Help me not feel like the most incompetent housewife on the block.
May 17, 2012 3:49 PM   Subscribe

We just bought a new three-story house with 2,900 square feet of gorgeous dark hardwood floors that make every single tiny speck of dust stand out (and we're about to get a short-haired, light-colored dog). How the hell do I keep this place clean without going crazy?

We like to keep most French doors on the upper two floors open during the day and at night, so that might be contributing to the dust problem, but it's not something I want to quit doing. We like big open spaces, so there is not much furniture which makes cleaning a bit easier. Due to the radiant heating, we have only one area rug which I vacuum every few days. I try to make people take their shoes off at the front door, but whenever we are barbecuing in the back and coming in and out, for instance, shoes tend to stay on.

I have: a little broom-like sweeper with a pan, a big flat mop that has a towel-like cover and a vacuum cleaner that appears to mostly blow stuff around. I also have some sort of streak-free hardwood floor spray which does what it promises but I need to pick the dust & dirt bundles(?) off the mop every quarter room or so. I prefer not to buy into systems that require proprietary consumables (e.g. Swiffer) unless they happen to be the only true solution to all my problems.

I feel like I spend a good deal of my day cleaning, only for everything to revert to needs-to-be-cleaned later that evening. What do I need to do to keep the floors clean(-er)?
posted by halogen to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A high quality air cleaner will help keep the dust down.
posted by lstanley at 3:54 PM on May 17, 2012

Swiffers. In fact, it's worse than that, because I'd say multiple swiffers. I say this as someone who feels the same way about consumable products, recycles everything, and doesn't own a Swiffer because my floors don't need it but loves my mother's Swiffer to death. Alternatively, lower your standards. Who cares if the floors look dusty? You know they are actually clean.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:02 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Consider wearing duster slippers around, all the time. They actually help a lot, and you can poke your feet into corners from time to time.
posted by cushie at 4:04 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Roomba. This is an ideal set up for one.
posted by fshgrl at 4:05 PM on May 17, 2012 [11 favorites]

nth-ing Roomba.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 4:15 PM on May 17, 2012

My bedroom's floors are dark and we use a Roomba when we want them to look nice. That said, I find that I have to pick up lots of things to get the Roomba to get places that it otherwise might not fit.

An added bonus may be that the dog will chase the Roomba, leading to many hours of hilarity. My cat sadly does not find the Roomba to be of any positive interest. She glares at it.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:19 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a side note on the Swiffers, yes they are quite lovely, but you can cut down on the need for proprietary consumables by getting a pack of microfiber cloths and using those strapped into the Swiffer instead of their throw-away cloths. Launder the microfiber cloths as needed.

I nth the Roomba, though :) Passive cleaning, mostly, and your situation sounds like it should work pretty well for it.
posted by asciident at 4:21 PM on May 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Was also coming in to say "Roomba." Run it daily.

Keep in mind the Swiffer thing doesn't necessarily require the proprietary refills; unless you are only after the super-duper electrostatic whatnot, you can pop a regular dishcloth into the holders and toss it in the laundry when you are done.
posted by ambrosia at 4:21 PM on May 17, 2012

Yet another vote for roomba, and I like swifters too. I don't know if it is in your budget, but a hepa airfilter is an awesome addition.
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:23 PM on May 17, 2012

I worked at a hair salon with dark hardwood floors, and between clients we used a Sweepa-type rubber broom. It was great, and now that I think of that, I don't know why I'm not using one at home and will get right on that. For quick mopping of small spills, we used a Method cleaner with a microfibre pad on a Swiffer-type mop; and for heavy-duty mopping, a regular old string mop.

At home for my light wood floors I use various pads for the Swiffer mop made from microfibre fabric and old towels that I've cut in this shape; and a loopy chenille mop head I've customized to fit my Swiffer. I use a Vileda Twist Mop, when I need to wet mop.
posted by peagood at 4:23 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Use your flat-top mop with the towel cover. Buy multiple covers and get a spray bottle of 30% vinegar to water. I use a towel cover for each room, the mopping itself takes just a little time. Spray liberally with the vinegar solution, mop with the towel cover until it gets too dirty, then put on a new cover. Your floors will shine, shine, shine!
posted by raisingsand at 4:47 PM on May 17, 2012

A previous house had stunning black rock in the entry. I would clean it, even wax it to a patent leather shine. It was gorgeous temporarily; we even had a black Lab, but as I watched the tiny dust motes settled. Our heat/AC had filters and electronic filters.
We finally carpeted over it, and eventually moved. This might not be helpful for your situation.
posted by Cranberry at 5:04 PM on May 17, 2012

Roomba, yes!

In addition, I recommend investing in a really good vacuum. I have a Miele Cat & Dog model that I LOVE -- it has a switch right on the handle that lets you change between Bare Floor and Carpet modes, and it works great on both hardwood floors and rugs.

I also have a Shark steam mop that I really like. The steam cleans well, and because it dries so fast, it's safe for our hardwood floors. (You could check with the manufacturer of your flooring to make sure it'd be OK in your situation.)

My husband and I have noticed that our two large dogs are hard on our hardwood floors. Their nails have scratched up the wood over time. You may want to consider more area rugs, not only to protect your floors but also to give your pup some traction.

With our dogs, we find that we are never free of dog hair and could easily vacuum every day to keep on top of it. Life always intervenes and we've learned to be comfortable with less-than-perfect floors. If you are like us, you'll sacrifice some house-pride for the joy of living with your pets.

Congratulations on your new home!
posted by Boogiechild at 5:05 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get one of those commercial dry push mops. My experience with a Swiffer is minimal, but they seem like a lot of waste for not a lot of clean. Also, 3000 sq feet with a little 10" mop head is going to drive you crazy.
posted by gjc at 5:51 PM on May 17, 2012

We keep our dog contained in the kitchen and mudroom. We have nice a super nice baby gate with a swinging door (so we aren't climbing over it all the time). It keeps the hair and wear-and-tear down.
posted by kellygreen at 5:59 PM on May 17, 2012

I'm afraid I have had terrible luck with the Roomba, sorry. It was even the pet hair model.

I use a dust mop daily.

I have a Rubbermaid Reveal mop, which comes with one washable microfiber head for damp mopping, and I bought several extra damp mopping heads and several of these dust mopping heads.

I can usually get two dustings out of one mop head but I'm working with half the hardwood space that you've got.

I throw them in with the regular laundry and everything's great. The spray/mop feature is terrific too, I don't know why someone didn't invent this thing back in the stone age.
posted by padraigin at 7:21 PM on May 17, 2012

Nthing roomba - incredibly efficient on hard floors. Make sure you get the Aero Vac bin, which does a much better job of picking up dog hair.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:52 AM on May 18, 2012

Rubbermaid Reveal mop with the dust mopping heads. I love it for general mopping with a vinegar water mix, but use the dust mop head on my small patch of cheap knock off laminate "hard wood floors". I have 2 dogs that moult like crazy and a quick whip around with that helps.

Also a shark cordless carpet sweeper works great on hard floors to sweep up the hair and stuff and doesn't just blow the hair around like my vacuum does on the hardwood. I do have to dehair the rollers occasionally though.
posted by wwax at 9:51 AM on May 18, 2012

I have an electrolux cordless hardwood floor stick vac that I use 1-2x per day to pick up dog hair and mud. Works great.
posted by fshgrl at 3:18 PM on May 18, 2012

We got the dog and things have been great for the last couple of months :-) Except for the hair. Hair everywhere when I fail to brush him a couple of days in a row.

I went the robot route with a Mint Plus, which we use to sweep with Swiffer sheets (cheap at Costco and it's really quite amazing how much they pick up) and afterwards mop with water and/or Bona hardwood floor cleaner. Amazing! The robot is pretty much always running somewhere in the house, and I'm happy once again. I still vacuum the rug and furniture where the dog is allowed pretty much daily, and I've adjusted my expectations for cleanliness, but the situation is officially under control.
posted by halogen at 9:09 PM on July 19, 2012

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