Dirt from the street collects on feet and gets tracked into your house dozens of times a day. The little dumps, spills, and heel marks of daily living accumulate with startling speed.

And unless your home has only one kind of floor throughout, you will have to deal with cleaning different kinds of hard-surface floors. The first step toward efficient floor cleaning is to know what your floor is made of. The cleaning method that works for one surface may ruin another.

That's where we come in. The following article provides tips and guidelines for cleaning just about every type of hard-surface floor -- from asphalt tile to wood.

A Heavy-Duty Floor Cleaner
Here's a recipe for a solution that will remove extra-tough dirt and grime from asphalt, glazed or unglazed ceramic tile, concrete, flagstone, and slate floors:
  • Mix 1⁄4 cup low-sudsing, all-purpose cleaner; 1 cup ammonia; and 1⁄2 gallon cool or cold water. Caution: Wear rubber gloves, and work in a well-ventilated area when using this powerful solution.
  • Apply the solution to the floor with a sponge mop, using pressure for heavily soiled areas; rinse with cool, clear water for spotless results.
  • Dry with a soft cloth.