Clean is a matter of degrees. Want your floor GI clean or merely mother-in-law-clean?

Clean is a matter of degrees. Want your floor GI clean or merely mother-in-law-clean? With today’s machines and cleaners, it’s never been easier to find the shine.

From fibers capable of, or treated for, resisting stains and knocking out odors, to effective, child safe cleaners that do the same, today’s floors are easier than ever, to keep them looking as beautiful as the day they were first installed.The first rule of clean is to get up dirt and grit that acts as an abrasive on any flooring surface. Next, clean up spills as soon as you discover them. Make cleaning your high traffic areas a daily routine; a weekly cleaning for low or non-traffic areas should be all that’s needed. Carpet and rug manufacturers recommend five “passes” with a vacuum per cleaning to do the job right--and slow down in high traffic areas to let the machine do the work.

Sweeping and vacuuming are the front line of defense for every flooring surface, but pay special attention to the kinds of equipment you’re using. A rotary brush type vacuum is great on carpet and rugs but might mar the surface of a wood floor.

Before you set a vacuum, broom, or mop to your floor, find out what the surface is made of and which cleaner and treatments work best. For example, unlike many floors, a beautiful and delicate marble shine can be ruined by using everyday household cleaners. Sure, the floor gets cleaned, but the chemicals actually etch away the finish. Depending on the floor, the wrong cleaning agent can also make the floor harder to clean next time and make some hard surface flooring slippery.

When it comes to more sophisticated cleaning and floor maintenance equipment, more or bigger isn’t always better. New floor cleaning machines that heat water and soap then scrub and kill bacteria should be used only for their intended purpose, For example, using a water extraction unit, designed for a carpet, on your new hard surface flooring can force water into joints and weak spots wreaking havoc with your floor or sub floor. This is even worse than standing water or puddling from over-mopping floors that need simple damp mopping.

Always select the right tools for the job. For the new multi-function machines, always check to see that you’re on the right setting. These very affordable machines--some with steam and clean-air filters--can manage cleaning and general maintenance for every flooring surface in your home, and they’re intelligent enough to tell you if you’re going too fast, too slow or applying the right amount of cleaner.