good when it comes to stains, they are still quite fragile, and can get scratched if a lot of dust accumulates in them. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to keep it your tile floors clean. Think vacuuming or sweeping with a soft-bristle broom.

Regular cleaning

If you take the preventive measures of vacuuming and sweeping regularly, cleaning shouldn’t be much of a chore. To remove the more typical stains, such as from food or drinks, mopping with bio-home Floor Cleaner will do the trick, however don’t use more than the amount recommended on the bottle as it may then leave a residue on the tiles.

The benefit of choosing bio-home Floor Cleaner over a conventional cleaner is that bio-home contains no bleach or harsh chemicals, which may cause discolouration in tiles.

Grout lines

One of the challenges that come with tile floors is cleaning grout lines. Because grout is usually white (a colour that gets dirty easily) and porous, it absorbs substances quite fast, such as grease, dirt and liquids – and they can be hard to remove.

To clean grout lines, use a toothbrush and a dense solution of bicarb soda and water. Apply it, brush it, leave it overnight, and remove it with a wet cloth. Your grouts should be looking brand new! You can also turn to silicone-based grout sealer to combat future stains.

Clean floors for a cleaner home

Increase the value and presentation of your house by looking after your floors. Just remember to take basic preventive measures, such as getting rid of dirt and dust, by sweeping or vacuuming regularly.

Looking for environmentally-friendly ways to keep your floors clean? Here at bio-home, we offer eco-sustainable cleaning solutions made from biodegradable and renewable plant-based active ingredients. You can buy bio-home products at a FairPrice, Sheng Siong, Prime Supermarket, Cold Storage or RedMart near you.