Attractive, affordable and durable, vinyl flooring is a popular choice for home floors that see high traffic or frequent spills. The material is not spill proof or indestructible, however. Thankfully, vinyl flooring is fairly simple to clean and maintain.
The first key to maintaining vinyl is minimizing stains, dirt and abrasions before they happen. As with any material, dirt and dust can wear away and degrade the finish over time. For that reason, it’s smart to add a good doormat or area rug near doorways to catch as much grit and grime as possible as it enters the home.
When you need to move furniture across the floor, use a sheet of plywood, hardboard or paneling. This will guard against scuffs or tears in the vinyl. Adding furniture coasters under the feet and legs of your furniture is good for preventing permanent indentations.
Here are several tips for cleaning your vinyl floors:
- For basic cleaning, a sponge mop and plain water should be all that’s needed. Try to wipe up spills as soon as you can, and mop regularly with plain water.
- Be sure to vacuum, sweep or dry mop the floor to remove surface dirt, dust and hair before proceeding with wet cleaning. Get under furniture, into corners and along baseboards.
- Apple cider vinegar is one of the best cleaners for vinyl flooring. The vinegar’s acidity aids in removing dirt and grime without causing a buildup of soap or wax. Mix one cup of the vinegar with a gallon of hot water, and mop the floor with the solution, rinsing the mop periodically with hot water. Trading white vinegar for the apple cider variety will disinfect as well as clean. If you need extra cleaning power for an especially dirty floor, clean first with a mixture that has a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap added, then follow up with the basic vinegar and water solution. Add a few drops of baby oil to the standard vinegar and water solution to give your floor some shine.
- WD-40 or jojoba oil can help get out stubborn scuffs. Just put some of the lubricant on a towel or rag and rub the area until the scuff is gone. Then, thoroughly clean the area with the vinegar and water solution from above.
- To remove a range of food stains, create a paste of baking soda and water, and gently rub the stain until it’s removed. Clean the area thoroughly afterward.
- A soft, nylon-bristle brush combined with common household solvents can remove many types of stains. Use rubbing alcohol to remove lipstick, hair dye and ink stains, and try mineral spirits for crayon, paint and marker stains. Nail polish remover that contains acetone is best for removing nail polish.
- If you prefer purpose-made cleaners, numerous products are available specifically for cleaning vinyl surfaces.
- There are several things to avoid when cleaning vinyl floors. Don’t use a “beater bar” attachment when vacuuming as this can harm the floor’s surface. Never use highly abrasive steel wool or scrubbers. Stay away from detergents, abrasive cleaners or “mop and shine” products since they can leave a dull film behind. Do not use paste wax, solvent-based polishes, ammonia or ammonia-based cleaning solutions.
With a little diligence and elbow grease from you as needed, your vinyl floors will take years of abuse and still look great.