The floor is the foundation of our lives. A lot of our daily activity takes place on floors, particularly in a commercial space. From a busy restaurant to a shopping mall during the holiday season to an office building with foot traffic that ebbs and flows, the floor is perhaps the one surface in a facility that typically gets the most wear and tear.
Those of us in the cleaning and maintenance industry know that a floor’s material plays an important role in its durability and safety as well as aesthetics. Additionally, how the cleaning and maintenance of each floor is critical to the lifespan of the surface.
When it comes to hard surface floors, the type of surface will dictate how to properly maintain them. All-purpose cleaners are effective on some surfaces but can damage others. Hardwood floors, for example, need a slightly different cleaning process to maintain their beauty and shine. Here are six tips to help hardwood floors last and keep them looking beautiful.
- Use a Neutral Cleaning Solution
Critical to the wood floor care process is the use of a cleaning solution with a neutral pH designed specifically for hardwood floors. All-purpose cleaners and general hard surface cleaners are not only too harsh for hardwood floors, but may also dull the finish and leave residue behind, creating a potential slip-and-fall hazard.
- Check Your Cleaning Solution Chemistry
When using a concentrated cleaner, be sure to use the recommended balance of water and cleaner; the wrong mix may do more harm than good. For floors that are near outside doors, consider implementing a specialty cleaning solution during the winter months, such as a cleaner that removes damaging salt or calcium chloride.
- Dust With a Microfiber Pad
While dusting with a string mop, sponge, or regular cloth might seem easy and effective, these materials can lead to hardwood floor damage. Microfiber pads are more gentle for surfaces like hardwood floor surfaces. A microfiber pad is designed to grab and lift dust and debris, while some other materials push dirt and dust around, potentially creating microscratches in the floor and opening the floor finish to damage.
- Let the Tools Do the Work
Investing in the right tools is a core component to extending the life of hardwood floors and helps make maintaining a floor easier. Mops with large mop heads and flared edges can significantly cut down on cleaning and dusting time. Additionally, make sure to wash the microfiber dusting and cleaning pads before each use; using dirty pads defeats the purpose and can damage the floor, leading to further expense.
- Start Smart: Consider Your Finish
The best cleaning process won’t be effective if the floor finish is poor quality. The wrong finish can limit the life of a floor or adversely affect the surrounding environment. A high-quality finish will prevent de-glossing, be easier to clean, and save money by providing a longer life span. Which type of finish a facility uses and how facility staff use it should be strongly considered for the benefit of the floor and the building’s occupants.
- Remember the Little Things
Sometimes, it’s the little things that keep a floor looking fantastic. Simple, inexpensive floor mats at key entry points can make a tremendous difference. Catching dirt, mud, and dust before it ever gets to the floor will not only save cleaning and maintenance time, but will also prevent damage to the floor, such as scratches and ground-in dirt. Vacuuming the floor mats daily is another quick and easy way to keep dirt off the floor. Make sure to clean the vacuum air filters to keep remnant dust out of the air—and off the floor.
A little extra preparation and knowledge can go a long way toward maintaining and caring for hardwood floors. Investing in the right tools and cleaning solution, along with a few other basics, can keep a hardwood floor looking beautiful for years to come. When in doubt, consult a hardwood floor expert to ensure your best practices are the right ones for your floors.