Cleaning Vinyl Plank Flooring Is Easier Than You Think

Today’s vinyl flooring is a far cry from the glossy, plastic-looking sheet or tile flooring your grandmother probably installed in her house. While yesterday’s was easy to rip, scratch, and scuff and look very artificial, today features a more durable matte finish and a more realistic, natural design that snaps together as a pieced together board. They are the newest members of a category called “resilient floors”, and because they come as individual boards, replacing damaged parts is also easier.

For this reason, modern vinyl plank flooring has become a popular alternative to wood floors in homes around the world, especially in areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. Not only are these floors easier to maintain than traditional hardwood floors, they’re also more moisture resistant, so they’re better prepared to withstand heavy traffic — ideal for families with children and pets.

But that doesn’t mean vinyl floors don’t need regular TLC. Even these fuss-free, wear-resistant floors occasionally need a proper cleaning, so it’s best to incorporate this task inside routine cleaning schedule. We reached out to Carolyn Forté, executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Care & Cleaning Lab, for the best cleaning tips and advice.

How to clean vinyl plank floors after installation

First things first: If your vinyl flooring product was installed with glue, you may notice excess glue seeping into the surface. Avoid cleaning up this mess or walking on the floor for at least 24 hours so the adhesive has time to set properly. Once installed, you can safely remove excess product without damaging your new floor by following these steps:

  1. Gather the right tools: you will need scraper, a spray bottle and floor stripper or acetone-based nail polish remover to help loosen excess glue.
  2. Spray floor: Put the cleaning solution in a spray bottle and spritz some on the glue you want to remove. Leave it for a few minutes.
  3. Scraping glue: Once the glue begins to soften, position your scraper so the blade is parallel to the floor and apply gentle downward pressure to gently loosen the adhesive. (You want to get under the glob of glue to gently lift it off the floor.)
  4. Wipe clean with water: Once the glue is gone, rinse the area with water using a damp microfiber cloth. Then dry the area with a second clean cloth. Alternatively, you can mop the area for a deeper clean.

How to clean vinyl plank floors regularly

Vinyl plank flooring may be low maintenance, but there are a few things you should know to help extend the life of this surface. Namely, dust, sand and other sandy particles are “enemies”, according to World Floor Covering Association. Because of this, it’s important to sweep or vacuum frequently — and especially if there’s visible dirt on the floor.

  • Remove dust with a soft brooma microfiber mop or a good vacuum cleaner designed for hardwood floors.
  • Use a soft, oval floor brush or a soft roller if you have one, or at least turn off the vacuum cleaner’s rotary brush. Avoid using a stiff scrubbing brush or vacuum cleaner blade (a rotating brush attachment that vibrates to remove dirt from the carpet), as these cleaners can damage the floor surface.
  • Wet-clean the floor using a wet mop and a safe vinyl floor cleaner after you remove the dried dirt and grime.
  • If necessary, rinse after mopping, be careful not to get the floor too wet. Let it dry.

How to clean up spills from vinyl plank floors

Even though vinyl flooring is moisture resistant, it’s not good to let spills settle. And you should never use a steam mop on these surfaces. The high temperatures combined with humidity and excess pressure can seep into the cracks, loosen the adhesive and cause the floor to swell. Here’s what to do instead:

  • Use damp microfiber cloth to clean up spills as soon as they occur.
  • For more stubborn stains, you can use a soft nylon brush and a baking soda paste (mix baking soda and enough water to make a paste). Simply use a brush to gently rub the paste into the affected area, then wipe it off with a damp, microfiber cloth.
  • Or, you can use a mild cleaning solution made with equal parts vinegar and water. There are also cleaning products, such as the Bona Hard-Surface Floor Cleaner, that are made specifically for this type of floor.

Whatever you use, it’s a good idea to test your cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to make sure it won’t damage the floor.

How to remove scuffs from vinyl plank floors

Occasional scuff marks from shoes or furniture are unavoidable, but luckily there’s an easy way to get rid of these unsightly spots:

  • Dip a microfiber cloth into the dish soap and water mixture and use it to buff the area. Then rinse thoroughly with a damp microfiber cloth or mop.
  • For stubborn scuffs, try a lubricant like WD-40 or Goo Gone. Put a small amount on a towel and rub the affected area until the blisters disappear. Then, following the cleaning steps above, use baking soda, vinegar, and water or another cleaning product marked safe for vinyl flooring to remove any residual lubrication.
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How to keep vinyl plank floors clean longer

While regular maintenance is essential, there are steps you can take daily to keep your vinyl plank floors cleaner and in better condition, reducing the frequency of deep cleaning and repairs.

  • Place the mat or rug at the front of your home’s entryway, as this will minimize the amount of dirt and grime that gets in.
  • Install felt or rubber pads to furniture legs—especially items that move regularly, like bar stools and dining chairs.
  • Put protective floor covering whenever you do a tough home improvement job — rearranging furniture or repairing and painting drywall, for example.

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