How To Care for Linoleum and Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is a synthetic, petroleum-based product composed of several layers of felt or vinyl backing with a top layer of urethane to make the product resistant to scratches, stains, and scuff marks and resist moisture, dirt and dust. It is a very popular floor covering that is affordable, durable and available in many designs and colors, some of which replicate the natural look of tiles, marbles and woods.

On the other hand, linoleum is a natural product made from linseed oil extracted from flax seeds. The oil is then dried and finely ground to form a base product called linoleum cement which is then mixed with other plant materials like pine resins, wood flour, and ground cork. The resultant product is then laid over jute fiber backing to stabilize it.

Both these types of floor coverings are durable but require some care and maintenance to keep it clean, look like new and long lasting. Here are some ideas on how to maintain vinyl and linoleum floor coverings.

  1. Always vacuum and sweep the floors before you mop them. Mopping the floors without vacuuming or sweeping can carry grit, stone and sand over the surface of the floor covering and scratch it.
  2. Use warm water when you mop linoleum and vinyl floors. If there is a need for some heavy cleaning, mix some mild dishwashing soap such as Ivory Liquid with warm water and use this to mop the linoleum floor. For spot cleaning, mix some water and dishwashing soap and keep it in a spray bottle. Rinse the floor with a clean mop or towel and dry it.
  3. If there are deep grooves on your linoleum floor, dip a nylon brush in warm water and liquid soap mixture and scrub the area and rinse. This type of deep cleaning can be done twice a year.
  4. Spray a little WD40 on a clean towel and rub on areas with black heel marks to remove them. Rinse the area with your water and dishwashing liquid solution until all traces of the oil has been removed.
  5. If the linoleum floor is grimy and have deep ingrained dirt, you need to strip and wax it. Do this step with proper and adequate ventilation as you will be using ammonia and vinegar here. You need to work in sections of the floor. Pour straight ammonia in one section and spread it with a dishtowel. Let it set for about fifteen to thirty minutes. Do this step for the rest of the areas. Once you have finished doing this, start scrubbing the first area with a nylon brush until the whole floor is finished. Mop the whole floor with a clean, damp old towel. Mix one half cup of vinegar per gallon of water and use this to rinse the floor. The vinegar will remove the odor of ammonia. Dry the floor before you do the next step.
  6. Buy good industrial floor wax. Apply an even coat with a clean cloth and let it dry for several hours before you apply a second coating.  Allow the floor to completely dry. Your linoleum floor will now look like new and spiffy clean with its fresh wax coat. Stripping and waxing should only be done once a year.
  7. Some vinyl floors also require waxing. Wax new vinyl floors and use a fresh coat of wax regularly to protect the vinyl surface.
  8. Those vinyl floors that have polyurethane finish only require regular vacuuming and sweeping. Use a damp mop to keep it clean and shiny. When the polyurethane sealer has lost its shine, a coat of water-based self-polishing wax will revive it.

A properly cared for vinyl and linoleum flooring can last for several years before it will show some signs of wear and tear especially on areas with heavy foot traffic.


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