A Guide to Cleaning Different Floor Surfaces

Keeping floor surfaces clean and tidy isn’t easy, and for premises with lots of foot traffic, it can be a race to keep up. Dirt and grime gets attached to the soles of employees, visitors, customers and guests and detached again – all over your nice, clean floors! For the best results in terms of cleaning performance, as well as time and money saved, it’s important to choose the right cleaning tools and materials for your floor. Here’s a guide to how you should clean different floor surfaces.


Asphalt tiles are generally resilient but can be damaged by harsh cleaning materials, strong soaps and scouring. In addition, grease, oil and solvents can leave lasting stains if not treated quickly. Regular cleaning with a damp mop should be enough to keep your asphalt tiles clean, provided you don’t let dirt build up. You can keep it looking shiny by adding fabric softener to your water. However, don’t apply too much water to the surface as excess liquid can get between the seams of the tiles and loosen adhesives holding them down.


A porous brick floor requires careful attention to keep it in the best possible condition. The best way to look after a brick floor is to keep it sealed and waxed. Don’t use varnish or lacquer but, instead, use a commercial sealer. When you wax, use a solvent-based wax so you don’t need to strip the floor beforehand. The solvents will dissolve any wax left on the floor from previous treatments, preventing buildup. If you do have a wax buildup, remove it with a wax-stripping product applied with a scrubbing brush or a floor scrubbing machine with a brush attachment. Rinse your floor thoroughly after using a stripper, and don’t clean it with strong soaps, acids or abrasives as this will damage it.


If you choose glazed ceramic tiles for your floor, these are practically stain-proof. However, unglazed ceramic tiles – with a matte finish – are porous and need to be sealed like brick with a commercial sealer and wax to resist staining. As with brick, don’t clean unglazed ceramic tiles with acids, abrasives or strong soaps. A damp mop combined with an all-purpose cleaner should keep your ceramic tiles clean, and you can add a bit of sparkle by polishing them afterwards with car wax. Strip any wax buildup once a year or so and re-wax.


Because concrete is very porous, it soaks up stains quickly. If you have a cement floor at home or at work, sealing it with a commercial sealer is worthwhile as it won’t need much cleaning after that. If your floor is unsealed, you should clean it by first sweeping up surface dirt and then wash it using a strong all-purpose cleaning solution. Cement is commonly used for garage floors, which tend to soak up spilled grease and oil, as well as roadside dirt. Keeping the garage door closed will stop debris blowing in, and kitty litter can help to absorb the oil and grease stains. After you’ve swept up and spread the kitty litter, wash it away with a garden hose once it’s finished absorbing.



Flagstone and slate floors have rough, porous surfaces and need to be sealed with a commercial sealer. The ideal sealer is one designed for terrazzo and slate. After the sealer has dried, apply acrylic floor finish in two thin coats. Alternatively, you can apply paste wax using a floor-polishing machine by spreading a small amount of the wax directly onto the brushes of the polisher. After the wax has been applied and dries, buff the floor to get it shiny. You’ll have to strip any wax buildup and re-wax from time to time. For regular cleaning maintenance on flagstone or slate floors, use a damp mop with warm water and an all-purpose cleaning solution – add vinegar to the water for a bit of extra shine.


Rubber tile is very suitable for offices and rooms with computers as it provides an anti-static surface. However, rubber can be damaged by strong cleaners so you need to take care when cleaning. Use an all-purpose cleaning solution for regular cleaning but check the label first to ensure it won’t damage the floor – and always test it on a corner before applying to the whole floor. Don’t use solvent-based products as these can soften and damage rubber tile floors. Scouring pads will also cause scratching and should be avoided. Instead, use fine-grade steel wool dipped in liquid floor wax to remove heel marks and stubborn dirt. Avoid excess water when cleaning as this can loosen the adhesives that keep the flooring fixed down.


A non-wax vinyl floor is straight-forward to maintain as long as you keep it clean. Heel marks should be scrubbed off with a synthetic scouring pad and spills mopped up with water and detergent. If you spot a film on the surface after drying, remove this and add sparkle by mopping again using a bit of white vinegar in the water. Vinyl floors often feature in supermarkets, shopping centres and other facilities with a lot of foot traffic from customers and visitors. The best way to clean these larger surface areas is with an industrial scrubber dryer – these machines use a system of water, detergent and brushes to scrub away at ground-in dirt and tough stains. Some models also dry the floor once it’s dirt-free, making it safe for people to walk on without delay.

Every surface type is different and has different cleaning needs. Always use appropriate tools and materials to maintain your floor surfaces to ensure they remain clean and unspoiled for years to come.



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