How to Clean Linoleum Floors
Daily and Deep Cleaning Tips for Spotless Floors
Cleaning linoleum floors can be easy since this resilient flooring material is tough and low-maintenance. It is also resurged as an eco-friendly flooring material since it is made of natural substances, including linseed oil, cork and wood dust, and limestone particles. However, it is not as durable as some similar surface covering options, such as vinyl. Because of this, you have to take a little extra care when cleaning linoleum. You can't clean linoleum floors with harsh chemical mixes or ammonia or you will risk harming the shine or surface. Instead, rely on a mix of dish detergent and water as the best thing to clean linoleum floors.
How Often to Clean Linoleum Flooring
How often do you need to clean and maintain linoleum floors? That will depend on how heavily your floor gets trafficked, as well as on a variety of other factors. Are mud and grime being tracked onto the floor routinely? Are foods and drinks getting spilled frequently? Is it a newer form of linoleum with a sturdy wear layer, or an older floor that is easily scratched by dirt and grit.
Generally speaking, it's a good idea to clean a linoleum floor weekly, but depending on circumstances, you might need to do it every day, or no more than once a month.
The best gauge is to carefully examine the floor daily. If dirt and stains are evident, clean the floor, even if it was just cleaned yesterday.
Daily Linoleum Floor Cleaning
Between deep cleans, you can clean and maintain your linoleum floor on a regular daily or weekly basis. Use these quick tips:
- Dust mop (with a dry microfiber mop) daily or every few days to remove dirt that can become ground into the floor.
- If you vacuum your linoleum floor daily or weekly, disengage the beater brush and use the hard floor setting.
- Damp mop the floor weekly with a solution of water and liquid dish soap, rinse with clean water on the mop, and dry thoroughly with either a soft towel or air-dry.
- Restore shine as needed with a quick damp mop using a cup of white vinegar mixed into a bucket of water (no need to rinse unless you prefer to do so). Dry the floor thoroughly.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Broom or vacuum cleaner
- Scrub brush (where needed)
- Cloths or towels
- Dish soap
How To Clean Linoleum Floors
Remove Loose Particles and Debris
Before a deep clean of linoleum floors, remove any loose particles or debris that may be on the surface of the material. This is done by thoroughly sweeping or vacuuming using the “hard floor” setting on your vacuum cleaner. As you work, pay special attention to corners, crevices, and underneath furniture and fixtures.
Wipe With a Dry Microfiber Cloth
It's a good idea to wipe down the entire floor with a microfiber cloth, which will remove any remaining small particles of grit that could potentially scratch the floor during deep mopping.
Prepare Cleaning Solution
Fill a bucket with a gallon of hot water, and then mix in about 6 to 8 drops of normal, over-the-counter dish soap. Avoid using anything particularly harsh or acidic. Rather, just stick to the same soap that you use on your dishes. This solution should then be stirred slightly.
Dampen the Mop
Dip your mop in the soapy bucket, then wring it out thoroughly. Linoleum can be susceptible to damage from standing water, so use as little liquid as possible when cleaning the floor. The strands of the mop should be just barely damp and soapy.
Mop the Floor
Divide the room up into sections that are roughly 6 x 6 ft. in size. As you complete each section dip the mop back in the bucket, wring it dry once more, and start over in the next section. Do this until the entire floor is complete. Once you’re done, dump the bucket of soapy water out, and wash both it and the mop in clean water.
Rinse the Floor
Fill the empty bucket with hot, clean water. Then mop the entire linoleum floor again, once more in 6 x 6-ft. sections. The goal is to remove any lingering soap residue that may be left on the floor.
Dry the Floor
Once the floor is washed clean, you need to get rid of any excess moisture that remains behind. Standing water can be very dangerous to a linoleum flooring installation. To do this, take old cloths or towels and pat down the floor's surface to dry it. The cloths should absorb any excess moisture rather quickly.
Scrub Stubborn Stains
If necessary, the above methods can be employed with a scrub brush to get a more thorough, rigorous cleaning. Some tough stains, such as pet stains, may need a more rigorous approach.
How to "Green-Clean" Linoleum Flooring With Vinegar
Commercial soaps and detergents are often harsh, abrasive substances that can fill the air with foul smells and chemicals. At the same time, the more acidic cleansing agents in these products can actually strip the finish from a linoleum floor. Because of this, many people are turning to natural floor cleaning practices, using materials that they often already have in their homes. The most common natural cleaning substance is vinegar—which is inexpensive, widely available, and can clean your floors without filling the home with nasty chemical smells. At the same time, its low acidity ensures that the finish of the linoleum will not be worn away.
Mix Vinegar With Water
You can use either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar mixed with water. One cup of vinegar to each gallon of water is a good ratio.
Add Lemon Juice, If You Wish
If you choose, add a splash of lemon juice to the mixture to fill the air with a pleasant citrus smell.
Use Baking Soda for Deep Cleaning
Vinegar can be used in conjunction with baking soda to get a linoleum floor really clean. Spread dry baking soda on the surface of the floor before you mop it.
Mop the Floor
Dip a mop or scrub brush in the vinegar or vinegar solution and swiped it across the surface. The cleansing power of the vinegar combined with the grittiness of the baking soda powder creates a powerful scrubbing mixture.
Wipe and Dry the Floor
Once you have the floor thoroughly scrubbed, a damp cloth can be used to pat away any loose remaining baking soda particles that are left behind.
How do you clean old, dirty linoleum floors?
To help brighten dull linoleum, get the shine back, and eliminate the grime of old linoleum floors riddled with ground-in dirt, add vinegar to a mix of water and liquid dish detergent. Use a quality degreaser, such as Dawn liquid dish soap.
If you need even more help cleaning off the dirt, first sprinkle baking soda on the floor, then damp mop using a bucket of water, a few drops of liquid dish detergent, and a cup of white vinegar. For a concentrated mixture, use one part liquid dish detergent to two parts white vinegar in a spray bottle (no water) and wipe with a mop or clean cloth.
Can you steam mop linoleum floors?
Linoleum is porous, much like wood (since linoleum is also made with wood pulp), so it's best to shy away from steam-mopping linoleum flooring. If you must use a steam mop on linoleum, use it infrequently and only use a minimal amount of steam. Given its porous nature, it's not typically recommended for moist, humid bathrooms or basement flooring due to the risk of flooding.
How do you know if a floor is vinyl or linoleum?
Vinyl and linoleum are both resilient with different constructions. A vinyl floor is made from layers of materials and will have color only on its top wear layer. A linoleum floor is made of one solid, color-permeated layer. Original kitchen flooring in a house built before 1950 will likely be linoleum (and it's tough to remove), but if a house is newer, the floor is probably vinyl.