If you've ever dealt with vinyl flooring — especially in an older home where the flooring has not been well cared for — you know the heartbreak of trying to clean it. The problem is tiny grooves and crevices, especially along the baseboards and thresholds where stubborn dirt has built-up over time and is now holding on for dear life.
But truth be told, vinyl flooring is not a thing of the past. It is alive and well, highly improved and quite lovely. In fact, some brands of vinyl flooring have now entered luxury flooring lines.
If you have new vinyl, old vinyl, grimy vinyl or shiny vinyl, it's good to know how to care for it — what to do and what not to do. Here are some guidelines:
PREVENTING DIRT AND DAMAGE
Try minimizing dirt, stains and abrasions before they occur. Dirt and dust, over time, can wear down and degrade the finish on any type of flooring, including vinyl tile or laminate. That's why it is always a good idea to locate a good-quality doormat or area rug in front of doorways so that grit and grime stop there and are not tracked into the house.
Another helpful hint is to use a sheet of plywood or paneling whenever you need to move furniture across the floor, or use some other type of furniture "mover" that will help prevent scuff marks or tears in the vinyl. Use vinyl coasters under the feet and legs of your furniture to safeguard against permanent indentations.
CLEANING VINYL FLOORING
Vacuum and mop the floor often with plain water to remove surface dirt, dust, hair and product buildup that happens in a bathroom. For weekly cleaning and disinfecting of vinyl flooring, use a mixture of plain white vinegar and water. The acidity helps remove dirt and grime without leaving a buildup of soap or wax.
Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 gallon hot water. Use a damp mop to clean, rinsing the mop frequently with hot water. If the floor is especially dirty, add a few drops of Blue Dawn liquid dishwashing soap to the mixture before mopping. Then mop once with the soap mixture and a second time with vinegar and water to rinse.
SUPER DIRTY, STAINED VINYL
This can be a problem, particularly in older homes where dirt and grime have been allowed to build up over time, especially at doorways and along baseboards. The solution is Bar Keepers Friend cleanser, available with the household cleansers in your supermarket or online.
The folks at Bar Keepers Friend have confirmed that their cleanser is excellent for deep cleaning vinyl because it is powerful but not abrasive. Work in a small area, wetting the floor and sprinkling Bar Keepers Friend as you go, scrubbing and cleaning as necessary to remove ground-in dirt and making sure to rinse very well before moving to another area.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Do not use a "beater bar" attachment when vacuuming vinyl. This can damage the flooring surface.
Do not use highly abrasive scrubbers or steel wool.
Do not use detergents, abrasive cleaners or "mop and shine" products, as these can leave a dull film on the floor.
Do not use paste wax or solvent-based polishes.
Do not use ammonia or ammonia-based cleaning solutions on vinyl flooring; these can break down the material and cause cracks in the flooring.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.