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How to Clean Vinyl Flooring (Easy Method)

Written by Hannah Hall |

How to clean vinyl flooring

Are you struggling to keep your vinyl floors clean? In this article, we’ll show you how to clean vinyl floors and leave them looking refreshed.

How to Clean Vinyl Floors

Cleaning vinyl floors isn’t difficult, but it’s important to know the correct method. Here’s a simple cleaning process that’s quick and effective.

What You’ll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner or broom
  • Mop (one for cleaning and another if you want to rinse)
  • Water
  • Washing-up liquid (optional)
  • White vinegar (optional)
  • Microfibre cloths or towels (optional)

Step 1: Vacuum to Remove Fine Dust and Dirt

Grit on the surface of vinyl can leave scratches, making your floor look dull and damaged. Vacuum before cleaning to remove surface dirt and keep it looking fresh.

If your vacuum has hard floor settings, then make sure to use these when cleaning vinyl. Hard floor modes typically switch off the brush bar and adjust the floorhead height, which increases performance and reduces the risk of damage.

Tip: You can sweep if you prefer, but vacuuming does a more thorough job of picking up fine dust.

Step 2: Choose a Cleaning Solution

There are many potential cleaning solutions for vinyl flooring. For regular cleaning, it’s best to just use warm water (not hot) as this is the gentlest option. 

For deep cleans, make a DIY cleaning solution of warm water and a couple of drops of washing-up liquid. This works well in kitchens, as the detergent cuts through greasy food stains.

Make sure any shop-bought cleaning product is suitable for vinyl floors. Some floor cleaners leave a film on vinyl that looks bad and attracts more dirt. Commercial cleaners are more likely to need rinsing, so check to see if this step is required.

Step 3: Start Mopping

Whether you use a spray mop or a bucket mop, make sure you mop the floor so it’s damp rather than wet. You want to use as little water as possible to reduce the risk of damage to your vinyl flooring. A microfibre mop is a better choice than a string mop, as string holds a lot more water.

Mop from the furthest point towards your exit door to save you walking over wet floors. If you’ve got plank-style vinyl, mop with the grain for the best results.

Important: Avoid using a steam mop. The heat and excess moisture produced by steam cleaners aren’t a good mix for vinyl floors.

Step 3.5: Rinse (Optional)

While this isn’t an essential step, we strongly recommend rinsing to keep your floor in good condition – especially if you’ve used anything other than pure water.

Rinsing with cool water helps to remove residue left behind by cleaning products. Residue can leave floors looking dull and feeling sticky. If you want to rinse your floors, use a second clean mop so there’s no risk of any cleaning solution getting back onto the floor. 

If you’ve rinsed and your floor still feels sticky, try adding a small amount of distilled white vinegar to the water when rinsing.

Step 4: Leave to Dry

Leave the vinyl floor to dry. It won’t take too long, but it’s best not to walk on it while it’s drying. You can open windows or use fans if you want to speed things along.

If you can see puddles or you think the floor is too wet, use microfibre cloths or towels to dry the surface. It’s important to prevent water from sitting on the surface of vinyl flooring.

How Often Should You Clean Vinyl Flooring?

Regular cleaning is essential for preventing dirt build-up and making your vinyl floor look new for longer. But what does “regular” really mean?

We recommend daily vacuuming in high-traffic areas to remove loose debris and grit that can cause scratches. Follow this up with weekly mopping and tending to spills as soon as they happen. 

How to Clean Vinyl Floors With Vinegar

Vinegar is an alternative cleaning agent that’s natural and non-abrasive, so it’s ideal for vinyl floors. The concentration of acid in vinegar helps to cut through grime and break down dirt more effectively than water alone. 

To make your solution, mix 4 tablespoons of white vinegar per litre of water. Then mop with it using the above method. 

If you’ve got stubborn stains that still won’t budge, try adding a couple of drops of washing-up liquid to your vinegar mixture. 

Tip: Don’t worry about smells. Vinegar dries odourless, so you’re not swapping one pong for another. 

How to Remove Ground-in Dirt From Vinyl Floors

If mopping with water isn’t removing ground-in dirt, then you might need a cleaning paste to loosen the dirt (plus some elbow grease!)

Mix 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda with 1 tablespoon of water to make your paste. Apply it onto areas of tough dirt and gently work it in with a soft microfibre cloth. The gentle action will help to loosen the dirt. 

When you’ve finished, wipe up all of the excess paste with a damp cloth and leave it to dry before vacuuming. The coarse particles of bicarb can scratch the internal parts of your vacuum, so you want to make sure there aren’t any left behind. 

You can also apply this paste with a soft toothbrush to help remove stubborn stains against skirting boards.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Get Stains Out of Vinyl Floors?

The best method depends on what caused the stain. Before trying these suggestions, always test a small inconspicuous area first to check you’re happy with the results.

  • Bicarbonate of Soda paste works for ground-in dirt and food stains, like tomato puree and wine. Mix 2 tablespoons of bicarb with 1 tablespoon of water to make the paste. 
  • Bleach diluted 1:4 with water is another option for tough food stains. Make sure the area is well ventilated if you’re cleaning with bleach
  • Rubbing alcohol is fantastic for removing grease, ink, and lipstick. Apply the cleaner with a microfibre cloth and gently rub the stain. Work from the outside-in to prevent the mark from spreading further.
  • Fresh lemon works a treat on grass stains. Cut the lemon in half and place cut-side down on the stain, then rub. Wipe the lemon residue away with a damp cloth until the stain disappears.
  • Shampoo is our top tip for removing hairspray or make-up marks from vinyl. Apply it with a microfibre cloth for small spot treating.

How Do You Make Vinyl Floors Shiny?

If you want to avoid harsh chemicals but still want your floor to look shiny, try cleaning with vinegar. It adds a natural shine to your vinyl floors.

Looking for a brighter shine? Try floor polish, but make sure it’s suited to vinyl before you use it. Always carry out a spot test first to see how it reacts with your floor. 

Before applying the polish, vacuum your floors to remove debris that could cause scratches. Then mop as usual and remove any stains. Follow the instructions on your chosen polish label for application.

What Should You Avoid on Vinyl Floors?

There are a few things to avoid if you want to keep your vinyl floors looking top-notch:

  • Polishes or cleaning products containing wax are a no-go for vinyl floors. The layers build up and leave a dull finish which you often can’t fix without professional help. 
  • Stiff bristle brushes, scouring pads, or other abrasive cleaning tools are all likely to leave scratches. Scrubbing vinyl, in general, can cause damage, so we don’t suggest it.
  • Heavy furniture directly on vinyl is a sure-fire way to cause damage. Try popping some protective felt pads on any table and chair legs to protect your floor. Swapping casters for floor-friendly feet will also help to avoid dents and scuffs.
  • Avoid dragging furniture or heavy objects! It’s easy to tear vinyl doing this, so it’s always best to lift and carry items instead. 
  • Steam cleaning may seem harmless, but the hot steam can seep through the cracks and into the inner layers. If this happens, it could cause your vinyl to warp.
  • Sharp objects, like stilettos and pet nails, are also big culprits for dents and tears. Keep those paws manicured. 

Summary

When it comes to cleaning vinyl floors, gently is the best approach. Stick to warm water or mild cleaners, and make sure you use a suitable vacuum cleaner for regular dust-busting. Ideally, you want one without a rotating brush bar or the option to switch it off when cleaning vinyl floors. 

Do you have any questions about cleaning vinyl floors? Please let us know in the comments section below. And if you’re looking for a vacuum for vinyl, check out our top cordless models for hard floors.

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