how to clean vinyl floors

Vinyl floors are an attractive and cost-effective choice for new construction, remodels, and room makeovers. From luxury planks in a den to waterproof flooring in a bathroom, the easy care and durability of vinyl make it one of the most popular flooring choices available.

The key to keeping your vinyl floors looking great week after week is to make cleaning them part of your regular housekeeping routine. Then all you have to do is minimize buildup, clean up spills right away, and keep dust and dirt under control for vinyl floors that will look beautiful and last for years.

What You Need to Know Before You Begin Cleaning Vinyl Floors

It’s important to know how to deep clean vinyl floors and critical to know how to prevent damage during cleaning. Vinyl is easy to clean and durable, but just like hardwood flooring, it can still be damaged.

Before we get into how to clean your vinyl floors, here are some important precautions that most vinyl flooring manufacturers agree on:

How Not to Clean a Vinyl Floor

  • While vacuuming works well for surface dirt and dust on vinyl floors, using a setting where the beater bar is activated can ruin the floor’s surface.
  • It’s tempting to use steel wool or other abrasive scrubbers to remove stubborn buildup and stuck-on messes like gum or candy, but resist the urge and only use nylon or other soft brushes and scrubbers.
  • Mop and shine products are convenient, quick, and effective on a variety of floor finishes, but they can ruin vinyl flooring.
  • Many detergents and abrasive cleaners are also a no-go for vinyl floors. Besides the risk of scratching the finish, these products can leave a dull film that’s difficult to remove without damaging the finish.
  • A particularly dangerous product to use on vinyl flooring is ammonia or ammonia-based cleaning products. Aside from the dull residue left behind, products with ammonia can actually break down the vinyl and cause it to crack and bubble.
  • Steam cleaners are wonderful appliances for cleaning and even disinfecting surfaces and fabrics, but they can ruin the finish and cause underlying damage when used on vinyl flooring.

Take Care of Stains and Scuffs

Before you begin cleaning your vinyl floors is the perfect time to take care of any scuffs and stains to give your floor cleaning efforts a boost.

For tough stains caused by acidic foods like tomato sauce, juice, and condiments, all you need is some baking soda and water. The natural cleaning power and mild abrasiveness of baking soda will remove most stains without damaging your floor. Pour a little baking soda directly on the stained area and add enough water to create a cleaning paste. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the paste into the stain, then scrub the stain, and wipe away the baking soda residue with a damp cloth.

To get rid of other stains, use a toothbrush and some rubbing alcohol to scrub away crayon marks, lipstick, ink, and more. For scuffs, dampen a paper towel with WD-40 and rub it into the scuff marks to blend them in with the rest of the flooring. Be sure to wipe away the residue with a clean, damp cloth when you’re done.

Now that you know what not to do and how to prep your floors, read on to learn how to deep clean vinyl floors and maintain the beautiful look you love.

The Best Way to Clean Vinyl Floors

You probably chose your vinyl flooring as much for the easy maintenance as you did the modern, clean looks. So you’ll be happy to know that cleaning vinyl floors is pretty easy as long as you know the right way to do it.

Once the stains and scuffs are taken care of, here’s how to clean vinyl floors safely and easily:

  • Vacuum or dry mop your vinyl floors before you give them a wet cleaning. This keeps abrasive dirt and dust to a minimum and prevents surface scratches and hard-to-remove buildup.
  • Mix up a bucket of soapy water and fill another bucket with clean water for rinsing, then grab some microfiber cloths and your mop.
    Dip a microfiber mop into your cleaning solution and wring it out until it’s barely damp. Using a dripping mop can allow water to work its way into seams, cracks, and edges in your flooring and cause damage.
  • Keep your mop as clean as possible with frequent rinsing and remember to wring it out thoroughly each time. And since you’re cleaning floors anyway, you might as well clean the baseboards too.
  • Avoid mopping around furniture legs and other things in contact with your vinyl flooring to prevent damp areas and uneven cleaning.
  • Either lift the item off the floor or move it to the side while you mop, then put it back when the floor is dry.
  • Use a fresh mop head and clean water to rinse away the soapy residue and remaining dirt when you’ve finished mopping. Again, be careful of how much water you’re getting on the floor to prevent damage.
  • Dry the floor edges, corners, and anywhere else water may accumulate during mopping with your microfiber cloths.
  • Give your floors a quick polish. If your vinyl floor is looking dull after you clean it, a few drops of baby oil on a dry mop can do wonders for bringing back the shine without harming the finish.

How to Clean Vinyl Floors With Vinegar

If you’ve been cleaning your vinyl floors incorrectly or using the wrong cleaning products, it may be harder to bring back the shine. As we mentioned before, some cleaners can leave your floors looking dull and if you haven’t been cleaning them regularly, you may have buildup and stains too. If this sounds like your situation, you can always bring in a pro or learn how to clean vinyl floors with vinegar.

Distilled white vinegar is a natural degreaser, disinfectant, and cleaner that is safe to use on all kinds of surfaces, including vinyl floors. The acidic compounds in white vinegar break down buildup and remove dirt without harming your floor’s finish.

To clean your vinyl floors using vinegar, follow the cleaning process above but substitute your soapy water with a mixture of one cup vinegar and a gallon of warm water. Even though the vinegar will evaporate when the floor dries, it’s still best to give your floors a rinse using clean water and a mop.

Vinyl Floor Maintenance Tips and Repair

To keep vinyl floors looking beautiful, a little precautionary cleaning maintenance goes a long way. Other than a regular cleaning, here are some vinyl floor maintenance tips to keep your floors in shape:

  • Clean up spills as soon as they happen to prevent stains and buildup.
  • Use a thin sheet of plywood when you move heavy items across vinyl flooring to prevent damage.
  • Place furniture leg coasters under heavy furniture to prevent permanent dents.
  • Minimize the amount of dirt and debris on your floors by using doormats at exterior doors.
  • Sweep or vacuum dust and dirt daily.

So what do you do if you’ve found this vinyl floor cleaning guide too late and already ruined some spots in your flooring? Whether it’s caused by improper maintenance and cleaning or an accident, if the damage is restricted to one plank or area, there are ways to replace the damaged vinyl. Repairing vinyl flooring may take some effort, but it’s a lot less expensive than springing for a whole new floor!

We told you learning how to clean vinyl floors wouldn’t be too hard! Since it was so easy to get your floors clean and shiny, check out our other cleaning guides to keep your home beautifully clean just as easily. Whether you do it yourself or choose one of our convenient cleaning services, The Maids wants you to enjoy a cleaner home more often. Want to learn more about how we can help out around the house? You can get a free estimate online or contact a local office near you.


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