What tools/methods make regular cleaning of hardwood floors quick and easy?
May 4, 2010 10:50 PM   Subscribe

What tools/methods make cleaning hardwood floors a breeze on a regular basis? It's taking too much time and effort right now!

I'm not interested in the type of cleaning solutions--I use vinegar and water. I'm a renter and my floors are old, so I'm not concerned about long term damage (done and done!) or the floors being streaky or not shiny enough. I just want them to be clean! and without taking an hour (1 bedroom apartment).

My current method:
1. Use vacuum hose w/ attachment to clean along baseboards (this has a huge impact as dirt, cat hair, dust and my own hair make giant tumbleweeds that hang out along the edges of rooms)
2. Sweep with broom and dust pan.
3. Spray solution of vinegar/water on floors.
4. Mop using reusable microfiber mop pads

The problem is that sweeping and mopping takes a long time. The mop pads get covered in dirt so fast that I know my sweeping is leaving behind too much dirt/dust.

I've tried the Swiffer Wet Jet and HATED it. It pushed the dirt around the floor so I had to wipe up a line of dirt every time, and I went through the swiffer pads sooooo fast! I haven't tried the regular dry swiffer for floors because I imagine those pads will fill up really fast too. Also, I know that the swiffer is for dust and won't pick up bigger specs, so that means I'll still have to sweep if I use the swiffer for dusting.

I was thinking of buying a cordless 2-in-1 vacuum (it's a stick vac but part of the unit lifts off to become a hand vac) so that I could use the hand vac on the tumbleweeds along the baseboards and the stick vac instead of sweeping the floors. I'm worried that the vacuum won't be effective at getting rid of the dust, so my microfiber mop pads will still get dirty too fast.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated!!

And here are some of the vacuums I've been looking at, if you're curious:
Euro-Pro Shark
Electrolux (pricier)
posted by wannaknow to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered a Roomba? Our Roomba picks up an enormous amount of dust and pet hair. If you run it daily it makes a huge difference. It's not a complete substitute for piloted vacuuming but you can go for much longer stretches in between. I start mine up just before leaving the house and come back to a vacuumed floor.
posted by ambrosia at 11:07 PM on May 4, 2010

If you can afford it, get a Roomba for vacuuming. It will save you a ton of time. I have one and it is really a time saver. As for mopping, you could get a Scooba (like a Roomba, but washes). The newer models will use vinegar. I have a Scooba too.

If you don't go with the Roomba/Scooba set up, skip the sweeping:

1) Vacuum the whole floor
2) Mop
3) Rinse the floor (optional)

I would also use a different mop. I have and like Mrs. Liebman Wonder Mop. Don't get a cordless vacuum, they are annoying. Since you are not doing carpet, get a moderately priced or cheap vacuum. My suggestion is to avoid HEPA vacuums. The are annoying. I have a cheap HEPA vacuum ($60) and a very expensive one ($1000). The HEPA feature is over hyped. I would get a canister vacuum, since they are more versatile, but that is a personal preference.
posted by fifilaru at 11:10 PM on May 4, 2010

I'm wondering why you're not vacuuming the whole floor? Do that first, then mop. Much less crud to pick up.
posted by defcom1 at 11:21 PM on May 4, 2010

Vacuum floor then steam clean - no chemical products.
posted by wongcorgi at 12:09 AM on May 5, 2010

Response by poster: fifilaru- i've never had a cordless vac before. why are they annoying?

defcom1- my vacuum is a big clunky POS. it works well enough when i'm just using the hose attachment, but it's annoying to drag around behind me. I don't want to use it more than I already am.
posted by wannaknow at 12:32 AM on May 5, 2010

The cordless Electrolux is fairly useless, IMHO. Suction power is not that great, and it's actually quite flimsy. Get enough hair caught in the plastic roller in the head, and it breaks when you try to unclog it. The hand vac part itself is ok, but the nozzle on the head has a specific shape which doesn't fit all purposes.
A handy tip from Australia's cleaning guru, Shannon Lush: Shannon never uses a mop on her floors; she uses a broom with an old t-shirt over the head. You just wash the t-shirt for next time. Shannon thinks mops hold dirt and bacteria and they always stink.
Never tried it myself, but might work for you.
posted by Pippi Longstocking at 12:41 AM on May 5, 2010

A dry swiffer takes a lot less effort, meaning you can do a portion of your apartment nearly every day, just in mindless moments here and there. The dry sheets are a lot better (and cheaper) than the wet pads-- I think you can buy bulk boxes too. If you swiffer a little bit every day you'll never end up with those huge dust balls, at least not in open spaces.
posted by acidic at 1:28 AM on May 5, 2010

Where swiffers are concerned, the dry is far superior to the wetjet. You can get these moist cloths that act pretty much like giant wipes for your floor, too. When I was living the hardwood dream, I'd use a broom to flick all the giant dust bunnies outside and sponge up the big wet messes, and then take the dry swiffer and get all the particulates. If there was actual proper dirt, I'd do a second pass with one of the moist cloths. Sometimes, if I ran out of the wipe things, I'd just triple up some paper towels sprayed with some cleaning solution and attach it to the swiffer instead. The dry swiffer works by fastening the edges of the clothes beneath little tabs on the top of the head, and isn't some kind of crazy velcro contraption like the wetjet.
posted by Mizu at 2:04 AM on May 5, 2010

My solution, in a house with hardwood floors and two dogs, is

1 sweep the dust/hair into a neat pile with a soft-bristled brush
2 suck up the dust pile with a handheld vacuum
3 go round the tricky spots with the handheld vacuum

The advantage being that for the whole-room sweep, you're only wielding a light brush instead of a heavy vacuum cleaner and since it's a hard surface, the brush does just as good a job as a vac of moving the dust around.
posted by primer_dimer at 2:04 AM on May 5, 2010

I sweep, then mop. It usually takes me more than an hour, but some of that time is spent doing other things while waiting for a room to dry. As a bonus, I can get the kitchen and bathroom floors at the same time. I use my smallish vacuum only for the throw rugs.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:57 AM on May 5, 2010

Thirding the roomba recommendation. Only problem I've had with mine has been the front-bumper sensors dying shortly out of warranty on one, but it still ended up being only a buck a day.

The biggest benefit is the daily cleaning. The biggest side-benefit is that because the roomba is going to be patrolling, I have to be a lot better about not leaving stuff laying around that might confuse the robot.
posted by DaveP at 4:22 AM on May 5, 2010

Brooms come in different qualities; it may help to have a better broom, if you seem to be sweeping correctly but too much dirt is being left behind. Natural fiber brooms seem to work better than cheapie synthetic brooms. (But possibly I've just never bought a nice enough synthetic broom -- I discovered www.sweepdreams.com and never looked back, partly because my house has zero storage so having a PRETTY broom is good because people are going to see it, but mostly because THOSE BROOMS ROCK.)

Also, I tend to sweep the dirt to one place and either sweep it out the door or use my dustbuster/hand vac to suck up the dirt from the sweeping ... using a dustpan takes forever and I'm not very good at getting the dirt into the pan. Don't know if those are options.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:45 AM on May 5, 2010

I sweep mine (vacuuming is more effective - but too much of a hassle), then swiffer with a rag or a hand-knit swiffer cozy (I haven't bought swiffer pads in years) sprayed with vinegar/water and a small squirt of furniture polish. Just takes a few minutes and the floors are shiny and clean. I have small messy children, so I do have to switch rags mid-floor sometimes, but that takes all of a few seconds, and two rags fit in with a load of regular laundry just as easily as one.

I do sweep every single day - sometimes twice - so there's not a lot of built-up dirt or dust on the floors. It's a necessity for me since I have a crawling baby, but frequent sweeping is the best thing you can do for hardwood floors anyway. I don't sweep under furniture and in the corners as often, but a daily two minute sweep keeps the dust and cat hair (and Legos in our house) from building up too much in the harder to reach areas.
posted by Dojie at 6:53 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I bought a small shop-vac at Home Depot for around $40. and it works great! I will even suck up wet spills if I want it to.
posted by mareli at 7:22 AM on May 5, 2010

Don't get anything Shark. Two experiences with the hand vac and the vacuum stick has convinced me that it is a POS. No suction and horrible durability.

I vacuum, swiffer and then microfiber mop but I know that there are more effective ways. I read this thread with great interest.
posted by jadepearl at 7:22 AM on May 5, 2010

General cleaning: Dustmop covered with old t-shirt. Spray a bit of pledge, but not too much. This is great for quick, overall wood floor cleaning, especially pet hair.

Spot cleaning: Use a light spray for grime, dog footprints, etc., (my wood floor guy recommends Bona)

I don't like to drag a vacuum over the floors, but will use soft brush attachment for corners, baseboards occasionally.
posted by smelvis at 7:24 AM on May 5, 2010

A silicone impregnated dry mop will be re-usable and pick up all the dust and hair pretty quickly. For a normal sized room it shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes. If it gets full then shake it off outside and finish up. I'm not too sloppy except in the kitchen so don't actually wash the floors more than once a month. In the bedroom I wash the floors once a year.
posted by JJ86 at 7:27 AM on May 5, 2010

Roomba. We have 2 dogs and run our Roomba every other day. Works wonderfully. We also use a steam mop about once a week.
posted by MrToad at 10:14 AM on May 5, 2010


i have 4 cats and an ergorapido. the ergorapido is amazing. lightweight, easy to use, and sucks up cat hair like nobody's business. i empty the dirt cup every time i vacuum, sometimes several times depending on how big an area i'm doing, but it's as quick & easy to empty the cup as it is to use the vac. (i also have a dyson but use the ergorapido to spot vacuum a couple times a week. it takes less time to run that around a room than it does to haul out the dyson, plug it in, and vacuum. dyson is used once/week for whole house vacuuming.)

then get an o mop. removeable, washable, reuseable microfiber pad. lightweight. easy to use.

vacuum. then spray down a patch of the floor, run the mop over it, repeat on another patch of the floor. done!

i don't work for the ergorapido people but i preach the gospel of the tool. it's made my life MUCH easier.
posted by msconduct at 11:23 AM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

You need this type of dust mop. Sweeping hardwoods with a broom takes FOREVER.

Just push the dust mop around, keeping it on the floor as much as you can - i.e. no sweeping motions, just push! Every room or so, shake it out near a wall to contain the debris. Then sweep up the piles with the vacuum attachment.

See if that helps when using your normal mopping routine. FWIW, I use a Libman mop or sometimes I get down on hands and knees and use bar towels to really scrub the hell out of it.
posted by peep at 1:58 PM on May 5, 2010

Response by poster: Not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but I ended up buying the electrolux ergorapido 2-in-1 cordless and I LOOOOOOVE it!!!!!!!!
posted by wannaknow at 7:09 PM on June 3, 2010

hey welcome to the ergorapido fan club, wannaknow!
posted by msconduct at 6:02 AM on June 4, 2010

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