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Floor Care and Cleaning Guide

Floor Care

Regular care and maintenance of your new flooring is a simple way to extend the life and performance of your investment and keep it looking like new for years. Here are some general guidelines to follow for the different flooring types. 

Carpet

Suck it Up: dirt, dust, and other small particles are sharp and abrasive, and when they collect in your carpet, they can rip and tear the fibers over time. Regular vacuuming keeps these particles from wearing away at the carpet, and it also improves its appearance. 

Bag it: if you choose a vacuum that uses bags, make sure you change the bag frequently to allow maximum cleaning efficiency – and to avoid all that dust blowing back onto your carpets! Newer bagless models may save time and make the effort even easier.

Watch Your Weight: heavy furniture, potted plants and other home décor can crush carpet pile and leave compressions that you may not notice until you redecorate or move. Use felt pads or protective caps and re-arrange the furniture periodically. 

Stay Out of the Sun: in the same way the sun damages our skin, its ultraviolet rays can also damage the color of your carpet over time. To avoid sun lightening to your carpets, shut the curtain or blinds when the sun is most intense or use UV glass or film in your windows. 

Snip the Snags: looped carpets tend to snag over time – especially at the seams. It’s best not to vacuum over loose yarn or pull at the snags. Instead, treat every loose thread like you would on an expensive suit. Grab scissors and carefully snip the snag flush with the plush. 

Watch the Spills: when these events occur to begin the clean-up process by using a dry cloth to blot up as much debris or liquid as possible. The longer you wait, the more the fibers will absorb the stain. Warm water should then be used to rinse the stained area. Press the cloth into the carpet to soak up the moisture until the stain is gone. Don’t scrub and don’t use hot water. You’ll damage the fibers. Finally, rinse the area with warm water and absorb the wetness with a dry cloth. After your carpet is dry, vacuum it to restore its texture and appearance. There are some carpet cleaners that do actually work. Ask your retailer about cleaning products that have earned the Carpet & Rug Institute’s (CRI) Seal of Approval. 

Read Up!: like a fine piece of clothing, carpet is a textile. Though it doesn’t come with a little white tag on the back of the neckline, it does come with maintenance literature provided by the manufacturer. Different fibers, styles, and finishes require specific care. In the same way, you wouldn’t throw a silk blouse in the washing machine, you don’t want to make a similar mistake with your carpet. Read up and follow the suggested guidelines. You’ll be glad you did.

Call the Pros: time and traffic take their toll. It’s just a fact of life. Carpet manufacturer warranties have very specific instructions on the type of professional cleaning necessary to keep that warranty in force. Refer to that material. Then, when necessary, call on a reputable carpet cleaning service to restore your rugs to their original luster. The knowledge, commercial equipment and experience of a professional can go a long way towards removing stubborn stains and keeping your home beautiful. 

Hardwood Flooring

Meet Mat: tiny particles, like dirt, can act like sandpaper and scratch your wood. By placing a floor mat at each entryway and encouraging family members and guests to wipe their feet, the majority of dirt and grime will remain on the mat. Also put a floor mat or rug in any area where water could be splashed – like near the kitchen sink. This will hinder any possible water damage. Note that rubber-backed or non-ventilated floor mats or rugs can damage your floor. Instead use floor mats or rugs made especially for hardwood floors and be sure to shake them out regularly. 

Whistle While You Work: along with a hardwood floor comes the responsibility of keeping it clean. The better care you take, the longer your floor will maintain its original beauty. 

  • Step #1 – purchase a high quality broom so that you can sweep your floor regularly of dirt, dust and other particles.
  • Step #2 – use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar to get in between the boards and other hard to reach areas. Deeper cleaning techniques vary depending on the installation and finish of your hardwood floor.

For “Finish in Place” hardwood floors, using an 8″x14″ terrycloth mop with a rotating head that makes cleaning corners, under cabinets and along base boards easier is recommended. Professional cleaning products recommended by your flooring manufacturer can be used to remove tough stains and spills without dulling the finish of your wood floor. Makers of “Pre-finished” floors recommend their own specific products for routine maintenance.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO use cleaners that won’t leave a film or residue
  • DO use a professional hardwood floor cleaner to remove occasional scuffs and heel marks (just spray some cleaner on a cloth and rub the stained area lightly)
  • DO clean sticky spots with a damp towel or sponge
  • DO minimize water exposure and clean spills immediately
  • DON’T wax a wood floor with a urethane finish
  • DON’T use ammonia cleaners or oil soaps on a wood floor – they’ll dull the finish and affect your ability to recoat later.
  • DON’T wet mop or use excessive water to clean your floor (wood naturally expands when it’s wet and can cause your floor to crack or splinter)

Protect Your Investment – all hardwood floors fade or change shades over time. Like our own skin, wood’s exposure to sunlight may greatly increase this process and cause permanent damage.

Window treatments are recommended to shade your floors from the sun’s harsh rays. We also recommend rotating area rugs and furniture regularly, allowing wood floors to age evenly from UV exposure. To avoid permanent marks and scratches, it’s a good idea to cover furniture and table legs with flannel protectors. Be careful when moving heavy objects across your floor to avoid scuffing. Ladies – your stiletto heels may be fashionable, but what’s not in fashion (or covered by your warranty) are the dents and scratches they cause to wood floors. Likewise, trim your pet’s nails regularly and keep any and all other sharp objects away from your floors. Love your floors and your floors will you back for a long, long time. 

Laminate Flooring

Sweeping & Mopping: dust and dirt act as an abrasive on a laminate’s surface and seriously dull its appearance. This fact of life can be avoided by regular sweeping, dust mopping or vacuuming to remove loose dirt and grime. Either a broom or a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar will do the trick. Vacuum cleaner attachments are useful to capture dust and dirt between planks or along edges. An occasional damp mopping is also recommended. But be careful – laminate flooring can expand when it comes in contact with excessive water. After a damp mopping, a clean cloth should be used to wipe the floor dry. Placing doormats at each entryway is also a good idea to collect excessive moisture and dirt before they enter your home. 

Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO use glides or floor protectors on the bottom of furniture to prevent scratching or abrasion
  • DO lift heavy furniture instead of dragging or pulling it to avoid scratching and abrasion
  • DO use carpet fragments face down under heavy objects when moving them across a laminate floor
  • DO your spot cleaning and occasional complete cleaning using the manufacturer’s recommended products
  • DON’T use soap-based detergents or “mop-and-shine” products
  • DON’T use abrasive cleaners, steel wool or scouring powder
  • DON’T flood your floor with water or cleaner
  • DON’T try to refinish or sand your laminate floor

Repair – replacement laminates may be a slightly different dye lot and/or texture than your original installation. With time and usage, however, the replacement product will blend in with the rest of your floor. With proper care and regular maintenance, laminate flooring will provide you and your home with many years of beauty, warmth and durability.

Vinyl Flooring

Your Mother Was Right: keeping the floor clean is not hard, but there are some guidelines to increase the life of your flooring. Dust, sand and grit particles are the enemy. Sweep or vacuum frequently. Don’t use a vacuum with a beater bar as it may scratch your floor and don’t use scrub brushes. When sweeping or vacuuming does not remove the dirt, mop the floor with clean warm water. Rinse the floor thoroughly with fresh water. If water alone does not clean the surface, use cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer. Most “no rinse” cleaners will work just fine. An ounce or so of liquid detergent or ammonia in a gallon of water will work, but you will need to rinse the floor well. Do NOT use detergents, abrasive cleaners or “mop and shine” products. And always toss in an ounce of prevention. Mats or rugs in front of outside doors will help keep the dust and grit from getting to the floor in the first place. Be sure the mats and rugs you buy are for vinyl floors. Some rubberbacked mats may leave stains or marks. 

It’s Just a Spill: for spots or spills, wipe them up immediately and use the same technique on the spot as you would for the whole floor. 

Sometimes It’s Serious: if you have a seam open up, you need to cover it to keep out the dirt. The same applies if you get a cut or gouge in your new floor. Dirt makes it harder to repair. Call your retailer or installer for information on who should repair the seam.

Ceramic Tile Flooring

Sweeping: dirt adheres easily to the surface of ceramic tile, especially styles with textured surfaces. Regular sweeping loosens and removes most dirt. A vacuum cleaner can also be used to sweep, but make sure you use one without a beater bar to avoid dulling and scratching the tiles. Vacuum cleaner attachments are great to suck up dirt along edges or in between tiles.

Mats: use doormats to keep dirt from coming into your home and shake them out often. This will reduce the amount of dirt being tracked across your ceramic tile floor, and reduces the wear to the finished surface. 

Mopping: ceramic tile floors should be damp-mopped using manufacturer-recommended grout and tile cleaners. For heavier soil, spot clean the floor with a sponge or clean cloth using the same recommended cleaners. 

Heavy Cleaning: mild scrubbing with a soft brush or electric polisher/scrubber may be required for textured tiles. After cleaning with a mild detergent, rinse thoroughly with clean, warm water to remove leftover residue. If necessary, wipe the tile dry with a clean towel to remove any film. For soft water situations, an all-purpose cleaner may be necessary. Apply it to your floor and let it stand for 3-5 minutes. Then lightly scrub with a sponge, rinse well and you’re good to go. Cleaning products available from your local grocery or hardware store can be used to remove soap scum, hard water deposits and mildew stains from ceramic tile. Be sure to consult the cleaning product’s instructions to ensure the product is recommended for your type of tile. After cleaning, rinse well and wipe dry for a sparkling shine. 

Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO clean up spills as quickly as possible so your grout won’t become stained
  • DO remember that while ceramic tile is very durable, it’s not indestructible and may crack or chip under extreme force
  • DO take the proper precautions when moving heavy objects across a ceramic tile floor
  • DO cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against scratching
  • DO remember that if a repair is necessary, the replacement product may be a slightly different dye lot and/or texture than the original tile, however, with time and usage, the replacement tile will blend in with its neighbors.
  • DON’T use steel wool, scouring powders, or other abrasives that can scratch the finish of your ceramic tile
  • DON’T use bleach or ammonia-based cleaners – these products can discolor your grout if used too often

Caulking and Sealing – once your tile has been laid and grouted, it’s your responsibility to caulk areas that may be exposed to water. Caulking will prevent expensive subsurface damage and keep the tiled areas looking as good as new. Depending on your lifestyle, sealing your tile and grout may also be an option. After installation, sealing the grout and tile can provide protection from dirt and spills by slowing down the staining process. Grout colorants can transform the original color of your grout and, in some cases, can act as a form of sealant. Be aware that non-epoxy grout joints should be treated with a silicone sealer. Regular care and maintenance will keep your ceramic tile floors looking their very best for years to come. 

Area Rugs

You should vacuum or sweep your area rug as you would wall-to-wall carpeting. Watch the fringes. You don’t want to have to pull them out of the vacuum cleaner. Handmade area rugs can benefit from being turned over and vacuumed. Lift the rug up carefully and you will see all the dirt that had filtered down.

Turn, Turn, Turn: rotating your rug occasionally (annually) will help even wear patterns and prevent uneven fading. When rugs are exposed to the sun evenly, the colors harmonize and the rug ages nicely. If parts of the rug receive too much or too little of sun, one side might fade faster than the other.

See Spot? Go!: clean your area rug immediately after a spill. A water spill should be dried with a hair dryer set on a warm temperature. Try to dry both sides of the rug if possible. Anything else should first be blotted with paper towels to absorb as much as possible, and then apply salt or baking soda to the spot for a few minutes to absorb the rest. Once it dries, vacuum off the salt or baking soda. Professional grade rug cleaners are available. Be sure to test for color fastness before using. Take the rug to a professional handmade rug cleaner to deal with old or persistent stains. Do not try to clean it yourself. You might make it worse!

Read the Labels and Listen to the Pros: if you purchased a handmade rug, it’s best to have it cleaned by professionals. If you have a machine made rug, look to the manufacturer for the best way to clean it. Some can be machine washed. Others can be scrubbed by hand and dried outside.

Does Your Pad Need Padding?: consult with your retailer about the proper padding to be placed under the rug you choose. A pad can help stabilize and protect your rug. Some rugs come with a non-skid backing or a nice foam padding already attached.

Storing: if your area rug needs to be stored for a long time in a place without exposure to light or air, first vacuum it or get it professionally cleaned. For handmade rugs and those made of natural fibers, you might consider packing it with mothballs to protect against insect damage. Never fold your rug – roll it and store it in a dry location.

Rug Repair – repairing a handmade rug is an art form in and of itself. It is time consuming and labor intensive and therefore, often costly. Get the opinion of a professional before you have work done on a handmade rug – and be sure to use a reputable repairman. 

Stone Flooring

It’s Its Own Worst Enemy: sand, grit, and dirt can damage natural stone surfaces because they are abrasive. Use a vacuum on your floor if it’s textured, but avoid the beater bar. Those bristles are tough and might scratch your flooring. An old-fashioned dust mop works well, as does a broom. Wet mop as needed. 

Be Proactive: walk-off mats or area rugs on either side of entrances from the outside will help collect dirt before it reaches your beautiful new floor. Choose a rug or mat with a non-slip surface.

There’s Clean and There’s Cleaner: Damp mopping your natural stone floor will keep it looking beautiful. But your retailer or manufacturer can suggest special cleaners meant specifically for stone floors. Wipe up spills immediately. Use soap, not detergent, for good-old fashioned mopping. Liquid Ivory or a Castile soap product work well. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks, so rinse well. Change your rinse water frequently. Don’t use products that contain lemon juice, vinegar or other acids on marble, limestone, or travertine. Avoid abrasive cleaners or any ammonia based cleaners. These products will dull the floor’s luster. Retail grout cleaners, scouring powders or bathroom tub and tile cleaners can mar the finish on your stone. Never mix bleach and ammonia. The combination creates a toxic gas. To remove algae or moss from your stone in outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution. 

Green Flooring 

Green Tips for Adhesives:

  • Choose products with low to no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
  • Avoid formaldehyde
  • Look for Carpet and Rug Institure’s (CRI) Green Label® or Green Label Plus® certification

Green Tips for Cleaners:

  • Choose products with natural and biodegradable ingredients
  • Consider homemade cleaners using things from the pantry: vinegar, baking, soda, salt, lemon juice, rubbing alcohol, ammonia, or olive oil

Green Tips for the Whole House:

  • Keep caulked areas caulked (caulking prevents the loss of heat or cold air)
  • If you are installing a new floor, make sure that space between the flooring and the door is just right (too much space means you’re heating or cooling the entire outdoors while too little space means you can’t close the door)
  • Consider that space heaters are energy hogs and can generate more than two pounds of greenhouse gas per hour (use them too much and they might make your hardwood floors contract)
  • Choose low or no VOC products whenever you can
  • Insulation is not just for the attic anymore, it can be added between floors for additional saving
  • Choose a retailer that shares your commitment to the environment and knows about all the latest advances in green products.

12 Ways to Make Your Home Feel New Again

Treat your furniture, walls, floors and countertops to some TLC, to give them a just-bought look for a fraction of the cost!

Photo Credit: The Marshall Kitchen | American Cabinet & Flooring, Inc.

Shopping is the easy part for some – the thrill of the chase, the flutter of excitement at bringing a new treasure home, choosing a new paint color or materials for a remodel. But what happens to those glorious finds and finishes months or years later? Before you give in to the urge to shop for new stuff, consider some home maintenance to show off what you have in the best possible light. You may find that after giving what you already have a little extra TLC, your craving for new stuff fades. You never know; you may even find yourself falling for your home and decor all over again.

#1 – Maintain Upholstery

Regular maintenance can go a long way toward keeping upholstery looking as good as new for as long as possible. Vacuum the fabric and rotate cushions each time you clean the living room, and clean spills and mend small tears right away.

Even if a stain has been there for a long time, it can still often be removed with stain removal or hydrogen peroxide; treat it repeatedly until it fades. Just be sure to test new cleaning products on a less-visible area of fabric first.

#2 – Remove Scuff Marks and Touch Up Paint

Small things like scuff marks from shoes and bags, tiny dings and chipped corners can make a space feel worn out. Spend a day scrubbing, patching and touching up paint, and you’ll notice a world of difference.

#3 – Make Furniture Gleam

If you can’t remember the last time you polished your wood furniture, doing so will probably make you wonder why you don’t do it all the time – the difference is amazing.

The type of finish on your furniture will determine what you use to polish it. Midcentury teak pieces are often finished with oil alone, so simply rubbing in a bit more teak oil from time to time will suffice. Finished wood pieces may respond well to a furniture paste or wax – read the directions thoroughly before trying any new product. 

#4 – Remove Stains from Marble

This porous surface is prone to staining, so it’s important to wipe up spills immediately. Of course, there are time that just doesn’t happen. No matter how or when it happened, there still may be hope for restoring the beauty of your marble. Check the chart available from the Marble Institute of America for methods of removing all sorts of stains. If you still can’t get it out, call a pro – improving the counters you have is still cheaper than getting new ones. 

#5 – Care for Wood Counters

Remove scratches and stains on your wood countertops by gently sanding the area; then rub in a food-grade mineral oil with a soft rag. To prevent future damage, always use trivets under hot items, wipe up spills quickly and cut items on cutting boards, not on the counter.

#6 – Refresh Old Wood Floors

Even if you don’t want to have your wood floors refinished, there are still ways to make them look their best. What you use to refresh your floors will depend on the type of finish your wood floors have.

Floors with a natural oil-rubbed finish can be shined up with wood oil. Really old, worn floors may do well with a wax. Floors finished with polyurethane can be cleaned with a solution of white vinegar and water. Just avoid getting the floors really wet by applying the solution with a barely damp mop and wiping dry with a towel immediately after. Excess water on wood floors of any type can potentially cause damage.

#7 – Refluff Area Rugs

Fluffy rugs like flokatis and sheepskins look amazing when you first bring them home, but… less amazing after several months of wear and tear. Most small natural flokati and sheepskin rugs can be hand washed (or even machine washed on delicate) in mild soap and then air dried.

Between washings, simply shake out and then brush your rug with a dog brush. Just be sure to read the cleaning instructions before deciding on a method.

#8 – Deep Clean Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Regular vacuuming and spot cleaning will get you only so far. Every once in a while, it pays to rent, borrow or buy a steam cleaner to give your carpeting a deep clean. To help the floor dry as quickly and completely as possible, wait for a dry day ant set up a dehumidifier in the room afterward.

#9 – Condition Leather

Leather furniture can actually look better with age, provided that it is properly cared for. Use a leather conditioner a few times each year to keep the leather from drying out and cracking.

Keep it looking fresh by vacuuming and then buffing with a dry microfiber cloth as needed. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen, using a dry cloth to soak up any liquid. 

#10 – Brighten Whites

Slipcovers, pillow covers, curtains, towels and more can all use a good refreshing from time to time. If you don’t want to use chlorine bleach on your whites, try an oxygen – or hydrogen peroxide-based nonchlorine bleach instead. 

#11 – Touch Up Appliances

Years of use can create all sorts of stains and scratches on the once-pristine finish of your washer and dryer. If new appliances are not in the cards, consider painting yours with a product designed for the task, like the Appliance Enamel paint from Rust-Oleum. You can also use appliance paint on wornout finishes to the dishwasher. Do not use it on surfaces that get hot, like stovetops. 

#12 – Stock Up for Proper Maintenance

Beyond your usual cleaning tools, if there are any special items that would make it easier to care for your home and belongings, go ahead and make the investment. If you have lots of carpeting, for instance, a good steam cleaner could be a worthy addition. Leather conditioner, wood oil, furniture polish – having the little things you need at hand can help you keep your home looking its best. 

Wanted Dead or Alive: 10 Criminally Outdated Design Features

What worked in 1980 doesn’t necessarily work now. Don’t believe us? Look in your closet. Chances are, you’ve weeded out the parachute pants, leg warmers and shoulder pads. Similarly, interior design choices are cyclic. Even expensive, must-have features eventually become outdated and need to be replaced. 

Is your home stuck in a time warp? That’s fine, if that’s what you like. But if you’re contemplating selling, you’ll want to eliminate the generation gap between your house and potential buyers. Where to start? These 10 outdated features are among the biggest offenders.

#1 Colored Porcelain


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Photo via Zillow BlogToilets should not be red or pink or black or blue or green. This should go without saying, but neither should your sink or bathtub. Think white. If not white, think bisque. Just say “no” to the bathroom rainbow.

#2 Mauve

This color was hot in the 1980s and 1990s. Dusty rose found its way into home via carpeting, furniture, drapery, bedding and wall color. What’s the season’s ‘it’ color? The folks at Pittsburgh Paints suggest a palette made of red berries, modest muted stone and solid, reliable brown. Of course, if you’re intent on selling, neutrals are still the safest way to go.

#3 Wood Paneling

This once popular wall covering will send potential homebuyers running the other way (unless, perhaps, it’s solid, well-cared-for wood in a traditional cabin in the woods). You can paint over the wood grain, but you’ll be left with the telltale grooves of the paneled surface. You can skim the paneling with plaster, sand, prime, and paint to make it look like drywall. A more expensive, time consuming option is to remove the paneling and rebuild or repair the underlying walls. 

#4 Popcorn Ceilings


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Photo via Zillow BlogAlso known as cottage cheese or acoustic ceilings, this spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment primarily was used from the late 1950s into the 1980s. These bumpy, dust-loving ceilings can be softened with water and scraped off with a trowel or putty knife. It’s a messy job and one you may want to leave to a pro since the earliest versions of these ceilings contained asbestos. Note: the only thing more outdated than a popcorn ceiling is a dropped, acoustic-tile ceiling that was installed to hide a popcorn ceiling.

#5 Fluorescent Lighting


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Photo via Zillow BlogYes, we know that compact fluorescent light bulbs are energy efficient, and we know that new technology allows for warmer, softer, dimmable lighting. Those aren’t the lights on our most-wanted list; the real offenders are those commercial-style tube lights that are great for office buildings and not-so-great on kitchen ceilings. Replace one of these stark fixtures, an you’ll soon be seeing the light. 

#6 Gold-plate

When it comes to faucets and other plumbing fixtures, gold is the odd man out. Some designers predict that gold – in the form of brushed or matte faucets – may make a comeback, but today’s buyers appear to be much more interested in brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze. Shiny builder-grade brass is simply not an aesthetic for the ages. 

#7 Faux Finishes


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Photo via Zillow BlogSponge painted walls were hip in the 1990s. Now, they just look like walls that didn’t get a good coat of paint – same for rag rolling and stippling. The one faux finish that seems to have stood the test of time is a Venetian plaster finish, but even this Old World look must be done well and in the right setting. Prime, paint and get rid of the faux.

#8 Wallpaper Borders

Wallpaper is making a comeback, wallpaper borders are not. If you’ve got a 6-to-12-inch wide borer hanging at the top or beltline of a room, take it down; it’s simply not doing you any favors. Babies’ rooms are the one place where borders are still stylish. Even then, you’d be wise to consider a removable wall decal instead of paste-on trim. 

#9 Bad Carpet


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Photo via Zillow BlogWall-to-wall carpet that’s worn or stained can make your home incredibly difficult to sell. Clean dirty carpets. If they can’t be cleaned, replace them. Even if they are in great shape, buyers will run the other way when they see carpet in outdated colors or patterns (floral! plaid!). Worst of all: shag.

#10 Counterproductive Countertops

Buyers hate worn, cracked laminate countertops and backsplashes. They’re also not crazy about ceramic-tile countertops with grimy grout or plastic cultured marble vanities. Today’s most fashionable countertops are wearing granite, marble, limestone or soapstone. If natural stone doesn’t fit into your budget, you can update with new, more affordable counters in concrete, tile or laminate.

(You are reading an article originally posted on Zillow Blog

An Angie’s List Guide: Carpet or Wood?

Which flooring is best for your home: Carpet or Wood?

When purchasing a new home or remodeling your current home, one of the most important decisions you need to make is whether to install carpet or hardwood flooring. 

Some people love the warmth and silence carpeting offers. Other prefer the sleek design and easier upkeep of hardwood flooring. Both types of flooring have advantages and disadvantages depending on the homeowner’s preferences. The cheaper of the two options, carpeting can be harder to maintain and keep clean.

Here are some tips for maintaining your new carpet:

  • Prevention – tracking mud and dirt from outside is a great way to shorten the lifespan of any carpet. By taking steps to prevent dirt from getting into your carpeting, such as with door mats, you can maintain the appearance and lifespan of your carpet.

  • Vacuum – regularly vacuuming will help keep mud and grime from getting into carpet. It is important to change the bag on a vacuum as much as possible to prevent dirt and dust from getting back into the carpet while vacuuming.

  • Minimize exposure to the sun – UV rays can damage carpet and cause its color to fade. It is important to keep blinds closed during the day to prevent color fading in any carpeting.


The Kemper Remodel - After Carpet Installation -

Hardwood may be more expensive than carpet but many people prefer it for various reasons. Upkeep is much easier and wood flooring typically lasts much longer than carpet if kept in good condition.

Here are some tips for taking care of hardwood flooring:

  • Wipe your feet – much like carpet, it is important to keep dust and dirt from outside off your floor. Make it possible to wipe these substances from shoes by placing floor mats at different entryways around the house.

  • Use the right cleaner – its important to use a cleaner that will not damage the flooring. Cleaners that leave filmy residues are ill-advised for cleaning hardwood floors.

  • Minimize exposure to sun – like carpet, hardwood floors also need to be protected from the sun rays during the day. The sun will cause the color of the wood to fade and not look as pleasing in different sections of the home.


Kinner Built Homes - West 31st Street Development - Stairs

There are differences and similarities in what it takes to protect and upkeep both carpet and hardwood floors. People who are debating between the two materials should factor the upkeep into the decision. Those who are not prepared for the more involved upkeep of carpet should probably get hardwood floors. Either option is a great way to update a home or decorate a new home and increase its value.

Need help deciding which type of flooring fits best with your home and lifestyle? Come see one of our talented and expereicened Design Specialists, they are here to help you with your project from start to finish!

An Angie’s List Guide: House Cleaning

House Cleaning

Keeping your house clean is an increasingly challenging task for families in which everyone is busy. Here are tips on how to get the chores done efficiently yourself, or how to hire a good house cleaning service to do the heavy lifting for you.

Room-by-room tips

American families have less free time than ever to tend to housecleaning, but it becomes an overwhelming task if you don’t keep up with it. Here are some tips from professional house cleaners on how often to clean the most frequently used living areas of a home:

Kitchen & Eating Areas

If you do nothing else daily, make sure you wash the dishes and clean the sink and countertops. Wipe up messes on the stove and inside the microwave. Floors are a constant cleaning job depending on what’s been dropped, but if you’ve managed to keep it reasonably clean, mop weekly. Every few weeks, run a cleaning agent through the dishwasher to prevent buildup and ensure sparkling dishes.

It’s also a good idea to clear out the refrigerator before your weekly shopping trip. This way, you’re removing what’s spoiled and making room for fresh groceries. Every six months or so remove all the items from your cabinets and wipe down the shelving. This also is a good time to go through your canned and other packaged goods and throw away items that have expired.

If you use a table cloth, shake it out and wash it regularly. On a weekly basis, dust all surfaces and mop or vacuum the floor. 

Living Room and Family Room

The main problem here is clutter. Make it the responsibility of every member of the family to put away items they left out.

Dusting should be done weekly, or at least every other week. If you can write your name in the dust, you’ve waited too long. Wipe down often-used surfaces like table tops, mop floors and vacuum carpets. Some people like to move their furniture around a couple of times a year so they can reach areas they don’t routinely clean, such as under the sofa or chairs or behind book cases. 

Bathroom

This room can be the dirtiest and cleanest in any house, so weekly cleanings are important. Start with the bathtub. Wipe all surfaces to prevent mildew and soap scum. Clean the sink to remove any build-up from toothpaste or other toiletries.

When cleaning the toilet, spray or add cleaning solution to the bowl then go clean other areas of the bathroom. This allows the toilet cleaning agent to activate for several minutes before scrubbing the bowl clean. Mop the floor last so you leave a clean floor drying in a clean room.

If you have a cabinet or linen closet, remove all contents every six months and wipe down the shelves. This gives you time to sort make-up and other toiletries and throw away items that are expired or empty.

Bedrooms

Even if you don’t feel like making the bed first thing in the morning, doing it every day will help you achieve the feeling of a clean room in just a few minutes. Wash the linens weekly to help reduce allergens and dust mites.

Make sure you put dirty clothes in a hamper and take the time to fold and put away clothing. Regular dusting of furniture and vacuuming carpet or dusting floors and baseboards can also help to reduce allergies.

What You Missed

If you’re not a professional house cleaner there are probably some things you’re overlooking – even if you clean regularly.

Ceiling Cobwebs and Baseboard Dust

Look up. Cobwebs collect along the top edge of the wall where it meets the ceiling — and especially in corners. Use a long-handled dusting tool on these at least monthly. Wipe down your baseboards and trim, which tend to collect dust. This can be done with a furniture polish or with a rag dampened with water. 

Doorknobs and Telephones

Why clean doorknobs? Because lots of hands touch them every day and leave germs behind. Telephones and other frequently touched surfaces should get the same treatment. Use an antibacterial wipe or a rag dampened with any household cleaner to wipe these surfaces clean. Remember, some of the most contaminated surfaces in the home involve places touched by multiple hands. Be sure to include them in your weekly cleaning routine.

Novice cleaners should read the labels of cleaning products before tackling a home cleaning. Knowing what you can and can’t use on each surface in the house will save time, money and a potential disaster in the long run. Using the wrong product can do severe and sometimes irreparable damage. Also, some products can be harmful to children or pets if used too aggressively.

Hard-to-Reach Areas

Whether you’re hiring help or tackling the cleaning on your own, think about the last time you cleaned these hard to reach areas:

Behing and Under Major appliances

We often take for granted that nothing is going on under and behind the stove, refrigerator, washer or dryer. But the kitchen appliances attract grease, which provides a perfect surface for dust to stick. Other appliances collect dust and lint from laundry and daily living. 

You may need help moving your major appliances a couple of times a year to ensure the area where you cook is as sanitary as it can be. In addition to cleaning the area around and under your washer and dryer, you will want to clean out the dryer vent to prevent a fire hazard. 

Behind the Toilet: The toilet itself is pretty obvious, but the walls and floors behind and around the toilet, as well as the pedestal of the toilet should be cleaned thoroughly. A wet rag or mop will help pick up and remove dust and lint rather than sweeping it to another area in the bathroom. 

Ceiling Fans: As the blades spin they likely are throwing dust across the room. You may be able to reach the blades with your vacuum cleaner attachment or a special long-handled ceiling fan brush. However, the best thing may be to get on a ladder and wipe down the blades with a little soapy water. Vacuuming might be required if you were unable to catch all the dust yourself. 

Ceiling Corners: Depending on the height of your ceilings you may be able to reach the corners with one of your vacuum cleaner attachments. Rooms with high ceilings may require you to climb a ladder to get at the cobwebs.

Tops of Cabinets: Whether you have space between your kitchen cabinets and the ceiling or an armoire in a living room or bedroom, it’s probably time to get out a ladder. 

Remember, whichever room you clean, it’s best to start high and work your way down because dust and dirt will become dislodged as you clean and make their way downward.

Don’t forget to clean your cleaning tools! Though we’ll drop dishcloths and dish towels into the washing machine, we often leave the dust in the broom and forget to wipe out the bucket and clean the mop. 

Tools and Supplies

Before you begin tackling the challenge of cleaning the house, you will want to make sure you have all the necessary items on hand.

From tools of the trade, such as vacuums and rags, to cleaning products like Windex and baking soda, this list can serve as a comprehensive guide to assist you with house cleaning.

Vacuum Cleaner: The best way to begin cleaning a room is to eliminate dust, dirt and visible debris. Go over all carpeted and bare floors with an upright or handheld vacuum cleaner. Regular vacuuming will also significantly improve the appearance and life of your carpets!

Mop: Once the floors in your home are vacuumed, a mop is vital for getting rid of stains and eliminating bacteria from the floor. Choose a mop with a longer handle so that you are comfortable using it, and pair it with a bucket full of warm water and a cleaning solution.

Windex: This cleaning product is designed to remove smudges and stains on your glass items, such as tables, windows or mirrors. Spray it directly on the glass surface and wipe it off with a clean rag or wipe it down with a squeegee. 

All-purpose Cleaner: If you have only one cleaning product in your home, it should be a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner. It can be sprayed on most household surfaces and wiped off to easily remove bacteria, germs, smudges and stains. 

Baking Soda: This inexpensive item is a staple for cleaning the home. Not only does it have cleaning properties, but it is also a great way to remove unpleasant odors. Use it as a paste with water on spills to clean the carpet and eliminate smells. 

Rags: A supply of rags is vital when cleaning a home. Use them for cleaning bathrooms, windows, kitchen countertops and more. 

Gloves: If you are using lots of chemical cleaners, washing dishes or scrubbing toilets, you will need a pair of gloves to protect your hands from harsh chemicals. Choose a rubber pair that extends up to your elbows for the best protection.

Polish: While your all-purpose cleaner will work to clean many surfaces in the home, invest in a few specialty polishes for surfaces like stainless steel or wooden tables.

Be Green As You Clean

If you’re concerned about climate change, resource depletion and recycling, consider these environmentally-friendly tips for cleaning your home.

Reuse Instead of Throw Away

Whenever you consider throwing something away, make it a practice to try and find another use for it. Instead of using paper towels try rags that can easily be laundered and used again. Instead of throwing away floor cleaning pads consider using equipment that make use of steam and pads. 

Since steaming tools use water to help with the cleaning process, they tend to be healthier for the environment than many toxic-laced commercial products. Also, weigh whether the use of recycled products may be more environmentally friendly than taking up the resources you would use for laundering. 

Make Your Own Brew

Rather than purchasing products with hazardous ingredients, try making natural cleaning solutions.

  • Use a lemon juice and water mix to clean glass and mirrors. An old tee shirt torn to make rags can work well to clean those messy glass table tops without leaving streaks.

  • Mix lemon juice and olive oil to make a great smelling furniture polish.

  • Make a paste of salt, vinegar and flour to polish metal surfaces.

  • Throwing a handful of salt into a wood burning fireplace can help loosen up the soot buildup.

  • Use vinegar and water on bare floors to leave them fresh.

  • Use vinegar and baking soda to clean out clogged pipes and drains, or to deodorize your kitchen sink.

  • Use lemon juice and hot water to remove foul smells from your garbage disposal.

If you prefer not to do the cleaning work yourself, there are many professional house cleaning services that use green cleaning products. 

Hiring a House Cleaning Service

You don’t have to be wealthy to hire a cleaning service. Many busy families arrange for a service to come in once a week, once a month or something in between. Professional house cleaners can take care of tasks like vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors and so on while family members focus on keeping control of clutter and light cleaning of the bathrooms and kitchens. 

When hiring, ask questions:

  • Are you insured?

  • Do you hire all your employees or are independent workers used?

  • How many workers do you use?

Have the prospective cleaner meet you at your home so you can walk from room to room asking what type of cleaning they will do and with what products. Most cleaning companies provide their own products, but if there are special products you prefer that they use this may cost extra. 

Most experts recommend keeping consistency in cleaning. It’s preferable to use the same person every time if the experience is satisfactory as different cleaners are likely to clean in different ways. 

Finally, trust is extremely important. Unlike most other service providers, house cleaners typically come to your home while you’re at work so you need to feel comfortable allowing them access to your home. If you are a member of Angie’s List you will be able to search for house cleaners in your geographic area and pick someone who has consistently received high grades from other customers.