Being durable and water-resistant are two reasons people like vinyl flooring in their homes, especially when they live in moisture-prone areas. Often confused with laminate flooring or linoleum, vinyl flooring is made up of layers of polyvinyl chloride resins, plasticizers, pigments, and trace stabilizers, along with a synthetic backing material, sandwiched together in a stack to form an affordable, practical, and very durable floor covering.
The term vinyl is often used to mean polyvinyl chloride plastic, more commonly known as PVC. With no natural materials in vinyl flooring, it is able to hold up in wetter or humid environments, unlike laminate floors which contain some amount of wood in their layers. Its durability is appealing to people with kids, pets, or both.
How might vinyl flooring impact your home sale?
Vinyl flooring may not sound as appealing as hardwood or marble, but it has its place in many homes, even higher-end homes now, thanks to more innovations in flooring over the decades. It comes in sheets, rolls, tiles (sometimes called luxury vinyl tiles or LTV), and planks in a wide variety of textures, colors, and styles.
The humble vinyl floor can have preconceived notions among home buyers despite its many positive qualities, so it’s advantageous to get them looking their best before listing your home for sale. It’s important to know what to do — and what not to do — before deep cleaning this type of flooring.
When floors are clean, it can convey a higher sense of value to buyers when they walk through your home. A dirty floor can leave a bad impression and be unappealing. When potential buyers see a dirty floor they may wonder what else may not be maintained in the house. A clean floor shows the home has been cared for and well-maintained.
Dingy or faded laminate floors that have been neglected or worn down over time can be made appealing enough to help sell your home with the help of a thorough cleaning. Buyers who have plans to make major renovations in the home may not mind dingy floors, especially if the floor style is due for an upgrade. It’s not hard to present the floors in their best light with a deep cleaning tailored to your specific material.
How is deep cleaning different from regular cleaning?
Regular cleaning includes the usual tasks: dusting, organizing clutter, wiping down surfaces, and clearing dirt and debris from floors to give the home a fresh feel and a brighter appearance.
Meanwhile, deep cleaning goes beyond surface appearances to remove dirt, grime, and scum in the house and focuses on sanitizing and disinfecting to help keep people in the environment healthy. Deep cleaning has longer staying power and more noticeable results, but it typically takes longer because it involves more detailed work.
Deep cleaning is also different from normal cleaning because it’s more intensive and not done as often. Regular cleaning might be performed once a week for the average household. Deep cleaning is applied less frequently — perhaps only a few times a year.
For this post, we consulted with Scott Johnston, the owner of Carpet Care of Carolinas in Raleigh, North Carolina, founded in 1970. Johnston has been involved in the family business his entire life and has become an expert on how to clean all types of floors, including vinyl surfaces.
He explains how to pay special attention to vinyl floors to keep them from discoloring, being gouged, or scratched. Floors that have been too enthusiastically scrubbed or neglected may require services like his to restore them beyond what the home DIYer can accomplish, or a professional may recommend replacing the floors entirely.
Before you pull out the cleaning tools, make sure you know how to give your vinyl flooring the special treatment it deserves to sparkle for years to come.
“Identify what type of floor you’re dealing with first, although there isn’t much difference in caring for vinyl floors and laminate floors,” Johnston says. “It’s a good idea to research and find out what type of floor you have because you can’t treat all floors the same, there are so many types of materials now.”
What you’ll need for deep cleaning vinyl floors
Before you begin cleaning your vinyl floors, gather the materials you’ll need for an easier cleaning session. Tools and products you’ll need to deep clean your vinyl floor include:
- Dry mop
- Clean, soft microfiber towels
- Wet mop
- Medium-sized bucket
- Water-based finish made for vinyl floors, such as Bona or Black Diamond
Steps for deep cleaning vinyl floors
Johnston recommends starting with the easiest steps first and building on it as needed. “Less is best when trying to clean flooring,” he says. “Always start with dry cleaning a floor, or if you have a good vacuum that won’t cause damage to the floor.”
Use dry methods
Step 1: Sweep up loose dirt and dust with a broom or vacuum.
Step 2: Use a microfiber dust mop to get smaller particles off the floor.
Introduce water only
Step 1: Clean off the microfiber or use a new one and wet the microfiber. Lightly work the microfiber over the floor to loosen any caked-in dust or dirt grime.
Step 2: Repeat with a wet microfiber cloth if needed.
Add cleaners as needed
Step 1: For more stubborn buildup, use a cleaner made specifically for your flooring’s finish to avoid causing buildup or damaging the finish.
Step 2: Scrub. “You can be more aggressive with them when deep cleaning,” says Johnston.
Step 3: Use water again to keep buildup from the cleaner from sticking to the floor.
Johnston doesn’t recommend much more than this for homeowners to keep their vinyl floors clean. “If you’re going through the steps above, a little muscle and a soft pad is what you want to use,” he says. “If you have a good finish, it’s impossible for dirt to get into or under the finish, it’s made to keep everything on top of the finish.”
The biggest mistake people make when cleaning vinyl floors
Vinyl floors can take more scrubbing enthusiasm when being cleaned than natural surfaces. But still, certain chemicals should never be used on floors. Bleach is the top no-no for floors. “Bleach is a terrible thing to ever clean with,” says Johnston. “It may help with certain issues [but] it can take the color out.”
Soapy cleaners are another big product to avoid. “It makes it much more difficult to get it off and will stick to your flooring, which attracts more dirt,” he says. “Most products people use to clean, the chemistry turns into a dirt magnet.” Look for water-based products by Bona, or other ones specifically recommended by the flooring manufacturer.
How to keep your vinyl floors protected day to day
Once you’ve cleaned your vinyl floors well following Johnston’s advice, you’ll want to keep them looking good from day to day. Luckily Johnston doesn’t recommend daily cleaning, especially for lower-traffic rooms. “If you have a room you’re never in, like a dining room, you don’t need to clean daily or even weekly,” he says. “For a main hallway or kitchen, it’s a good idea to go over it with a dry mop daily, then with a wet mop and no cleaning solution once or twice a week.”
How they build and install vinyl floors is how they will remain for the lifetime of the floor, Johnston advises. A dry or wet mop is generally all it takes to maintain a clean-looking vinyl floor. It can be a tough sell, but getting into a regular floor-cleaning routine will help keep floors looking nice, as it will cut down on the amount of dry particles that can damage the floor. You should not use cleaning products on your floors every time you clean, only when you do a deeper clean bi-monthly at most.
When it comes to vinyl floors, the key is routine
Johnston says that most people ruin their vinyl floors by letting particles scratch deep into the surface over time, and those kinds of deep gouges cannot be repaired without replacing the vinyl.
Cleaning the floors of your home — both a deep cleaning and regular cleaning — shows potential buyers that you value your home from top to bottom and have taken good care of it.
As you prepare your home for sale, try HomeLight’s free Home Value Estimator if you’re curious what it might be worth. In less than two minutes, you can see a ballpark home value estimate from the real world.
Find an experienced real estate agent who can help you prepare your home so it’s in top condition before you place it on the market. Use HomeLight’s free Agent Match platform to connect with an agent who knows the value of a clean, cared-for vinyl floor, and more.
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