It’s a simple fact of life that when you bring a baby into your home, the floors of that home are going to suffer. Big time. There will be spills. If you think formula smells bad now, sniff the carpet where you spilled it in a few days. Yech! The abuse gets worse when they start on baby cereal and solid food. Anything that can be spilled, leaked, flung, thrown, or spit up, will be. Ironically:
- Your floors get dirtier than you ever thought possible
- You want them cleaner than ever, for when your baby crawls and plays
- Because of the baby, you have even less time to clean them than ever.
Our floors are mostly carpet, and the things they’ve absorbed over the past few years are, in a word, horrifying. Keeping the floors clean for our three little ones is a constant battle. Like most battles, we started out losing and only turned the tide after building up some firepower.
The Problems with Vacuuming
|A good vacuuming does wonders for baby-abused floors. There are few things as satisfying as sucking up all of the infant formula and smashed Cheerios and ending up with a nice, clean floor. But there are a few reasons we can’t always get the main vacuum out.
1. Babies Afraid of the Vacuum
Many babies and small children are terrified of the vacuum. Ours were no exception. There was one time, when our daughter was young, that I playfully used the crevice tool on her shoes, and she’s been scarred ever since. Her little brothers seem to have picked up on this, because they’re scared too. When we turn on the big vacuum, they all scoot/crawl/run screaming to the far side of the house. Sometimes we just can’t console them.
We solved this problem in a rather simple way: by getting a carpet sweeper. You know, the kind that you push along the floor to pick up crumbs and such. They work surprisingly well, and they’re absolutely quiet. Great for sweeping the carpet after the babies eat, and they’re not afraid of it.
2. The Floor is Covered in Toys
In order to vacuum a floor, it generally has to be clear of objects. If you have young children, good luck with that! They scatter things everywhere, not just their toys but also the mail, couch cushions, napkins, papers, anything they can get a hand on. Trying to do this in the middle of the day is a battle of attrition, because when you pick something up, a child inevitably throws something else down.
Because of this, and point #1, we usually do pickup after the babies have gone to bed. By the time the floor is clear, it’s usually 11 p.m. and we’re exhausted. Why not nap time? See my next point.
3. Loud Vacuums Wake Sleeping Babies
Most vacuums are loud. It takes a big motor to provide the suction to get all of that powdered formula out of the cracks and crevices. There’s always a risk that the noise will wake a baby up. At night we can usually soothe a baby right back to sleep. But the wake-up happens during nap time, and they’ve been sleeping for a while, guess what? The nap is over.
It got better when we invested in a lightweight stick vacuum. This offered a few key advantages:
Protecting the Dining Room Floor
The dining room floor is often ground zero for spills and messes, especially if that’s where your baby’s high chair will be located. When our daughter started eating solid food from her high chair, we took steps to protect the carpet (yes, our dining room is carpeted, against all logic and reason) as best we could.
There’s already an area rug under the dining room table, but we went so far as to bolster this with a protective floor mat under the high chair. It caught most of the dropped food, crumbs, and spilled drinks that were inevitable as our daughter learned to feed herself.
Deep Cleaning the Carpets
As great as our sweeper and stick vacuum were, what really made us feel better about our floors was when we got our own steam cleaner. It seems like a big investment, but we do have a substantial amount of carpet. Mostly, we got this because of spilled milk. You can dry it up with a towel, but that’s not enough sometimes.
The Hoover SteamVac Carpet Cleaner is bigger than most vacuums but it’s pretty amazing. With just tap water and carpet solution, it steams the carpets, scrubs them, and sucks up the dirty water, leaving a super-clean floor behind. We try to do it once a month because the difference it makes is striking. It’s like having new carpet again!