Hauling out the buckets and swabbing the decks may be fine for a sailor, but as the captain of your own ship, you have better ways to keep your floors squeaky-clean. Or you will, once you read this great advice from Jim Ireland, president of White Glove Elite, a New York City-based cleaning company.
1. You really should sweep every day.
Yes, it's one more thing you have to do while you're cleaning up from dinner, but you really should sweep the kitchen floor every night before you go to bed. "An ant's greatest friend is a crumb," Ireland warns. (Ditto for mice.) Sweep up any morsels with a dustpan and brush. And don't forget to hit the corners and along the toe kicks, where grit goes to hide.
2. Microfiber > mop and bucket.
As for mopping? Ireland suggests twice a week (sorry!), but the good news is that you can leave the bucket in your closet. No matter if you have wood, tile, or linoleum floors, a water-dampened microfiber cloth will get the job done. Just rinse it off in the sink as it gets dirty.
"This keeps you from re-applying dirty water to the floor you are trying to clean," says Ireland. Think about it: How clean can you really be getting your floors if you're constantly dipping a mop into soapy-but-dirty water?
More on microfiber cloths: The One Cleaning Tool You Really Need in Your Kitchen
3. There's no need for harsh cleaners.
Another reason to use microfiber? Turns out, microfiber does a bang-up job at removing germs and dirt — no cleaners needed! "I'm a big fan of substituting cleaning products with a microfiber [cloth], warm water, and a little elbow grease," Ireland says.
Ireland also notes that you may want to have a spray bottle handy to loosen any tougher grime — especially if it's been a while since you've given your floors any TLC. But the most you'll need is a bit of dish soap diluted in water or a spritz of kitchen surface cleaner.
The Right Cleaner for Your Floors
- For linoleum, Ireland recommends ammonia-based cleaners, which can remove any past yellowing from other cleaning products.
- For ceramic tile, liquid floor-cleaning products (like Mr. Clean or Pine-Sol) can remove grime, but you may need to rinse or even hand-dry the floor to prevent the cleanser from leaving residue behind.
- On stone, skip anything with acid — including vinegar and citrus — which can mar and etch the surface, in favor of mild dish soap and water.
- A combination of mild dish soap and water is best for wood floors, too — just make sure the cloth is well-wrung first.
4. Avoid products that promise "shine."
"Be very wary of products that advertise 'shine,'" Ireland says, as well as those whose instructions say to let dry for 10 minutes. These are telltale signs that the cleaner contains an acrylic-based polish, which will coat the floor's surface, leading to eventual yellowing and one brutal future cleanup project: "You will eventually find yourself on your hands and knees with ammonia and a scrub-brush trying to strip the five-dollar finish off of your thousand-dollar floor."
The exception: "Acrylic finishes — provided by Future or Mop-n-Glo — are a welcomed redemption for cheap linoleum floors in need of serious help," he says.
5. Never use your scouring sponge on your floors.
If there's a really gunky stain on any floor, whatever you do, "Do not use a scouring sponge!" says Ireland. "They're the primary culprit for scratched surfaces." Instead, try a more concentrated dose of your cleaner of choice and let it sit for a minute, or hit it with a nylon-bristled scrub brush before mopping.