Dirt and sand can scratch a solid timber floor, so vacuum or sweep regularly with an electrostatic mop. You can also use a damp but thoroughly wrung out mop – microfibre flat mops are better than sponge or string ones here. Never use a steam mop on solid timber flooring, as heat and moisture can cause the boards to deform and compromise the coating.
Check your cleaning product is pH-neutral and not spirit or solvent based, avoid abrasive or concentrated detergents and never use scourers or steel wool.
Minor scratches in floorboards can often be touched up using a tinted wax crayon. You can also try a touch-up pen or buff-and-polish fluid. If there is a deeper scratch or ding, a timber touch-up kit might save the day.
Denise Retallick of Gerflor (Senso) says, “Vinyl flooring is by far one of the easiest types of floors to maintain. Scuff marks, dirt and grime will effortlessly wipe away with any pH-neutral cleaner.”
However, decades-old vinyl flooring that’s sustained heavy wear might need to be replaced. Consider self-adhesive vinyl planks, which are easy to install and very hardwearing – and in the unlikely event you manage to gouge or scrape one, there’s a simple solution: “Using a hair dryer, gently warm the damaged plank for several minutes, then prise up the edge with a utility knife until you can grab it,” says Denise. “Then just remove the plank and replace it with a new one.”
Vacuuming is the best way to keep carpets clean. “A weekly vacuum would be fairly typical, but the frequency also depends on the amount of foot traffic or whether you have pets at home,” says Craig Knighton of Vax. A cordless yet powerful handheld vacuum is a handy tool for tricky areas such as stairs and tight spaces. Clean spot stains using a specialist carpet stain remover, and once or twice a year, treat your carpet to a steam clean to wash out ground-in dirt – deep cleaners are available from the Hire Shop.
Note: Any members of the household who are sensitive to allergens should steer clear while carpets are being vacuumed.
Abrasion from soil and sand particles is damaging to both engineered and laminate-type floating floors. Engineered floorboards have a thin layer of real timber under the surface, so they can be sanded and refinished like solid floorboards, giving you an opportunity to reverse any damage. Laminate floors don’t have this timber layer and can’t be fixed the same way.
Clean them using a damp (but not saturated) mop, or simply vacuum once a week, keeping the vacuum’s brush in the ‘up’ setting. Laminate floors are particularly sensitive to moisture, so wipe up any spills immediately. If something gets stuck on, use a plastic or wooden spatula to gently remove it – never use a scouring pad or metal implement.
Tiled floors can hold a surprising amount of dirt and sand. As with other hard floors, vacuum weekly, then give them a solid clean by mopping with a solution of water and white vinegar – often vinegar makes ceramic tiles sparkle more brightly than chemical cleaning solutions, and it’s also gentle on the environment.
Stone tiles tend to need more frequent cleaning, so a microfibre power cleaner can be a good way to save elbow grease. Only use mild solutions such as water with dishwashing liquid to avoid damaging the sealant.
If they do become damaged, tiles can be difficult to repair. A cracked tile will need to be removed and replaced, which is fiddly but achievable for a confident DIYer. If you’re laying new tile floors, hold back a few spare in case of future accidents.
Photo credit: Senso by Gerflor and Brigid Arnott