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We all have different approaches when it comes to cleaning hardwood floors. In many homes, families are accustomed to spending time on the floor – whether it is children playing, sitting to watch television or even having meals together on a low table.
With this, achieving a “barefoot clean” is essential. We explore different cleaning methods and habits to understand what really works best when aiming for “barefoot clean” on hardwood floors - as well as what does not.
“There is a common misconception that it is ok to go straight into mopping floors as that cleans up all the dirt in your home,” explains Sharon Yap, Head of Technology Development at Dyson. “If dust is not removed fully prior to wet cleaning, then it can be smeared across hard floors when mopping your floors, potentially leaving a dirtier rather than a cleaner floor.
"The best advice for cleaning wooden floors is simple: vacuum your floors at least once a week to prevent your dirt from grinding in,” she adds. “For me, I try to give the high traffic areas of my home a little extra attention, such as kitchens and bedrooms, as the floor can quickly collect a lot of dirt, debris and stray hairs.”
“Many people believe that hard floors are more resistant to wear and tear – for example, marble flooring is a common type of flooring in many households, and some might use cleaning products that contain ammonia or acids, which will cause the flooring to erode and be uneven! Even while scrubbing the floor, be sure not to use anything with sharp bristles like metal scrubbers. Also, if you do not vacuum first, you risk spreading dirt rather than removing them.”
The daily routine for most people consists of removing the visible dust you see from hardwood floor surfaces, using a variety of methods – dry wiping, sweeping and vacuuming. However, what is equally important is the invisible dust that cannot be seen with the human eye, which is best removed with a vacuum cleaner. If you prefer to follow up with mopping your floors, here is what you need to keep in mind:
“With mopping, you use disinfectant to clean. You are not trying to remove germs but rather you are trying to kill them. The combination of mopping to kill germs and suction to remove fine dust are two very different jobs. They need to work in unison to achieve that barefoot clean feel. You really must ensure you are vacuuming properly, with the most effective technology to try to remove all of that dust before reaching for the mop,” says Yap.
Dampening dust on floors – even fine dust invisible to the naked eye – could mean that you are creating a habitat more favourable to dust mite and mould proliferation.
"Our 30 years of research in microbiology shows that the best way to get rid of dust allergen is to remove it completely from your home – which is why we invest so heavily in vacuum cleaner technology. In order to capture the fine dust and dirt that may not be seen to the human eye, you need an effective vacuum that picks the dust up, has efficient cyclones to keep it in the machine, as well as filters and seals to make sure it is not emitted back into your home. By doing this, you can then move on to the next step of cleaning your floors to achieve that true barefoot clean,” adds Yap.
Vacuuming the high traffic areas in your home ensures that dust does not build up in any areas.
The Dyson soft roller head (Fluffy) is specially made for hardwood floors and coated with antistatic carbon fiber filaments removes dirt and fine debris.
While it may seem like an effort to change tools mid-vacuum, this will help you remove dust you can see, and dust you can not. Use a crevice tool to clean hard to reach places.
It might seem like double the work, but it is important to try to remove all the dust in your home first. If the dust is not removed fully prior to wet cleaning, then it can be smeared across hardwood floors when the mop function is used, potentially leaving a dirtier rather than a cleaner floor.
While hardwood floors can be fairly straightforward to maintain, they are still susceptible to wear and tear over time, as well as stains. Stains are made up of a number of chemicals or chemical components, so it is important to understand what cleaning products you can use for the type of stain.
“There is an assumption that hard floors are smooth, but that is not true. Wooden floors have grooves and even tiles can be porous and absorb stains,” says Dr Calum Robertson, Chemical Research Scientist. “The strong chemicals are not always the best solution – bleach can remove the varnish on wooden floors, so it is always safer to start with a lighter solution like soap and water to avoid damaging your floors.”
Metal surfaces can present as a corrosion risk if you use products that are too abrasive – always start with some warm water and soap to see if stains can be removed first.
Marble is a porous stone material – leaving stains on your marble flooring may result in permanent damages. For oil-based stains, which can comprise of common household items like cooking oil, milk, butter or even hand lotion, use a liquid cleanser that contains household detergent, mineral spirits or acetone.
Some stains, like tea, coffee or red wine cause discoloration and so you may need to apply a bleach-based product to these kinds of stains – but only in sparing amounts. Always test the product on a more inconspicuous part of your flooring first and be patient when cleaning – and always read the label! Applying too much at once can cause irreversible discolouration to both the stain and your floors.
As eager as you may be to get rid of stains, be patient with the process. A study undertaken by the CDC found that poisonings related to combining household cleaning products surged during the Covid-19 pandemic* as people sought to clean their homes with a mix of disinfectants and bleaches.
Use the right accessories to get into the cracks and crevices to remove all dust – both visible and non-visible to avoid spreading bacteria when you clean afterwards.
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