UNL Extension – helping you turn knowledge into "know how"

Floor Care

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Floor care can sometimes be a challenge. Good floor care begins with knowing what type of flooring you have and which of the many floor care products will work best. Simple steps to caring for your floor.

Sweep, dust or vacuum regularly to remove dirt and grit.

Remove any spills or stains promptly to prevent damage and make cleanup easier.

Always choose the gentlest cleaning method to serve your purpose. Harsh or cleaning too frequently can shorten the wear life of your floor.

When using floor care products, follows these simple tips:

  • Always read labels carefully to make sure you are using the right product.
  • Choose the right applicator. Sponges are not recommended for polishes as they will give uneven coverage. Use separate applicators for polish and cleaners or strippers.
  • Two or more thin coats or applications are more effective than one thick coat of polish, sealer or stripper.

What Floor Care Products Should You Use?

Floor care products can be a bit over-whelming. Different uses, different ingredients and many different names – all add to the confusion. To simplify your decision, look at some of the terms used to describe floor care products.

Floor finish – any floor care product that leaves a protective coating on the floor. This may be a wax, polish or sealer.

Floor polish – a floor finish used to give a floor shine or gloss.

Floor cleaner – a product to clean a floor, but does not leave a protective finish. It may be an all-purpose cleaner or a product specifically designed for floors.

Floor dressing – a floor care product designed to repair an existing floor finish. This is usually a vinyl or urethane product designed to repair/restore the shiny finish on "no-wax" flooring.

Wax – a natural or synthetic ingredient in floor finishes used to polish and protect a floor.

Sealer – a protective finish applied to flooring to prevent water damage, staining and reduce maintenance. Sealers are used on porous floorings such as wood, cork, unglazed tiles, slate, etc.

Stripper – a floor cleaner used to remove waxes or polymeric resin. Solvents, such as naptha or ammonia, are typically used in strippers.

Water-base floor polish – a floor polish in which the wax particles or polymers are suspended in water. This polish is for use on water-safe floorings.

Solvent-base floor polish – a floor polish in which the wax particles or polymers are suspended in a solvent. This polish is for solvent-safe floorings, particularly those flooring materials damaged by water.

Self-polishing – describes a floor polish which dries to a shiny finish without buffing.

Buffable – describes a floor polish requiring buffing to obtain a shine or gloss. Usually a buffable polish can be rebuffed to remove scuffs and marks.

Self-cleaning or self-stripping – describes a floor polish that will strip the existing layer of wax or polymeric resins and leave a new, protective layer or polish in the same application process.

Detergent-resistant – is a water base floor polish which can be washed with detergent. Ammonia is necessary to strip this type of floor polish.

Always remember regular maintenance is important and to select the appropriate product when cleaning your floors.

Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated August 2012 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition - 2005. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

Contact Information

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