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 still alive and well—highly improved, and quite lovely. In fact, some brands of vinyl flooring have now entered the luxury lines of flooring.


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.

Vinyl Floor Care

I just installed new vinyl flooring in my bathroom. What is the best way to care for it? Is it ok to use rubber backed bathroom rugs? Sherry

Dear Sherry: Congratulations! I’ll bet your new luxury vinyl flooring is as gorgeous as it is practical. And affordable, too. Vinyl flooring has come a long way. But the problem remains that petroleum-based products like rubber can, over time, permanently stain vinyl. On light colors that stain will be an ugly shade of yellow. On darker vinyl, over time, the stain may give a dark, shadowy appearance.

Rather than rubber-backed rugs for your bathroom, look for those made of or backed with polypropylene, which will not damage vinyl. Bath mat sets like this Grand Era Mat Polypropylene Fiber Set come in a variety colors and patterns, in 2- or 3-piece options.

You could apply lines of silicone caulk (not latex or rubber) to the back of a traditional bath mat that has no rubber or latex backing, to create a non-skid surface.

Another idea would be to use bath mats that have no rubber backing over thick felt rug pads. As long as the pad is heavy and slightly smaller than the rug itself, it should stay in place and provide a luxurious cushion for your feet and protection for your floor.

As for care and cleaning of vinyl flooring, 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 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 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 build-up that happens in a bathroom. For weekly cleaning and disinfecting of vinyl flooring, use plain white vinegar. The acidity helps removed dirt and grime without leaving a build-up of soap or wax.

To Use: Mix one cup vinegar with one 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, a second time with vinegar and water to rinse.

Super Dirty, Stained Vinyl. This can be a problem, especially in older homes where dirt and grime have been allowed to build up over time, especially at doorways and along baseboards. The solution: Bar Keepers Friend cleanser. The folks at BKF have confirmed that Bar Keepers Friend is excellent for deep-cleaning vinyl. Work in a small area, wetting the floor and sprinkling BKF as you go, scrubbing and cleaning as necessary to remove ground-in dirt, and making sure to rinse very well, before moving to a another area.

What Not to Do. Keep these “Don’ts” in mind as you care for your new vinyl floor.

  • Do not use a “beater bar” attachment when vacuuming vinyl. This can damage the flooring surface.
  • Never use highly-abrasive scrubbers or steel wool.
  • Do not use detergents, abrasive cleaners, or “mop and shine” products, because 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.

Hope that helps!

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