Living in Minnesota, fresh, powdery snow is a reward for putting up with harsh temperatures. After a brisk walk with the dog in fluffy snow or an afternoon of snowshoeing, it’s a little easier to forget those occasional subzero days. But while glistening snowflakes create a beautiful landscape outside, they wreak havoc inside the home. One of the winter’s worst annoyances is the constant presence of dirt, melting ice, and salt caked on hardwood floors and ground into carpets. However, with a little planning and effort, the battle for clean floors can be easily won. Try these 5 tips to protect floors from winter grime.
1. Employ an army of doormats.
Your best bet for protecting floors is to catch snow and ice residue at the door. Keep a mat outside the door to trap loose snow, dirt, and de-icing substances. A thick, bristly mat will be most effective. Inside, consider using several mats to create an extended entrance zone, or purchase a larger doormat just for winter. Most standard rectangular doormats are roughly 18×28 inches, which may not be big enough for some households, unless one person stands on the mat at a time and quickly removes their boots. If a mat gets too wet, hang it up to dry in the laundry room or in the shower to prevent excess moisture from soaking through to the floors. When vacuuming carpet and rugs, vacuum doormats, and vacuum or sweep under the doormat to capture loose particles. Make sure mats are dry before vacuuming.
2. Corral boots and shoes.
Removing shoes upon entering the home is a no-brainer during winter, but where do you put wet, dirty shoes? Create a shoe storage area near your home’s entry way. At minimum, buy a plastic boot tray, available for around $5.00 at most home improvement stores. Shoe cubbies or a shoe rack can also keep footwear organized, but be sure to clean shoe storage periodically. When shoes dry, dirt and sand will shake loose, so take those shoes outside and brush them off before wearing inside, packing, or storing elsewhere in your home.
3. Wipe off dog paws.
Pets can track in enormous amounts of slush and dirt. When coming home from a walk, wipe your dog’s paws with a towel or a designated paw cleaning mitt. Make it easy by keeping a box with paw cleaning supplies by the door. Some dogs might require some extra training to learn to wait before going inside.
4. Commit to a cleaning routine.
Winter is messy, and your floors will suffer. Accept it, and create an attack plan. Stock up on cleaning supplies, store it in an accessible place, and commit to a quick cleaning session a few times a week. For carpet, do a quick vacuum job whenever necessary and plan to shampoo carpets or steam clean at the end of the season. Got hardwoord floors? Salt can cause significant damage, so clean floors with a damp mop several times a week, and use hardwood floor cleaner for a deeper clean. Sponge mops are gentle on hardwood floors, and a Swiffer or a microfiber floor mop can get the job done quickly in between heavy duty mopping.
5. Reroute your entrance.
To avoid the inevitable spread of dirt from the front door to the living room to the kitchen, consider utilizing a different entry point in winter, such as a garage or back door. It may lack the welcoming atmosphere of a front entrance, but your floors will thank you. Leave shoes and wet coats in the garage, place a soft mat or rug inside the door, and enjoy your clean home.