To keep hardwood floors looking beautiful, play it safe and use a dedicated wood cleaner, and follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully. Use a barely damp mop and dry thoroughly afterward; excess water can cause warping or other damage. If you spot a scratch, camouflage it with a wax stick made for floor scratches, or touch it up with a wood-stain marker. Notice a scuff? Buff it out with a clean, fuzzy tennis ball.
Clean everyday grime with a multipurpose cleanser. Mix it in a bucket of warm water and pair it with a mop. Afterward, rinse with clean water and dry with a lint-free cloth. Tools are key: Get yourself a grout brush for spaces between tiles and a cheap, stiff nailbrush for small corners where your mop doesn’t reach.
Drag small rugs outside and vigorously shake them. If they’re machine washable, toss them into the washer with your favorite detergent plus a scoop of stain remover. Air-dry when done. For rugs that are too large to carry outside, vacuum thoroughly, then flip and vacuum the other side. Spot treat stains with a stain remover and warm water, then rinse.
Move as much furniture as possible out of the room and vacuum the carpeting thoroughly. Then bring on the carpet-cleaning machine (if you don’t own one, you can rent one from a home improvement store for about $25 a day). Resist the urge to use more soap than the directions call for—excess suds can leave residue behind that attracts dirt. As you clean, aim for damp, not drenched. Let the carpet dry thoroughly, for about eight hours, then vacuum again.
Keep the clean longer
You can help keep your floors spotless by making your home a no-shoes zone: Outdoor shoes transfer bacteria like E. coli to floors, according to a University of Arizona study. In addition, vacuum and sweep at least once a week. And handle carpet and tile floor spills right away, because stains are harder to erase the longer they sit.