A guide to cleaning vinyl flooring – brighten up planks and tiles with vinegar and more

Cleaning vinyl flooring is a must to keep yours stylish, warm and practical on all fronts. Sanitize your planks or tiles with vinegar and more, here's how.

vinyl floor tiles
(Image credit: Carpetright)

Wondering how to clean vinyl flooring? One of the many virtues of vinyl flooring is that it’s super simple to keep clean and maintain from day to day, cutting down on chores.

Being easy to clean is just one of the many benefits to the different types of vinyl flooring. Of course. It’s also a great flooring choice for rooms around the home because it’s warm underfoot, quiet, kinder on dropped objects than many other flooring surfaces, and because it can replicate the look of other floors without their maintenance requirements.

Straightforward as it is to look after, though, there are some rules you need to follow to keep vinyl flooring pristine and in great condition for the whole of its lifetime. To get in the know, just scroll down. We have all you need.

We spoke to Harriet Goodacre, Brand Communications Manager and Senior Tiles Consultant at Topps Tiles, who says 'Cleaning vinyl floor tiles is quick and easy if done regularly and correctly...'It’s recommended you wash your LVT flooring once or twice a week depending on the use of the room, this will avoid any stains settling into the surface. Of course, to keep your floor looking brand new we would recommend that you mop up any troublesome spills as and when they happen.'

How to deep clean vinyl planks and tiles

Whether you have vinyl planks or tiles, you can clean them the same way. First of all make sure you get rid of any debris, dust, dirt, hair and fur from the floor. Goodacre suggests 'First off, get a good quality vacuum cleaner that is ideal for hard floors, alternatively use a brush to sweep up any loose debris.'The easiest way to achieve this is by using your vacuum cleaner on the vinyl floor, but make sure you do so gently using the hard floor setting. Don’t use the beater bar, which is meant for carpet. 

Alternatively, you can use a soft broom to capture the loose stuff that’s on the floor and pick it up in a dustpan to dispose of it.

Make sure you keep up with the vacuuming or brushing of your vinyl plank or tile as often as it’s required in your household depending on kids, pets, how much dirt you all bring in, and so on. 

Once the dust and debris is off your vinyl floor, you’ll need a mop and bucket. A microfiber mop is ideal. You can use a floor cleaning product but do check the label to make sure it is suitable for vinyl flooring, as not all are. Goodacre advises 'If you’re looking to use a cleaning fluid on your floor, always check the label to ensure they are compatible with vinyl flooring and safe for children and pets in your home. These cleaning products can sometimes contain chemicals that cause a floor to become slippery so ensure you use only a little product and buff the floor well when drying. For the same reason, wax shouldn’t be used, and it can also dull the appearance of your vinyl tiles.' You can, alternatively, make your own vinyl cleaning solution using vinegar (see below). 

Although one of the advantages of vinyl flooring is that you can use water to clean it, do wring the mop out before applying it to the floor each time. Puddles of water aren’t good for vinyl. 'It’s important not to soak the floor. We’d recommend a tool like the Aircraft Powerglide as an electric mop is quicker than manual mopping, allows you to control the amount of water used and also buffs your floor for a streak-free finish that dries in minutes' says Goodacre. It’s worth drying the floor with a clean lint-free cloth afterwards, too. You can walk on the floor again once it is dry.

Can you clean a vinyl floor with vinegar?

If you don’t want to use a store-bought cleaner for your vinyl floor, you can create your own home cleaner with white vinegar. Use one cup for a gallon of hot water. 

It’s worth having a second bucket with clean hot water to hand as well. This way, you can apply the vinegar solution first then rinse with the clean water. 

Make sure you wring the mop out thoroughly so you aren’t over-wetting the vinyl plank or tile, and dry it, as above, when you’re done.

How to treat stains on vinyl flooring

If your vinyl flooring has become stained, use a white cloth to apply warm water to the stain first. You can then use a specialist vinyl floor cleaner, applied according to the instructions.

Prefer to make your own natural stain removal solution? Baking soda is what you need. Create a paste by adding water to the baking soda and then apply to the stain using a soft white cloth. Work on the stain gently until it goes. 

For tough stains like wine or tomato sauce you might need to use diluted bleach, but test in an inconspicuous spot first. Use one part bleach to four parts water and soak a clean white cloth in the solution. Lay the cloth on the stain for 60 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with water, and dry. You may need to do this more than once. 

Make-up or ink stain on your vinyl floor? Dip a soft white cloth in rubbing alcohol to remove it.

If anything has become stuck on your vinyl floor – such as gum or paint – you can use a plastic scraper to lift it. Hold the scraper at an angle to work on the substance itself and to avoid damaging the vinyl plank or tile.

How to maintain vinyl flooring

Cleaning vinyl flooring according to our guidelines, above, will keep it in great shape, but bear in mind these dos and dont’s to make your life easier:

  • Do use doormats at the entrances to your home to cut down on the amount of dirt and debris that’s tracked on to the vinyl flooring. Taking shoes off at the entrances is a good idea.
  • Don’t clean vinyl flooring with abrasive materials.
  • Don’t leave rubber in contact with vinyl flooring for long periods: it can leave a stain you can’t remove. Watch out for mats and area rugs with rubber backing.
  • Don’t leave spills sitting on a vinyl floor as they can damage it if not wiped up. Soak up, mop, as above, and dry afterwards.
  • Don’t drag objects across a vinyl floor. Lift furniture to move it. 
  • Do fit furniture legs with floor protectors.
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Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.