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How to clean your hard floors and carpets

Dyson engineers share the best ways to spring clean your home for the Lunar New Year – keeping your home dust-free, germ-free and stain-free. Rethink your daily cleaning routine with our tips and tricks below.

In many Asian homes, including Singapore, families are accustomed to spending time on the floor – whether it’s children playing, sitting to watch television or even having meals together on a low table. With this, achieving a “barefoot clean” is essential. With the help of Dyson experts, we explore different cleaning methods and habits to understand what really works best when aiming for “barefoot clean” on hard floors - as well as what doesn’t.

Important questions to consider:

  • Are you vacuuming properly before you mop?
  • Is dry and wet cleaning really the best way to clean?
  • Did you know that if dust isn’t removed fully prior to wet cleaning, then it can be smeared across hard floors when the mop function is used, potentially leaving a dirtier rather than a cleaner floor?
  • How often should you be vacuuming for the best clean possible?
  • “There is a common misconception that it’s OK to go straight into mopping floors as that cleans up all the dirt in your home,” explains Sharon Yap, Head of Technology Development at Dyson. “If dust isn’t removed fully prior to wet cleaning, then it can be smeared across hard floors when mopping your floors, potentially leaving a dirtier rather than a cleaner floor.

    "The best advice for cleaning wooden floors is simple: vacuum your floors at least once a week to prevent your dirt from grinding in,” she adds. “For me, I try to give the high traffic areas of my home a little extra attention, such as kitchens and bedrooms, as the floor can quickly collect a lot of dirt, debris and stray hairs.”

    “Many people believe that hard floors are more resistant to wear and tear – for example, marble flooring is a common type of flooring in many households, and some might use cleaning products that contain ammonia or acids, which will cause the flooring to erode and be uneven! Even while scrubbing the floor, be sure not to use anything with sharp bristles like metal scrubbers. Also, if you don’t vacuum first, you risk spreading dirt rather than removing them.”

    The daily routine for most people consists of removing the visible dust you see from hard floor surfaces, using a variety of methods – dry wiping, sweeping and vacuuming. However, what’s equally important is the invisible dust that cannot be seen with the human eye, which is best removed with a vacuum cleaner. If you prefer to follow up with mopping your floors, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

    “With mopping, you use disinfectant to clean. You are not trying to remove germs but rather you are trying to kill them. The combination of mopping to kill germs and suction to remove fine dust are two very different jobs. They need to work in unison to achieve that barefoot clean feel. You really must ensure you are vacuuming properly, with the most effective technology to try to remove all of that dust is removed before reaching for the mop,” says Sharon Yap, Head of Technology Development at Dyson.

    Dampening dust on floors – even fine dust invisible to the naked eye – could mean that you’re creating a habitat more favourable to dust mite and mould proliferation.

    "Our 30 years of research in microbiology shows that the best way to get rid of dust allergen is to remove it completely from your home – which is why we invest so heavily in vacuum cleaner technology. In order to capture the fine dust and dirt that may not be seen to the human eye, you need an effective vacuum that picks the dust up, has efficient cyclones to keep it in the machine, as well as filters and seals to make sure it's not emitted back into your home. By doing this, you can then move on to the next step of cleaning your floors to achieve that true barefoot clean,” adds Yap.

    Top tips to keep your hard floors dust free and clean:

    1. Vacuum daily. Vacuuming the high traffic areas in your home ensures that dust doesn’t build up in any areas.

    2. Use the right brush head to avoid scratches. The Dyson V11 senses whether you are vacuuming on hard or soft surfaces and can adjust the suction accordingly*. The Dyson soft roller head (Fluffy) is specially made for hardwood floors and coated with antistatic carbon fibre filaments removes dirt and fine debris.

    3. Use the right accessories. While it may seem like an effort to change tools mid-vacuum, this will help you remove dust you can see, and dust you can’t. Use a crevice tool to clean hard to reach places.

    4. Avoid mopping if you can still see visible dust on your floor.

    5. Vacuum before mopping. It might seem like double the work, but it’s important to try to remove all the dust in your home first. If the dust isn’t removed fully prior to wet cleaning, then it can be smeared across hard floors when the mop function is used, potentially leaving a dirtier rather than a cleaner floor.

    *In Auto mode, using the Dyson DLSTM (Dynamic Load Sensing) technology inside the High Torque cleaner head

    How to clean your carpet

    Despite the popularity of carpets and rugs in homes around the world, few people are confident on how to clean and maintain them. On top of regular cleaning to prevent the visible build-up of dust and dirt, understanding how to manage embedded fine dust and remove stains can be a challenge.

    Dyson’s engineers have developed different forms of vacuums for carpet and hardwood floors, to allow for targeted cleaning. The range of materials found across homes in the world greatly differ. As James McCrea, Senior Mechanical Engineer at Dyson says, “At Dyson, we have almost 30 years of research into how best to clean flooring, including carpets. In our Pick-Up Laboratory, we test how effective our machines are at removing dust, dirt and hair from your home using many different floor types – from industry standard carpets to tatami matting commonly found in Japan.”

    How to clean your carpet day-to-day

    To maintain the appearance of your carpet, a vacuum cleaner should be your first port of call. “Carpets can hide dust and dirt between their fibres, as well as harbour microscopic life – such as dust mites, moulds and allergens – all of which can impact your wellbeing. So, it’s important not to wait until your carpet looks visibly dirty before vacuuming,” says James.

    Vacuuming high-traffic areas twice a week and the rest of your carpeted spaces once a week is enough to keep dust and dirt at bay. But there are some engineer tricks you can use to make sure you’re vacuuming in the right way.

    1. Vacuum slowly. Vacuuming slowly gives the airflow and brush bar more time to “agitate” the dust and dirt between the carpet fibres and remove them entirely. It also means you’re more likely to capture invisible allergens hidden deep in the carpet pile.

    2. Go over the same spot – but not too often. More passes over an area will give the machine the best chance of cleaning carpet well, but any more than two or three times gives minimal increase, according to our research in the laboratory.

    3. Use the right accessories. While it may seem like an effort to change tools mid-vacuum, this will help you remove dust you can see, and dust you can’t. Use a Crevice tool to clean hard to reach places round the edge of the carpet, or a Mini-Motorised tool to remove dust buried in thick pile rugs.

    4. Don’t forget the places you can’t see. While they may not be top of mind, areas under sofa cushions, furniture and in curtain creases can harbour dust and potentially millions of dust mites and their faeces. Once these are disturbed, they can become airborne and easily inhaled. This in turn can trigger allergies, so ensure you don’t neglect them in your frequent cleans. Mini-motorised tools are ideal for hidden corners of soft furnishings, while Soft Brush tools or Combination tools can gently remove dust from curtains and bookshelves.

    How to remove carpet stains

    “While it can be tempting to try and deal with a stain as quickly as possible with as many cleaning products as possible, it’s vital to not mix cleaning products”, says Dr Calum Robertson, Chemical Research Scientist at Dyson.

    “When dealing with a stain on your carpet, it’s important to start as lightly as possible – and to always read the label of the product you’re using!

    “Starting with the lightest treatment possible, then slowly trying more abrasive methods can help you remove stains properly, safely and avoid damaging your carpet too.”

    1. Vacuum the stain – if its dry. Avoid wiping substances like ground coffee and spices - water can make the stain worse and even permanent. If you have a surface level stain or spill, try vacuuming it first – unless it’s already a wet stain. Moisture can have a negative impact on the mechanics of your vacuum.

    2. Start slowly with soap and water. Carpets are usually dyed fabric, so if you use a product that is too strong on a stain, you risk removing the carpet dye too. Start by delicately blotting the stain with a surfactant, which is typically warm water and soap. This will work to break down or emulsify oil stains like grease or butter and won’t put your carpet at too much risk. Watch out for delicate rugs though, as the dyes could be impacted by certain soaps.

    3. Try a biological treatment. For protein, starch or lipase-based stains, like blood, grass and chocolate, an enzymatic solution can work well. Enzymes work by breaking down large molecules into smaller, more soluble ones. Use warm water and biological laundry detergent and gently blot the stain until it has dissolved.

    4. Use bleach-based products sparingly. Some stains, like tea, coffee or red wine can discolour your carpet and so you may need to apply a bleach-based product – but only in sparing amounts. Always test the product on a more inconspicuous bit of carpet first and be patient when cleaning. Applying too much at once can cause irreversible discolouration to both the stain and your carpet.

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