Vinyl Flooring Care Guide
With more and more homes opting for the quick, easy to install, easy to maintain lifestyle that smooth flooring offers, vinyl flooring has become more popular than ever throughout the home. Once resigned to kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms, vinyl flooring is now seen increasingly in high traffic areas like halls, stairs and landings and living rooms. With that in mind, we want to assist you in caring for vinyl flooring. We’ve broken this guide into three easy to follow sections:
Caring for your vinyl flooring: the basics
We’ve cut this section up in the following way so you can find the information you need most – but we recommend you read all the sections for a comprehensive overview.
Doormats and shoe racks
When caring for vinyl flooring, it’s essential that you use doormats and shoe racks to protect the smooth finish.
We always advise that with any flooring you install mats inside and outside the home. When it comes to vinyl flooring, our advice is no different. Installing mats inside and outside the home is a great method of containment. It ensures that any threats to the health of your new vinyl flooring such as dirt, grit and moisture can be limited to just the one area of your home.
Beyond abrasions, having a doormat also helps to limit the amount of chemical residue from tarmac that may cause the vinyl flooring to become discoloured. Be advised that having a doormat may not be 100% failproof, so always have a shoe rack and remove any outside shoes at the door. This should help you make a head start on keeping your flooring in peak condition. Try to avoid high heels especially walking on vinyl flooring as these shoes are the biggest threat to the appearance of the vinyl. Top tip: You can also use rugs and mats to further protect the areas of your flooring that will experience high traffic: just make sure that they don’t have rubber backing.
Dusting and sweeping
Dusting and sweeping should always be done before you mop - this is good practice when caring for vinyl flooring.
1) Starting with any top surfaces or furniture, take a clean microfibre cloth and wipe them until every side of the surface – both visible and not – has been given the once over.
2) As for your sweeping your floor: sweep it in a regular routine. This will help combat those pesky, gritty enemies like dirt, sand and even dust can cause damage such as dints and scratches.
3) We would say the best amount of time to spend doing this would be little by little every day. That way, you don’t give anything that falls on your floor the chance to do long term damage.
Be careful with the cleaning products you choose to clean furniture with when vinyl flooring is around. Certain sprays and liquids may contain materials such as wax or oils that damage the top surface of the vinyl flooring, so always check the contents of cleaner products before you use them. If you think a product is suitable, give it a patch test in a discreet location in the room before wider use. Top tip: Microfibre cloths are the safest choice to brush surfaces down with – they are specifically designed to be non-abrasive and safe for all surfaces.
Mopping is an essential step in caring for vinyl flooring.
Before you begin to mop, we would suggest that you consider a set system for your mopheads. A three-mop system is the ideal number to achieve a good quality clean. This would consist of the following: a mop for use as a general cleaner with or without soap, a mop for vinyl rinsing your floor with water and one to use for general drying purposes. Don’t forget, for dry mops, you can get specific dry mop heads designed to dry your floor quicker than an all-purpose wet mop head.
Good mopping technique is to do the following:
1) First, place your mop bucket at the opposite end of the room to where you intend to start mopping.
2) Then, plunge your general cleaning mop and allow it to drain off slightly before trailing it back towards the opposite end of the room.
3) Spin the mophead out so all the strands lay flat, then brush either side-to-side or in a figure eight motion, walking backwards towards your mop bucket until you have reached your bucket.
4) Repeat this step with your rinsing mop until all cleaning product is off the surface of the vinyl flooring
5) Then, run your dry mop over it to ensure the flooring is completely dry and clean.
To make sure those around you are safe during the mopping, let them know verbally and with a visual aid (such as a sign) that you are mopping in a certain area.
Top Tip: Always check whether a product contains wax or oil before you use it to clean your vinyl flooring.
Vacuuming is good to do when for caring for vinyl flooring – but only if you do it right.
We always recommend that before vacuuming any vinyl flooring, you remove your beater bars from your upright vacuum or attachment. It is beater bars that causes scratches, scuffs and other abrasions, so carefully using a longer attachment would be the best possible practice. If you are using a vacuum with a ‘bare floor’ mode, set it into that function before vacuuming. This will have the same effect as removing your beater bar. As for the vacuums cylinder or upright body, try to keep it stationary if possible. Consider investing in a long extension cord so that your vacuum can stretch long distances without having to be wheeled through the home.
Top Tip: Remember that good vacuuming technique is to move backwards and forwards over the same patch in the same direction to avoid any sort of tracking or damage.
Homemade methods for caring for vinyl flooring
As we alluded to before those techniques aren’t always failsafe when it comes to caring for vinyl flooring and making sure it stays in great condition. If your vinyl flooring does end up with any of the following, we have handy tips to help rectify the damage.
Top Tip: With the following stains, make sure you attend to them straight away: OIL, VINEGAR, LEMON, INK, BLOOD and TOMATOES.
General use neutral cleaning solution
When caring for vinyl flooring you have purchased, it’s a good idea to make a pH neutral light soap solution you can use for general cleaning. A pH neutral (anything below 7 is acidic and could damage your flooring, likewise with alkaline above 7) cleaner can be made using either vinegar or a standard dish soap. Simply mix 1 part vinegar or soap to 9 parts hot water to create an effectively diluted solution. Don’t worry about the coarse smell of vinegar: it will naturally fade away as the floor moisture evaporates and dries. For an added shine, add a few drops of neutral baby oil to the solution.
Pencil erasers work well with smaller scuffs. Use the eraser to dab at the patch until it disappears. Beware of professional cleaning products that sell products that claim to achieve the same as a regular eraser. They can sometimes remove the finish from vinyl flooring depending on their contents.
For slightly bigger scuff marks, a tennis ball can sometimes be effective. Carefully cut an X about a quarter of an inch into the ball, then place a handle of a broom into the gap. Then rub the tennis ball into the flooring where the scuff marks are.
Baking soda paste
If you need a little oomph in your methods for caring for vinyl flooring, make yourself a simple baking soda paste. To do this, mix around 2 tablespoons of baking soda with warm water and mix until it becomes a smooth paste. Then, using a clean, soft cloth, rub the scuff mark with the paste. Wipe the area away with a separate, clean, damp cloth and wipe dry.
As with all the above methods, use a small squidge of toothpaste on a clean cloth and rub it into the affected area. We recommend using firm, circular motions to rub the toothpaste in and a clean damp cloth to pat the excess. Dry thoroughly when the affected area is cleaned.
Yes, it’s not just for stiff joints! WD-40 can actually be used when caring for vinyl flooring. Simply dab it onto a clean cloth, rub the scuffed area gently and then wipe clean with a damp cloth and dry thoroughly. Jojoba oil can be used in place of WD-40 too. Top Tip: With any scuff or stain, remember time is not on your side so the quicker the better! Get them mopped up or wiped away as soon as you can else you risk the stain becoming a bigger problem.
The never-evers of caring for vinyl flooring
Before you start caring for vinyl flooring, you should take heed that the following list can pose a serious threat to a vinyl floor’s appearance and condition. We always recommend that you avoid using the following materials and techniques.
Abrasive powders, foams and liquids, cleaning utensils.
Every decision you make about caring for vinyl flooring will either be a short or long-term fix.
As a general rule of thumb, always make maintenance decisions on the basis of what will be best in the long term. When caring for vinyl flooring, it might seem easy to use abrasive cleaning materials such as scratch pads or wire wool. They may even seem effective to use when caring for vinyl flooring. After all, there’s no doubting that it will help lift the scuff or stain out of the vinyl flooring. But seem is all it will be. Over the time, the use of these tools will erode the surface of the vinyl flooring and spoil the appearance of your once glossy flooring.
The same can be said for certain Supermarket ‘fast shine’ products. Many of these types of products have acidic properties that leave a dull film that will make your floor seem dirtier. It is for this reason that we recommended earlier creating a pH neutral general-purpose cleaner to use when caring for vinyl flooring.
Though steam cleaners are flavour of the month across the land, you should err on the side of caution using one. One of the crossovers of laminate and vinyl flooring is that they both have a photographic layer for appearance purposes. Using tools like steam mops can affect the appearance and installation of vinyl flooring. The plastic layer that protects the surface of the vinyl flooring will be damaged by the heat. Glue, if used, may melt away making your vinyl flooring loose. There is also the risk of toxic fumes being created by melted plastic and glue.
Rubber and PVC
When caring for vinyl flooring, you can do yourself a favour by avoiding rubber and PVC. Rubber and vinyl are both durable and low maintenance materials but, unfortunately, they go together like chalk and cheese. Both synthetic and natural rubber cannot be used on vinyl floors because of chemical abrasion caused by either of the following: heat from sunlight or friction from footsteps. By the same token, don’t use anything containing PVC – PVC is made from glues or adhesives that will cause both damage to the appearance of your vinyl flooring and will negatively impact your home’s air quality.
The harsh properties of bleach can cause some serious damage if you use it for caring for vinyl flooring. Bleach can erode away the wear layer – the top layer of vinyl you step on – until there is nothing left there. This is not so bad if you use Luxury Vinyl Tiles – you can pull one up and replace it without too much hassle. But in the case of Sheet Vinyl Flooring being used, there is no quick repair. In either case, don’t use bleach – it will cause colours to change, layers to burn away and can be hazardous to your skin and eyes.
(Too much) Water
Any flooring’s health can be in danger if it is exposed to too much water and vinyl flooring is no different. It isn’t the surface that is in danger in the case of vinyl flooring – not immediately in any case. Extended exposure to excessive water can cause the flooring to curl at the corners and warp, causing significant appearance damage. Below the surface, your underlay and subfloor can be at risk if the water soaks through. If these two are wet but not soaked through, dry with fans and a dehumidifier – this should stop further damage and rectify some of the issues.
Wax and oil based cleaners
It may seem like a good idea to buff your floor with a wax cleaner. However, be aware that wax can have the opposite effect to that you intend. It causes a build up of dirt and dulls the finish of your vinyl flooring. This leaves behind a sad looking floor with an unsightly yellow tinge to it that ages vinyl flooring before it's time. Avoid oil based cleaners like your household anti-bacterials for this reason too.
Did you like our guide on caring for vinyl flooring? Click below for more guides in our advice centre.