Vinyl Flooring Cleaning Tips
Chances are, if your parents ever attempted home renovation when you were a child, you’ve been present during the installation of vinyl flooring. There might have been sharp knives and curse words involved and maybe even a phone call to professional installers, but your parents were probably very happy with the results and that flooring may still be present in your parents’ kitchen, bathroom or den.
Vinyl flooring is the go-to choice for busy families and folks who want to maximize their flooring budget without skimping on style. It’s in its own category called resilient flooring, because with proper care, vinyl flooring can last for generations.
Easy does it
In addition to a reputation for long life, vinyl flooring is extremely easy to care for. Forget all the fancy cleaning supplies and invest in just a few cleaning tools and accessories to maintain your new vinyl flooring.
The nitty gritty
While vinyl flooring is scuff-resistant, it is a plastic product, and plastic can be scratched. The best way to avoid scratching vinyl flooring is by preventing and removing particles that scratch, like dirt, sand and grit. Your first line of defense is a good floor mat on either side of a door that leads outside and the words, Wipe your feet.” Bare feet, shoes, boots and pet feet can all carry in particles that can be ground into or across your vinyl flooring, possibly scratching it. If every foot is wiped, either before or after entering your home, the number of particles making it very far is reduced significantly.
There are genius dogs that perform a version of wiping their feet when entering a home, but for the most part you will be responsible for pets’ feet. Moistened pet wipes are a great way to eliminate the dirt and grit that gets between dogs’ and cats’ foot pads and in the hair near their feet. There are also plush pet mats that gently reduce particles as an animal walks across it.
But, of course, the reality is that dirt can find a way into anywhere. There’s probably mystery dirt on the International Space Station. Dirt, grit and sand will find its way onto your vinyl flooring but with daily sweeping, you can eliminate most of it. A soft bristled hardwood floor broom (not straw), even better, the soft brush attachment on your vacuum (don’t ever use a beater bar vacuum) and a little time are all you need to win the battle against particles. Daily sweeping or vacuuming is recommended.
Just a little H2O
After regular sweeping or vacuuming, water is really all you need to keep vinyl flooring well maintained. Harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia can cloud vinyl flooring’s finish and/or discolor or otherwise damage it. A quick once over with a damp (not soaking wet) mop of warm water will clean most surface dirt. Spills should be wiped up immediately, if possible. Some foods like tomato sauce, wine or dark colored fruits can permanently stain vinyl flooring if they aren’t immediately wiped up. For spills that have dried, spray with water and wait for about five minutes before wiping up. A thin plastic scraper (even a credit card) can also be used to gently scrape tough dried on spills. Avoid using a normal hardwood floor steamer as they can put too much moisture in the vinyl and damage it permanently.
Calling in reinforcements
If straight water just isn’t enough of a cleaner for you, a solution of 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water is an effective natural sanitizer and won’t damage vinyl flooring. Although baking soda and borax are also known for their cleaning properties, they are both slightly gritty and should not be used on vinyl flooring. For hairspray buildup on vinyl floors in bathrooms, just mix an ounce of shampoo or liquid dish soap with a gallon of water and gently rub with a damp cloth or mop.
There are vinyl cleaners available at retail stores and those should be used according to the directions on the packaging. Vinyl flooring is available in a variety of finishes, including one called no-wax which may occasionally need polishing. No-wax cleaners are also available at retail stores and it’s especially important to follow the directions on the packaging when using.
What should never be used on vinyl flooring? Abrasive cleaners, scrubbers, steel wool hot water and too much water. Excess water can seep in between vinyl tiles and around the edges of rolled tile. Tiny scratches, tears or cuts also allow water under, around and into vinyl flooring which can lead to damage. Less water (think slightly damp) is always better than more water (dripping or soaking wet).
Life happens, right? Nail polish and hair dye can drip; children can mistake the floor for an artist’s canvas and use crayons, pens and markers to create a masterpiece; lipstick can get smashed under a shoe. There are possible solutions for these worst case scenarios. Work gently, with the least amount of solution, using a soft cloth or soft nylon brush. Work in a small area first to determine if you prefer the existing stain over the result of the stain removal. Some solutions may cloud the vinyl, but depending on the color and pattern of your flooring, the cloudiness will be less noticeable than the stain.
• Acetone can remove nail polish stains.
• Baking soda mixed into a paste with water can remove food stains. Gently rub the stain with the paste until the stain disappears. Immediately clean the area with a damp cloth to remove all traces of the baking soda.
• Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) can remove lipstick, hair dye and ink stains.
• Jojoba oil (40 drops on a towel) rubbed on scuffs can make them less noticeable or even disappear. Clean with a solution of 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water so that the jojoba oil does not leave a slick spot on your floor.
• Mineral spirits can remove crayon, pain and marker stains.
Some weighty issues
Refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, entertainments centers and other appliances and furniture are very heavy and they are rarely moved from their original location. Eventually these heavy items will dent vinyl flooring. Protective pads are available at home improvement stores and online and will help prevent damage like tearing that may come from heavy appliances or furniture.
If you fit chairs with felt tips, they will have very little, if any, impact on your flooring.
Rolling casters on furniture is something of a Pandora’s box when it comes to vinyl flooring. Dirt and grit can roll up into the caster housing which means it won’t be swept or vacuumed up. When the casters roll or even jiggle, the dirt and grit can shake loose, get rolled over by a caster and ground into the flooring. Casters also increase the space where furniture pushes into the flooring, so dents from furniture with casters will be larger and more likely to cause tears because of the increased movement of the furniture over a specific area.
The pitter patter of tiny feet
Pet nails should be regularly trimmed to avoid damaging vinyl flooring. All it takes is one startled cat with extra sharp claws to permanently damage the surface of your floor. Depending on the size of your pet, toenails and claws can wear down vinyl flooring if the pet uses the same path over your floor every day. Simple toenail trimmings are all that’s required to avoid this type of damage.
A lasting investment
Vinyl flooring offers a wide variety of styles for a wide variety of uses. It’s one of the best home improvement investments because with basic care the vinyl flooring newlyweds install can be the floor their grandchildren play on. Make your investment pay off and give vinyl flooring the care it deserves.
Vinyl Floor Cleaning Quick Tips
Vinyl flooring is very cost effective and can last a long time with proper care.
Do you best to keep dirt and dust off the ground by sweeping, dust mopping, and vacuuming regularly.
Place door mats at all entry ways
Clean up spills immediately after they happen.
Use clean, warm water with cleaners recommended by the manufacturer. Then clean with a damp mop regularly.