How to Clean Vinyl Floors

By Amanda Lutz Updated May 10, 2024

Homeowners love vinyl flooring for its durability and affordability. Vinyl flooring can stand up to a lot, last for years, and look great. However, as with other flooring, you’ll need to clean your vinyl floors occasionally.

If you’re curious about how to clean vinyl floors or have questions about what methods are best for deep cleaning your kitchen flooring, this guide will answer them all. You’ll learn what cleaning tools and supplies you’ll need for the task, what cleaning solutions and detergents work best, and how to remove tough stains.

Essential Cleaning Tools and Supplies

Using the right tools is vital when cleaning vinyl floors. The right tools can also prevent damage to your floors, safeguarding against scuffs and helping to remove dirt and grime buildup. Here are some basic supplies every homeowner should have on hand:

Always avoid abrasive tools like steel wool or stiff-bristled brushes. These tools can scratch the vinyl surface and cause damage to your vinyl or wood floors. Always ask a professional contractor or cleaning company if you have questions about a specific tool.

Vinyl Floor Cleaning Solutions

The right cleaning solution is just as important as the tools you use. Some types of deep-cleaning solutions can damage vinyl plank flooring, while other cleaning products might include rubbing alcohol, which you should avoid on certain flooring types. Some homeowners opt for homemade cleaners to clean their floors. Both homemade and store-bought cleaners can be effective if you use them properly.

DIY Cleaning Mixtures

You can make a do-it-yourself (DIY) floor cleaner using some common household ingredients in just a few minutes. One effective cleaner is a vinegar and water solution. To make this cleaner, combine 1 cup of apple cider or white vinegar and 1 gallon of clean, warm/hot water in a bucket. 

Dip a mop or microfiber cloth into the solution and wring out excess water. Mop as usual, being sure to rinse the mophead frequently as you clean. You can also mix a baking soda and water cleaning solution, though you should use this solution as a spot cleaner rather than for deep cleaning. To make this stain-busting cleaner, mix equal parts baking soda and water, and apply the mixture as a paste to the affected areas. Rub gently, being careful not to scrub or use abrasive brushes. Never use ammonia or bleach. These cleaners can discolor or dull the vinyl surface.

Store-Bought Cleaners

There are many store-bought vinyl floor cleaners on the market, such as spray cleaners or concentrates that you would mix with warm water. Based on your needs, you can choose from pH-neutral or all-purpose formulas. Always read labels when purchasing a cleaner, and don’t select anything that could damage your vinyl floors.

Regular Vinyl Floor Cleaning Routine

Establishing a regular cleaning routine for your vinyl floors is important, but you don’t need to spend too much time. Sweeping with a vacuum or broom and then lightly mopping your flooring is enough to maintain it. Here’s how to clean your floors regularly to keep them looking their best:

  1. Clean the floors, and remove any debris, trash, and large food residue. Remove any furniture or rugs so you can clean the entire floor.
  2. Vacuum, if necessary, to remove dust and dirt.
  3. Mix your chosen cleaning solution, according to the cleaning product label.
  4. Dip the mop into the solution, and wring out excess water. Mop the floor in sections, rinsing the mop frequently and changing out the water, if necessary.
  5. Allow the flooring to dry completely. Don’t walk on it, and wait to replace furniture until the floor is completely dry.
  6. Spot clean as needed, tackling any areas with set-in dirt or stains. Use stain treatments according to the cleaning product’s label and directions.

Base your floor cleaning schedule on your household’s needs. If you are in high-traffic areas often, it might make sense to do a deep clean every few days, with daily quick cleans to maintain the area. A weekly deep clean might suffice if your vinyl flooring doesn’t get much foot traffic. 

Removing Tough Stains from Vinyl Floors

Vinyl floors are still susceptible to tough stains, even with regular cleaning. If you notice a stain on your vinyl floors that doesn’t come out with your standard cleaning techniques, consider employing a stain removal technique. A few common stains—and appropriate techniques to remove them–include:

Always do a spot test in an inconspicuous area before using any stain treatment, whether store-bought or homemade. Monitor the area for discoloration before using the treatment on a larger section of your floor.

Eliminating Scuff Marks and Scratches

Scuff marks are quite common on vinyl floors. However, there are ways to minimize the appearance of scuffs and minor scratches. Here are several common methods for scuff removal:

To smooth over scratches, use a vinyl floor repair kit or fill in the scratches with a color-matched wax stick. Never use abrasive tools or harsh chemicals to treat scuffs and scratches.

Maintaining Vinyl Floor Shine

Clean floors are delightful, but shiny ones make your home look more appealing. To maintain the glossy finish of your vinyl floors, consider applying a vinyl floor polish or wax in between cleanings. Buffing the floor with a soft microfiber cloth can also enhance shine. Don’t use steam mops or excessive water, as this dulls the finish and can damage your floors over time.

Preventing Damage to Vinyl Floors

Taking some preventive measures to protect your vinyl floors can save you a lot of time and money. Avoid excessive sunlight exposure to keep your floors beautiful over time since it causes fading. Clean up spills immediately and place doormats at the entrances of your home to trap dirt and debris.

If you have pets, trim their nails regularly to avoid scratches on the floor. It is also a good idea to have your floors inspected regularly to catch any potential issues.

Our Recommendation

Cleaning vinyl floors is relatively easy, and the payoff can be significant. You can use either a store-bought or homemade cleaner. Always follow instructions, and perform a patch test before using the cleaner over the entire floor. 

Remove stains promptly if they occur, and prevent damage to your floors by placing doormats at your home’s entrances and avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight. Vinyl floors are incredibly durable, and when you follow the proper cleaning and stain-prevention steps, they can stay that way for years.

How to Clean Vinyl Floors FAQ

Can you use a steam mop on vinyl floors?

Using a steam mop on vinyl floors is not a good idea. Vinyl is plastic, which is not steam-resistant, so exposure to high heat can cause it to warp and lose shape. Check with your flooring manufacturer before using a steam mop.

How often should you clean vinyl floors?

You should clean vinyl floors based on how much traffic that area of your home receives. For instance, if you get a lot of foot traffic in those areas, consider deep cleaning once a week, with smaller cleanings to remove debris or dirt daily.

Can you use vinegar to clean vinyl floors?

Vinegar can be used to clean vinyl floors. When mixed with warm water, it creates a DIY cleaning solution that’s quite effective with most types of flooring.