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Vinyl Plank Flooring: Cleaning & Care Guide

Cleaning vinyl plank flooring is straightforward, but it's important to follow the right steps to keep the flooring in good condition. In this article we will cover the step by step process for how to properly clean your vinyl plank flooring as well as advice on how to care for it.

What You'll Need

  • Broom or vacuum
  • Bucket
  • Mop
  • Commercial vinyl plank floor cleaning product or apple cider vinegar
  • Soft towel


How to Clean Vinyl Plank Flooring

Step 01 of 04: Sweet or Vacuum

Begin by removing loose dirt, dust, and debris from the floor with a vacuum, broom or dry mop. If you use a vacuum, use a soft hose attachment as beater bars are likely to scratch your floor.


Step 02 of 04: Mix the Cleaner

The best way to clean vinyl plank flooring is to use a commercial product specifically formulated for vinyl plank floors. When you use a commercial vinyl floor cleaner, follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing it into a bucket of water. For a homemade cleaning solution, fill a bucket with one cup of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water. If you also want to disinfect your floors, replace the apple cider vinegar with white vinegar.


Step 03 of 04: Mop the Floor

Dip your mop into the cleaning solution, wring it out thoroughly so it's damp but not soaking wet. Mopping with too much water can damage vinyl flooring. Mop the floor in sections, using gentle strokes and going with the grain of the vinyl planks. Rinse the mop head frequently in clean water to avoid spreading dirt around.

Once you've finished mopping the entire floor with your cleaning solution, use clean water to rinse the mop thoroughly. Then, go over the floor again with the clean, damp mop to remove any cleaning solution residue.


Step 04 of 04: Dry the Floor

While you can allow the floor to air dry, you may get better results by drying the floor with a soft towel. This will ensure the water gets off the floor quickly, which will prevent the development of water spots.


How to Care for Vinyl Plank Flooring

Regularly cleaning is just one way to make sure your floor stays looking fresh. There are a few things you can do between cleanings to care for your vinyl plank flooring to keep it at its best.

Get Serious About Dirt Reduction

Dirt and debris act like sandpaper, so regular sweeping between moppings is critical. To make this easier, consider placing throw rugs in high traffic areas and place welcome mats at all entrances to your house to trap dirt and grit before it can come inside.


Reduce Opportunities for Scratches

Use furniture coasters or felt pads under heavy appliances and furniture to reduce marks left by those pieces shifting during use. You should also avoid dragging furniture when you are moving it. Try to lift it fully off the ground whenever possible. If you do need to drag or slide it, place a moving blanket, plywood or other protective material under it to avoid leaving marks.

Another good way to reduce scratches is to regularly trim your pet's claws. This is another instance where area rugs can help you care for your vinyl plank flooring. Consider laying a durable rug where your pet likes to play or where they are most likely to run around.


Clean Spills Quickly

While vinyl plank floors are remarkably resilient, you should still clean spills as quickly as possible. Blot up spills with a clean, absorbent cloth and then clean the area with a commercial vinyl flooring cleaner or a vinegar solution. The sooner you address spills, the less likely they are to stain your vinyl flooring.


How to Deep Clean Vinyl Plank Flooring

If you do end up with a stain on your vinyl plank floor, you have options for giving that spot a deep clean. Before you start, make sure you only use products that are safe for vinyl tile flooring. If you are unsure if the product is safe, check the vinyl tile manufacturer's instructions.

  • Scrub with a brush. Take a soft bristle brush and dip it in the commercial vinyl floor cleaning product or vinegar solution and scrub the stained area. Do not scrub too hard or the brush may start to scratch the floor.
  • Isopropyl alcohol. For tougher stains, dampen a cloth with isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, and gently rub the stain. Before using isopropyl alcohol on a stain, test it on a hidden section of the floor to ensure it doesn't discolor or damage the vinyl.
  • Baking soda paste. Another option for tough stains is to mix baking soda with a little water to form a paste, then gently scrub the stain with a soft bristle brush. Again, test this paste on an inconspicuous area before using it more widely.

Vinyl Plank Flooring Cleaning & Care FAQs

  • What should you not clean vinyl plank flooring with?

    Although vinyl plank flooring is one of the most durable flooring options available, you should still take care not to risk damaging it with the wrong cleaning supplies. To help keep your floors safe and well cared for, avoid these items:

    • Abrasive cleaners and tools. Steel wool, hard bristle brushes and powdered cleaning products are all a bad idea. Abrasion on your vinyl plank flooring will act as advertised and scratch the floor. This sort of damage is difficult if not impossible to repair, and you may end up needing to replace your flooring.
    • Harsh chemicalsCleaning products that contain bleach, ammonia and acid-based cleaning elements will wear down the vinyl over time. The result will be dried out, cracked and faded vinyl planks that will not be as durable as well cared for vinyl. 
    • Wax-based polishesVinyl plank flooring does not need wax. These products can leave a buildup that makes the floor slippery, hazardous and unsightly. This residue will also make the floor much harder to clean. 
  • Can you steam clean vinyl plank flooring?

    No, you should never steam clean your vinyl plank flooring. Although some flooring materials respond well to a steam cleaner, vinyl plank flooring is decidedly not one of them.

    Even though vinyl plank flooring is generally waterproof, the combination of high heat and heavy moisture from a steam mop risks getting between the planks and into the underflooring. The vinyl planks could separate, warp or cause the layers to peel. This type of damage is almost always irreversible and would require you to replace that section of flooring.

  • How often should you clean vinyl plank flooring?

    In most areas that see low to moderate use, sweeping two or three times a week will help keep dirt and debris from accumulating. You may need to sweep more often during certain seasons, such as during the summer when kids are more likely to track dirt and sand inside.

    For high traffic areas such as those with heavy foot traffic or multiple active pets, we recommend you dry mop or sweep your vinyl plank flooring daily. This will remove loose dirt and debris that can scratch the surface and keep things looking tidy.

    With regular sweeping, a thorough mopping with a vinegar solution once a week is sufficient. If you notice your floor looks dirty before a week has passed, you will not hurt your floors by mopping more frequently so long as you follow proper cleaning procedures.