Cleaning Tips: Wood Floor Care The Right Way

Practical advice to get the job done more efficiently

Styles come and go — remember shag carpet? That’s actually good for carpet and hard floor cleaning professionals, especially if you take the time to stay in touch with the latest cleaning techniques.

One trend is the growing popularity of wood, cork and other hard floor materials. You can profit from this trend if you have existing customers who have or are considering installing wood flooring in their home or business. William Griffin, in an article on wood floor care in, recognizes the opportunities and offers some practical advice for cleaning wood floors the right way.

“In the past,” Griffin says, “many of these flooring materials required detailed procedures, products and equipment in order to properly maintain and restore their natural beauty without the risk of damage.”

The good news is that finish manufacturers have kept pace by developing more advanced cleaning products so it’s easier than ever to clean wood floors — even if they’re actually laminates, engineered wood or exotic materials like cork or bamboo.

First steps involve inspecting and testing the floor’s condition. Failing to do that, says Griffin, leads to problems. Other red flags are failing to communicate with the customer “regarding limitation of the process, and a tendency to oversell the process when, in fact, a complete sand and refinish is what’s needed to obtain acceptable results in the eye of the buyer.”

If you get a job treating wood floors, develop a checklist to make sure you cover your bases:

  • Communicate with your client — photograph the problem areas and show finish examples (gloss, satin etc.)
  • Test the existing finish with the cleaning products you plan to use
  • Create a “scope of work” and have the customer sign it — it should specify number of coats and cost
  • Apply thin to medium coats
  • Rinse well
  • Do not use air movers (they can stir up dust and ripple the finish)
  • Give your customer instructions on proper cleaning of the surface
  • Make a note to yourself to keep in touch with your customers — wood floors need to be recoated every few years and this is your chance to generate repeat business.

Cleaning Tips: Going Green — Here To Stay?

Practical advice to get the job done more efficiently

Using green products to clean carpet and hard floors is not only good for the environment — it’s good for business.

The reason is that people have come to expect a certain level of “green” and they turn to companies that announce they are green. Professional carpet cleaners know this, which is one reason that’s number two most-watched quick-clip video of 2012 was “Green Cleaning: Fading Away?”

The basics of green cleaning begin with an understanding of the products that are a fundamental part of any green cleaning program. As the movement has matured, a general agreement has developed around definitions of cleaning products that have a preferred environmental safety and health profile.

In short, green products need to meet certain criteria. According to ISSA, you can classify a product as green if it is one of the following:

If you use green-certified cleaning products, you can ensure you’re getting “marketing credit” in the eyes of your customers by including some simple statements in your marketing materials. “Green” may not be capturing the headlines, but consumers are still concerned about the safety of products used in their homes and businesses. Check out your marketing and update them if necessary to reflect your use of green products. And if you don’t use green products, it’s time to learn!

Cleaning Tips: The Value of Measuring pH

Practical advice to get the job done more efficiently

Professional carpet cleaners know that effective cleaning depends on measuring the pH of the soil or stain. Quick and easy ways to test the pH of a stain include using litmus paper, pH paper or an electronic pH meter. You can also use the same items to test the pH of your cleaning solution. Cleaning solutions and carpet stains fall into one of three pH categories:

acidic (with a pH reading of less than 7), neutral (pH of 7) or alkaline (pH over 7). If you know the pH of the spot, you should use a cleaner with an opposite pH to remove the soil. As a rule of thumb, all-purpose carpet cleaners are usually alkaline (high pH) cleaners, since most stains fall into the acid category.

Adhering to these general guidelines will help you clean carpet effectively. But there’s a lot more to pH than the basics, and if you want to take your business to the next level, it pays to develop a more in-depth understanding of pH. According to James Smith in a recent article at, “We must remember that nylon and wool are the two fibers most likely to need definitive alkaline limits.” Since that pertains to many of your jobs, it’s worth digging deeper into Smith’s article. His sound advice includes the following:

  • “In most cases, wool should not be over a pH of 5.5. This would include before it is cleaned, during its cleaning, and afterwards. If wool’s reading is higher than this, its polarity will revert to its natural anionic state and it will no longer have colorfastness with acid-dyes.”
  • “It is just an educated guess, but nylon should not have a pH higher than 8. It needs a pH higher than 7 for detergency to reach a satisfactory level. Higher than 8 indicates that its stain resistance is likely damaged. Soil’s pH is generally from 6.1 to 6.7.”

Cleaning Tips: Become the King of Grout

Sanded grout is both porous and absorbent, which means they require a seal, and it’s pretty safe to assume a sealant was used during installation. Grout lines are generally lower than the tiles, so water fills the grout lines and soil from daily traffic and cleaning are deposited on the grout. That is compounded when sanded grout is used because of the natural porosity of the material. That means — especially with new customers who may not have a regular maintenance program — the grout lines are likely to be discolored. Here are some quick tips to get the grout looking new and keep it looking great.

• Assuming the grout was sealed properly during installation (or additives were used in the grout), step one for new customers is a rigorous scrub and rinse with either a neutral cleaner or all-purpose cleaner.

• Step two is to ensure routine maintenance, consisting of daily sweeping or mopping (depending on amount of floor traffic) with a neutral cleaner. If the tiles are located in restrooms or kitchens, the routine is the same —simply use a degreaser or sanitizer in the solution.

• Be sure to convince your customer of the value of a periodic maintenance plan, because even with daily cleaning grout becomes soiled and needs a more thorough cleaning. This usually involves scrubbing and rinsing, anywhere from weekly to quarterly depending on use.

If the grout has not been well maintained, it may need restoration. For some good advice on restoring grout — and on a more in-depth look at grout cleaning in general — see