Whether you enter from the formal front door, sneak in the side entrance or garage into the mudroom, or track through a sunroom from the backyard, your home's entry points connect your inside space to your outside space - which means that one way or another, plenty of dirt gets tracked in. But each transitional area is used in different ways and demands unique attention.
Leaving shoes at the door goes a long way to keep outside dirt from working its way across your floors. Stock slippers or house shoes so that you and your guests can tread lightly in your home.
Crossing the Energy Threshold: Doors
Which door in your home sees the most traffic? Whether front, back, or side, give this entrance special attention in terms of weatherproofing. Make sure that the door shuts easily and properly and adjust as necessary to stop the energy leaks.
Cleaning your home's doors is a half-inside, half-outside job. The outside work requires, no surprise, a little more elbow grease as it gets battered with rain, mud, pet paw prints, and the occasional kick from an impatient kid. Unless the manufacturer specifies some unusual cleaning procedure, you can almost always handle the job - inside and out - with a basic all-purpose spray and a cleaning rag.
A storm door reduces the need to clean your entry door. You can clean storm and sliding glass doors as you would any window, with a little vinegar and a lint-free cloth, newspaper, or squeegee.
Wash the glass on a cloudy day to reduce streaking. (Sun dries the solution faster than you can buff it in.) For windows that have been cleaned with commercial window solutions, you may need to mix in a little liquid detergent with your vinegar and water to cut the buildup. (See Chapter 3 to find green glass-cleaning recipes.)
Putting Out the Welcome Mat
The welcome mat is more than an expression of hospitality to guests. Doormats inside and outside entry doors save cleaning time. Mats on the outside of the door are typically of a more rugged material, often a bristly brushlike texture that's great for catching grass, mud, and other gunk you don't want tracked into your home.
Inside doormats don't have to work as hard as the outdoor mats, unless you have kids, spouses, or friends who have to be reminded to wipe their feet. For both inside and outside, doormats come in several ecomaterials:
Coir mats are made from coconut husk fiber. These thickly woven mats are extremely durable and repel insects naturally. They're not recommended for outdoors, however, unless on a well-covered porch.
Flip flop doormats are made from - you guessed it - recycled rubber flip-flop material culled from the scraps on the manufacturing floor. They're available through many sources online and start at $20. Simply wash down with a hose whenever called for.
Rubber doormats are made from recycled car tires. Some of these brands are manufactured in the United States, so you're not adding to the energy cost of the doormat. Mats vary in price, anywhere from $25 to more than $100, based on size.
Jute, seagrass, sisal, and hemp rugs are sold through environmentally oriented catalog companies, as well as some of the big box and home stores. Just shake to loosen soil, vacuum, and wipe clean with a damp sponge.Expect to find these mats in the $30-and-up range, although they're sometimes less.