Green flooring can only take you so far; it's important you meet your floor surfaces halfway with a green
cleaning routine. Longer–lasting flooring means less waste as a result of repairs and replacements. And what better
way to clean your green–friendly floors than with green cleaners? Environmentally friendly cleaning products comprised
primarily of natural ingredients can aid in maintaining a dirt–free surface while still promoting a healthier indoor
Green cleaners can be tough to find. Many of the more conventional cleaning products on the market contain petroleum, a
non–biodegradable, nonrenewable, and to put it succinctly, non–green material. Also avoid products that contain
VOCs* such as formaldehyde, chloroform or styrene, as they can increase the air pollution in your home. If you're keen on
becoming as green as possible, it's in your best interest to avoid using products that contain these ingredients. Besides
being environmentally disadvantageous, exposure to these toxic substances can cause eye and skin irritations, dizziness,
fatigue, coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
So how can you distinguish environmentally sound products from less– green cleaners? It can be difficult to tell
with commercially produced items. There is little regulation of cleaning chemicals and almost no labeling requirements to
inform consumers about what they may be exposing themselves and the environment to.
A cleaning product can be considered green if it has a "safe" level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and/or is made
with natural and biodegradable substances. A vast majority of commercial cleaning products are not green so you might want to
consider using some common household items as a substitute for products that contain harmful chemicals.
Green cleaning with non toxic cleaners can be just as effective as chemical–based products. The chemicals in
commercial products may make cleaning a bit easier, but that doesn't make them better. If you want to clean your floors
without risking your family's or the environment's health, you can try some of the ideas listed below.
*Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon–based chemical compounds that can be found in
flooring materials, adhesives and cleaners and can cause allergic reactions and/or illness.
For basic cleaning, vacuum, use a dust mop or wipe the floor with a damp cloth. For spills, wipe up with a cloth or
sponge. Try to avoid soap–based green cleaners because they may make the floor look "cloudy".
To clean resilient flooring such as vinyl, linoleum, rubber and cork;
sweep, dust mop, or vacuum frequently. You can also damp mop with a solution of mild dish detergent and warm water. Add 1/2 a
cup of vinegar to the water to increase shine. For tough stains, try making a paste of baking powder with a little water and
gently rub onto the floor and then wipe it off. To remove scuffs, you can try dipping a sponge in jojoba oil and rubbing it
lightly onto the floor and then wiping it away. Make sure that you do not use solvent–based products
as they can soften or damage some resilient flooring.
Ceramic Tile and Stone Floors
Regularly sweep, dry mop or damp mop stone and tile flooring to reduce grit.
For more thorough cleaning, damp mop with a solution of mild dish soap and water and then dry with a soft cloth.
The way you clean your hardwood floor will vary depending on the type of finish that was used on it.
For Surface–Sealed Floors:
For basic green cleaning you should sweep or dry mop regularly. For more detailed cleaning make a solution containing dish
soap and warm water, and damp mop the area. Don't use a soaking wet mop as even surface–sealed floors can be damaged by
water. For scuff marks you can rub baking soda onto the floor with a damp sponge.
For Floors with a Penetrating Seal:
Do not use water or water–based products! Even damp mopping can damage this type of floor. You can sweep, vacuum,
and dry mop for everyday cleaning while for more detailed cleaning you should use a solvent–based cleaners. There are a
number of natural citrus solvents that you can purchase that are eco–friendly. Spray a light film onto the floor and
then dry mop.
Concrete floor cleaning will vary depending on whether your concrete is sealed or unsealed.
For Unsealed Concrete (such as in a garage):
You can use sawdust or eco–friendly kitty litter to help absorb any oil or grease on the floor. To clean the entire
floor you can try power–washing to remove built–up dirt and grime. If you hire a professional to do this make
sure any detergent they use is eco–friendly.
For Sealed Concrete:
Sweep and dry mop frequently. For more thorough cleaning, damp mop with a solution containing dish soap and warm water.
Avoid using vinegar as it may damage the concrete's finish.
When it comes to green cleaning for your carpet,
make sure you have baking soda or cornstarch handy. Either can be used to absorb most liquid stains or to simply freshen your
carpet. Sprinkle them all over your floor (or directly onto a stain) and then vacuum once the carpet is dry. For tougher
stains, try pouring club soda onto the stain before sprinkling the dry powder on top.
If you enjoy adding a little fragrance to your room, you can add natural essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, or
rosewood to the baking soda or cornstarch, (around 30 drops of the oil per four cups of the dry powder). Break up any clumps
that form and then sprinkle the powder from a shaker or jar onto the floor. Allow it to sit for around 15 minutes and then
Taking simple preventative measures, such as placing mats in doorways and area rugs in heavily trafficked areas, can not
only help prolong the life of your floors, but also keep them looking new.
To keep in line with your new green lifestyle, look for rugs that are made with 100% recycled materials, such as
polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Also consider wool rugs, as wool is a renewable resource that can be collected without
harming the environment.
Most floors made with wood or woody materials, such as hardwood, cork, laminate and bamboo, can expand or contract when
exposed to standing water or changes in humidity. It's important that you wipe up spills as soon as they occur, and always
clean floors according to the manufacturer's recommendations.