Cleaning Linoleum

by Charlotte Wood
(last updated February 20, 2009)

If you have an older house, chances are you have the extreme pleasure of dealing with the oh-so-stylish linoleum flooring. Linoleum flooring can be found in your kitchen, bathroom, and anywhere else the previous homeowner decided to put it. While linoleum may not be your first pick for flooring, if that is what you have, then you need to take care of it, regardless of the garishness of the design. While linoleum may not be your favorite, in order to make it look its best (even if its best isn't very stellar), then you need to maintain the linoleum floor and keep it clean.

Linoleum is very prone to dirt and oil and if you take a look at the bottom of your shoes, you'll easily see that it's no problem for all that dirt, grime, and miscellany to rub off of your shoes and onto the linoleum. Before you start actually washing the floor, you'll need to vacuum it well. Vacuum the main area of the linoleum, and then take a canister vacuum and vacuum out all the corners and nooks in the room to really make sure that you've cleared the floor and readied it for mopping.

When you mop linoleum, warm water will usually suffice; if you use soap or ammonia, or any extra additives, completely rinsing off of the floor entirely is difficult, resulting in the linoleum floor actually attracting more dirt and grime than it previously did. If your case needs more than just water, use a light soap like Ivory, so the suds and film is sure to wash off.

So, if you use some nice, hot water, then you should be good to go for cleaning. You can usually use a mop to clean the floor, if there aren't any bad stains or anything, but for anything more than the usual wear and tear of linoleum, you'll need to get down on your hands and knees to get it cleaned up. Use a sponge or wash cloth to fully wipe away spills, scuff marks, and any other stubborn stain. Let the linoleum air dry completely before replacing the furniture in the room.

If traditional washing doesn't do the trick for you, then you might have to resort to waxing your linoleum to get it sparkling clean. This will result in a bit of a workout, so make sure that you have the time and that you're ready for an afternoon of waxing fun. To strip the floor, you need to go section by section of the floor and pour on straight ammonia, scrubbing with a rag, and the letting the ammonia sit for 15 to 30 minutes. After that, scrub again with a nylon brush. Complete with every area of your floor, and then rinse with a half cup of vinegar per gallon of water.

You can then go ahead and apply the new wax to the floor. Good linoleum floor wax can be found at any home improvement store, and all you'll need to do is follow the directions on the package. The basics of floor waxing, however, are simple: You apply one coat of wax, let it dry and apply another coat. (And remember to not wash the towel you use to apply the wax in the washer; it's best if you just throw it away.)

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