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How To Clean Linoleum Floors

By Maria Hernandez / April 26, 2022 / 16 Comments

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    How to Clean Linoleum Floors

    Over the years, we must have tried a hundred different methods for cleaning our linoleum floors. Some a sparkling success, others not so much. Today we want to share with you the best ways on how to clean linoleum floors.

    We will look at exactly what to use and what not to use along with expert tips to get your floors looking their sparkly best and like new in no time. 

    Linoleum Flooring Cleaning Advice

    Linoleum is a great environmentally friendly flooring that can last for up to 40 years with proper care and maintenance. So if you want your flooring to last, here are our recommend general cleaning steps you can follow:

    What You’ll Need

    1. Dish soap
    2. A bucket of water
    3. A soft-bristled broom or vacuum
    4. Microfiber mop
    5. Microfiber cloths

    Steps On How To Clean Linoleum Floors

    While skeptics might question the effectiveness, seasoned cleaning pros have recommended the dish soap and water method for years. So if you’re game, grab your mop, favorite blue dish soap, and bucket.

    Step 1: Sweep or Vacuum

    The first step is to sweep or vacuum your floor using the hard floor setting. After that, we recommend wiping down your floor further using a microfiber cloth. This will get rid of any remaining small particles that could scratch your floor during mopping.

    Tips:

    • Sweep daily – Linoleum floors can be scratched by a sharp piece of debris caught underfoot, and dirt left in place is more likely to stick. Make your cleaning task a lot easier by thoroughly sweeping your floors daily.
    • Avoid vacuums with beater bars – The high-speed rotation of the better bar and bristles can be abrasive against linoleum floors and cause scratching. Make sure you use a vacuum cleaner designed for hard floors.
    • You can also use a microfiber mop instead of a broom or vacuum cleaner.

    Step 2. Mop

    For the mopping process, follow these steps, prepare the cleaning solution first.

    Start by adding 4–6 drops of soap to an empty pail. Then, fill your bucket with warm water. While there are no straightforward guidelines, you’ll probably want to use about 1–1 ½ gallons of water.

    Next, dip your mop into the bucket and swirl it around until the solution is mixed. Then wring the mop out until it stops dripping—you don’t want to soak the floors. Run the mop across the linoleum, using even strokes.

    Remember to start at the edges and work backward. Avoid boxing yourself into a corner or walking in the area you just cleaned. Let the solution sit for 10 minutes.

    Tips:

    • Perform a general cleaning by mopping your floor once a week.
    • You can also use a pH-neutral commercial cleaner that is approved for linoleum floors, but make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s usage instructions.
    • Use cleaning products sparingly – Linoleum, like hardwood, can be damaged by excess moisture as it warps. So, while you will need to use a little bit of liquid to get the floor clean, use it sparingly. Dry up as much water as you can once cleaning is done so that your floors are clean and moisture-free as quickly as possible.
    • Always use warm or cool water – While you might be tempted to use piping hot water to get your floors clean, it is best avoided, as hot water will cause moisture damage to your floors faster than cooler liquids.
    • Wipe up detergents – While some detergents are designed to be left on as a kind of polish, if your cleaner isn’t specifically designed for this, make sure you remove the cleaner thoroughly after use. If you don’t, the detergent left behind can form a sticky residue, which will just attract dirt.

    Step 3. Rinse

    After mopping, go over the floors one more time using clean water. Try to follow the same path so you’re not leaving footprints or streaks.

    Step 4. Dry

    Once you’ve rinsed off the residue, allow the floor to air dry. You can also microfiber cloths or old towels to dry your floor faster. You need to dry your flooring thoroughly before using.

    Step 5. Polish

    Polishing can help add extra protection to your floor aside from keeping it looking great. Continuous traffic can dull your floor which may require you to do some polishing. Just add one to two coats of linoleum-approved floor polish and apply according to manufacturer instructions.

    Tips:

    • Polish your floors every 6 months.
    • Avoid moving the applicator more than once in one area as this can lead to streaking. In case this happens, you may need to strip it off before repolishing.
    • If you are going to apply a second coat, allow the floor to completely dry first.

    That’s it: five steps and done. This recipe works well for routine cleaning. However, if your linoleum is stained, you’ll need something tougher. We’ll discuss the solutions for this later.

    What To Clean Linoleum Floors With

    “Linoleum floors can be very sensitive to chemicals, especially the kinds of traditional cleaning chemicals used on VCT floors. In general, it’s best to use pH-neutral cleaning solutions following manufacturers’ recommended dilution ratios.”

    International Sanitary Supply Association
    Cleaning ToolOur Product PicksWhy We Like It
    VacuumBissell Hard Floor Expert Multi-Cyclonic Bagless Canister Vacuum
    Bissell Hard Floor Canister Vacuum 1547
    – Extremely lightweight and it doesn’t leave scuffs or scratches which also makes it safe on hardwood floors.
    – Allows easy access to hard to reach areas like under beds.
    – It can grab any debris from sand to pet hair with its Multi-Cyclonic Technology.
    – It has a multi-level filtration system.
    MopSwiffer Dry and Wet Mop
    Swiffer Dry and Wet Mop
    – It’s a 2-in-1 mop that you can also use as a sweeper.
    – Affordable and easy to assemble and use.
    – Also safe for almost all floor types like vinyl and hardwood floors.
    – Compact and lightweight which makes it ideal for cleaning tight areas.
    Commercial Cleaning SolutionsRejuvenate High-Performance All-Floors Cleaner
    Rejuvenate High-Performance All-Floors Cleaner
    – This formula made in the U.S. is pH balanced to neutralize and remove contaminants without harming your previous floors underneath.
    – It removes grime and dirt, and it makes the floor shiny without feeling sticky or slippery underfoot.
    – There is no need to clean the mixture off.

    How to Use:
    1. Spray directly onto your floors. There is no need to dilute the mixture. Don’t apply too much, as it simply isn’t necessary.
    2. Mop your floors as normal, going with the grain and going over the floors as many times as it takes to remove stains and leave a general shine.
    Commercial Cleaning SolutionsAunt Fannie’s Floor Cleaner Vinegar Wash
    Aunt Fannie's Floor Cleaner Vinegar Wash
    – It is a vinegar-based cleaner, but also has other ingredients to leave behind a delicious scent.
    – There are a variety of options available and produces a non-sticky sheen.
    – Designed for sealed floors such as laminate, it is strong enough to remove even the toughest stains and leaves behind a light and appealing shine.
    – It is EWG (Environmental Working Group) A-rated for safety, which means it is safe for pets, kids, and you. You could even eat off it, if you are into that kind of thing. 

    How to Use:
    1. Dilute half a cup of the mixture with two gallons of water in your household cleaning bucket.
    2. Distribute lightly on the floor using the bucket, a cleaning machine, or a simple spray bottle.
    3. Use a mop to work the cleaner into tough stains and lift them up. Then you can use the mop again to soak up any excess liquid and help your floors dry quickly.
    Commercial Cleaning SolutionsBetter Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner
    Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner
    – Another environmentally friendly and safe cleaner that you can spray directly onto your linoleum floors and it won’t leave a residue or any harmful chemicals behind.
    – Eco-friendly and completely free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), but is still tough enough to dissolve stains without damaging your floor.
    – Your floors will be clean and have a natural-looking sheen.

    How to Use:
    1. Squirt the non-diluted formula directly onto your floors. You only need to use enough to dampen the floors, as a little goes a long way.
    2. Work into stains with a mop, sponge, or microfiber towel. You can also put the mixture into a steam cleaner if you want.
    3. Dry floors with a mop or towel once you have worked the liquid into any stains so that your space is ready to use again sooner.

    Tips:

    • Whatever you do, before you start, sweep and vacuum the floor thoroughly before getting underway. If you don’t, you will just end up with a bit of a muddy mess.
    • While all these methods are safe, always test a new cleaner on a small, inconspicuous section of the floor first. That way you know what the results will be before you jump in and do the whole thing.

    In addition, here’s a helpful video you can check out on general linoleum maintenance cleaning and how to restore neglected linoleum using rubbing alcohol:

    DIY Cleaning Solutions

    For those who want to make their own cleaning solutions, here are what we can recommend: 

    Dish Soap, Vinegar, And Baking Soda

    There are several variations of this solution. Some call for added ingredients like peroxide or rubbing alcohol. While those may work for spot cleaning, they can leave behind dull spots or cause your linoleum to crack. If the smell of distilled vinegar wrinkles your nose, try using the apple cider variation.

    1. To start,  dissolve ¼ cup of baking soda in two gallons of warm water before adding ¼ cup of vinegar and 1 tablespoon dish soap. Stir the ingredients, making sure all lumps dissolve.
    2. Apply the solution on your floor using a microfiber mop, cloth, or scrub brush.
    3. Use warm water and a damp tile mop to go over the area one more time, working the mixture into any cracks or crevices. Rinse your mop and do a final pass over the floor.

    Let the floor dry at least 10 minutes before walking on it. Any leftover odor from the vinegar will dissipate within a half-hour. 

    Borax and Water

    Here’s another two-step concoction that leaves out the vinegar. This time we’re using Borax. Known in cleaning circles as the go-to deodorizer, Borax has been around since 1891.

    Use caution when working with this product, as it is harmful when absorbed or ingested. To prevent accidental exposure, be sure to store it away from pets and children. With that in mind, let’s proceed.

    1. Mix two tablespoons of Borax powder into a gallon of warm water. Use your mop to stir the mixture, making sure the powder dissolves. Wring the mop out to prevent flooding your linoleum.
    2. Wash your floors as usual, applying gentle pressure to soiled areas. When you’re done, rinse with warm water to prevent streaks.

    As a bonus, Borax naturally repels pests. So, if you’re fighting the annual ant battle on your bathroom or kitchen floors or elsewhere in the house, consider yourself ahead of the game.

    Castile Soap and Water

    Our final homemade contender is vinegar’s toughest competitor, castile soap. It’s odor-free and made from vegetables but isn’t entirely green. While castile soap is less hazardous than most cleaners, you should be aware of the health warnings.

    To use a castile soap solution, follow these steps:

    1. If you’ve got your bottle handy, go ahead and pour 2 tablespoons of castile soap into a bucket of warm water. Dip your mop into the bucket and stir slowly to avoid a sudsy mess. Using a well-wrung mop, apply the mixture to your floors.
    2. Work the cleaner into the floor and allow time for the soap to penetrate. Once the linoleum is clean, rinse out the bucket and wipe the floor with clean water. Take your time rinsing; castile soap can leave behind a filmy residue.

    After two rinses, your floors will sparkle.

    What Not To Do When Cleaning Linoleum Floors

    “High-pH or high-alkalinity strippers and cleaners can damage linoleum floors. In fact, frequent use can not only impact the look of the floor, but can also cause cracking, shrinking, and even discoloration.”

    International Sanitary Supply Association
    • Avoid ammonia-based cleaners – Ammonia-based cleaners conflict with the pH balance of linoleum. They may remove dirt, but they are also likely to damage the flooring underneath. This is why a pet accident left unattended can cause major damage to your floor, as it is strong in ammonia.
    • Don’t use highly acidic and abrasive cleaners – These cleansing agents can strip the linoleum’s finish. 
    • Don’t just use any steam cleaner – Steam cleaning can also cause serious water damage to your linoleum floors. Always check your manufacturer’s guidelines to see whether your particular brand of linoleum is safe to steam clean. Be aware that the manufacturer may void your warranty if you steam clean your floors against their guidance.

    7 Preventive Linoleum Floor Care Tips: Dos and Don’ts

    1. Use doormats and rugs to prevent dirt from scratching and dulling your flooring’s finish.
    2. Use felt protector pads on your furniture.
    3. Keep your flooring exposed to adequate sunlight to prevent your floor from yellowing.
    4. Don’t use latex or rubber-backed rugs. While it is a good idea to use rugs and pads to protect your floors, make sure you do not use latex or rubber-backed options, as they will likely stain the floor. Choose colorfast rugs with natural backings.
    5. Keep your pets’ nails trimmed.
    6. Avoid wearing sporting shoes or spiked heels as they can damage your flooring.
    7. Avoid heavy scrubbing on your floor as much as possible.

    Expert Linoleum Floor Cleaning Advice

    Expert Linoleum Flooring Cleaning Advice

    Doing regular cleaning is great to maintain your linoleum floor, but there are times when you will need to do deeper cleaning for more serious problems like stains. So, here are more professional tips that we can give you:

    How To Remove Stains, Spills, and Scuffs From Linoleum Floors

    • Buff out stains with a nylon brush – The pigments on linoleum tend to go all the way through, which means you can buff out stains by removing layers of the linoleum with a nylon brush. You may want to polish the area afterward to give it a shine.
    • Use WD-40 or baby oil for tougher scuffs – You can also apply some WD-40 or baby oil to remove ugly discolorations.
    • Use a tennis ball rub off black scuff marks.
    • Use the dish soap, vinegar, and baking soda solution we have mentioned before.
    • Remove foot scuffs with baking soda – If you find yourself dealing with the kind of black scuff marks that shoes can leave behind on floors, treat them with a paste of baking soda and water.
    • You can also use the Borax solution alone or combine with other cleaners such as dish soap and vinegar to remove tough stains.
    • Add a few drops or water to a Magic Eraser to remove difficult scuffs and stains like coffee and tea stains. This also seems to work on “dimpled” linoleum floors.

    Tips:

    • Spot clean spills immediately to prevent stains.
    • Make sure you rinse the area after cleaning and dry it completely before allowing foot traffic.

    Specialty Linoleum Floor Cleaning Advice

    How to Deep Clean Linoleum Floors1. Sweep/vacuum your floor to remove debris.
    2. Sprinkle baking soda on your floor.
    3. Mix one ½ cup of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap with one gallon of warm water. You can also add lemon juice if you don’t like the smell of the vinegar.
    4. Mop, rinse, and dry your floor.

    If you are looking for ways on how to clean old linoleum floors with ground in dirt, the steps above are also effective.
    How to Clean a Linoleum Floor That Is Yellowed1. Clean your flooring by sweeping and mopping it as we discussed previously.
    2. Mix two parts of lemon juice with one part of baking soda.
    3. Apply the paste on the yellowed areas using a soft-bristled brush.
    4.Leave for 35 to 45 minutes.
    5. Scrub the area to remove tough stains.
    6. Rinse your floor and dry it.

    Take note that yellowed linoleum floor (also called “ambering”) can be caused by the lack of sunlight.
    How to Clean Grease off Linoleum Floor1. Mix one tablespoon of dish soap, ½ cup of white vinegar, and one gallon of warm water in a bucket.
    2.Dip a sponge or cloth into the solution and wring it out.
    3. Remove the grease using the sponge/cloth.
    4. Rinse the sponge/cloth in the solution often.
    How to Clean Linoleum Floors With Hydrogen Peroxide1. Sweep or vacuum your floor to remove dirt and debris.
    2. Mix one cup of 35% hydrogen peroxide with one gallon of water.
    3. Use a slightly damp microfiber cloth or mop dipped in the solution to clean your floor.
    4. Dry your floor using a clean rag.

    Note: Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with bleach or vinegar to avoid disastrous reactions.
    How to Strip and Rewax Linoleum FloorsAs well as regular cleaning, linoleum floors should be stripped and re-waxed at least once a year. This basically means removing the waxy shine layer and applying a fresh coat. 

    1. You can use either a commercial floor wax stripper, or you can make your own by mixing together a bucket of warm water with one cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda.
    2. Coat the floor in the solution and leave it for five to 10 minutes to soak in. Work on small areas at a time.
    3. Scrub the floor to fully remove the existing wax using a scrubbing brush. Do not scrub aggressively as this will damage your floor.
    4. Dry the floor using a mop or cloth and leave to dry completely before proceeding to the waxing stage.
    5. Apply a water-based or polymeric-type floor finish evenly to the floor using a terry cloth towel.
    6. Apply one layer and allow it to dry completely before applying a second layer. You may choose to apply a third layer, but decide once the second layer has dried. 

    Professional Linoleum Flooring Cleaning Service

    If you don’t want to do the cleaning on your own and want to stay on the safe side, consider hiring a professional floor cleaning company. They will do a great job in restoring harder to clean linoleum floors that DIY cleaning can’t fix. We can give you a free quote to match your budget.

    FAQs

    What Is The Best Cleaner For Linoleum Floors?

    Vinegar-based cleaners tend to be the best option for linoleum floors. But any cleaner that is mildly acidic should do the job. Plain old dish soap diluted in water is a popular and effective solution. Avoid alkaline-based cleaners, especially ammonia-based cleaners, as this can strip the finish from your linoleum floors and ruin them.


    How Do You Make Linoleum Floors Shine?

    To shine your floors, you can use either a cleaner that includes ingredients designed to leave behind a bit of shine, such as those we have recommended above, or you may want to polish your floors regularly using water-based or polymeric-type floor finishes.


    Is Bleach Safe For Linoleum?

    It is safe to use bleach on linoleum floors as long as it’s properly diluted with water and any residue is removed with an alternative cleaning agent, such as a vinegar cleaning agent, so no residue is left behind that can damage your floors. Mixing one gallon of water with ¼ cup of bleach would suffice.


    How Can You Tell The Difference Between Linoleum And Vinyl?

    If you aren’t sure whether you have linoleum or vinyl flooring, there are a few signs to look out for. On linoleum flooring, the pattern goes right through, while with vinyl, the pattern is limited to the top layer. If you can see areas where the design has worn through, you probably have vinyl. You can burn vinyl with a match, while linoleum won’t burn.

    Final Thoughts

    Keeping your linoleum floors clean doesn’t need to be difficult if you know what you are doing. It is a matter of finding the right cleaning products and knowing how to use them.

    Choose mildly acidic cleaning products such as those based on vinegar, that complement the natural pH of the linoleum. Use liquid cleaning products sparingly, as excessive moisture can damage the floor. Also, make sure to remove all moisture and cleaning product residue when you are done cleaning, to restore your floor to proper use as quickly as possible.

    Do you have linoleum floors at home? How do you care for them? Share your advice in the comments section below.

    About Maria Hernandez

    Senior Floor Critic, 25 years of experience in residential and commercial cleaning

    Maria Hernandez has 25 years of experience in residential and commercial janitorial and cleaning services. From hardwood to carpet to marble floors, Maria has developed a deep expertise in cleaning and maintaining many different flooring types. Visit Website.

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    16 thoughts on “How To Clean Linoleum Floors”

    1. You know what I’ve done? It works so don’t laugh 🙂 I use an iron… Yes and iron and a wet towel. Then iron over the wet towel and it pulls the dirt out of those crevices. I do this after I clean the floor thoroughly then I get down and do the iron in the wet towel it works. Time-consuming but it does work. 🙂 good luck

    2. The baking soda, vinegar recipe is like paste! Theres no way you can spray that. Is there something wrong with the amounts?

    3. Thanks for sharing this useful information. When linoleum floors are properly cleaned and taken care of, they can last nearly 50 years. Sweep, dust mop or vacuum your linoleum floor to remove excess dirt on the floor’s surface. Focus on collecting dirt from areas underneath cabinets, cupboards, and appliances. Thanks again and keep on sharing.

      1. My floor is white with dimples on it. The dimples turn gray and are almost impossible to get white. The floor is in good shape, but probably at least 15 – 20 years old. I have tried everything. The gray makes the floor look dirty, even when it is clean?

        1. My linoleum floors are white with dimples also. I wish I had a solution for you, but I have tried EVERYTHING. Solutions, both homemade and store bought, Bissel, Hoover, and other cleaning machines, all types of mops, everything. I spent the first month here on the floor on my hands and knees with a toothpick going from dimple to dimple to pop the dirt out, but gave up. Good luck. If you find a solution, please post it here.

        2. One of the houses I clean have the same type of flooring. The white floor looked like it was covered with blackheads. Google searches suggested vacuuming before cleaning. Tried it. Also tried several other things; sweeping, mopping, straight bleach, the list goes on.

          Here’s what works (discovered totally by dumb luck):
          *Remove loose dirt – however you’d
          like; sweep, vac, blower lol.
          *Swiffer wet mop – pull wet sheet
          out of container, attach to handle
          and mop floor (all or in sections).
          *Remove used wet sheet, fold in half
          (dirty side turned inward together),
          place on the floor and step on it.
          While applying pressure shuffle
          your foot back and forth. This
          scrubbing action can be done with
          your hands also, but Im lazy so the
          foot dance is fine for me.
          *Change as needed to continue
          cleaning. Can use fresh sheet to
          begin with under feet, I just try to
          stretch their life span. The Dry
          Sheets may be used instead, but
          must spray the floor or sheet itself.
          Can spray with cleaner, water, it
          really doesn’t matter.

          Recap:
          1) Sweep or vac floor,
          2) Swiffer mop floor,
          3) Shuffle around floor with “wet”
          sheets under feet.
          4) Be amazed!

        3. I have the same issue with my floor, struggled for years on my hand and knees cleaning it. I just recently bought a hand held pressurized steam cleaner off amazon. It comes with a scrub brush you put on the end. I spray my floor with a bleach, vinegar water solution and use the steam cleaner. I barely even have to apply any pressure and it cleans the floor in seconds. Will never go back to my hands and knees again. I highly recommend it.

      2. The magic eraser mop is the only thing that worked on the dimpled linoleum floor other than heavy steaming. I use the magic eraser mop (which only needs water) and then finish by spraying vinegar/water mixture and wiping with an old towel or paper towel.

    4. My painters left several areas with paint on my floors. It has been very difficult to remove. Any suggestions on the strongest cleaning solution for paints that won’t damage the floors?

      1. If minor, you may be able to your a paste wax to fill scratch, especially if you find a matching color. If large scratches, replace flooring or cover with a rug.

        1. Christopher Lively

          I put a hand sized bristle brush in a power drill, like a Dremmel, but much bigger. That did the trick though I haven’t tried baking soda. Vinigar and dawn solution.

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