Guest blog written by Stacey Wurster, Green Cleaner Supervisor
Although we provide full house-cleaning at Green Cleaning Seattle, we find that we’re often primarily hired to clean bathrooms and floors. The former because the work is strenuous, time-consuming and sometimes a little, shall we say, “intensive”; and the latter because floor cleaning can be mysterious! Our clients often report that they haven’t had success deeply cleaning their floors or achieving a satisfying shine. That’s where our two-step process comes in!
Step 1: The key to successful mopping is thorough vacuuming!
After discovering the canister vacuum following years of sweeping or frustratingly trying to use an upright vacuum on smooth surfaces, I will never go back. Canister vacuums are the type that have a body with wheels and a lightweight wand with a head, connected to the body by a long hose. We use the Miele Olympus, an even simpler, lighter-weight version of this style. They take a little getting used to as they are a pull-behind as opposed to a push-ahead system, but their maneuverability, power of suction, low-energy operation (the Miele is 1000-1500 W), simplicity of use (no belts!) make vacuuming a snap! Miele’s tagline is “I’d rather be vacuuming” and after all these years, it is still my favorite part of cleaning each home!
Keep in mind that debris and dust live on the edges of rooms. Corners are champion crumb-keepers and the flexibility of a canister vacuum head speeds accessibility to these areas. If the head doesn’t fit, you can always pop it off and clean corners with the vac wand or a smaller attachment. We have made it standard to also go around the entire perimeter of every kitchen with just the vac wand or attachment to dislodge debris from under cabinets, the fridge and the oven as any loose pieces can get swept out by the mop head, ruining your otherwise clean floor!
Step 2: Once floors are debris-free, mopping is the easy part!
We like to think of mopping as “dusting” for floors and there are a few ways to go about it. For sensitive floors that have been newly refinished, we use hot water and vinegar (½ C to 2.5 Gal) or water alone. For all other floors including wood, laminate, stone, tile, linoleum, bamboo, marble and finished concrete, we use Ecover floor soap. This brand is incredibly mild, has a wonderful, light 100 percent natural citrus scent, and contains linseed oil that conditions. Murphy’s oil soap is also a good choice, although we find it to have a more intense smell. For each of these cleanser methods, very hot water is essential to speed evaporation and to prevent water-damaging floor surfaces, especially in the colder months. If any spotting occurs (possible on super shiny laminate or dark-stained wood), just go back over the floors with water only. I have only experienced one or two situations that required a drying step for good results, and these were new-construction settings involving leftover construction residues.
We love the twist-wring (Tornado, for example) type of mop with a rope-style head. It is great because it wrings out very thoroughly, allowing for a customized level of wetness for each floor type; dry for highly-sealed floors and wetter for older, thirstier wood flooring or concrete. These are also easy to disassemble and machine or hand-wash, reducing waste and replacement parts. They regularly last over 3 months with daily use. When using them, overlap your strokes, go with the wood grain if possible, and rinse your mop in your bucket every 10×10 ft area or more often for more heavily soiled floors. Change your water often, when the color resembles coffee or slate and becomes opaque, especially in kitchens and entryways. Changing the water is essential to preventing leftover residues. Also, it is a good trick to throw a sponge or scour pad in your bucket water to assist with stuck-on food, wax, etc. For particularly soiled floors, wet the whole area, letting it soak for 10 minutes while you mop another area, then returning to sop up the water. Change your bucket, then mop once more with fresh solution, bringing the surface to a shine!
What about Bona Floor System? We have some clients for whom we use this system, and it seems effective but it is definitely more expensive, requires more materials and is not non-toxic. Swiffers are affordable, great at removing dust, but tend to relocate debris and are highly wasteful if using their disposable cloths. I find swiffers and brooms to be interchangeable with canister vacuums being superior. And steam-cleaners? We use these periodically with good results and they are the only way to sanitize a floor without bleach. Always defer to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent melting or damaging non-wood surfaces and they are best for well-sealed natural wood flooring.
At GCS, we’re all about simplicity and replicability and that’s why we love our lightweight, no-frills supplies and solutions. Experiment on your own, taking into account the below tenants:
- The vacuuming step is key to great results
- Always use hot water
- Use the mildest cleanser possible for your floors
- Non-toxic cleansers are equally as effective as the “old standards” such as Pine-Sol and are much safer, especially where small children or pets spend time on the floor.
Happy floor cleaning!