From Quartz to Vinyl: How to Clean and Maintain Surface Materials at Home

  • Aug 31, 2022
  • 3160 views

One of our readers recently requested that we do up a guide on the best ways to upkeep quartz surfaces. We thought why not go all the way and do up a cleaning and maintenance guide to the most commonly found surface materials at home? We spoke with material manufacturers and consulted homeowners to find the best housekeeping solutions to these surface materials:

Wood

Design: Collate

Day to day: Dust first to pick up any loose debris. Use a duster or a lint-free cloth. Then, clean surfaces with a slightly damp cloth or mop. Always wipe in the direction of the wood grain.

Long-term care: Don't place wood furniture or wood surfaces under direct sunlight and avoid getting them too wet. Always use coasters on your wood tables. Ventilate your home regularly to prevent humidity buildup. Consider investing in a dehumidifier for particularly humid areas of the home where you have a lot of wood pieces and surfaces.

Hardwood flooring can be sanded down or recoated after every 7 years or so, depending on use. A good sign it needs to be recoated is when the flooring looks dull. With wood furniture, apply a good wax and buff the surface well with a lint-free cloth. This can be done every 3 months. Buff the surface well to prevent product buildup.

Stain removal: This method can work with heat or water stains that have just set in. You’ll need to get an iron to a low to medium temperature. Set it over a piece of lint-free cloth over the stain and let the surface heat up for a few seconds. Check to see if the stain is gone. Repeat until it gets removed.

Stainless Steel

Design: Monocot

Day to day: A wiped down with a damp cloth is sufficient for day-to-day cleaning. Mix in a little detergent for dirtier messes. Wipe down in the direction of the stainless steel grain if possible (look closely and you can see the grains!). Always end by drying the stainless steel surface with a soft cloth to prevent any water stains. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, steel wool, brushes or scouring pads, which will cause scratches.

Long-term care: For oft-used surfaces like stainless steel sinks, consider doing a deeper clean every once in a while. Opt for a natural cleaning solution by creating a baking soda paste with water and applying it on the surface with either a sliced lemon half or a soft cloth and then rinse it down with water before drying.

Stain removal: For stubborn stains, consider a commercial product like this.

Quartz

Design: Couple Abode

Day to day: Because of its low porosity, quartz surfaces don’t require very much maintenance. They also do not require regular waxing or sealing to maintain their appearance. A simple wipe-down with a soft cloth and clean water will suffice for day-to-day cleaning. If you are using cleaning agents, make sure it’s diluted and mild—that is, non-bleaching and non-abrasive.

Long-term care: Avoid using sharp knives or scissors directly onto quartz surfaces, and always use a trivet or heat pad before placing hot pots and pans onto your quartz countertop. While quartz is stain-resistant, it is not stain-proof. Be sure to wipe up spills immediately, particularly when exposed to certain staining foods and liquids such as wine, vinegar, soya sauce and lemon juice. White quartz surfaces are also particularly prone to discolouring and yellowing when exposed to long-term UV light, so avoid placing them outdoors or directly under the sunlight.

Stain removal: In the case of stubborn stains, using dishwasher soap and buffing out the stain with a clean cloth may work with a bit of patience. For a more natural method, consider mixing white vinegar and water and letting it sit out overnight before rinsing it off.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles (+grout)

Design: Key Concept

Day to day: Sweep and vacuum before mopping for floor tiles to prevent dirt or debris from scratching the tiles. For wall tiles, wipe down with a mix of water and detergent solution. Make sure you wipe down the grout as well.

Long-term care: Avoid using bleaching agents or abrasive cleaners as they are likely to discolour and scratch your tiled surfaces. Brighten grout by making a paste with 1 part water and 3 parts baking soda and leaving the paste to rest for about 10 mins before rinsing it off.

Stain removal: If all else fails, magic/melamine sponges can help remove really stubborn stains, but avoid using them too often as they can cause micro-scratches on the surfaces of your tiles.

Natural Stone like Marble and Granite

Design: Ascend Designs

Day to day: Wiping down surfaces with water and mild detergent is usually enough. Dry them off with a lint-free cloth to maintain their sheen.

Long-term care: Avoid cutting directly on natural surfaces and always use a trivet before placing hot pots and pans on countertops. Marble and granite are porous, so make sure you wipe up stains and spills immediately. Seal them regularly, preferably every couple of years. How often the surface needs to be sealed depends on how often the surface is used. You can test to see if the sealant has worn off by pouring a bit of water over the surface. If the water gets absorbed, it means it’s time to get it resealed.

Stain removal: Do a spot test before applying any stain-removal chemicals. Consider natural solutions like a mix of baking soda and water and leaving the mixture to sit overnight before rinsing it off.

Paint

Design: Defour Home Studios

Day to day: It’s best to read the manufacturer’s instructions on the best type of care for your painted walls since paint composition differs depending on brands. For most painted walls, a regular dusting every few months with a feather duster or a vacuum with a soft brush attachment will do.

Long-term care: Hairline cracks may occur over time, whether due to inferior paint quality, a poor paint job or the natural contraction and expansion as a result of humidity. Should you get a hairline crack over your painted wall, deepen the hairline crack to loosen any debris and fill up the crack with a filling solution. Even the surface with a scraper and then leave it to dry for a day or two. Once the surface has dried, you can sand it down and apply paint over it.

Stain removal: For tougher stains, run down the stain with a clean cloth/sponge and a mixture of water and diluted detergent. Repeat if the stain persists. Wipe away residue before drying with a lint-free cloth.

Wallpaper

Design: Icon Interior Design

Day to day: A light dusting regularly will be sufficient.

Long-term care: A properly installed wallpaper will last around 7 to 10 years. Avoid using abrasive cleaners on the wallpaper.

Stain removal: Remove stains as soon as possible. For light stains, use a wrung-out damp cloth and scrub lightly. For more stubborn stains, use a mix of detergent and water with a non-abrasive sponge and work on the stain. You may need to repeat the scrubbing process a few times for tougher stains. Refrain from getting the wallpaper too wet.

Cement Screed

Design: Insight.Out Studio

Day to day: Use a dry cloth or a broom for everyday cleaning. Occasionally, wipe the area down with a wet cloth or mop.

Long-term care: If you don’t want your cement screed surface to stain easily, you will need to seal it regularly. But sealing it does cause it to have quite a bit of sheen, which may not fit in with your aesthetics. Cracks and chips can also occur on cement screed surfaces over time, depending on usage and conditions of the home or whether your neighbour likes drilling into walls, so they aren’t absolutely preventable. For open-minded individuals, the scratches and kinks that would invariably come with cement screed surfaces are all part of the character of this material.

Stain removal: Sealing is the best prevention, but make sure to still wipe off spills and stains immediately. In the event of stubborn stains, use a multipurpose stain remover.

Laminate

Design: Fineline Design

Day to day: A wipe down with a damped cloth will usually suffice, unless the laminated surface is in an area like the kitchen where it can get greasy. For those surfaces, wipe them down with a mixture of water and detergent. Dry with a clean cloth to avoid streaky marks, which can be especially prominent in glossy laminates. For textured laminates e.g. woodgrains, consider dusting first to remove any debris stuck in the crevices.

Long-term care: Laminates are relatively forgiving, but they can scratch easily so avoid using abrasive brushes or cleaners on them. Keep to a regular cleaning schedule—once a week is best for laminates in the kitchen—and you’ll keep them looking good as new. Keep laminated surfaces dry to avoid any form of warping or bucking. Clean up water spills immediately.

Stain removalLamitak advises using a small amount of Cif or thinner to remove really stubborn stains on laminated surfaces. Don’t use cleaning agents containing acid, alkali or sodium hypochlorite, as they may corrode or discolour the laminated surface. 

Glass

Design: InsideLookz Design

Day to day: Wipe the glass surface using a damp lint-free cloth. Go in one direction to avoid unnecessary streaks and do it gently to prevent scratches. A squeegee will also help to prevent water marks. 

Long-term care/Stain removal: A glass cleaning solution will help to remove any dirt or grease stains on glass surfaces. For a DIY cleaning solution, add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid to 1 cup of water and 1 cup of distilled vinegar in a spray bottle. The vinegar aspect, in particular, helps to cut through grease, which is great for kitchen glass windows.

Vinyl

Design: The Interior Lab

Day to day: As with tiles, use a vacuum cleaner or broom to pick up any dirt and debris from the vinyl flooring first before proceeding to use a mop (wrung as dry as possible). A general household cleaning agent can be used on a regular weekly basis.

Long-term care: Vinyl can dent and scratch easily so you’ll want to avoid dragging heavy furniture across your vinyl flooring and use soft carpets and rugs (without a rubber backing as the rubber can cause discolouration on the vinyl over time) under furniture if possible. While vinyl is water resistant, it is not waterproof so you’ll want to avoid flooding your vinyl flooring. This can cause water to seep into the joints leading to warping issues.

Stain removal: For stubborn stains, create a paste by mixing baking soda with water and use it along with a sponge to scrub onto the stain. Repeat as necessary. Make sure you remove any residue after with a cleaning cloth and water.

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