Cleaning Kitchen Floors

Simple tips for cleaning your kitchen floor. Whatever surface you have--tile, stone, wood, linoleum--there are green methods for cleaning any kitchen floor.

Cleaning Kitchen Floors

Cleaning Kitchen Floors so You can Walk Barefoot!

Nothing beats a freshly washed floor, especially if you like to walk around barefoot. And no floor in your home gets dirtier than your kitchen floor. This post we’ll talk about cleaning kitchen floors with eco-friendly cleaning products.

Needless to say, I hope, is the fact that cleaning the floor is much much easier if you do it regularly and wipe up spills as they happen.

Kitchen floors are made of lots of different types of stuff, from vinyl to tumbled stone. You don’t want to damage the lovely finish of your floor so try and use the proper cleaning products for your floor.

Common Kitchen Flooring Materials

The most common materials for kitchen flooring are
Linoleum tile—made from natural materials such as cork, wood, limestone, linseed oil, jute therefore is bio-degradable

Hardwood (natural, waxed, and polyurethane)

Cork—renewable, biodegradable

Bamboo—renewable and biodegradable although must be shipped from Asia

Ceramic tile (glazed and unglazed)

Natural Stone (Granite, Limestone, Marble, Slate)

Terrazzo (marble chips imbedded in cement)

Recycled Glass Tiles

Laminates – usually synthetic

Vinyl –very toxic during manufacture, in use, and in the landfill

Never use Abrasives
Never use abrasive products or cleaning tools on the floor. If the kitchen floor is very dirty or littered I like to vacuum the floor before I do any other cleaning in the kitchen. I don’t like walking around on crumbs while I’m cleaning. After finishing various kitchen-cleaning jobs, I’ll vacuum again, getting every speck up kitchen floors

Never Use Vinegar on these Floors:
Natural stone, glazed ceramic tile, or glass tile, and keep it away from grout. It will pit the stone and glass, and ruin the grout.

Green Cleaning Ingredients for Cleaning Kitchen Floors

Let’s talk about what kind of green cleaning ingredients you can use to clean your kitchen floor. Determining just what kind of floor and what kind of finish you have can be tricky unless you installed it yourself and know exactly what happened. Knowing whether or not your floor is waxed or polyurethane is pretty important when it comes time to clean it.

The following rundown on floors I learned from Martha Stewart’s Housekeeping Handbook (I just love this book!):

Starting with Linoleum just cause it’s so retro!
Linoleum is neat. Linoleum is an old fashioned floor covering that went out of production for a while, probably when vinyl became popular, but is now making a green comeback as a non petroleum, biodegradable floor covering. I remember linoleum as something I carved to make prints with in Art school.

Unwaxed Linoleum can be cleaned with mild soap Ph 8 for example, and water, or vinegar if you have a greasy film or soapy residue on your floor, as long as you don’t have grout between the tiles, which is not typical with linoleum tiling.

Never use any seriously alkaline substance, like ammonia, on linoleum. If you are a green cleaner, you are not using ammonia anyway, so don’t worry! That’s one of the great things about cleaning the green way. It’s hard to ruin stuff because the ingredients we use are very forgiving, except vinegar and other super acidic substances (like lemon juice or citrus solvent) that are part of a green cleaning kit.

Hardwood, Cork, Bamboo polyurethane or waxed
For hard wood floors, first you must determine whether you have a polyurethane finished wood, or waxed wood. Most likely you have polyurethane finish. You can kind of tell by how water reacts on the surface. If it beads up nicely, you have polyurethane. If your finish has worn off and you haven’t refinished your wood floors, treat them as natural wood with no finish!

For Polyurethane Hardwood and Bamboo floors, use a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 4 parts water in a spray bottle. Never use oil soaps on polyurethane finished floors, it will leave an oily residue that collects dirt. Better to avoid any soap if possible. Vinegar will do the job!

Waxed Hardwood, Cork and Linoleum should be very carefully cleaned with tepid water. That’s it! And probably the microfiber pad is not soft enough for a waxed finish. I would advise using soft cotton cloths to clean your waxed floor.

Stone, Terrazzo, Ceramic and Glass
While mild soap and water can be used to clean natural stone, linoleum, and Terrazzo (assuming it has been treated with a penetrating sealer), it should not be used to clean laminate and polyurethane finished floors. It leaves a filmy residue that looks ugly and attracts dirt.

I know that getting your kitchen floor clean using mild soap and water and sometimes vinegar might sound ridiculously unrealistic if you are used to using an ammonia based commercial floor-cleaning product. While that may work quickly, it’s not good for you, your floor, your air and our environment.

Cleaning without the harsh and unsafe chemicals may take just a little longer, but only if you have a super dirty floor! I promise, I clean clients kitchen floors all the time. Believe me when I impress upon you the notion that preventing the gunk from solidifying on your floor by wiping up as you go and washing consistently is the best green cleaning method there is!

Porous Materials need extra care
Porous materials like unglazed ceramic, natural stone, and grout are often treated with penetrating sealants before or during installation. Sealing these porous materials protects them and helps reduce stains. Clean with mild soap and water.

Unglazed tile like terracotta that is not otherwise treated can be waxed like wood, cork and linoleum and should be cleaned with just tepid water and a soft cloth.

The Easy Step-by-Step Methods for Cleaning Kitchen Floors

Are you listening? The mop and bucket is dead! Do you own a sponge or string mop and bucket? Time to ditch those and get yourself a swivel head mop that uses washable fabric casings to clean floors as well as walls. Swiffer is the most well know brand, but it is not a green cleaning product since the removable wipes are treated with chemical solutions.

What then? Try a mop by Bonakemi. The mop swivels every which way and has Velcro strips to which you attach the terry microfiber mopping pad, microfiber dusting pad, or wool floor treatment pad.
To clean the floor:

  • First vacuum floor thoroughly
  • Then spray on your cleaning product (a section at a time as you clean).
  • Now wet and ring out the terry pad, stick it onto the mop, and go over the floor twice. Once to loosen dirt, again to wipe it all up.

(The cool thing about this system is you avoid slopping water all over your floor. Too much water which has always been a problem when cleaning floors in the past because it’s hard to stop the water from seeping in-between the tiles and floor boards eventually ruining or warping your floor.)

After cleaning a section of your floor, you simply remove the pad, rinse in the sink (utility sink if you have one) and continue. If there are bits of gunk that won’t come off, and there always is if you cook, gently nudge them off with a pliable putty knife, or even a kitchen dinner knife will do. Again, never use abrasives on your floor, no matter what your floor is made of. Dry the floor with a dry cloth if you want a floor with absolutely no water spots.

You can fashion your own mop like they do in Israel using a squeegee on a long handle wrapped in a cotton fiber cloth. And you can get on your hands and knees and wash your floor by hand if need be, if you want to! Some people enjoy this kind of work, others don’t.

Last but not least, if you like cleaning appliances, get a steam cleaner. They come with attachments for cleaning counters and grout! I have not used one yet, but Ellen Sandbeck loves hers and writes about it in the book Green Housekeeping.

“A small steam cleaning machine is a phenomenal tool for cleaning dirty kitchen floors and surfaces. It loosens dirt, grease, and grime so they can be wiped off with a clean cloth, and it uses pure water, so it leaves no residue. “ (p.68) Cleaning Kitchen Floors has never been so much fun ; )!


Welcome to my website!

Julia has been practicing green cleaning for several years as the owner of As You Like It Home Cleaning and organic gardening for almost 20 years running Julia Houriet Custom Gardening. She studied landscape design at Radcliffe Seminars in Cambridge Massachusetts. Her expertise is gleaned from education and years of experience.

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