Winter is a time when we like to hunker down in the warmth of our homes and protect ourselves from the elements. But it’s also a time when we need to think about protection for our carpets, and hardwood floors. Rain, snow, dirt and salt can be a lethal combination when trodden into floors, which is why it’s important to take certain preventative steps before and during the cold, winter months.
PLACE THICK MATS AT EVERY OUTSIDE ENTRANCE
It is important to give people every opportunity to remove excess water, snow, dirt and salt from their shoes before entering your home. And the obvious place to start is outside. Place a sturdy, robust mat at every entrance, as they will provide the first layer of protection for the flooring inside. A thick, absorbent mat will trap the worst of moisture, dirt, salt and mildew BEFORE it is brought inside.
PLACE DOORMATS INSIDE YOUR HOME TOO
Regardless of how well your family members and guests wipe their feet before they enter your home, bringing some moisture, dirt and salt into your home will sometimes be unavoidable. It is therefore a good idea to place mats at every external door inside your property too. Place a shoe rack or cupboard near each mat, so people are never forced to walk over your floors with dirty shoes on.
And don’t allow damp mats to fester inside your home, as they will start to smell – potentially causing more problems than they solve.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED TO CLEAN AT SHORT NOTICE
Despite your best efforts, you will probably be faced with a situation that calls for emergency floor cleaning at some point during the winter. By being prepared with the necessary cleaning agents, you can act quickly and minimise the damage to your carpets and hardwood floors. In particular, the salt used to thaw ice and snow from roads and paths can cause serious damage to real wood floors, so it’s important to remove it immediately.
But it’s worth remembering that expensive cleaning agents aren’t always the answer. Occasionally, just the cyclonic power of a Shark vacuum cleaner will be enough to save your flooring from ruin. Shark steam cleaners can cut through grease, dirt and salt with the power of super-heated steam alone. And with the addition of the Carpet Glider attachment, they become very effective carpet cleaners too.
USE EXTRA MATTING WHERE APPROPRIATE
If you’re not asking people to remove their shoes when they enter your home during winter, it’s probably a good idea to place runners and matting in high-traffic areas. The heavier and more robust shoes that are worn during winter can cause extra damage and grind dirt and salt into flooring. The extra protection of mats in key areas will eliminate direct contact with winter footwear.
SPEND MOST OF YOUR TIME CLEANING AND MAINTAINING DOWNSTAIRS FLOORING
If you need to prioritise cleaning tasks due to a busy lifestyle, always ensure that you’re spending the bulk of your time on the floors downstairs. These floors will obviously be the first to come into contact with wet and dirty shoes. If you ensure the carpets and flooring downstairs are kept clean and dry at all times, and you can be reasonably certain the flooring upstairs will remain relatively free from winter wear and tear.
ALWAYS VACUUM HARDWOOD FLOORING BEFORE MOPPING IT
If, to your horror, you notice mud, dirt or salt on your precious real wood floors, you will probably be tempted to reach straight for the mop. However, mopping over dirt and grime could grind particles into the wood and cause permanent damage. If someone trails snow, water and dirt onto your wood floor, wait for it to dry, and vacuum the area first – before you start to clean with a mop.
PROTECT THE FINISH OF HARDWOOD FLOORING
Hardwood floors are treated with special sealants and resins to protect them from scratching and water damage. However, the alkaline salts used for melting snow and ice can wear away these coatings – leaving the wood underneath vulnerable to damage and premature wear. A mild solution of water and vinegar can be used to neutralise the alkalinity of melting salts – and stop the degradation of hardwood protective coatings before it starts. However, you should check with your floor’s manufacturer before applying any treatments.
DEEP CLEAN ALL YOUR FLOORS WHEN SPRING ARRIVES
Despite your best efforts, the inclement weather of winter will undoubtedly take a toll on your floors – particularly downstairs in high-traffic areas. It is therefore a good idea to schedule a full day for some deep cleaning when spring finally arrives. If you have carpets, they should be steam cleaned and allowed to dry naturally. This might mean certain rooms and areas of your home are out of bounds for a day or two.
Through a combination of prevention and maintenance, your carpets and hardwood floors should survive the ravages of winter relatively unscathed.