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Vinyl flooring is a famous pick for kitchens and bathrooms because it stands up well to heavy foot traffic, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely resistant to staining. The good news is, you can bring your vinyl flooring back to its original state with basic household cleaners.
To clean stains off vinyl flooring, you need to identify the nature of the stain at hand. For example, makeup and ink stains need rubbing alcohol. Dirt-based stains can be dissolved with dish soap. WD-40 can magically erase scuff marks. Baking soda generally works well against most stains.
Now that you know the materials you’ll need, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start cleaning!
Before We Begin: Always Test Before Cleaning
Whatever the stain you’re dealing with, I highly recommend trying the cleaning solution on a hidden part of your floor before cleaning the actual stain.
Don’t get me wrong, though. The cleaning solutions I’ll suggest aren’t supposed to damage your vinyl flooring by default. However, your flooring might be slightly different from mine, so some cleaning solutions might not work as planned.
After applying the solution on a small, hidden spot, wait for a couple of minutes before rinsing and/or wiping it. If you can’t see any discoloration, you can safely start cleaning the actual stain.
Use Baking Soda for Unidentifiable Stains
If you don’t know what stained your vinyl floor, it’s safe to start with baking soda. The thing that makes baking soda so efficient for cleaning is that it creates a mildly abrasive paste that dislodges dirt and breaks up greasy stains without damaging the underlying surface.
To start, make a 50-50 paste of baking soda and water. Using a soft cloth, gently rub the paste over the stained area, and then use another clean cloth to wipe the residue. Repeat if necessary.
Use Rubbing Alcohol for Ink & Makeup Stains
The reason why alcohol is effective against ink stains is that they share the same chemical structure. It might not seem like it, but you’re actually fighting fire with fire!
Ideally, you should use isopropyl alcohol, such as the MG Chemicals Isopropyl Alcohol, or acetone, like the Onyx Professional Acetone Nail Polish Remover, to make sure you’re not throwing in any additives with the alcohol. But if these aren’t available, the next best thing would be clear alcoholic drinks, such as vodka.
If the stain is still fresh, dab it with a clean, dry cloth at first to remove as much ink as you can. Then, dip a paper towel into the alcohol you prepared and rub it over the stained area. Repeat if necessary.
Use Dish Soap for Old Dirt Stains
Dish soap can quickly break up dirt stains because it dissolves any oil or grease that might be holding the dirt particles together.
To start, add two tablespoons of dish soap to a bucket of water, and steer well until it lathers up. Next, use a suitable mop to clean the area. I like the Turbo Microfiber Mop because it comes with scrubbing pads that can scrape the dirt stains with little to no effort.
After getting rid of the stain, make sure to rinse the floor well to remove all the soap residue. Otherwise, it’ll harden up and form unsightly gray stains.
Add Vinegar for a Stronger Action
If dish soap doesn’t seem to cut it, you can crank things up a notch by adding one cup of vinegar to the water bucket.
Vinegar is a powerful cleaning agent because it’s made of acetic acid, which can dissolve mineral deposits, dirt, grease, and grime. Not to mention that it can also kill some disease-causing bacteria.
If you can’t bear the strong vinegar smell, you can tone it down by adding essential oils or lemon juice. Don’t add more than a few drops, though, since these additives may form new stains as they dry up.
Use WD-40 To Remove Scuff Marks
Most scuff marks can be quickly dissolved with WD-40 Sprays, thanks to its slippery nature. All you have to do is spray a little bit of WD-40 on the stained area, let it sit for a minute, and then use a clean cloth to wipe it.
After the stain is gone, you may want to rub the area with soapy water to remove all the slick oily traces.
Or Try an Eraser
If you don’t have WD-40 on hand, try to scrape the stain with an eraser. If the scuff mark is still new, the eraser may completely remove it without using any cleaning solutions.
Use a Professional Vinyl Cleaner
Although I usually prefer to craft DIY cleaning solutions using household supplies, that doesn’t always work. If you’re dealing with stubborn stains that have lingered on your vinyl tiles for a long time, you’d be better off using a professional cleaner made specifically for that purpose.
In that case, the Rejuvenate Luxury Vinyl Floor Cleaner should be your best bet. It’s effective against dirt, grime, oils, and even chemical residues. And the best thing about it is that it leaves no residue whatsoever.
To use it, spray it directly on the stained area and mop it thoroughly around until the stain disappears. Let it dry for ten minutes before walking on it to prevent smearing and streaking.
Wrap Up With a Floor Polish
If you successfully cleaned the stain, but the flooring doesn’t feel quite right, try applying a floor polish like the Quick Shine Multi-Surface Vinyl Polish.
This product will unify the vinyl flooring by giving a beautiful shiny finish. It’ll also act as a protective layer to prevent future stains from sticking to the surface.
Bonus: Tips To Keep Vinyl Flooring Looking Perfect for Years
If you’ve managed to clean the stain off your vinyl flooring, consider yourself lucky! But as you may already know, stains aren’t the only things that can ruin vinyl. Below, you’ll find all the tips I know to fend off all offenders and get the maximum life out of your flooring.
Accidents happen. Whether it’s your pet, your kid, or you, someone is bound to spill some sort of a liquid on the flooring from time to time. If you’re lucky enough to witness the spillage incident, dab the liquid with paper towels immediately.
If you fail to notice the stain, it’ll set deeper into the floor, making it harder to remove in the future.
Areas like the kitchen doorway, the hallway, and the playroom usually receive the highest foot traffic in your home. That’s why the vinyl tiles placed in these areas tend to stain faster than normal.
Luckily, you can simply solve this issue by placing rugs in said areas.
Steer Clear of Bleach
Bleach is indeed a controversial cleaner. Some swear by it, while others say it causes permanent discoloration. Well, you may not believe it, but both parties are actually telling the truth — bleach can be the best cleaning solution you’ll ever use, and it can also ruin your vinyl forever.
The thing that determines how the vinyl will react to bleach is how old your flooring is. See, as your flooring gets older, the outermost layer (called wear layer) that protects the core gets thinner, making the vinyl print more susceptible to damage.
Unfortunately, that protective layer can wear down faster than average if your vinyl floor constantly sees high foot traffic.
So, since you can’t evaluate whether the protective layer is intact or not, I don’t think you should clean your vinyl floor with bleach. The methods I listed earlier are equally effective, anyways. It’s not worth the risk.
Don’t Soak It With Too Much Water
Although vinyl is water-resistant, you should never spill water directly on top of it. And if this happens, you should quickly soak up the water with paper towels. Why? Well, as water spends more time on top of the vinyl, it can seep through the seams to reach the adhesive layer beneath. If that happens, the vinyl planks will start to crack gradually.
You can still mop vinyl floorings with water but always keep it to a minimum. And to that end, you should also use a flat mop rather than a sponge or string model.
Don’t Use Abrasive Cleaners
As I said earlier, you should clean vinyl with smooth mops or microfiber cloths. Avoid any abrasive tools like steel wool and stiff scrub brushes since these tools can wear out the vinyl’s protective layer faster than expected.
Use a Doormat
Unfortunately, some people don’t use a doormat with vinyl because they think it’s tough enough to handle dirt and mud. Although that’s technically true, everyone should use a doormat to keep their flooring intact for the longest time possible.
Besides, leaving a doormat by the door serves as a gentle reminder for your guests to wipe their shoes before going in, sparing you the potential embarrassment.
You can clean stains off vinyl flooring with baking soda, rubbing alcohol, dish soap, WD-40, and professional cleaners. As you read earlier, each option performs best against a particular stain, but you can still play around and try various combinations.
- Better Homes and Gardens: Cleaning with Baking Soda
- Hunker: The Best Cleaning Solutions for Vinyl Floors
- Healthline: Vinegar: The Multipurpose, Chemical-Free Household Cleaner You Should Know About
- Carpet One: How to Clean and Care for Vinyl Floors
- Oh So Spotless: How to Clean Vinyl Floors
- Reader’s Digest: How to Clean Vinyl Floors: 11 Tricks You Need to Know
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.