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Floor Care Tools


Floor Care Tools

Floor care appliances vary from some of the most traditional--and cheapest--to the most high-tech and expensive items in your home.




Choose between straw and plastic, straight cut and angled. I don't notice much difference, except if I'm sweeping an area that's wet. Then, the plastic is better.

Carpet Sweepers

Good for picking up crumbs, pet hair, and other obvious things. A carpet sweeper doesn't deep clean at all, but it does make the carpet look better quickly. Some are good for use on hard floors as well.

Scrub Brushes

People used to boast that they scrubbed their floors on their hands and knees with a brush. It certainly gets the floor clean. It's also hard on your hands and knees.


String, sponge, or disposable-pad are the main types. Some of the string mops (which may include mops with strips of "miracle" materials instead of string) are self-wringing. In my opinion, mops mostly dilute dirt and spread it around. If you mop, it helps to have two buckets, one with cleaning solution, the other for rinsing. Household mop wringer buckets are available, but they take more storage space than I'm able to give up. You can also rinse the mop in running water. For light cleaning, I use a disposable pad mop with a cloth instead of the pad. For weekly deep cleaning of vinyl floors, I use an electric scrubber.


Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

Available as both rechargeable and corded. Most are noisy. Some are too heavy to be convenient. They don't do a good job of deep cleaning carpet. Mostly useful for edges and small jobs.

Rechargeables are good for quick cleaning car interiors and quick cleaning of dry spills. But my experience with them has been that most quickly lose their ability to hold a charge.

Corded handheld vacuums work well, but the cord is a major inconvenience.

Handheld Carpet Cleaners

Very useful for spot cleaning carpets.

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Designed for carpet, these do the best job there. If that's your main concern, an upright is probably the way to go. They have attachments, but using them isn't particularly convenient.

Most cordless stick type vacuums have very little power. I use one that's far better than average, but still use a heavier upright vacuum on a weekly basis.

Canister Vacuum Cleaners

Canisters perform as well as uprights on everything but carpets. The best of them are excellent, but I find the multiple parts too inconvenient.

Wet-Dry Vacuum

Good for cleaning wet messes. Can be used in blower mode to unclog sinks and blow snow from doorsteps. Also useful as an ordinary vacuum cleaner--especially good for cleaning out fireplaces. Larger capacity machines generally out-perform the smaller ones.

Hard Floor Scrubbers

The answer to the need to scrub floors with a brush. Especially on hard floors with deep texture, nearly indispensable. Some models also vacuum the water into a reservoir, leaving the floor nearly dry.

Carpet Cleaning Machines

These can be rented, and there are good reasons not to own one--they take up a lot of storage space, but are seldom used. Online reviews point out issues with durability. Also, rental versions typically do a better job. If you rent, check the brushes--you want a carpet cleaner that isn't too worn down.

This is one household job where the best option is to hire a professional. Ask around--word of mouth recommendations are the best way to find a company that will do a good job.


Robotic vacuums don't do as thorough a job of deep cleaning carpets as you get if you use a regular vacuum. Like old fashioned carpet sweepers, they're better at picking up surface dirt. Setup and programming are a complex task. Pet hair may clog them, and online reviews of robotic vacuums are full of complaints about durability. I've thought of buying one for twenty years, thinking the bugs would be ironed out someday. So far, I'm not convinced they ever will be.






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