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Microfiber dust mopping is best for wood floors

| Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008

Question: We had laminate wood flooring installed recently. It looks great, but I wonder how we should clean it.

Answer: Microfiber dust mops are among the best cleaning tools for wood floors -- whether laminate or natural -- because of the special nature of microfibers. The mops pick up dust and small particles, which cling to the microfibers, eliminating one of the biggest enemies of wood floors -- the dirt and sand that scratch and mar the surface over time. Microfiber dusting is fast, easy and it leaves floors shining as if they'd been polished.

Look for the mops at stores that sell cleaning supplies. Real Simple brand microfiber swivel-head mops (available at discount stores such as Target) are inexpensive. The microfiber head comes off easily and can be washed and dried for repeat use.

To protect your floors and minimize dirt, be sure to place walkout mats at entry doors.

Plain water is often enough when washing laminate floors, but there are several commercial laminate floor cleaners available for wet mopping. You can make your own by combining 1/4 cup vinegar (or window cleaner such as Windex) with 1 to 2 quarts of warm water. Merely dampen the mop to clean the floor. (Again, a mop with a microfiber head works well.) Apply cleaner with a spray bottle, or mop from bucket. But in either case, do not let the cleaning solution pool on or saturate the floor. Wipe dry immediately.

Mushroom miseries?

Q: What, if anything, can I do about the mushrooms appearing in my front yard every morning?

A: Abundant rainfall or excessive irrigation can create ideal growing conditions for mushrooms. But they wouldn't be there without organic material to live on. That means the soil holds secrets, such as a buried stump or roots of a long-gone tree or shrub, a thick thatch layer or even buried construction material. Mushrooms are the reproductive parts of the fungi working to destroy this organic material.

Once the lawn dries out, they should disappear or their numbers should drop. But mushrooms won't cease their intermittent appearances until all the organic material is "eaten."

Meanwhile, use a heavy garden rake to knock them down periodically. Fungicides or herbicides won't get rid of them.

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