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Flooring Cleaning and Maintenance FAQ: Expert Advice

There are as many methods for cleaning your floors as there are types of flooring to choose from. What works great on one type of floor could ruin another, so it’s critically important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before you get started scrubbing. Depending on whether your floors are made from hardwood, luxury vinyl, ceramic tile, linoleum, wall-to-wall carpeting, or other materials, recommended cleaning methods might include vacuuming, sweeping, using a wet or dry mop, using steam, avoiding steam, or (in smaller spaces) simply hand-cleaning with paper towels or microfiber wipes.

It’s difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, since different floors have different cleaning requirements. For example, what’s appropriate for wood or carpet might be wrong for tile or stone. That said, it’s generally a good idea to start by removing loose crumbs and debris (such as vacuuming or sweeping), then follow up by wiping or scrubbing to remove any remaining stains. As always, we recommend referring to the manufacturer’s guidelines, which will provide you with step-by-step care instructions.

You already know about sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming. Now, get ready to learn about two new techniques for cleaning floors: buffing and burnishing. How are they different, and what are their similarities? While both burnishing and buffing have the same goal — making your floors look newer and glossier — buffing is a more elaborate process. Buffing involves both cleaning and polishing, while burnishing strictly involves polishing. Another major difference is that burnishing requires a powerful, high-speed machine. That is not necessarily the case for buffing, which can be accomplished at lower speeds. Before you tackle a heavy-duty floor chore like buffing or burnishing, ask a professional for expert advice.

Homeowners have thousands of choices when shopping for floor cleaning machines. From basic vacuums and steam cleaners, to specialized industrial equipment like high-speed buffers and rotary floor scrubbers, there is no shortage of options to choose from. The best choice for you depends on what sort of flooring you have (or intend to install). While high-end cleaning machines can cost thousands of dollars, most homeowners do not need fancy or expensive equipment to achieve good results. Unless your floors are extensively soiled, simple maintenance with a combination of mopping and vacuuming is likely sufficient. Of course, the manufacturer’s recommendations are always the most reliable source for care and cleaning advice.