Part 1 – Cleaning the Floor
Sweep regularly. Use a soft-bristled broom, a dust mop, or a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment. Depending on how heavily you use the area, repeat 2–7 times a week, or whenever you notice it getting dusty. If you wait too long, grit and dirt may gouge and scratch your cork floor.
• Never vacuum without a soft brush attachment, as this can scratch the floor permanently.
Mop weekly with minimal water. Fill a bucket with warm water and white vinegar, using .25 cups (59 mL) of vinegar for each 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water. Dip a sponge mop or microfiber cloth in the bucket and wring it out thoroughly. Wipe the floor with enough of the mixture on the mop or cloth to leave a damp sheen, not standing puddles, which can harm the floor.
Clean with stronger treatments occasionally. Monthly or whenever your floor looks dirty, mop with a stronger solution. Instead of vinegar, use mild cork-floor or wood-floor detergent, diluted according to label instructions.
• You may use another mild, pH-neutral cleaner, but test it underneath furniture first to see if it leaves a mark. Go easy if using dish soap or another sudsy cleaner, as too much of it can leave a soapy film on the floor
Wipe up spills as soon as possible. Use an absorbent towel or soft cloth to wipe up spills on your cork floor as soon as they happen. Never allow moisture to remain on your cork floor. Although cork is durable and moisture-resistant, cork is a type of wood flooring, and will eventually absorb moisture if it isn’t removed.
• If the spill has caused a stain, use the vinegar or detergent solution described above. Repeat with a more concentrated solution if necessary, or look for a specialized cork floor cleaning product.
Perform a deep clean. For an extremely dirty floor that hasn’t been properly maintained, use one of the following treatments:
• If the floor has a polyurethane finish, rent a floor machine and 00 grade wool disks. Reapply the finish after cleaning.
• If the floor has a wax finish, clean with liquid solvent wax. If this doesn’t do the trick, use a buffer (low speed floor machine) with 00 steel wool disks, followed by lamb’s wool disks and another application of wax.
Part 2 – Preventing Damage
Reduce sunlight. Protect cork floors from bright sunlight, which will fade the colors of the floor. Use curtains, drapes, window tint, blinds, or other window treatments to block strong light.
Prevent scuffing from furniture. To allow for easy movement and distribute weight, place felt pads under all heavy pieces of furniture. Put a protective mat under office chairs and other wheeled furniture.
Install mats near entrances and sinks. Use breathable mats made of natural fibers to collect moisture and dirt. Avoid mats with rubber or other non-porous backings, which may trap moisture and cause discoloration. Wipe your feet each time you enter to avoid tracking grit and dirt onto your cork flooring.
Protect your floor from moisture. When cork floors get wet, they expand, warp, and may ultimately crack. If you spill water on your floor, wipe it up immediately. Avoid placing items on your floor that may make it wet, such as humidifiers.
• If you have house plants, put trays or basins underneath them to catch any water that overflows or leaks from the pot.
Reapply your floor’s sealant as it wears down. Cork tiles come pre-treated with sealant, but this will wear down eventually. Ideally, reapply using a sealant recommended by the manufacturer, or at least one that specifically mentions cork on the label. This is usually a water-based polyurethane finish. You may use curable oil or hard wax oil, but these are more work to apply and last for a shorter time.
• Typically, to apply polyurethane, gently abrade the floor and roll on the finish using a foam roller. Leave it untouched for 24–48 hours. Follow the instructions on your finish label if it gives contradictory advice.
• Floor-stripping chemicals may harm the cork. To avoid having to use them, stick with the same type of finish each time.
• A typical home may get 5–10 years of use out of a polyurethane finish, or 1.5–2 years from wax. Cork floors in busy public buildings or businesses may need sealing every few months.