How to Make Vinyl Floors Shine to Perfection
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
How long ago did you install your vinyl flooring? It’s common for them to lose their luster after a few years. They might become dull or slightly yellowed and require polishing to restore their former glory. It's time to learn how to make vinyl floors shine.
A fresh look to your old flooring brings more appeal to your home, catching the attention of guests, and buyers or tenants, if you’re selling your home or renting it out.
So, how do you polish the floors and make them look great? There are a few ways you can pull this off. This guide shows you how to make rolled or vinyl plank floors shine to perfection.
Top Tips for Maintaining & Cleaning Vinyl Floors
You only need a sponge mop and some all-purpose floor cleaner to clean your vinyl floors. We recommend going with a brand like Pine-Sol or Fabuloso to keep your floors clean and streak free. However, after a few years of regular cleaning, the flooring develops a dull look.
Every time you clean, you leave behind an ultra-thin layer of residue. While it’s only a few microns thick, this buildup worsens over time, leading to the dulling effect. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean the floors; it just gives you an idea of what to expect.
So, if your vinyl flooring doesn’t look as shiny as it used to, chances are it’s not the flooring panels losing their color. It’s just a slow accumulation of residue over the years that requires removal and re-polishing to restore the look of the vinyl.
Cleaning the vinyl flooring requires the use of a sponge mop. We like sponge types of mops because there is no chance of the sponge scratching the flooring. Whatever you do, do not use a steam mop on vinyl floors. And if you do have scratches, you'll want to go about fixing the scratches on your vinyl floors first, for which we have a guide for you right there.
Before you mop, sweep the floors clean of debris and dust. If you skip this part, the mopping gets harder. Mopping isn’t meant to remove the loose dust and debris; it removes the streaks and scuffs, leaving the floor as clean as possible.
You don’t have to buy a floor cleaning product like Pine-Sol to get great results from the mopping process. Using white spirit vinegar mixed with water also acts as a great cleaner. Some homeowners like to use diluted bleach to mop their floors, but we advise against it.
Bleach solutions tend to leave behind a light translucent white film that dulls the color of the vinyl. Under no circumstances should you ever mix vinegar and bleach together, nor bleach with products like Pine-Sol. This combination creates lethal chlorine gas. Chlorine gas will damage your sinuses and your respiratory system. Bleach and baking soda are okay together, though.
If you have any stubborn scuffs from moving furniture around, use a squirt of WD-40 on the affected area and buff it out with a soft cloth. Clean the area afterward with vinegar and water solution. If you want more antimicrobial protection for your flooring, substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar.
Baking soda is another effective natural cleaner for removing food stains, hair dye, or lipstick from the flooring. Create a paste with half a cup of baking soda and a bit of water. Rub the paste into the mark and leave it for a few minutes. The effervescent action of the baking soda lifts the stain.
How to Make Vinyl Floors Shine
Why does vinyl flooring lose its shine in the first place? Vinyl floorboards come treated with a specialized coating that fades over time. Eventually, it wears down, and the flooring starts to lose its shine. Fortunately, you can retreat the panels with a polish, restoring their color and shine.
Follow the steps in this guide to get your vinyl flooring back to new:
1) Choose Your Cleaning Solution
One of the reasons vinyl floors start to lose their luster is their exposure to the dust and dirt you drag into the house; over time, the buildup on the flooring begins to impact the color and shine of the floorboards. So, regular sweeping/vacuuming and mopping helps to remove the dust and grime causing the initial problem.
Clean your flooring using an all-purpose cleaner or a natural solution like the vinegar and water solution discussed earlier. Before you start polishing, you’ll need to ensure the floor is as clean as possible. After you finish sweeping or vacuuming, start mopping in one corner of the room and work your way back to the other corner.
Give the floors a few minutes to dry. Walking on them with shoes will leave dirt marks. You can always mop in socks, and you won’t have any issues, but your socks get wet, and you’ll need to take them off afterward.
2) Clean & Lubricate the Flooring Before Polishing
After you finish mopping and the floors are dry, use the WD-40 trick to remove any scuffs and stubborn stains. Or you can use the baking soda trick if you don’t have lubricating oil around. Ensure you wipe away the oil after removing the stain.
The hydrocarbons in the WD-40 will strip away the protective layer on the flooring. So, mix another bucket of vinegar and water and use it to wash away the oil after you finish. Proper flooring preparation before you start polishing is essential for the best results.
3) Choose Your Polish
This is the key step in how to make vinyl floors shine. You can buy a commercial flooring polish specifically designed for vinyl flooring for the task. Or you can make a DIY polish. While DIY polishes are effective, they aren’t going to be as effective as commercial-grade polish.
You have several options for polishes. Choose one that’s specifically designed for vinyl flooring. If you’re stuck on the right polish to use, check with a flooring company near you to see what they use. You can opt for a classic like Murphy’s Oil or find a newer concoction. When you have your polish, it’s time to get to work.
4) Apply Your Floor Polish & Buff the Flooring
If you’re polishing the floors, you can do it by hand or hire a polishing machine from a flooring company for the task. If you’re going with the hand-buffing strategy, we recommend applying it to the floor using a paint roller for even application.
Then, use a microfiber cloth to buff out the flooring. Buff in a circular motion, using light pressure until you get a shiny finish. While this strategy is effective, it’s going to take you some time to complete the polishing task. We recommend renting a floor polisher from a local provider near you.
Paint on the polish using your roller, and use the machine to bring it to a shiny finish. There’s a marked difference between doing the job by hand and using a machine. After you finish polishing, try not to walk on the surface for 24 hours to let the polish dry.
How to Prevent Damage to Your Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring is tough, but it’s not indestructible. If you have debris like sand on the floor and rough it into the flooring by turning it on when you’re wearing shoes, it’s going to leave a scratch. Similarly, moving around couches or coffee tables without lifting them might result in scuffs and scratches. Uneven flooring from installing vinyl over tile can cause parts to stick up and become scratched and worn.
To mitigate the chance of damage occurring, use silicone feet for your couch and coffee tables. These silicone sleeves ensure the sharp edges on the couch and coffee table feet don’t scratch the floors. Place mats or rugs in high-traffic areas like the lounge and entrances to the home to reduce premature wear.
FAQs Regarding How to Make Vinyl Plank Floors Shine
When you’re wanting to know how to make vinyl floors shine naturally, there’s always a bunch of other questions that arise. Let’s cover a bunch of those now.
How Do I Restore Yellowed Vinyl Flooring?
A combination of four cups of white spirit vinegar, half a cup of baking soda, and six cups of warm water is a great mix for cleaning vinyl flooring. The cleaning agent strips the yellowing away, leaving your floor looking clean and fresh.
Can I Use Dish Soap to Clean Vinyl Flooring?
Diluting a bit of dish soap into a bucket of water gives you a fantastic cleaning solution for your vinyl flooring. However, don’t use too much dish soap, or you’ll leave behind a sticky residue.
Can I Use Bleach to Clean Vinyl Flooring?
We don’t recommend you use bleach to clean vinyl flooring. While bleach is a powerful agent and a great antimicrobial, it leaves your home smelling sterile. It also leaves behind a white residue on the flooring, making it appear dull. We recommend avoiding ammonia-based products as well when cleaning the floors.
How Do I Clean Cloudy Vinyl Flooring?
Using diluted vinegar in your mopping solution, you can remove the cloudy look on your vinyl flooring. Add two cups of white vinegar to four cups of warm water. Dip a sponge mop into the solution and scrub the floor to remove the cloudy layer.
Key Takeaways for Making Vinyl Floors Shine
Let’s recap with a quick list summary of the main points above:
- Vinyl flooring loses its luster over time and becomes dull
- The flooring may develop a layer of residue, dulling its shine.
- Or the flooring might lose the treated layer over the years, leaving it looking dull
- Before you start polishing, ensure the flooring is clean and stain-free
- You can clean the flooring using a general all-purpose cleaning product or a natural agent like a mix of vinegar and warm water
- Remove hard stains using WD-40 or a mixture of baking soda and water.
- Polish the floor with a commercial-grade floor polish
- You can buff the floor out by hand or hire a commercial floor polishing machine for the task
- Leave the polish to dry for 24 hours before walking on the floor
Follow the procedure using the tips above and you’ll have a shiny vinyl floor again in no time.
That’s How to Make Vinyl Floors Shine
If I had to summarize this process, it’s really about giving the flooring a deep clean, really paying attention to details and using a lot of elbow grease. And then it’s about the polishing. This is what will bring back the luster and shine. Then you need to let it all dry for a full day. And that’s how to make vinyl floors shine.