Linoleum sheets and tiles are one of the most popular and widely used flooring materials available. Linoleum is derived from linseed oil and is a durable, environmentally friendly and long-lasting material. Waxing regularly can keep linoleum looking shiny and clean, but over the years, waxing can build up causing the surface of the tile to look dull and dirty. Fortunately, some products can help you remove the wax by deep cleaning linoleum floors.
Deep Cleaning Linoleum Floors
Deep cleaning linoleum floors requires using a floor wax remover specially formulated for linoleum surfaces. Years of waxy buildup can coat linoleum floors, and it may seem that it's impossible to get them fully clean. Using baking soda, vinegar, commercial floor cleaners and Windex only add to the dull and dirty look of the linoleum floor.
Getting the linoleum floor deeply cleaned requires removing all of those layers of accumulated dirt and wax, effectively stripping the surface down to the linoleum itself before cleaning it. This is done with linoleum stripping chemicals. Many people who prefer to use nontoxic materials to clean their floor may find that they simply cannot achieve a fully clean floor. For this reason, you should remove wax buildup using dedicated commercial cleansers.
Prepare Linoleum Floors for Stripping
Stripping wax from linoleum floors is a time-consuming process, but it's important to do it in the proper order and with care, as the chemicals that can become toxic if not incorrectly. Begin by removing any furniture and floor coverings from the room. Next, open the windows and add a fan for ventilation.
To make the most of your floor wax remover, use a broom to sweep up any dirt, grit or debris that may have made its way into corners or onto the floor. A vacuum is unlikely to take care of everything, so use a soft-bristle broom to gather up any dust or dirt that remains. Once the floor is clear of dirt and debris, mix and dilute the linoleum wax-stripping chemicals according to the instructions on the bottle.
Using Linoleum Floor Wax Remover
Going over an area of about 3' x 3', apply the linoleum floor wax remover to the surface of the floor. Leave the floor wax removing chemicals on the surface of the floor for as long as the directions on the bottle label indicate. Once it is time to remove the wax-removing chemicals, do so according to manufacturer's instructions. Then, rinse the area with a damp mop dipped in warm, clear water.
Repeat the process above for the rest of the surface of the linoleum floor, making sure to keep a close eye on the time when you apply the floor-stripping chemicals. Leaving the linoleum stripping chemicals on the floor for too long can cause damage to the integrity of the floor. After completing the stripping of each section, it's critical to carefully clean off the wax-stripping chemicals.
Maintaining Linoleum Floors
Once you've successfully stripped the wax from your linoleum floors, and washed and dried them carefully, you will likely want to add another coat of wax or sealant to protect the floor's surface and give it a sheen. After adding the wax, be aware that you will not be able to clean underneath the wax again. Any other cleansers you apply to the top of the wax surface will meld with the wax and eventually build up.
Regardless of how diligent you are, you will likely need to strip and rewax your linoleum floors again. In the meantime, try to eliminate spills and staining by mopping up spills as soon as they occur. Remove ground-in dirt and dust by sweeping the surface of the floor regularly with a soft-bristled broom.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.