Keep your floors clean this winter

Regardless of whether your floors are wood, tile, carpet, bamboo or another material it's challenging to keep them clean in the winter. Snow, ice melt, salt and mud not only leave a wet mess on the floor but can scratch, stain and otherwise damage floors. In addition to wear and tear on the floors, wet footwear can be unsafe, potentially causing slips and falls in the home. A good way to help keep floors clean and to prevent injuries is to have everyone remove their shoes and boots upon entering the house. This solution confines outside dirt and moisture to the entryway or mudroom and keeps floors throughout the house clean and safe.

One way to keep outside dirt from entering the house is to catch some of the dirt at the door. Place a doormat just outside the door so anyone entering the house will leave at least a portion of the dirt and debris on the doormat depending on how well they wipe their feet. Putting another mat just inside the door will further decrease the amount of dirt being tracked into the house. A wide variety of doormats are available from many retailers. Many homeowners combine function with fun and use doormats as decorative welcome mats. They purchase or personalize mats to complement existing décor or the homeowner's personality. BobVila.com says, "It not only serves as a welcome accent, but it stops dirt, water, and other messes from being tracked into your house."

A simple way to temporarily store wet boots and shoes near the door is to use boot trays. They can be manufactured using several different materials such as vinyl, wood and metal or a combination of materials. Boot trays have raised sides to contain water, dirt and debris dragged in on shoes and boots. Some boot trays are available with two tiers to hold twice as many shoes as a single tray where space may prohibit laying trays side-by-side.

Another way to help keep floors clean is to keep a shoe shelf by the door so salt, sand, snow and slush don't get tracked through the house. Shoe shelves are available in different sizes from a single bench-like shelf to units with multiple tiers. They're commonly made from metal, wood or plastic. Depending on the design, some of the shelves consist of wooden slats or metal mesh to increase air flow and drying time. A small mat can be placed on the floor underneath the shelves to catch any drips and dirt.

An option for a homeowner who enjoys a do-it-yourself project is to install a shoe rack constructed of a series of pipes. Elena Donovan Mauer writing for Country Living.com suggests, "Use copper pipe and flanges to create a floating shoe rack with an industrial look." If a smaller rack is desired, use pipe elbows to change the pipe's direction  so that the rack can be attached to two perpendicular walls in a corner space rather than running the length of two parallel walls.

Alternatively, save some money with a budget-friendly option and create the look and function of shelves by stacking plastic crates on their sides with the open ends facing out. After the shoes have dried, the crates can be easily carried around the house to return dry shoes and boots to their proper places, rinsed out when empty and returned to the mud room.

With a space by the door to hold wet boots and shoes and some cooperation from family and guests keeping floors clean, dry and safe in the winter doesn't need to be a big challenge.

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