If you’ve ever dealt with vinyl flooring — especially in an older home where the flooring has not been well cared for — you know the heartbreak of trying to clean it. Tiny grooves and crevices are the problem, especially along the baseboards and thresholds where stubborn dirt has built up over time and is now holding on for dear life.

But truth be told, vinyl flooring is not a thing of the past. It is alive and well, highly improved and quite lovely. In fact, some brands of vinyl have now entered the luxury lines of flooring.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring uses polyvinyl chloride (which is plastic) instead of high-density fiberboard for its core, which makes it 100% waterproof. LVP can handle major spills and floods. If you have new vinyl, old vinyl, grimy vinyl or shiny vinyl, it’s good to know how to care for it — what to do and what not to do. Here are some guidelines:

Preventing Dirt and Damage

Try minimizing dirt, stains and abrasions before they occur. Dirt and dust, over time, can wear down and degrade the finish on any type of flooring, including vinyl tile or laminate. That’s why it is always a good idea to locate a quality doormat or area rug in front of doorways so grit and grime stop there and are not tracked into the house.

Take It Easy

Never drag furniture across LVP, as that PVC material can tear quite easily. Make sure you lift that table, chair or other — don’t assume you can get away with dragging or sliding without good felt pads or other caution.

Cleaning Vinyl Flooring

Vacuum and mop the floor often with plain water to remove surface dirt, dust, hair and product buildup that happens in a bathroom. For weekly cleaning and disinfecting of vinyl flooring, use a mixture of plain white vinegar and water. The acidity helps remove dirt and grime without leaving a buildup of soap or wax.

This all-purpose recipe is ideal for vinyl flooring (finished hardwood, engineered hardwood and laminate, too). It requires no rinsing when used as follows.

— 1 part isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, 70% (91% is OK)

— 4 parts water

— 2 drops Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid

Example: 1/4 cup alcohol, 1 cup distilled water, 2 drops Blue Dawn. Or 1/2 cup alcohol, 2 cups distilled water, 4 drops Blue Dawn.

Mix this up in a spray bottle each time you clean the floors, or you can make it up ahead. No rinsing required. Be sure to label well and keep out of the reach of children. Use a damp mop to clean, rinsing the mop frequently with hot water.

Super Dirty, Stained Vinyl

This can be a problem, especially in older homes where dirt and grime have been allowed to build up over time, especially at doorways and along baseboards. The solution is Bar Keepers Friend cleanser, available with the household cleansers in your supermarket or online.

The folks at BKF have confirmed that Bar Keepers Friend is excellent for deep-cleaning vinyl because it is powerful but not abrasive. Work in a small area, wetting the floor and sprinkling BKF as you go, scrubbing and cleaning as necessary to remove ground-in dirt, and making sure to rinse very well before moving to another area.

What Not to Do

Do not use a “beater bar” attachment when vacuuming vinyl. This can damage the flooring surface.

Do not use highly abrasive scrubbers or steel wool.

Do not use detergents, abrasive cleaners, or “mop and shine” products, because these can leave a dull film on the floor.

Do not use paste wax or solvent-based polishes.

Do not use ammonia or ammonia-based cleaning solutions on vinyl flooring; these can break down the material and cause cracks in the flooring.

Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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