How to keep your floors clean – no matter what they're made of
Wipe scuffs off wooden floors
Look no further than your bathroom to find the right tools for removing scuff marks. First, try squeezing a little toothpaste (the non-gel, non-whitening kind) onto an old toothbrush, scrubthe marks gently, then wipe up the paste with a damp cloth. If that doesn’t work, dab a little baby oil or petroleum jelly onto a dry cloth and rub the mark, then remove any residue with a cotton rag or paper towel.
Protect floors when rearranging furniture
If you have to move heavy furniture out of the way to clean or are rearranging the living room for a big party, protect wooden floors – and save yourself the trouble of dealing with scratches later – by pulling heavy socks over furniture legs and securing them with masking tape. This trick will also make it easier to push heavy furniture around. For everyday floor protection, consider putting bandaids or soft patches on the bottom of furniture legs. If you have a rocking chair, fix a long strip of masking tape to the bottom of each rocker to help to keep wooden floors unspoiled.
Get rid of waxy build-up
If you wax a vinyl, linoleum or karndean flooring, you’ll know how wax builds up over time. Here are two easy ways to remove it:
- Soda water for vinyl: Working in sections, pour a small amount of soda water onto the vinyl floor and scrub it with the abrasive side of a kitchen sponge. Let the soda water sit on the floor for 5 minutes, then wipe up the loosened wax with a wad of cheesecloth or a pair of pantihose.
- Surgical spirit for linoleum: Mop a lino floor with a solution of 3 cups (750ml) water to 1 cup (250ml) surgical spirit. Use a sponge mop to scrub it in well, then rinse thoroughly. Buff up scuff marks with toothpaste.
Liquidate heel marks on vinyl
Vinyl floors are highly susceptible to heel marks, especially from rubber heels. An easy way to remove the marks is to spray them with WD-40, let it sit for 5–6 minutes and then rub the marks off with a soft cloth.
Vinegar for tiles and linoleum
These materials are practical choices for flooring in kitchens, bathrooms and family rooms – all of which receive some of the most punishing wear in the house. Make cleaning these areas a simple job by mopping with a solution of 1/2 cup (125ml) white vinegar in 4 litres warm water.
A clean sweep with tea
Rural Japanese housekeepers traditionally strewed still-damp tea leaves over the floor before sweeping – and some no doubt still do. Dust and dirt cling to leaves and are easier to push into a dust pan. You can then throw the contents into a garden bed or compost heap. (Talk about an eco-friendly cleanser!) Just don’t use tea leaves on unbleached wood or carpet, as the tea may stain.
TOP TIP: VINEGAR FOR STONE AND BRICK
These tough flooring materials can put up with a larger dose of vinegar, so scrub stone or brick floors with a solution of 1 cup (250ml) vinegar in 4 litres water. The operative word is ‘scrub’, as the most effective way to clean is to get down on your hands and knees with a stiff scrubbing brush.
Cleaning with unsealed concrete floors
They’re usually the least considered floors in the home, but garage floors often take a lot of hard knocks on a daily basis. If you store a lawnmower, leaf blower or trimmer in your garage, you’re likely to have all kinds of oil and grease spills on the floor. And if it’s made from porous, unsealed cement, which it probably is, the surface will absorb smells like a sponge. The simplest way to remove odours is to buy a bag of non-clumping cat litter from the supermarket and try this tip:
1. Blot any oil or grease from the surface with newspaper; the floor should be fairly dry.
2. Spread a generous amount of cat litter on the stain and, using a broom, sweep it over the area until it is covered.
3. Let it stand for 24 hours and then sweep or vacuum up the litter.
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