Keeping your floors looking as good as when they were first installed can be a challenge. Luckily, with vinyl it’s easy to do. There are just a few important things to bear in mind to get the best results.
We’re here to walk you through exactly how to clean vinyl plank flooring to keep it looking like new. We’re going to take you the process step by step. And we’ll include some extra tips for a floor that will be the envy of visitors to your home!
So if you’re ready, let’s get started…
Table of Contents
Tools and equipment
- Doormat – if the room has an external door
- Vacuum cleaner …
- … plus nozzle, or dustpan and brush
- Soft-headed mop – microfiber is ideal
- Floor detergent – or if you prefer, you can use vinegar and water or liquid detergent for dishes
How to Clean Vinyl Plank Flooring
1. Avoid bringing in dirt from outside
The simplest way to keep your cleaning routine hassle-free is to avoid dirt building up in the first place. That’s also important to maintain the quality of your floor. Specks of debris often have hard edges, and if they’re trodden into the floor, they can leave permanent marks.
If your room has an external door, invest in a good-quality doormat. That will take the brunt of dirt from outside, avoiding it being walked onto your floor. This YouTube video shows how effective a good doormat can be.
Coir matting is effective at brushing off dirt, but you can find it sheds fibers onto the floor. A polypropylene mat will be just as good at trapping mud and moisture. And if you invest in one that’s good quality, it will last for ages.
Pro tip: Choose a mat with rubber backing so it will stay securely in place.
2. Brush or vacuum regularly
Even with the best doormat in the world, if you walk on your floor, you will bring in the dirt. Avoid it denting the surface of your vinyl by getting rid of it regularly.
A quick vacuum or sweep with a soft-headed broom will be all you need to keep it under control. You can do this as often as every day if your room gets a lot of use. But don’t sweat it if that’s not realistic. Vinyl plank flooring is pretty robust, and a good brush or vacuum once a week will be fine.
Watch out for dirt gathering next to obstacles like furniture or the baseboards of fitted kitchens. It can get surprisingly sticky if it stays there for too long! If your vacuum cleaner has a thin nozzle, use that to suck up the dirt. If not, a dustpan and brush will do the job perfectly.
3. Mop up spills when they happen
Accidents do happen – especially if you share your home with pets or little people! Vinyl plank flooring is very resilient to stains, so there’s no need to panic if there’s a spill. Simply mop up any liquid or vacuum up debris as soon as you can after it happens.
If the substance is sticky, you may find you need to make a little more effort to get rid of it. But take care – don’t rub too hard, or you can damage the vinyl. Simply moisten a sponge, add a drop of liquid dish detergent, and rub it gently over the sticky residue. Repeat as necessary until it’s gone.
Pro tip: Don’t be tempted to use a scouring pad or stiff-bristled brush on your floor. It will almost certainly get rid of the spill, but it will probably scratch the surface of your floor too.
4. Wash weekly
Give your floor a more thorough cleaning by washing it once a week.
Make sure you’ve removed any dirt and dust first, or you’ll just find yourself smearing it over the floor. So vacuum first, and use the nozzle or a dustpan and brush around the base of furniture.
Now fill a bucket three-quarters full of warm water and add floor detergent. (Don’t fill it all the way up or it will be heavy to carry. You’re also more likely to get unwanted splashing.) Make sure you follow the directions on the pack to use the correct quantities of detergent.
If you’ve got a bucket with a wringer section, that will make your life much easier. Press the mop into the wringer to remove most of the water before you apply it to the floor. That will avoid your cleaning water splashing your furniture. And it will also mean your floor takes less time to dry after mopping.
Make sure you start mopping at the corner furthest away from where you’ll leave the room. You don’t want to find yourself stuck waiting for the floor to dry before you can get out!
Pro tip: Avoid any cleaning products that include wax. These will add a slippery sheen to your vinyl floor that will make it dangerous to walk on. And avoid solvent-based cleaners too. They can be useful on small areas for stubborn stains – but use too much and they’ll dull the surface.
- You don’t have to spend a fortune on cleaning products to get a great result. Adding white or cider vinegar to hot water makes a great floor cleaner. It works a treat on vinyl plank flooring. And it won’t leave behind any residue to rinse off. Use one cup of vinegar per gallon of water.
- Liquid dish detergent makes a gentle floor cleaner, but note that you’ll need to rinse the floor with water afterwards. If you don’t, you’ll find it leaves behind a thin layer of soapy residue.
- We’ve seen a lot of articles recommending the use of baby oil diluted in water to clean vinyl floors. Don’t do this! Baby oil is extremely slippery, and you’ll be turning your floor into an ice rink. Seriously – it can be dangerous, especially for anyone who’s less steady on their feet.
- Annoying scuff marks can require tougher treatment than your everyday cleaner. You can use rubbing alcohol, WD-40 lubricant, toothpaste or jojoba oil to get rid of them. Or mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with warm water to form a smooth paste.
- Whatever approach you take, use the treatment sparingly and only on the scuff mark. Rub gently until the mark has disappeared. Remember – if you’re too aggressive, you’ll damage the vinyl.
- If you get any type of adhesive on your flooring, try to remove it when it’s wet. In most cases, that will be easy to do with a damp cloth. If you haven’t noticed it before it’s dried on, don’t despair. Carefully apply a few drops of mineral spirits, then rinse the area clean with water.
- Protect the surface of your floor from the weight and sharp edges of furniture. Invest in some felt pads to go on the bottom of chair and table legs. They’ll help prevent sharp indentations or even tears in the surface.
- When it comes to your mop, steer clear of any options with abrasive scrubbing pads. Even if you’re careful, it’s far too easy to damage your floor.
- Swiffer mops – the kind with an adhesive pad to which you can attach floor wipes – are very easy to use. Just make sure that you don’t use wipes that contain alcohol. Used regularly, the alcohol can cause the vinyl to disintegrate.
- A traditional string mop works brilliantly for a deeper clean. Just make sure you use it with a bucket with a wringer. If the mop is too wet, the excess water can get between the vinyl planks. That can cause the planks to degrade over time.
- Microfiber mop heads are a great choice for vinyl plank flooring. They wring out well, and they won’t scratch your floor.
- Steam mops, however, aren’t the best option. The high temperatures can weaken the adhesive holding the vinyl in place. And the steam can damage the plank beneath it too.
- If your vinyl plank flooring has become dull, the culprit may be a build up of soap scum. If that’s the case, mix up equal parts of vinegar and baking soda into a paste. Apply it to a small, inconspicuous area of the floor, rubbing it in gently. Then rinse off with clean water.
- If your floor is shining again, you can repeat the treatment over the rest of the surface. Don’t rub too vigorously – you want the baking soda particles to do the work. If you’re too heavy-handed, you’ll damage the vinyl.
Ready for perfectly clean floors?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to how to clean vinyl plank flooring. Follow our tips, and your floor will look as good as new, no matter how long it’s been in place.
Remember that prevention is always better than cure! So if an external door opens into your room, use a doormat to keep dirt and debris off the surface. And a quick, regular sweep or vacuum will ensure you don’t have to spend long on deep cleaning.
If you have more serious stains or spills to deal with, don’t worry. There are lots of simple cures to get rid of them. Just use them with care. Start with milder options and work up to stronger chemicals if needed.
And most importantly – enjoy the beauty of your lovely, clean vinyl plank flooring!