Installing cork floors is an inexpensive and versatile way to improve your home, but cleaning and maintaining the floors can take a lot of time and effort. How you clean your cork floors can depend upon whether you have sealed or unsealed floors, as the treatment for dirt on either floor will be different.
Cleaning Sealed Cork Floors
Sealed cork floors can be cleaned using ordinary soap and water. Treat your sealed cork floors as though they were lino or wood inlay floors, and apply a suitable chemical cleaner. Sealed cork floors should have cleaners that are not acidic or ‘basic’, as these can damage the sealant.
Wipe the chemical cleaner over the floor with a damp mop, wringing out completely between wipes. Use only a minimal amount of water, even though the floor is sealed, and then dry with a cloth before leaving to air-dry thoroughly.
Cleaning Unsealed Cork Floors
These are much more difficult to clean than sealed cork floors, as they are much more intolerant to moisture and chemical cleaning as cork is a porous substance. If the floor has not been sealed then the cork may absorb moisture and cleaners, causing swelling and discoloration.
If the flooring is not sealed, you will need to use a dry foam or rubber sponge to scrub away large areas of dirt and dust. If there are soiled areas underneath, slightly dampen a cloth with water, and blot the staining, followed by a dry cloth to take away the water and to remove the stain.
Instead of wiping the floor with a cloth, another option is to treat it like a carpet, and vacuum the floor. Be sure to use a vacuum with a roller, rather than a beater brush, as the latter can scratch the cork and damage the floor. A mop normally used for dusting can be slightly dampened and run across stubborn areas of dirt. This kind of mop can be good for quickly wiping up spills that can penetrate cork and cause stains.
If you are preparing to have the cork floor sealed, then it needs to be thoroughly scrubbed using the methods above and then sealed quickly with an approved floor sealant. This will help to keep dirt caught under the seal to a minimum and ensure that the sealant makes a good, permanent contact with the cork floor.
As well as cleaning cork floors, it is also a good idea to put down door, rush or another kind of rug which can help prevent people trailing dirt from their shoes across the floor. Protective felt on the backs of mats or rugs helps to prevent damage to the cork, although it may also make the rugs prone to sliding. Felt should also be used on the bottoms of chairs and tables, or other furniture, in order to distribute the weight and prevent scratching or dimpling of the cork. Floors will also benefit from having the furniture moved occasionally, in order to allow the cork to breathe, and creating an even pattern of wear.