Winter can be hard on flooring. From visitors tracking salt and sand into your home to spills by family members spending more time inside, the season takes its toll.
But cleaning up the winter mess is easy with a little diligence. Each type of flooring has an ideal cleaning agent, and most will work for routine maintenance as well as spot cleaning.
Salt and sand are tracked into the home in winter time. Regular vacuuming (once per week per person or pet) will ensure soil particles will not work their way below the surface of the pile. Carpets should be professionally cleaned about once a year.
For liquid spills, Empire Today recommends a solution of one tablespoon of ammonia to one cup of water. Commercial spot cleaners will also work, but it is important to choose one without harsh chemicals that could permanently damage the carpet. Rinse the area thoroughly with water and blot dry after removing any spill.
Dry spills should be swept immediately with a broom. This will prevent the spills from being tracked into other areas of the home or scratching the floor.
“Nothing beats your floor up like the grit on the bottom of your feet,” Johnson said.
According to realsimple.com, a few drops of dishwashing liquid and a well-wrung-out cloth will remove liquid spills quickly. It is important not to let liquids stand on hardwood floors.
Cleaning spills on ceramic tile is generally easier than other types of flooring, Johnson said. Most stains can be erased by scrubbing the spot with a cleaning solution of one cup of white vinegar to two gallons of tap water.
Detergents and soaps should never be used on tile, because they could dull the surface and promote the growth of mildew. If using a commercial product, it is important to choose one that will not damage the grout.
Care for area rugs is largely the same as it is for carpet; regular vacuuming is the best way to ensure its long-term beauty. For stains, it is best to know what the rug is made of, and follow the rug manufacturer’s instructions.
When cleaning liquid spills, lift up area rugs to make sure the liquid did not go through the rug to the flooring underneath.
Renting equipment vs. professional cleaning
Vacuuming and spot removal is imperative in keeping carpets in good shape, but periodic deep cleaning is important as well. Experts recommend cleaning carpets every 12 to 18 months.
Do it yourself
Renting a do-it-yourself machine is relatively inexpensive and can be done on a whim. Lowe's charges about $25 a day to rent a machine, plus the cost of the cleaning agent, and does not require reservations. A rented machine may be used to clean as much carpet as the rental period allows, while professional services charge based on square footage.
Hire a pro
Empire Today recommends using a professional carpet cleaning service to keep carpet looking its best. Professional equipment is superior to that available for rent and better able to extract water and cleaning agent, making the drying time considerably shorter than that of a rental machine. In addition, some cleaning agents used in rental machines may leave residue behind, ultimately shortening the life of the carpet. Chem Dry, a carpet and upholstery cleaning service, charges $250 for 800 square feet of carpet, but periodically offers coupons and sales.
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification maintains a directory of professional carpet cleaners. Consumers can find a certified professional at www.certifiedcleaners.org <http://www.certifiedcleaners.org> .
author: Erika Enigk