Deep cleaning linoleum floors is an important part of maintaining the cleanliness of your home. It's important to keep in mind that there is true linoleum, and then there are other flooring materials that may be referred to as linoleum, but are really vinyl or laminate. Linoleum tile requires a specific stripping method, but it is something that any do-it-yourselfer can do that will increase your floor's durability and longevity.
Deep Cleaning Linoleum Floors
Linoleum floors are highly popular because they are durable, fairly harmless to the environment, last a long time and come in a variety of shades and patterns that make them a good fit for any sort of decor. Linoleum gets its name from linseed oil, which is the basis of the tiles. Linoleum sheets and tiles are dyed all the way through. This is in contrast to vinyl tiles, which are only dyed or patterned on the very top of the tile.
It is important to make a distinction between true linoleum and vinyl or laminate tiling before you begin the deep cleaning process. This is because linoleum tiles require a specific set of chemical agents to strip the floors. Those used on vinyl or laminate flooring can severely damage the floor, so it's important to know that you are using the right kind of chemicals for the floor you have.
If you are unsure, check by scratching the pattern on the tile in an inconspicuous area. If the pattern comes off, you are dealing with vinyl or another variety of tile. If the colors remain, you've got linoleum.
Preparing to Strip Linoleum Floors
Linoleum is often sealed with wax to protect the surface of the tile and create a polish and sheen. Unfortunately, years of waxing can cause a buildup that starts to look cloudy and dirty. Cleaning doesn't help, and additional coats of wax only make the problem worse. When this happens, stripping the wax from the surface of the linoleum is the only solution.
Unlike material like vinyl or laminate, stripping linoleum floors requires the use of chemicals that can be harsh. Be sure that you've got a well-ventilated area before you begin the process of stripping. To begin with, sweep up any debris and dust from the surface of the linoleum. There's no need to wet-mop because you're going to deep clean the tile, but getting any surface dirt off of the floor before you begin is a good idea.
Next, prepare the chemicals. Use whatever commercial linoleum floor stripping chemicals you have purchased. Be sure to carefully prepare it according to the instructions on the product. This will likely include diluting the linoleum floor stripper with water, which is a critical step.
Stripping Linoleum Floors
Once the floor is free of dust and grit, begin applying the linoleum floor stripper with an old mop dipped in the solution you've prepared. Apply the stripper to a portion of the floor only, like a 9-square-foot area of the floor. Once the solution begins to change color, you know it is time to remove it, as this is how the stripper works.
Following the instructions on the linoleum floor stripping chemicals, use a scrub brush to remove the stripping chemicals, as well as the polish and wax it has dislodged from the surface of the tile. Once it's been successfully removed, you should rinse that portion of the floor with soap and clean warm water.
Repeat this process over the surface of the entire floor until it is clean. Once you have successfully stripped the wax and removed the chemical agents, give the floor a final once over with warm clean water.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.