How to Keep Your Floors Clean when you have an infant and a toddler (I'm not telling you, I'm asking you...)

"What is she doing with a roll in our living room?" my husband stormed over and swiped the dinner roll out of my 2-year-old's hands.

"She's eating it," I said calmly, non-chalantly.

He grimaced.

"Can't she eat at the table?"

"Yes, she can. But I'm nursing the baby right here and I don't want her to snack all by herself."

This is a little dilemma we've been faced with lately - how to keep the floors clean when we have two kids, two and under.

My husband would prefer that all food be eaten at the table all the time. I might prefer that too, but I don't think it's particularly practical.

I enforce the "no eating in the bedrooms" rule diligently, but I definitely let things slide in our great room (we have one large room that is our living room, kitchen, and dining room) because it's all tile and because I don't always eat at the table (in large part because I have a nursing baby).

Needless to say, our floors are not perfectly spotless and crumb-free.

Currently, we use three different products to clean the tile floors in our house:

swiffer wetjet(1) Swiffer WetJet : This is super easy and quick to use, but I don't like it - mostly because of the strong chemical odor that the cleaner exudes. It is overwhelming (in a bad way). I always feel like I'm suffocating whenever the product is used. That can't be good.

We could use a plain old bucket and mop instead, but it seems so tedious and time-consuming. And I hate having icky mop heads in my house.

What I really want to try is a Steam Mop because I'd love to be able to clean without chemicals.

hoover floormate(2) Hoover FloorMate ($99) : According to Hoover's website, this product is the "first vac-wash-dry cleaning system specially designed to clean most hard-floor surfaces." My husband is the one who uses this and I have to say that it does excellent work. It really does wash pretty well...and it dries in no time. That said, it takes a looonnnggg time to clean our entire great room because you have to glide ever so slowly across the room in order to get the floors nice and sparkly. Time is something we don't have so I give this product a B-/C+.

hoover cordless stick vacuum platinum collection(3) Hoover Cordless Stick Vacuum from the Platinum Collection ($179.99) : I previously had the Dirt Devil KRUZ ($69.99) and - in case you're trying to decide between  the two - I want to warn you to not be enticed by Dirt Devil's attractive price tag. In this case, you totally get what you pay for. The KRUZ may be "pretty," but it's also powerless.

Hoover's Cordless Stick Vacuum, on the other hand, is a mom's dream-come-true. It's lightweight, easy to maneuver, and completely cord-free! I use this appliance almost every single day, often with a baby in my arms. Even my 2-year-old can push it around (she often volunteers for the task). The stick vacuum is extremely handy to have around and it's powerful enough to pick up everything from Cheerios to dirt to little bits of rolls in the living room (ahem...). My only advice to Hoover's engineers would be (a) to work on increasing the battery life (it's not horrible, but it's also not exceptional), and (b) to turn up the power a notch (it does a great job "as is," but another boost in power would make it even better). In sum? This is a fantastic product and I recommend it to all moms who occasionally have to vacuum one-handed...or who need to be able to vacuum frequently without pulling out a monster vacuum with long cords to unwind and tug around the furniture.

YOUR TURN: If you have tile, hardwood, or laminate flooring, how do you clean your floors? What products do you use...and would you recommend them?

P.S. Just because I'm curious: will you take a quick "poll" for me? It's only 2 questions. I'd love to know how you handle snacking at your house.

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29 comments on “How to Keep Your Floors Clean when you have an infant and a toddler (I'm not telling you, I'm asking you...)”

  1. I answered your poll. I let my kids snack all over the house but in their rooms. There is nothing worse than crumbs in a bed! Yuck! If it is a messy snack then it is in the kitchen only! We Have three meals a day but only snack occasionally. If we have done a lot that day or the kids are seeming hungry. We don't have designated times for snacks but it is not every day either. We are a fly by the seat of our pants family!
    We have linoleum in the kitchen, tile in the bathrooms and entry way and carpet everywhere else. I use pine sole and a mop in the kitchen. It is OK. I did have the Swifter Wet Jet but I also didn't like it. I vacuum all the time. My 6 month old is crawling everywhere and the floor has to be clean. If it is not food on the floor it is little pieces of paper from my other three little artists. I vacuum a lot!

  2. I have hardwood floors downstairs, laminate in the kitchen & laundry room & carpet in the bedrooms. Usually I use the Swiffer Sweeper with wet cloths on the hardwood & laminate. It's just so much easier than mop/bucket. My problem with it is the smell as well. I bought 2 boxes of Lavender/Vanilla and haven't finished it. The smell is super strong & makes me dizzy when I'm done cleaning. I have to open the windows to let the air in. I have no clue why they make it so strong, I wish they had a fragrance-free option!

    I'm thinking of getting a Dyson for the carpets simply for the fact that my current one is often clogged with my long hair (apparently I shed like a cat)...I hear Dyson is fabulous because it doesn't lose suction but the $$ is making me hesitate.

  3. I took the poll but keep in mind my answers will likely change as Elizabeth gets older :)

    We have a maid of sorts... I run her almost every day, particularly right now when I am losing copious amounts of hair (apparently after you give birth all your hair falls out. Why didn't anyone ever TELL me this??)

    I would love a steam vac too, although I'm not sure if it is compatible with our hundred year old hardwood (the wet jet swiffer isn't). For the moment we mop using a swiffer and the pre-moistened pads, but I'm not excited by this.

  4. Well, I vacuumed goldfish crackers up out of the middle of the living room floor this morning so... pretty much we snack anywhere we need to - except that I don't allow food "down the hall" which means - in the bedrooms or the bathroom or the hall closet... we eat in the living room, dining room and kitchen!

    My floors get cleaned as needed - for big spills and things like goldfish crackers spilled on the floor and then I try to really clean the floors once a week, but usually am happy if that happens once every two weeks!

  5. How terrible is this? I rarely clean my floors. I mean I they look fine, but they are by no stretch of the imagination clean. There would have to be two of me to accomplish that. I have two rooms with carpet, and they get vacuumed once a week at best. The rest are tile, and I just spot clean when there's a spill.

  6. I have the Electrolux Pronto 2-in-1 and love it. It's a cordless stick vacuum and handheld all in one. A cordless vacuum is a total must-have once kids enter the arena.

    Please share the results of your poll. I'm very curious!

  7. Like you, our living room and dining room are all in one space, although ours is most likely much smaller. All meals, breaksfast, lunch, and dinner are eaten at the table. I have a 2 year old who is allowed to eat snacks in the living room area, but only in one spot, by the ottoman. She is not allowed to eat or drink in her room at all. If she spills food, makes crumbs, etc. she has to clean them up. I make sure she knows that she has made a mess and ask her to pick it up before she moves on to play, go outside, to her room, etc.

    We have carpet in most of our house, so I vacuum quite often, especially with our 8 month old moving around on the floor so much. Our kitchen and bathroom have tile and the grout is so deep the Swiffer doesn't work well. I can't stand mopping...feels like the dirt is just getting repositioned in a more visible pattern! I vacuum the tile, then I actually clean with paper towel and floor cleaner on my hands and knees. It is not fun, but it is such a small space that it is easy to do and faster than mopping. If we had a bigger place and more tile/hardwood I think the Swiffer would be my friend!

  8. i have 3 under the age of 5, and i ask myself that everyday. just like you my hubby is andry when i let my kids eat in the living room. we have put a rug underneath the kitchen table to avoid getting the carpet dirty, and we sweep and mop constantly

  9. I have a cleaning lady come every two weeks to clean my floors. She's marvelous. If you don't want to invest in a cleaning lady (and I do recommend it, $50 every two weeks is SO worth it), you might want to consider a Roomba. You can program it to do its thing after y'all go to bed every night and then wake up to clean, crumb free floors.

    I took your poll and I said I allow snacking "anywhere in the house" but that was a lie. We have designated areas where food is okay and others (like bedrooms) where it is not. If you are having a hard time coordinating snack time with your two children, you might want to get one of those toddler tables to have in the play room, and that way she's always eating at a table instead of just anywhere.

    There have been links between eating away from the table and obesity, so your husband has a point beyond the mess. However, until he's doing all the childcare AND all the housecleaning, where there is eating is something that will be primarily up to you.

  10. I'm laughing....still laughing....and laughing some more. WHEEEEEE, I needed that! How do I keep the floors clean, you ask? You mean other than when company is on their way over? Well, my toddler takes care of the spilled cat food (she especially likes the tuna flavor; my 11-year-old son sprinkles the kitchen floor with water and ice from the fridge and tracks it throughout the tiled areas (his contribution to mopping);my 13-year-old daughter has a knack for making stuff magically disappear (under her bed) when she wants to have a friend over; finally, there's the older teen girl who recently discovered that the vaccuum cleaner and the broom actually do have a purpose and enlisting their services brings her much joy - money.

  11. We only eat at the table. It keeps the kids from crumbing all over the place, which drives my hubby absolutely nuts. On RARE occasions (like yesterday) we'll have a movie day or something and the kids can eat popcorn in the living room on the floor, but really, they eat at the table for every meal. Drink, too. It seems like a hassle, but it works well and we don't have to worry about random spills. We (and when I say we I really mean mostly he...) sweep pretty often (especially around the table), and mop every so often. No special products, just whatever we happen to have.

  12. We just have some cheap vinyl flooring (I think) in the kitchen and I use Murphy's Oil soap to clean it. I love Murphy's Oil Soap for almost all my cleaning needs. Washing walls, stove top, floor, etc.

  13. We have mostly hardwood or tile in our house. Two of the 4 bedrooms have carpet. Breakfast is normally in the living room in front of the TV ( I know bad mom!). I don't know how a family can have little kids and not have dogs! That is how we keep are floors clean. I vaccum at least twice a week and on the weekend when I am home I tend to vaccum Saturday and Sunday and let things slide during the week.

  14. All I have to say is: iRobot Roomba. You push the button and it cleans all your floors - ceramic, carpeted, laminate, vinyl, hardwood while you watch (or take care of the kiddies is more likely). Depending on which model you get, it will even go back to its' dock when it's done or needs recharging. It doesn't fall down stairs or get tangled up in cords. There is also a Scuba which mops floors but I'm not lucky enough to have that one.

  15. I have a Dyson and am in love with it. I use the hose with an attachment to go over the big tile floor in the kitchen every day or 2 - it is powerful enough that it doesn't take long. I use the swiffer wet jet thingy a couple of times a month but am not a big fan. I've found no good way to clean the floor so I work to keep crumbs and dog hair off of it. This issue is the entire reason I've hesitated to go all hard wood in our living spaces.

  16. We have hardwood throughout the house, with area rugs. My husband likes the WetJet but I agree with you on the smell and the steam mop concept. (I'd actually LOVE to try a steam cleaner that I could use on our uneven slate tile floor in our master bath. I have not found a decent way to clean it yet.) I prefer the Method O-mop which uses non-toxic cleanser with a reusable microfiber mop head. (Or "disposable" paper mop pads that are very Swiffer-like. Except Method's are compostable, which I think is cool.) The wood version smells like almonds and the all-floors is lemony.

  17. for the most part mine are only allowed to eat at the table. The exception to this is if they have a relatively mess-free snack in their Snackcup.

    as for my floors, I have a dog, lol! To vacuum up his endless hairs, I have a Dyson.

    For mopping, I use (cringe) Pinesol.

  18. I was recently informed that if you read the back of the Swifer liquid, it says not safe for infants and pets! I am SO close to buying the Shark Steamer, but in the meantime, I do mop with vinegar and water. To be honest, they are sparkly and clean and I love it, even though it dows take more time. The hard floors are easy, my bigger problem is carpets. I don't even know if having your carpets professionally cleaned is safe!!

  19. I use a dry swiffer every day, and the wet swiffer clothes once a week or as needed. I like the wet clothes because there isn't a strong oder, and you can pick between two scents. Plus, both are easy enough that my kids can do it!

  20. We have laminate flooring that looks like wood in our hall/dining room/kitchen area. We use an old-fashioned broom and dustpan after each evening meal (it's a chore my older boys have) and I do clean-ups during the day as needed. Every now and then we will mop with an old-fashioned mop and bucket to really clean...we don't do it as often as we should, I'm sure! One thing we are pretty adamant about which helps keep our floors a bit cleaner is that we all take our shoes off upon entering the front door. It helps with tracking in outside dirt, but doesn't help much with food crumbs!

  21. The only kids we have at home are the pets and with a Blue and Gold Macaw, Basset Hound and cat their food can get out of hand so I use a heavy duty shop vac to get all that up and then the purple pet Dyson has my heart. For the kitchen floor is Swiffer wet sweeper right now.

  22. We also have a wetjet and I was pretty disappointed with it, mostly for the chemical odor, as you mentioned. It's also not very economical. I usually end up spraying and wiping for quick messes, and then a good all-over cleaning every so often.

    We're tearing up the linoleum and carpet on our first floor in favor of bamboo flooring next week, so I need to rethink our cleaning methods in preparation.

  23. I'm horrible about keeping my floors clean. I cheat a bit because we have a small dog who loves to clean up crumbs and messes on the floor after my toddler eats.

    I'm looking forward to your reader input, because this is an area of my housekeeping that I really need to improve.

  24. I have slate floors through out the majority of my house and it is absolutley ridiculous to clean. I have a Dyson vacuum that I love but my issue is mopping. I've tried the swiffer and it gets torn to pieces. I think I need to try something like the Hoover Floormate.

  25. my boys are 5 and almost 3 and as long as they try to clean up their snack mess (bowls, napkins, cups, wrappers, etc), i let my kids eat anywhere downstairs... they have a small table for coloring and stuff, so sometimes they snack there. if they are sitting on the couch or on the floor by the couch, they put out a tray for their snack and drink. if they are eating a prticularily messy snack (popsicle, yogurt, etc), then i will have them sit at the table. i guess it just sort of depends on what we're doing at the time.
    we have wood laminate flooring with a large rug in our living area. i can vacuum or sweep up the crumbs pretty easily. as for cleaning the floor, i use a sponge type mop with an eco-friendly dilutable cleaner and water. i fill the sink and then mop and dry with towels... you know, walk them around with my feet. sometimes i feel a little like cinderella, but it works and gets my floors clean. i especially love when my husband and boys help me dry... it gets done so much faster and the boys think its fun : )

  26. Hmmm. We have all hardwood floors in our apartment. They aren't in the best shape in the world and we're renters, so we don't care about them too much. But I sweep once every day or two with a BROOM and dry Swiffer once a week or two. We have neither children nor animals so this takes care of things pretty well. Once every two or three or four weeks I'll actually mop it, but it's not on the top of my to-do list. Sorry I'm not more helpful, but we only eat in the kitchen and at the table, so we don't have a lot of crumb drama!!

  27. Well I answered the poll with our preference :D I have to say too I have older kids now - 16, 14 and 7. When they were younger snacks were always at the table but I wasn't nursing either so it does make a difference. Now eating is supposed to be done at the table - not in the carpeted living room or at the computer in the family room. However its a constant battle since they feel that they are older and can handle it (just don't look at the huge red koolaid stain on my dining room chair!). So ideally they eat at the table, snacks are when they are hungry but truth be told its a constant battle of "Get the food out of the living room you know better!".

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