It is said, April showers bring May flowers. April showers can also bring unwanted debris and mud into the home. For those in the Northeast, mud season is no joke.
During this wet time of year, you are often bringing into your home such things as mud, oils from the asphalt, and sand, grit or even small rocks. In time, all of these can be harmful to your wood floors.
You can prevent everyday damage to your floor by following 3 simple steps when you are cleaning. While useful all year round, these methods are particularly important in the spring when messes are muddier and more abundant.
First, let’s talk about the importance of prevention.
To maintain a clean floor, a big part of that is prevention.
What is outside should stay outside, so that what is inside can remain clean and comfortable.
To that end, you should always have a transition space, and this can come in different forms, from simple to complex.
This transition space can be as simple as a walk-off mat, one with fibers that pulls the moisture off your feet and collects the dirt, grit and oils. Or the transition space can be as complex as building a mudroom when you are planning your home.
Many cultures, such as those in Asia, Europe, and Hawaii, acknowledge the need for a transition space, and it is custom, upon entry into a home, to remove shoes and put on socks or slippers.
In the mainland US, our culture hasn’t yet gone down that road, but in the spirit of having that hard break, a mud room or a walk-off mat provides a layer of protection from tracking in the outdoor elements directly onto your floors. It is easy to do, and it has a dramatic effect on producing a cleaner floor than if there were no transition point at all. Without a transition point, the whole floor surface of your home becomes the transition point. Not good!
Step 1: Wipe up.
Prevention is important, but we understand that life is life, so inevitably your floors are going to get dirty. Messes tend to fall into four categories: mud, oils, grit and dust.
These different messes and spills need to be cleaned in the most appropriate way—where the answer isn’t always sweep it up or mop it up. With mud and oil, you definitely want to avoid a catch-all cleaning method, and you want to start with a wipe up.
Wiping up is the first step (particularly so with mud or oil) in order to achieve a clean floor.
To illustrate wiping up, we will use mud as our example. With mud, the first thing you have to do is wipe it up. Often, we are talking about a footprint or series of footprints. You could sweep them up or try to use a wet mop, but then you would be pushing the mud into other areas of your floor. Instead, the best thing to do is to localize that mud by getting a microfiber towel or paper towels and gently wiping horizontally and pulling up the mud’s volume. This will save you a headache because through this technique, you will be removing the majority of the mud and not be spreading it across the floor.
Wiping up also avoids pulling rocks or sand horizontally across your floor, which can cause premature wear over time. The wipe-up cleaning technique is your first step which allows you to remove the bulk of very localized debris.
Step 2: Dry clean.
The second step in cleaning a wood floor is doing a dry clean. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. You can use a microfiber dust mop head, vacuum with your sweeper set to its hard-surface setting or take a broom and sweep. Like the wipe-up technique, a dry clean will lift up and gently remove hard grit.
When you are dry cleaning, it allows small dust and soils to be gently lifted and removed from the floor. If you were to jump straight into spray cleaning by mopping, that would be counterintuitive. You would actually take dusts and soils and emulsify them, which causes them to stick to your floor, making it necessary for you to wipe them up with your wood floor mop. A dry clean saves you effort and is a better technique.
Step 3: Spray clean.
Once you’ve done a wipe up and a dry clean, you are ready for a spray clean. And the first two steps don’t have to take up your whole afternoon; these steps can occur fairly quickly depending on the size of your space. Once the localized spills of mud and oils have been wiped up, and the remaining dust and grit have been lifted off, then you can go back over your floors with a microfiber mop.
At this point, if you have done the first two steps, then you need to use very little cleaner because you are not trying to do all three things at once. All you are doing now is dampening your wood floor mop with your spray cleaner, lightly spraying your floor, and then mopping up any remaining small substances, such as a sticky spot not fully wiped down or light dust that was missed.
Cleaning products to keep your floors clean year round.
If you approach cleaning with this three-step method, the April showers which lend their way to May flowers, will no longer be the annual nightmare it has been in the past, and regular cleaning will feel perhaps a bit more regular instead of gargantuan.
If you would like to purchase some of our cleaning products, visit our cleaning brand, Real Clean Floors, where you can find all you need for properly cleaning your real wood floors.
For any questions about cleaning or our flooring collections, please get in touch today through our website or by phone, 877.215.1831.