How to clean cork floors

Cork requires routine sweeping of vacuuming. If you wish to use a vacuum cleaner the “beater bar” must be turned “off” or the “hard surface” option should be chosen. Beater bars are great for beating up carpet…but they will damage any wood surface by creating micro-scratches that will eventually dull or haze your finish (cork finishes included). Roughly 1 per week the cork can receive a bit of a “damp” mop using warm water, a clean push mop without any foreign cleaning products present. This removes the more persistent dirt that doesn’t pick up with sweeping or mopping. Do NOT use a steam cleaner on your cork (nor on hardwood, laminate, vinyl or linoleum).

How to clean cork floors

A more thorough cleaning would occur 1-2 per month using the same damp mop with an added hardwood floor cleaner. Just like hardwood, a pH neutral hardwood floor cleaner is the best option for cork. Torlys and Wicanders make beautiful cork and hardwood floor cleaners. Every effort should be made by the owner to obtain the appropriate cleaner. The cleaner would be sprayed onto the head of the mop and then the mop would be pushed around the floor. Do NOT spray directly onto the cork (this is the same advice for hardwood, bamboo and laminate).

For really tough grime, a mixture of the hardwood floor cleaner can be sprayed directly onto the tough dirt and allowed to sit for 1-5 minutes (spot spraying…not floor spraying). The mop head is then used to remove the dirt and the cleaner.

If you are unsure as to the appropriateness of your cleaner, don’t use it. Most “eco-friendly” cleaners are NOT to be used with cork (or wood) flooring. These “eco” cleaners are made from vegetable oils. These are, in essence, oil cleaners. These oil cleaners have been known to damage cork (and wood) floors beyond repair inside of 4 years! Murphy’s Oil Soap is an absolute NO-NO! This will void your warranty and damage your floor beyond repair.

It should be noted that pH neutral cleaners are already “low impact” cleaning products. They contain very few abrasive or dangerous chemicals. They are pH balanced to mimic water (pH neutral = pH 7.0) which make them easy on the household and easy on the environment.

Old fashioned cleaning often incorporates “Water and Vinegar”. A mixture of water: vinegar in a 10:1 mixture is very close to pH neutral. This solution should be used no more than 1/month. Vinegar is recognised as a product that will dull or haze today’s modern finishes. Some websites have mentioned a 4:1 ratio and others a 5:1 ratio. These strong ratios would be considered “floor strippers” and should never be used on a regular basis. Water: vinegar mixture of 4:1 would damage a wood or cork finish inside of 5 years. This level of alkalinity would be too aggressive for normal or routine cleaning. It has its place as a degreasing agent but never as a routine mixture. If a strong ratio such as 4:1 is used, it should be rinsed using clean, warm water. Rinsing should occur 2-3 times to ensure the vinegar has been completely neutralized. Even then this amount of corrosive cleaning should not occur more than once per year.

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