Spring is in the air which means cleaning is top of mind for many of us. This is the time to open those windows, let some fresh but still cool air in, and get the closed-up winter air and stuffiness out. Time to spruce up the hard surfaces in your home and get them looking bright again!
But before you start, below are some helpful tips on how to clean your home’s surfaces so as not to damage or dull them so they stay beautiful for years to come.
Quick Cleaning Tips:
In the bath soap scum can be minimized by using a squeegee after each use. To remove soap scum, use a non-acidic soap scum remover or a solution of ammonia and water (about ½ cup ammonia to a gallon of water).
Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean, non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit from shoes do the most damage to floor surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that will scratch the floor. Normally, it will take a person about eight steps on a floor surface to remove sand or dirt from the bottom of their shoes. Do not use vacuum cleaners that are worn. The metal or plastic attachments or the wheels may scratch the surface.
Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap (available at hardware stores or from your stone dealer) or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for the other surfaces for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or limestone. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.
Surface Specific Cleaning:
Granite Counter Tops-
When your granite countertop is properly sealed, daily care is a breeze. Just use a soft cloth to dust the surface or wipe it down with plain water or a mild soap. If your countertop needs extra cleaning, use a specially formulated stone cleaner with a neutral pH. Never use abrasive cleansers, harsh chemicals or steel wool.
Do not use the following cleaners on your granite counter tops:
Bath tile cleaners
Orange, lemon, or other citrus cleaners
The great thing about engineered quartz is it is very easy to clean and maintain. The surface requires no sealants or waxes (either initially or for ongoing upkeep). Routine cleanup is a breeze with warm soap and water.
Avoiding acidic solutions from coming into contact with marble applies to cleaning products as well. The Marble Institute of America advises against using vinegar, lemon juice or other cleaners containing acid on marble, including bleach. Experts instead recommend only mild soap and water.
Wiping down countertops and surfaces with warm, sudsy water and a nonabrasive sponge or cloth is the best method for cleaning, but it will not remove etching or stains that have had time to permeate the surface.
The most popular marble finishes are polished and honed. A polished finish has a glossy surface, reflects light and shows off the color and markings in the marble. A honed finish is more satiny and smoother, with little light reflection, according to the Marble Institute. This finish is common for floors, stairs and other heavily trafficked locations.
Sealer: To reduce stains and etching, apply a spray sealant at least once a month. A good sealer will seal the top of the marble so things won’t penetrate quickly causing unwanted stains.
Butcher Block Surfaces:
Butcher block countertops are typically made of maple or oak and come in wide plank or narrow strips in terms of style. The wide plank style is more apt to warp.
Be sure to use only food-grade mineral oil to prevent the wood from warping and drying out. Avoid vegetable or olive oils for your butcherblock countertop; these oils can turn rancid.
Reapply mineral oil whenever the wood looks dry. You'll want to use a generous amount of mineral oil to start off with and continue reapplying until you see the wood is no longer accepting any more oil.
Stainless Steel Appliances:
They may look indestructible, but your stainless-steel surfaces need some love and care as well.
For safe care and cleaning, start with the right tools. The European Stainless Steel Development Association, or ESDA, suggests using soft sponges and microfiber cloths as the first line of defense.
On stainless steel surfaces with brushed or polished finishes, always wipe and scrub in the same direction as the “grain” lines in the metal.
The ESDA advises using the following:
Diluted vinegar (for cleaning limescale)
Baking soda (to remove coffee deposits)
Alcoholic solvents, such as acetone (for removing adhesives)
Chloride-free glass sprays (especially efficient for polished, mirror-like surfaces)
Commercially manufactured pastes and sprays that specify use on stainless steel
Don’t clean with steel scouring pads, which can scratch. Instead choose plastic scrubbing pads for tough jobs.
Don’t use silver dip polishes, like the ones used for cleaning jewelry, because they are corrosive to stainless steel.
Don’t use products containing chloride which can be harmful to the protective finish on stainless steel.
Dust mop interior floors frequently using a clean non-treated dry dust mop. Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces due to their abrasiveness. Mats or area rugs inside and outside an entrance will help to minimize the sand, dirt and grit that will scratch the floor. Normally, it will take a person about eight steps on a floor surface to remove sand or dirt from the bottom of their shoes. Be sure that the underside of the mat or rug has a non-slip surface but is appropriate for the surface you are putting it on. Do not use vacuum cleaners that are worn, the metal or plastic attachments or the wheels may scratch the floor surface.
For marble flooring, the Marble Institute advises dust-mopping floors frequently and cleaning with a mild, phosphate-free biodegradable liquid dishwashing soap or powder, or a stone soap. Soapless cleaners minimize streaks and film. After washing, rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly, marble is very slippery when it is wet!
Clean stone surfaces with a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap (available at hardware stores of from your stone dealer) or a mild liquid dishwashing detergent and warm water. Use a clean rag mop on floors and a soft cloth for the other surfaces for best results. Too much cleaner or soap may leave a film and cause streaks. Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on marble or limestone. Rinse the surface thoroughly after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft cloth. Change the rinse water frequently. Do not use scouring powders or creams; these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.
Clean weekly with a cleaner that is specifically made for hard wood surfaces. Be sure to vacuum floors with a special soft-bristle, non-marking brush to remove dirt sitting on the surface.
Wet a microfiber pad with just a little bit of water (enough to dampen the pad, but not so much that it is soaking) and a cleanser made for hardwood surfaces. Wring out the microfiber pad thoroughly. When you're cleaning, the floor should dry within a minute.
Stay away from: All-purpose cleansers that contain ammonia and chlorine, as well as vacuum brushes that rotate. Rotating vacuum brushes scratch wood surfaces.
Wood surfaces are sensitive to ultraviolet light and heat, causing the wood to change color or develop an undesirable patina. Try to avoid continued, direct sunlight on your wood surfaces and regularly shift rugs and furniture in direct sunlight areas to allow your wood floor to age evenly.
Laminate flooring doesn't need any special cleaners or special treatment to keep its looks. It never needs to be waxed or polished. It does require frequent sweeping to make sure no hard pebbles or similar are left behind to gouge the surface. Use a good quality laminate floor cleaner recommended by the manufacturer to keep the surfaces clean and bright.