How to clean vinyl floors: Tips for deep cleaning goodness

Do you have a vinyl floor? Have you spilled something on it, had stubborn dirt that won't come up, or scratched it with a chair leg? Don't worry, TAG24 is here to help get that flooring so fresh and so clean (clean).

Mop, scrub, sweep, clean: What's the best way to clean vinyl floors?
Mop, scrub, sweep, clean: What's the best way to clean vinyl floors?  © 123RF / Tommaso79

Vinyl floors are darn popular nowadays, appearing as an affordable, modern, homey, and easily maintained alternative to hard-wood floors or carpet.

The catch, though, is that they are rather easy to get dirty and to stain. This isn't such a problem, though, if you learn what to do about it.

Modern vinyl flooring often looks deceptively similar to wood. They are easily installed and a cheaper alternative to wood, making them perfect for lazy landlords looking to make as much cash out of their investment as possible.

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A vinyl floor in your bathroom or kitchen can be easily cleaned of dust and soil by simply sweeping and damp mopping. For deeper stains, however, vinyl floors can become a bit of a pain, with many scouring powders and cleaning products that can actually be incredibly damaging to the surface.

TAG24 is here to share our latest guide on how to clean your vinyl floors thoroughly.

The "Too long, didn't read" version to clean vinyl floors:

  • Wipe vinyl floor damp with a neutral or all-purpose cleaner.
  • Allow coarser dirt to soak or treat with specially designed vinyl floor cleaners.
  • Household products are also suitable for cleaning vinyl floors.
  • Daily sweeping is ideal for vinyl floors.
  • Never use steam cleaners to treat vinyl floors.
Before mopping, make sure that vinyl floors are swept to remove coarse dirt particles.
Before mopping, make sure that vinyl floors are swept to remove coarse dirt particles.  © 123rf / dolgachov

The best ways to deep clean vinyl floors

There are a ton of different ways to deep clean your vinyl floors.

Here are a few of the best:

  • Remove scuff marks and light scratches with WD-40.
  • Use a diluted solution of water and vinegar.
  • Dish soap and baking soda can also be used as helpful cleaners.
  • Use baby oil to make your vinyl floors shine.
  • Use rubbing alcohol to erase stains.

How to clean vinyl floors with a broom and mop

Vinyl floors have to withstand a lot. From sand to pebbles, or from dirt to chair legs, it's very easy to stain, scratch, or just generally make the floor dirty.

Here's the important bit: sand, pebbles and other splinters can cause small scratches on the vinyl laminate, and therefore need to be removed as soon as possible. Grab your broom, or maybe a vacuum cleaner, and get rid of all that soot.

If stains or dirt adhere firmly to the floor, the floor should then be wiped with a damp cloth using an all-purpose or neutral cleaner. Once this has been done, and any loose dirt and sand has all been swept or sucked away, you can mop the floor properly.

Grab your mop, grab a bucket, heat that water up, and chuck in that mopping liquid. And if your mother ever taught you how to mop, you already know what to do!

Keep in Mind: When you mop your vinyl floor, you need to make sure that you are not dripping water all over the place. The mop should not be dripping, but should be damp. Water can leave bad stains on the vinyl floor, so be careful.

What is best to clean vinyl floors with?

While vinyl floors are easy to clean, you still need to use the right chemicals and cleaning equipment. They can be quite sensitive, so there are things to avoid.

You can safely clean your vinyl floor with these cleaners:

  • Neutral cleaner
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Soft soap
  • Cleaning products specially developed for vinyl flooring

These products do will clean your vinyl floor properly, won't leave a film, and will not cause damage. There are a few products that you should avoid, though.

These cleaners are not suitable for cleaning vinyl flooring:

  • Scouring soap will scratch the surface of the vinyl floor.
  • Cleaners that contain solvents will discolor the vinyl floor.
  • Ammonia-based cleaners will also damage the vinyl floor.

If the floor in the kitchen or entryway is seriously gross, the stains should be removed before you start mopping. Sure, this sounds a little bit weird, but hear us out: If the stains are stubborn, they won't come off during regular mopping. Instead, the mop may actually make things worse. You should drip a tiny bit of cleaner on the stain, let it soak in, and then scrub the stain away.

Specialized cleaners are also available for vinyl floor cleaning and can be used to easily remove stubborn dirt. Before cleaning your vinyl floor with a new product, test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area. This way you can reduce the amount of drama caused if the cleaner you've chosen ends up damaging the floor.

You don't only need to use chemicals to clean vinyl floors. Remember that if a bit of dirt has settled into the textured surface of the vinyl floor, you can also use a small, soft brush to remove it. Make you're not pressing too hard, though, as you don't want to scratch the surface.

While vinyl floors are easy to maintain, you will need the right equipment to clean them.
While vinyl floors are easy to maintain, you will need the right equipment to clean them.  © 123RF / Shotsstudio

Advantages of products specifically used to clean vinyl floors

Your best bet for cleaning vinyl floors is to use specially developed cleaners rather than neutral and all-purpose cleaners. Even heavy deposits of dirt can be removed through the use of these products, leaving them spotless with little to no streaks. They can be used on a daily or weekly basis, or to clean particularly stubborn stains.

Special cleaners for vinyl floors are designed to remove dirt thoroughly. This goes not go for only smooth vinyl floors, but also for textured surfaces, and should not leave streaks or stains.

Can you steam clean vinyl floors?

You should never steam clean vinyl floors, even if the floor has been advertised as moisture resistant.

Vinyl flooring should only be damp mopped, allowing for it to dry quickly. In addition, when cleaning with anything wet, the room should be well-ventilated and any spilled liquids should be mopped up as quickly as possible.

Why? If the vinyl floor is cleaned wet, or a puddle of water remains on the floor, the moisture can penetrate into the joints. The water can then swell the carrier board, causing tremendous damage.

As a result, that steam cleaner your cousin gave you for Christmas? Tell him to send it to Santa, because it's useless for your vinyl floors.

How to deep clean vinyl floors with home remedies

In addition to store-bought products, you can also create some sweet home remedies yourself to get your clean on.

Here are six great home remedies for deep cleaning vinyl floors:

1. A water and milk mix: Use a water and milk solution, mixing together equal parts water and milk. This should refresh the gloss of your vinyl floors.

2. Cooking oil: If something has spilled on the floor and formed a sticky residue, normal cooking oil can help. Just pop a drop of it on a piece of paper towel, or a towel, and wipe the sticky stain off the vinyl floor.

3. Water with lemon concentrate: Water with lemon concentrate is also a great home remedy. The lemon concentrate needs to be added to the mop water, and then wiped off the floor with a microfiber cloth.

4. Eraser: Dark marks from shoe soles can often be difficult to remove from a vinyl floor. Instead, they can be removed using a colorless pencil eraser.

5. Glass cleaner: If only a small area of the vinyl floor is dirty, it is not necessary to mop the whole floor. Instead, try spraying glass cleaner onto the section effected and then wiping it clean with a microfiber cloth.

6. Soft soap and vinegar: Use soft soap or vinegar with mop water to remove and battle dirt on your vinyl floor.

Get stains out of vinyl floors with a combination of light pressure and a good cleaning agent.
Get stains out of vinyl floors with a combination of light pressure and a good cleaning agent.  © 123RF / Primagefactory

Cleaning vinyl floors step-by-step

What's the best way to clean those pesky floors?

Here's a quick guide on how to go about it:

Step 1: First remove any loose dirt and dust. This can be done with a soft broom or a vacuum cleaner. It is important, however, to use the soft bristle attachment for your vacuum cleaner. If you don't, you may find that grains of sand or other sharp-edged dirt grains could scratch the vinyl floor.

Step 2: Pop about 1.5 gallons of warm water into a bucket with your preferred cleaner. Look at the package of your cleaning product to find the mixing ratio. Wring out your rag or mop and then proceed to wipe the floor, making sure that you do not overly dampen or wet it.

Step 3: After mopping, open the windows or doors and let the vinyl floor air dry.

How to get streaks and stubborn stains off a vinyl floor

Make sure that you remove any stubborn stains or streaks from a vinyl floor before cleaning it with a mop.

If the stains are old and dried, use cleaning liquid, soft soap, and a damp microfiber cloth to work them out. If the dirt is particularly stubborn, though, a cleaner specially developed for vinyl flooring should be used.

Heavy-duty cleaners can be added to the mop water or alternatively be applied directly to a stain if you put some on a rag undiluted. Remember that you can also use a soft brush, or a tooth brush, to work out the dirt as well.

If you use the right approach, your vinyl floors will shine like new.
If you use the right approach, your vinyl floors will shine like new.  © 123RF / Nui7711

How to make vinyl floors shine

Every vinyl floor has its own unique shine, be it higher-gloss vinyls, ones with more of a matte shine, or those with a standard matte surface. This shine needs to be maintained if you want it to remain.

Remember, though, that you actually don't need to do much to keep it shiny. In fact, if you use a fabric softener, furniture polish, or wax on a vinyl floor, it will create a film that attracts dirt and is actually quite slippery.

For a good shine, water and neutral cleaner is enough. Alternatively, you can use a product that has been specifically designed to clean and re-shine vinyl floors.

How to keep vinyl floors clean with proper care

With proper care, you can maintain vinyl floors with little effort. The flooring material that remains beautiful and sealed for a very long time, with very few stains rearing their heads as long as you stay devoted to those beautiful vinyl floors.

Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Use a doormat at your front door: Sand, pebbles, and coarse dirt scrapes vinyl floors. Doormats are incredibly important and effective at keeping dirt from getting inside.
  • Felt glides under chairs: If your chair legs are padded with felt glides, they will not cause scratches when pushed.
  • Regularly clean vinyl floors: A floor's shine can be lost due to sand, stones, or coarse dirt, so the floor should be swept or vacuumed frequently. It's recommended to complete a more thorough clean with a mop at least once a week.
  • Wipe up all liquids immediately: To ensure that water, juice, or other beverages don't penetrate the cracks and cause the backing layer of vinyl floors to swell, all liquid spills should be cleaned up immediately and completely.

Using the tips and tricks found here, you'll be more than set to clean even the dirtiest of vinyl floors. Happy cleaning!

Cover photo: 123RF / Tommaso79

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