How to Clean a Floor

Cleaning floors regularly is an important part of maintaining a clean and healthy home. Floors can accumulate dirt, grime, stains, and germs over time. Having dirty floors not only looks bad but can also lead to health issues if bacteria, allergens, and other contaminants build up. Follow this comprehensive guide to learn how to clean various types of floors properly and keep them looking their best.

Supplies Needed

Before getting started, you’ll need to gather the right cleaning supplies. Having the proper tools makes cleaning floors faster, easier, and more effective. Here are the basics you’ll need:

  • Broom – Choose a broom with stiff bristles to sweep up dirt, debris, pet hair, and crumbs. Look for a broom that is angled to reach into corners.
  • Mop – Select a mop that is appropriate for the type of flooring. String mops and sponge mops work well for tile, vinyl, and sealed hardwood floors. Microfiber mops are ideal for laminate, stone, and other delicate surfaces.
  • Mop bucket – Use two buckets for mopping, one for the cleaning solution and one for rinsing. This prevents the dirty water from being reintroduced to the floor’s surface.
  • Vacuum – Pick a vacuum with the right attachments for bare floors. Vacuums help remove embedded dirt and dust.
  • Floor cleaner – Choose a cleaner made specifically for the surface material. Avoid multipurpose cleaners that can strip finishes.
  • Rags/towels – Have microfiber cloths or terry cotton towels on hand to spot clean spills and messes.
  • Gloves – Wear waterproof gloves to protect your hands from harsh cleaning chemicals. Rubber gloves provide the best grip.
  • Knee pads – Knee pads cushion your joints when kneeling to scrub flooring. Look for gel-filled pads for extra comfort.

How to Sweep Floors

Sweeping is the first step in any floor cleaning routine. It removes loose debris that can stick to wet mops and create streaks. Here is how to sweep floors correctly:

  • Remove furniture and rugs – Clear the area by moving chairs, tables, rugs, and other items that are sitting directly on the floor. This allows you to access the entire surface area.
  • Vacuum carpets first – Use a vacuum to clean surrounding carpets and area rugs before sweeping bare floors. This prevents crumbs and dirt from being scattered onto floors you just swept.
  • Work in sections – Divide the floor into manageable quadrants and sweep one section at a time. Work systematically from one end of the room to the other.
  • Use short strokes – Keep the broom bristles in constant contact with the floor as you sweep. Use short, overlapping strokes.
  • Sweep dirt into a pile – Gather debris into a central pile as you sweep. Flip the broom over and sweep with the other side.
  • Reach edges and corners – Angle the broom to sweep dirt away from baseboards and into the room. Use a dustpan to collect piles.
  • Use a vacuum alternative – For a deeper clean, use a vacuum with a hard floor attachment instead of a broom on surfaces like vinyl, tile, and sealed hardwood.

Sweeping regularly prevents dirt buildup and makes mopping much quicker. Sweep high traffic areas daily and the entire floor 1-2 times per week.

How to Mop Different Flooring Types

Mopping is key for sanitizing floors and removing stuck-on spills and stains. Mopping technique varies based on the flooring material. Refer to this guide for mopping methods for different surfaces:

Tile and Stone Floors

Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tile stand up well to water. Follow these steps:

  • Use a vinegar cleaning solution – Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar per gallon of warm water. The acid in vinegar disinfects and cuts through soap scum.
  • Use a sponge mop – The absorbent head scrubs away grime from the grout. Rinse the mop head frequently.
  • Scrub with a stiff brush – Periodically scrub grout lines with a stiff-bristled cleaning brush and baking soda paste.
  • Dry with a microfiber cloth – Wipe up excess water with a microfiber cloth to prevent calcium and lime buildup.

Vinyl and Linoleum Floors

Vinyl and linoleum floors need gentler care. Here’s how to clean them safely:

  • Sweep first – Remove debris before mopping to prevent scratching the surface.
  • Use cleaning products sparingly – Harsh chemicals can damage the protective finish. Use dilute amounts of mild cleaner.
  • Damp mop only – Wring out mops thoroughly. Remaining moisture can warp vinyl planks over time.
  • Buff dry – Shine the floor by buffing with a microfiber mop after rinsing.

Laminate and Engineered Wood Floors

Laminate and engineered wood floors require extra caution:

  • Use a damp microfiber mop – Excessive water causes irreversible swelling and warping. Use a lightly dampened flat mop and avoid scrubbing.
  • Clean along the planks – Wipe in the direction of the boards to prevent trapped moisture between them.
  • Use wood floor cleaner – Look for a gentle, soap-free cleaner labeled safe for laminate floors.
  • Dry immediately – Never let water pool or stand on the surface. Dry with microfiber cloths.

Sealed Hardwood Floors

For sealed hardwood, take these precautions:

  • Sweep grit – Fine debris acts like sandpaper under a wet mop. Make sure the floor is grit-free first.
  • Use minimal water – Too much water breaks down floor wax and finishes over time. Use a lightly dampened mop.
  • Select a hardwood cleaner – Choose a reputable brand designed specifically for sealed wood floors. Avoid oil soap.
  • Work in sections – Clean only small areas at a time to prevent the entire floor from getting wet.

Marble Floors

Natural marble is more high-maintenance:

  • Sweep carefully – Micro grit particles scratch soft marble surfaces. Use a soft-bristle broom.
  • Use pH-neutral cleaner – Marble is easily damaged by acidic or alkaline cleaners. Look for a product specifically for natural stone.
  • Rinse thoroughly – Detergent residue attracts more dirt. Take extra care to rinse all soap away.
  • Dry immediately – Marble is prone to water stains. Wipe up all moisture after mopping.

Tailor your mopping technique to keep each flooring type looking its best. Mop high traffic areas like entryways daily and do a thorough mopping of the full floor 1-2 times per week.

Tips for Effective Floor Mopping

Follow these best practices to mop like a pro:

  • Mix cleaning solution – Fill the mop bucket halfway with hot water. Add the recommended amount of cleaner and stir to dissolve.
  • Submerge and wring mop – Dip the mop head in the wash bucket. Press and twist firmly to wring out excess liquid before mopping.
  • Overlap strokes – Use a figure-8 pattern as you mop. Overlap each stroke slightly to prevent streaks.
  • Switch water frequently – Dirty mop water just redistributes grime. Rinse and wring the mop head every few minutes.
  • Work in sections – Divide the floor into manageable quadrants. Let each section dry before moving on.
  • Rinse the floor – Use the second bucket filled with clean water to remove all soap residue after mopping an area.
  • Follow up with fans – Point floor fans at mopped surfaces to speed drying and prevent water spots.
  • Block doorways – Close doors between wet and dry rooms. Place “Caution Wet Floor” signs if needed.

With some practice, you’ll develop an efficient mopping method. Proper technique keeps floors clean, free of haze, and safe to walk on.

How to Clean Floors with a Steam Mop

Steam mops provide a chemical-free cleaning option for many types of flooring. The heat and steam lift dirt while sanitizing. Follow these guidelines:

  • Vacuum first – Remove loose debris so it doesn’t get pushed around during steaming.
  • Check flooring guidelines – Make sure the flooring can tolerate high heat and moisture. Not all surfaces are compatible.
  • Empty water tank – Refill the clean water tank per manufacturer instructions. Use distilled water to prevent mineral deposits.
  • Attach microfiber pad – The reusable/washable pads pick up and lock in dirt.
  • Start in a corner – Working from a corner outward in overlapping paths lets moisture evaporate.
  • Scrub tough stains – Use a stiff nylon brush attachment to penetrate set-in grime.
  • Don’t overwet – Prolonged steam can damage surfaces and leave them prone to mold growth. Work in sections.
  • Allow to fully dry – Give the floor 30-60 minutes to air dry completely before walking on it after steaming.

When used correctly on appropriate surfaces, steam mops provide chemical-free deep cleaning. They effectively sanitize floors and remove allergens.

Tips for Cleaning Hard-to-Reach Areas

Floors often accumulate dirt and dust in hard-to-access areas. Use these techniques to target them:

  • Baseboards – Dampen a microfiber cloth to wipe baseboard tops and sides. Use a small brush to dislodge debris first if needed.
  • Corners – Wrap a wide dusting wand with a microfiber cloth. Twist it into corners to capture dust bunnies.
  • Under appliances – Lift appliances like refrigerators and slide a vacuum crevice tool underneath to clean.
  • Back edges of cabinets – Lay on the floor and use an angled duster to swipe away dirt and dust accumulating in these overlooked spots.
  • Under furniture – Move pieces aside and use a broom handle wrapped in a microfiber cloth to sweep away grit.
  • Inside closet floors – Spot mop closet floors using a small container of cleaning solution and cut-up rags.
  • Stairs – Scrub stairs with a multipurpose brush and a small bucket of floor cleaner. Use a banister brush for railing tops.
  • Vents/registers – Use a vacuum upholstery brush to extract embedded pet fur, dust, and other debris from floor vents.

Don’t neglect under appliances, baseboards, and other hard-to-reach floor areas during cleaning. Dirt and dust bunnies accumulate quickly in these spots.

How to Spot Clean Carpets

Daily spot cleaning keeps carpets looking fresh between deeper cleanings. Follow these steps to spot clean quickly and effectively:

  • Act quickly – Remove stains as soon as possible. Blot liquid spills immediately with a clean, dry towel.
  • Pretest cleaners – Try an inconspicuous area first to ensure the cleaner doesn’t discolor or damage fibers.
  • Blot, don’t rub – Press straight down to lift dirt up and out. Scrubbing can spread the stain and damage carpet pile.
  • Work from edges inward – Dab gently at the stain’s exterior and gradually advance toward the center to prevent spreading.
  • Rinse with water – Once the spot fades, spritz lightly with water and blot again to remove cleaner residue.
  • Absorb moisture – Lay a stack of colorfast towels over the spot and weigh them down to absorb all the moisture.
  • Fluff nap afterward – Use a spoon, comb, or fork to gently loosen matted carpet fibers and restore the nap.
  • Be patient – It can take 24-48 hours for carpet to fully dry after spot cleaning. Keep furniture off damp areas.

With the proper methods and regular care, you can keep carpets looking cleaner between professional deep cleaning services.

How to Shampoo Carpets

Shampooing carpets thoroughly is recommended every 6-12 months. Here are the basic steps:

  • Vacuum first – Vacuum high-traffic areas daily and the whole carpet 1-2 times per week. Vacuuming is key for loosening embedded dirt.
  • Pretest cleaner – Try a small amount of carpet shampoo on an inconspicuous area before using it throughout. Check for discoloration or damage.
  • Mix solution – Pour carpet shampoo into the tank per label directions, usually 2-4 ounces per gallon of hot water.
  • Work in sections – Shampoo only small, manageable sections of carpet at a time so they dry completely before moving on.
  • Scrub and extract – Make overlapping passes with the machine. Push forward and pull back to scrub the shampoo deep into the carpet fibers to emulsify grime.
  • Rinse with water – Make a final pass over each section with just hot water in the tank to rinse away shampoo residue.
  • Dry thoroughly – Turn on fans and dehumidifiers to accelerate drying. Replace furniture only after carpet is completely dry.

Shampooing prevents dirt from becoming deeply embedded in carpet fibers. It’s also important for lifting away oily dirt that vacuums can’t remove.

How to Clean Hardwood Floors of Pet Stains

Pets can take a toll on hardwood floors. Try these tips for removing urine, feces, vomit, and other organic stains:

  • Blot immediately – As soon as you notice an accident, blot the area firmly with paper towels or an absorbent cloth. Avoid scrubbing.
  • Use an enzyme cleaner – Enzyme cleaners break down the compounds in organic matter that cause odors and stains. Let the enzymatic cleaner soak for 5-10 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly – Residue left by cleaners combines with urine salts and attracts more soiling. Rinse multiple times.
  • Dry quickly – Absorb excess moisture with towels immediately after rinsing. Point fans at the area to accelerate drying.
  • Re-treat if needed – Some deep-set stains require multiple applications of cleaner. Allow the floor to fully dry in between treatments.
  • Consider refinishing – For stubborn or recurring pet stains, sanding and refinishing the floor may be required. Consult a professional.

With the right techniques and products, even set-in pet stains on wood floors can be remedied. The key is to act fast when accidents occur.

How Often to Clean Floors

Follow these floor cleaning frequency recommendations:

  • Daily – Sweep, vacuum, or spot clean high traffic areas like entryways, kitchens, and hallways.
  • 2-3 Times Per Week – Thoroughly vacuum carpets and rugs. Sweep and mop hard surface floors.
  • Weekly – Scrub grout lines in tile floors. Clean along baseboards and edges. Move furniture to clean underneath.
  • Monthly – Clean inside closets. Vacuum and dust registers, vents, and radiators.
  • Every 6-12 Months – Professionally steam clean carpets and rugs. Shampoo upholstery. Strip and refinish hardwood floors.
  • As Needed – Immediately spot clean new spills and stains on carpets. Address pet accidents on floors as they occur.

Adjust cleaning frequency based on traffic, pets, kids, and overall soil levels in your home. Consistent cleaning prevents dirt from building up.

Floor Cleaning Tips and Tricks

  • Use floor protectors – Attach felt pads to furniture legs to prevent scratches and dents when moving.
  • Shake out doormats – Regularly shake out entrance mats to prevent gravel and other debris from being tracked inside.
  • Clean floors last – After dusting and cleaning other surfaces, save floors for the final step since you may transfer dirt to them.
  • Invest in quality cleaning tools – Durable microfiber mops and vacuums with strong suction pick up the most dirt in the least amount of time.
  • Move in zones – When mopping, start farthest from the exit door and work your way backward so you don’t walk over wet floors.
  • Follow a schedule – Designate Mondays for floors, Tuesdays for bathrooms, etc. Scheduled cleaning makes maintaining a tidy home easier.
  • Clean spills ASAP – Attend to food spills, pet accidents, and other messes on floors right away so stains don’t set in.
  • Address traffic patterns – Focus cleaning efforts on high-traffic walking paths like hallways that see the most foot traffic and shoe dirt.
  • Let air fresheners dissipate – Avoid using strongly scented sprays right after cleaning floors. Wait until floors are completely dry first for the best results.
  • Prevent pet scratches – Keep dogs’ nails trimmed to minimize scratches from excited paws on hardwood and laminate floors.

Do’s and Don’ts of Floor Cleaning


  • Sweep floors first before wet mopping
  • Use the right cleaning solution for each floor type
  • Move small furniture and rugs to access the full floor area
  • Work in sections and allow floors to fully dry before walking on them
  • Open windows and use fans to help floors dry faster
  • Place carpets and rugs back only after floors are completely dry


  • Use excessive water when mopping wood floors
  • Combine products unless specifically directed (like vinegar and ammonia)
  • Use scented products on floors that pets will come into contact with
  • Allow