How To Clean & Maintain Vinyl Plank Flooring
- What is Vinyl Plank?
- How To Clean Vinyl Floors
What is Vinyl Plank?
Vinyl plank flooring is a type of inexpensive sectional flooring that can be connected together to fit the dimensions of any room. Vinyl planks are made of a protective wear layer, a vinyl printed image layer (that mimics the desired material), a fill layer for cushioning and then a backing material (typically cork) to reduce noise.
Vinyl planks give homeowners the look of wood, stone, marble or other materials at a fraction of the cost.
Vinyl plank is made up of five distinct layers:
- Top Coat
- Wear Layer
- Decorative Layer
- Core Layer
- Backing or Base Layer
What’s the Difference Between Vinyl Plank Flooring and Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Plank vinyl flooring and luxury plank vinyl flooring are made of the same materials, but with one key difference: Each layer of luxury plank vinyl flooring is thicker. The wear layer and core layer are thicker, increasing its sound absorption and extending the luxury vinyl plank’s life. The bottom layer or “backing layer” is often different; where a normal vinyl plank would have a cork backing layer, the luxury vinyl plank may have a thicker rubber layer.
In terms of cleaning, both vinyl planks and luxury vinyl planks are cleaned in exactly the same way.
The Benefits of Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl plank flooring is less expensive than other flooring options and comes in a variety of different designs like wood or stone. It’s easy to install and can be a do-it-yourself project. The planks lock together, creating a large flooring area. Vinyl plank flooring can be installed on most flat surfaces and is great for any area of the house, especially laundry rooms, bathrooms or kitchens. Vinyl plank is anti-static and slip-resistant, as well as easy to clean.
- Less expensive than other options
- Easy to clean
- Variety of different designs
- Easy to install
- Works on most flat surfaces
Pro Tip: After your vinyl plank flooring is installed, be sure to save any leftovers to use as replacement planks in the future. If a single plank becomes damaged or warped, you can pull it up and replace it.
How To Clean Your Vinyl Plank Floors
Recommended Cleaning Supplies
- A soft broom
- Handheld vacuum
- Vacuum with hose attachment
- Slightly damp mop (or a Swiffer on the non-abrasive side)
- Soft cloth
- Baking soda and water
- pH-neutral non-abrasive cleaner (or apple cider vinegar)
Keeping Vinyl Plank Flooring Clean
Keeping your vinyl plank flooring clean is as simple as sweeping and mopping it regularly, along with wiping up any spills. What’s important to remember is to avoid harsh chemicals, vacuums with a beater brush or soaking the planks with water while mopping.
The wear layer of LVP is transparent, so a good rule of thumb for cleaning it is to think of it like a piece of glass. Any scrubber that would scratch glass is also going to damage the vinyl flooring’s transparent wear layer. If scratched or buffed too hard, the damaged wear layer will obscure the print layer below, reducing the appearance of wood, stone, etc.
Using a vacuum with the beater brush enabled can damage the vinyl plank flooring. Anything with stiff brush bristles should be avoided. When in doubt, use the vacuum’s hose attachment or a soft broom.
While vinyl plank flooring is water-resistant, too much water can soak in and cause bubbling, warping or discoloration. If the mop is dripping wet, it’ll be too much moisture for the planks. Lightly mist the mop with a spray bottle filled with water, and reapply as needed.
Will Bleach Hurt Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Yes, bleach is too harsh for vinyl plank flooring and will eat away at the protective wear layer. This can cause “shedding” and the clear wear layer will continue to fall off over time.
What Kinds of Detergents Should I Use?
Shop for cleansers with “vinyl floors” on the label. Otherwise, use baking soda and water or small amounts of other mild detergents to clean up spills and stains.
Can You Use Vinyl Floor Polish on Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Vinyl floor planks never need to be polished or waxed. The transparent wear layer is naturally shiny and can become permanently dulled if polished.
Mopping the floor with warm water should be sufficient to restore the shine to the wear layer, but you can add a little apple cider vinegar to the warm water to help remove grimy buildup.
Vinyl Plank Floor Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts
When Cleaning Vinyl Plank Flooring, DO:
- Sweep and mop regularly
- Wash with mild, non-abrasive cleaners
- Clean up spills quickly (acidic liquids like oil, vinegar or lemon juice will stain the planks)
- Apply felt pads to table and chair legs to avoid dents and scratches
- Have a doormat at the front door to keep out dust and dirt
- Use mats near sinks or water sources
- Wipe away scuffs with a dry, soft sponge (even a tennis ball works!)
When Cleaning Vinyl Plank Flooring, DON’T:
- Let dirt or grime accumulate
- Use steel wool pads or firm brushes
- Clean with ammonia, bleach or harsh cleaners
- Use wax polish (it will remove the protective coating)
- Steam clean the vinyl planks
- Drag or slide furniture across vinyl plank flooring
- Use rolling furniture on vinyl plank flooring
- Soak planks with water while mopping
Removing Scratches and Scuffs from Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl flooring is soft and easy to walk on, but that makes the material prone to dents and scratches. If a scuff can’t be wiped off, or a scratch is too deep to buff out, as a last resort you can always remove and replace the damaged plank with a new one.
To Remove Light Scratches and Scuffs:
- Buff with a soft towel
- Try removing a light scuff with a pencil eraser
- For deeper scratches, wipe softly with a fine grit sandpaper
Scratch and Scuff Prevention
Shoes frequently cause scratches and scuffs. A pebble stuck in the sole of a sneaker or hard dress shoes and heels create scuffs on floor surfaces. If you can avoid wearing shoes on your vinyl flooring altogether, you can avoid the primary cause of scuffs and scratches.
Note: The thicker a vinyl plank’s wear layer, the more it will resist scuffing or scratching.
Removing Stains from Vinyl Plank Flooring
What You’ll Need
- Rubber gloves
- Mild dishwashing soap (or laundry detergent)
- A soft white rag or cloth
- Rubbing alcohol
If you spot a stain on your vinyl plank flooring, don’t despair — they’re typically easy to clean up. While you may want to grab a bottle of bleach and a steel wool scrubbing pad, resist that urge and reach for a soft rag or sponge and some mild soap.
Test Your Detergents
Due to the fact that the surface of vinyl plank flooring can become damaged easily, you should test your soap in a closet, obstructed corner or on a spare plank to ensure that it doesn’t corrode the wear layer or otherwise damage it.
Avoid Colored Cloths or Rags
If you use a colored cloth or rag, it’s possible that during the cleaning process, some of the cloth’s dye can be transferred to the vinyl, resulting in an even worse stain. Only clean vinyl plank flooring with a white cloth or rag.
If you come across a stubborn stain that won’t come out, try acetone. Put on rubber gloves, apply a small amount to a white rag and wipe the stain.
Keep it Clean
Vinyl plank flooring is an inexpensive way to add an attractive surface to any room in your home. When cleaned and cared for properly, vinyl plank flooring can be a great investment that lasts for years. If the flooring isn’t cared for properly, it can become damaged easily and will have to be replaced. Remembering and carrying out the proper cleaning techniques for vinyl flooring is the key to preserving this attractive flooring option. Visit our flooring maintenance page for even more tips on how to clean and maintain your vinyl plank floors.