A facilities worker cleans the floor in a commercial building lobby with a floor buffer.
Trade Talk

How to clean different types of floor

Year-round, dust and grit wear down both hard and soft types of flooring. With regular cleaning and maintenance, you can extend the lifespan and preserve the look in your business, as well as help prevent expensive repairs or replacements sooner than expected.

Your facility likely has several different types of flooring, all with their own maintenance needs and recommended cleaning schedules. Discover steps and tips for how to clean a floor of any type in your building, plus select the right mop for the job below.

Floor care cleaning and maintenance tips

Before learning how to clean specific types of floors, keep a few tips in mind. Regardless of flooring, entrances, hallways and lobbies typically get more traffic than other areas. You may want to increase your cleaning frequency in these busy places.

Also, keep an eye out for soap or cleanser buildup, which can make floors slippery. And you can use mats as your first line of defense to prevent grime and grease from damaging floors.

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How to clean VCT flooring

Often seen in commercial businesses, grocery stores, hospitals and schools, slip-resistant vinyl composition tile (VCT) is ideal for high-traffic areas indoors. With proper care and maintenance, VCT flooring can maintain its shine for years.

The tips below are for buildings with existing VCT flooring. If you have brand-new flooring, check with the installer for appropriate cure times before you apply floor strippers or excess cleaning solution.

As needed, clean VCT flooring by following the steps below:

  1. Remove finish (if any).

  2. Dust mop and clean with 4 parts water to 1 part emulsifier.

  3. Apply solution to floor and allow to dwell for 15 minutes.

  4. Agitate with floor machine and black stripping pad, and then remove the solution and debris with a wet vac. Double-check for any missed spots.

  5. Mop and dry one last time before waxing.

How to clean concrete floor

Concrete flooring is sturdy enough to hold up to big jobs in facilities, warehouses, and storage or utility rooms. But even unsealed concrete requires maintenance.

Daily maintenance for sealed concrete:

  1. Dust mop to remove debris and dust.

  2. Use a low suds cleaner and an automatic scrubber to clean concrete.

Choose an automatic scrubber that’s the right size for your facility’s total area as well as the width of the areas you’ll be cleaning. Ride-on scrubbers can increase productivity, and larger units work well for open spaces.

To maintain unsealed concrete flooring, follow these steps on an as-needed or bimonthly basis:

  1. Sweep up debris and dust with a stiff broom.

  2. Use a shop vac on cracks if needed.

  3. Scrub any stains with a non-metal brush.

Pro tip: Use minimal water and dry unfinished concrete flooring thoroughly to prevent mildew and mold.

How to clean terrazzo floors

Longer lasting than VCT, terrazzo flooring is often used in commercial buildings and institutions. It’s becoming more popular in residential homes, but usually as surface material in kitchens rather than flooring. If the terrazzo floor is polished and sealed, avoiding waxing and stripping can extend its lifespan.

Tracked-in dirt and oils can wear down the coating of terrazzo flooring. A good matting program can help you keep most dirt near entryways for easier maintenance.

To maintain terrazzo floors, simply dust mop or sweep with a broom on a daily basis. On a weekly basis, use a wet mop with an all-purpose cleaner.

Every three months, use a water-based sealer to reseal floors.

On an annual or biannual schedule, undergo a gloss restoration. Make sure all previous finish materials have been removed from the floor surface and that it’s clean and dry. Then follow these steps:

  1. Remove all debris with a dust mop.

  2. Use a rinse-free stripper to remove all finish from the floor.

  3. Prepare the clean floor surface using a floor pad with the recommended grit level for the shine you’d like to achieve.

  4. Apply a stone floor coating per label directions.

How to clean ceramic tile floors and grout

Ceramic tiles are an inexpensive and attractive choice for commercial buildings, hotels, hospitals and more. If the tile is sealed upon installation, proper maintenance can help extend the lifespan of ceramic floors. To maintain the colors, avoid acidic cleaning products.

On a daily basis, clean ceramic tile floors with a traditional wet mop, deck brush or automatic scrubber with cylindrical brushes.

On a biweekly schedule, particularly in high-traffic areas, use an all-purpose cleaner to deep scrub grout.

Annually, reseal grout to extend lifespan—follow package directions and apply to a clean floor. You can further protect the grout from moisture, oils and dirt by using a grout impregnator.

How to clean carpet floor

Carpets with synthetic fibers are an aesthetically pleasing and stain-resistant choice for offices, hotels and other areas of commercial buildings. Your schedule for maintaining carpet will depend a lot on the level of traffic areas get.

Vacuum on a daily to weekly basis, and use a fresh filter bag to make sure air flows freely. For areas with a high soil load, make sure to use an upright vacuum with brush bar agitation.

As needed or on a quarterly basis, give the carpets a thorough cleaning with these steps:

  1. Use an extraction cleaner to remove any residue, adjusting dilution ratios for soil loading.

  2. Conduct encapsulation, or “encapping,” by brushing in the encapsulating chemical and distributing it throughout the pile.

  3. Allow the chemicals to dry, which releases oily and sticky soils from the carpet fibers, for at least 20 minutes, and then vacuum them out.

  4. Make sure the area is completely dry before allowing foot traffic to resume. Use carpet fans if needed.

How to clean door mats and entry matting

Using door mats can help protect the flooring in your high-traffic areas, cutting down on maintenance while helping floors last longer. Dirty matting cuts down on those benefits, so make sure to maintain door mats regularly.

On a daily basis, remove any trapped dirt and debris with a vacuum.

In winter and early spring, you may begin to see a whitish haze after vacuuming, which means residue of ice melt is getting tracked inside and embedded into the mat. There are two ways you can remove the residue:

  1. Manually: Dilute an all-purpose cleaner at 1-2 ounces per gallon, and work it into the surface with a brush.

  2. With an extractor: Flood the matting with an encapsulating chemical. Allow it to dwell for 10-15 minutes before extraction. Repeat until the extracted water in the recovery tank is clear.

With both methods, make sure all cleaning solution is removed before allowing the matting to dry.

Note that when you’re using the extraction method, give the solution plenty of time to dissolve the residues and oils by waiting to use the vacuum tools.

Types of mops: size, material and construction

Effective floor care in your facility includes choosing the right mop for the job. Learn the key differences between types of mops to make your crew more efficient.

Mop sizes

Mop sizes range from small to extra large and are based on the amount of water a mop can hold. Having mop heads in a variety of sizes helps make sure each member of your cleaning and maintenance crew can clean thoroughly without straining.

Mop material

If your facility doesn’t have access to laundry or washing services, a cotton mop that is simply wrung out in a bucket may be ideal. If you’d like to wash your mops to save on long-term expenses, choose a rayon or rayon-cotton blend. Lightweight microfiber mops are also washable while requiring less water and cleaning solution, but can be a bit pricier.

Mop construction

Different types of mops have different construction as well. A mop with looped ends can help ensure complete coverage of an area. A mop with cut ends (instead of loops) is inexpensive and absorbent but also disposable. For finer details, choose a mop with a tailband—this stitch is above the loops at the bottom of the mop and gives workers more control over movements.

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Partner with Ferguson for floor cleaning supplies

For all the different types of floor in your building, consider Ferguson Facilities Supply your one-stop shop for your janitorial and MRO product needs. We have the product selection and the knowledge to help you implement an effective cleaning system in your facility.