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5 Mistakes You’re Making When Cleaning Hardwood, Tile, & Carpet

Derek Hales

Written By: Derek Hales

Updated on:

Every floor is different, so the cleaning process should be as well. It’s not all about getting the vacuum cleaner, mop, and the first cleaning product that comes in hand!

Roomba i7+ cleaning hardwood floors

If you want your flooring to last a lifetime, there are common mistakes you have to avoid.

With the simple tips below, you’ll achieve sparkling clean floors, while also protecting them from damage.

1. Keep Water Away From Wood Floors

It sure does sound strange to hear that people do this, but it is actually a very common mistake. Cleaning wood floors with a wet mop, or using water in any form is definitely not a good idea.

The Reveal sprays water in front of the mop through a small nozzle

The first thing to keep in mind is that wood absorbs water and keeps it in for quite a while, which means it will take so much time to dry out. At the same time, it can damage the finish on the surface.

Another thing to stay away from is harsh chemicals such as soaps, polishes, detergents which claim that they are safe to use on this type of flooring. When reading the ingredient list, skip the ones that contain ammonia or any type of alkaline.

This is a material that is gentle, but doesn’t require too many products when cleaning.

Dyson V10 cordless vacuum

Just go with the basics:

Use the first two in the initial stage, then continue with a mop.

Wholesale Microfiber Buff microfiber mop review

If you feel like you still need a product to properly take care of the wood, you can buy one that has been made especially for that purpose (see here). What’s even better, there are naturally derived solutions, which completely avoid the use of chemicals.

RELATED Natural wood floor cleaner recipe

That way you know you’ll be protecting yourself and your interior design.

2. Tiles Are Really Tricky

The most common mistake people make when cleaning tile is the fact that they use a sponge or a sponge mop. You are risking pushing all the dirt and dust straight into the grout when cleaning with a sponge.

The Rubbermaid Ratchet twist mop cleaning on a tile floor

Once it gets there it can be more difficult to remove.

  1. Start with either a broom or a vacuum cleaner to remove the biggest part of the dirt and dust.
  2. The second stage is wet, where you’ll mix water with a product.

For porcelain or ceramic tiles, feel free to get any type of tile cleaner.

When it comes to the tile made of a natural material such as stone, you will need to be more careful. Choose a product specifically made for either marble, stone, or the material that you have at home. They can be easily damaged by strong chemicals.

Once you’re done with all this, you’re only left with the finishing stage. Don’t ever leave the tile floor wet. Remove all remaining water with a dry rag or washcloth.

If you notice that the grout needs extra attention, use an old toothbrush with a solution made from equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

Rejuvenate Spray Mop Grout Cleaning Test

RELATED Natural grout cleaner recipe

Leave the cleaner on for 10 to 15 minutes and start scrubbing. This is the easiest path to super-neat tiles.

3. Less Is More For Hardwood Floors

Hardwood is one of the most expensive types of flooring. What’s surprising is that it is incredibly simple to take care of.

Since this is a delicate material, we would recommend that you stay away from the chemical products, and opt for natural alternatives. The simpler, the better.

Another major mistake is buying an acrylic wax that promises to leave the surface shiny. Unless it’s approved by the manufacturer of the hardwood, don’t get it.

Dyson Ball Multifloor 2 Vacuum Value
Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2

The moment you install the flooring, protect it by placing furniture pads. That way you prevent numerous scratches, especially in the living room.

When it comes to cleaning hardwood floors, the basics you need to keep it neat are a mop and a vacuum. Make sure that the vacuum has a brush attachment with soft bristles.

Soft roller brush in the Roidmi F8 cleaning head
Soft roller brush in the Roidmi F8 cleaning head

For more, see our complete guide on the best vacuum for hardwood floors here.

If you want to use the mop dry, try one of the electrostatic cloths that can get all the hair, dust and dirt. Then, get a regular cloth and spray it with the liquid you’ll be using.

The best idea is to find a pH neutral product that is soft and gentle. Finish off with a dry cotton cloth for an ultimately shiny finish.

Braava 240 Jet vs. Braava 380t
Braava 380t (left) vs. Braava 240 Jet (right)

Trying to reduce your chores?

A robot mop or vacuum can be a big help. Here we’ve identified the best robot vacuums for hardwood floors, though we personally really love the Braava Jet 240 and Braava 380T for robots cleaning hardwood floors.

4. No Chemicals On Linoleum Floors

Linoleum flooring can look good, but is not as quality or as expensive as hardwood. This is a material which requires good care if you want to have it last for a longer time.

There is no need to use chemical products for linoleum, the basic ‘water and soap’ will do the job.

Vacuum cleaners are not the best option, but if you still want to use it, set it on the “hard floor” option, to prevent any surface damage.

Start off by removing all the dust and dirt. Opt for a soft cloth that you’ll use in circular motions. Once you’re done with that, you can get a bucket with warm water and add a few drops of gentle soap.

Forget about abrasives and bleaches.

The mop should be damp, with the least possible amount of liquid on it. Divide the floor into several sections, and once you clean one, go over it with a dry cloth right away.

5. Act Fast With Carpets

Don’t ever put off the cleaning of a carpet stain. The more you wait, the longer it will take you to remove it – and sometimes it won’t even be possible to get rid of it completely. It doesn’t matter if it’s a coffee spill, food, or a shoe mark.

This Oreck can transfer from hard floors to carpets quite easily

To prevent a mess, you have to act right away.

An Even Worse Mistake…

The second mistake you’re facing right after this one is even worse. Rubbing is the motion you want to forget about at all costs. It only makes the stain spread into the material and that’s how a disaster happens.

How to Clean Carpets
For most stains on carpet you want to blot the stain with paper towels, spray, and blot again.

And last, but not least, the type of carpet cleaner you use.

RELATED How to Get Acrylic Paint out of Carpet

It should not be one of the products you own for the other surfaces. Find one that is completely safe and meant for this type of flooring. Do a quick test on a small corner of the carpet, where you’ll see it it’s the right fit.

Shark Navigator Pro vacuuming stairs in canister mode
Shark Navigator Pro cleaning carpet

Use it with a white cloth and thoroughly read the instructions before you start. 

What Do You Think?

Do you have a special tip or trick for cleaning different types of floor? Let us know in the comments down below!

About Derek Hales

Derek HalesDerek Hales is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of He has been featured in Fast Company, Reader's Digest, Business Insider,, She Knows, and other major publications. Derek has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Kansas State University. Hales has been testing and reviewing products for the home since 2014.

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