Getting GROUND IN Dirt Out of Vinyl Flooring

cleaning vinyl flooring As usual, when I post another crazy cleaning tip I have to wonder how many people will think I’ve completely lost my mind! :-)  Well, if you haven’t thought that before….this post may just convince you otherwise.

But here goes….because CRAZY or not…it works!:-)

So here’s a question for you…..take a look at this picture. Does this look like a floor that has JUST been swept and mopped? Of course not! Look at all the dirt that is still “polka-dotting” the floor!

Well, believe it or not…this picture WAS taken right AFTER I had swept and mopped! That dirt you see is dirt that is SO imbedded into the indentations and crevices of the design that it is IMPOSSIBLE to get out. I have tried everything! Well, everything short of setting it on fire! :-)  THAT would probably take care of the problem!

I had long ago given up on ever getting that ground in dirt out. I just sweep and mop regularly (while daydreaming of my future hardwood floors) and TRY not to notice it too much.  Well that is IMPOSSIBLE as well.  It just drives me crazy!

If you have been reading my blog for awhile…you might remember this post from last month:

Homemade Carpet Stain Remover…NO Scrubbing Needed!

cleaning vinyl flooring
If you HAVEN’T read it before….QUICK….click on over there!  There is some GOOD info! :-)

I was so impressed by this technique…that it got me thinking about my kitchen floor. This couldn’t possibly work on vinyl flooring! Could it??????? hmmmmm. I couldn’t think of a good enough reason NOT to try it. (Except for the embarrassment of being caught sitting on the floor “ironing” my kitchen floor!)

So I did. And well, once again, the pictures speak for themselves!

cleaning vinyl flooring

Yes, believe it or not, I spent probably an hour or so IRONING MY FLOOR!  If that doesn’t scream NUT JOB….I don’t know what does. lol.  But despite the hubster and kids shaking their heads at “crazy mom” doin her “thing” again….it was *I* who had the LAST LAUGH! hahahahaha. I finally conquered the the IMPOSSIBLE dirt imbedded into my kitchen floors!

The pictures below kind of tell the tale of how I did it.  But I basically did exactly what I did in the previous post about getting stains out of carpet…although I soaked a towel in the ammonia mixture before I put it down on the dirty area. I didn’t bother with spraying.  Just make sure the towel is nice and wet. Then put your iron down on the towel and let the power of the ammonia and HOT steam do its MAGIC!

cleaning vinyl flooring

Try and keep the iron ON the towel and not on the vinyl. :-)
I had the iron set on its highest heat setting and ironing on top of just
one thickness of towel.  No burns, discoloration, nothing. Just clean!
cleaning vinyl flooring
This picture shows how the “dots” of ground in dirt are actually
stuck to the towel after going over it with the iron! (Kind of looks like pepper.)
At this point you can see there is still ground in dirt in the flooring…but the ammonia
mixture and the steam from the iron have softened it so much that all I
had to do was rub the rest of the dirt off with the rag.
cleaning vinyl flooring
I worked in sections as I went from left to right in front of both my
sink and my main island countertop area…the worst areas of the kitchen!
cleaning vinyl flooring
Here’s what it looked like as I made progress.
Left hand side, done…right hand side, not done.
cleaning vinyl flooring
A little more progress. It’s hard to believe the difference!
I’m not exactly sure how many people suffer from this ground in dirt dilemma…but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. If you have this problem and have given up (like I did)…I HIGHLY RECOMMEND trying this! Just be prepared for the incredulous looks and confused stares of those in your household who see you sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with your steam iron! ;-)


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  1. Joyce says

    try using scrubbing bubbles on the floor, it will lift the dirt (specks) right out. then mop

  2. spiffygal says

    I spent the better part of my morning working this “magic” on the carpet in my basement. the areas around the stains are pristine, but the stains remain. maybe it’s because my carpet is so darn light? the only spot it worked on was the recent accident my dog had while we were away. I’m not sure what I could have done differently. the stains were mostly from drinks that have been spilled by the kids. little dots of this or that and then larger areas. Very sad :(

  3. CeeJay says

    Great way to coax the dirt out of the crevices in the vinyl flooring.

    Ironically, some of these problems were caused by attempts to clean the floor. The new ‘wet pad’ type of floor mops are often the cause. The spots and drips on the floor are diluted by the wet mop and spread evenly over the entire floor. The dirt settles to the bottom of the floor texture, the water evaporates leaving a growing ‘puddle’ of dirt in each and every tiny depression. Mop every week and you soon have quite an accumulation of dirt in the floor texture. Traditional mops that were occasionally rinsed out in clean water didn’t tend to just “dilute and deposit”. I guess some new improved products are not truly a step forward.

    • Mama T says

      I agree! I hate the spray and mop type floor tools. I prefer a mop and a bucket, or scrubbing on my hands and knees, and then drying with a towel.

    • says

      I always use a sponge mop & bucket and my kitchen floor (and bathroom to some extent) have dirt spots in the texture. I’m not crazy about using ammonia – I don’t want to asphyxiate my family or pets! Ammonia is pretty nasty. Maybe I’ll try the Scrubbing Bubbles suggestion above and keep the cats away.

  4. Anonymous says

    Same issue but I used salt(from the can)baking soda and hot water(almost boiling)then some elbow grease.

  5. Brenna says

    Oh. My. Goodness! I've been fighting the dirt in these awful laminate floors for 2 1/2 years. I tried this and the dirt is GONE. Unfortunately, I'm 9 months pregnant and the ammonia is too strong for me so I'm going to have to get someone else to finish my floors for me. But WOW! Thank you so much for this tip!

    • Joyce says

      spray scrubbing bubbles on the laminate floor, let it sit for about 20 min and mop up. I used to do this on an old bathroom floor and it sparkled.

      • Athena says

        I used your tip for the Scrubbing bubbles…. I left it for 20 minutes then we used a scrubbie and it was a miracle! 10 years of ground in dirt was gone. It looks like we bought new floors. I can’t believe it was that simple!

      • says

        So pleased to read that tihngs are working out well for you, I hope everything carries on going to plan and you can get tihngs back to normal. Hugs Sally xx

  6. Catherine's not naturally crafty says

    Ginger – don't know if it's too late or not but, straight fabric softener wil usually take off any wall paper. Mine in the kitchen was the same way, applied to unprimed drywall!?! Honestly some tradespeople have no pride. Anyway, mop on the fabric softener, cheap is better, let soak and pull off. If the top layer is vinyl, it may come off first and then you can soak the paper layer underneath. Just keep at it patiently like peeling an onion and it will all come off. The wipe down the wall well, let dry and then prime the heck out of it before you paper or paint. Take your time and don't try to rush it you you may end up with drywall paper coming off. You can try one of the pricking tools but I didn't think they helped that much.

  7. Charlene says

    ha-ha! When I was a young thing living in off campus housing, our bathroom floor was this red brick lino style, with lots and lots of grooves holding lots and lots of dirt. I flooded portions of the floor with water, sprinkled in Comet, scrubbed, let it sit, then mopped it up. Worked like a charm, but I'm sure the Comet scratched up the floor some.

    I would be curious if I had a steam shark if pouring some ammonia on the floor then hitting it with steam might do the same as the iron. Probably better for knees…

    • Shannon says

      I was wondering the same thing! My apartment floor never looks clean because of all the little crevices the dirt goes into. I have a steam mop but it still doesn’t get the dirt out. Maybe using the ammonia with the shark steam mop it would work better.

  8. Sheila says

    A little late to the party here but just wanted to add something. The "ingredient" that is really doing the work is the ammonia. Back in the early '90s, my college roommate/best friend bought an old bungalow style house from its original owner — the lady was then in her 80's+ and I'm sure wasn't feeling up to cleaning much. The kitchen and bathroom had an ages old linoleum flooring with deep, vertical grooves. We tried commercial product available to get those grungy floors clean. My roomie's parents said to use ammonia on it (so cheap!) so we went to town. This floor was in BAD shape w/ caked in dirt over at least 20+ years. We took it in sections, doused areas in ammonia — with all the windows open, cuz it's nasty! — and let it set for 20 minutes or so. Then we'd come back with a stiff scrub brush and the dirt would come right out!!! It was SO easy! Ends up the linoleum was this super cool white/pink/green with flecks of gold in it. Yeah, dated, but it was really pretty once it was cleaned up and the sun shone in on it. I'm sure your general cleaning projects wouldn't be quite so tedious, but the ammonia is great stuff for breaking down oils, grease, dirt, etc. Just be sure to work in a well-ventilated area. If the solution has to sit for longer than 5-10 minutes, make sure any pets are out of the area. :-)

    • Kim says

      Just an FYI to all those using ammonia on your floors…it will eventually wear down and crack your vinyl flooring. Also…depending on what type you have it will remove the shine, so be careful on how much you use, and your shine may be gone. But clean is better than dirty, I agree…Armstrong sells a product to add shine back.

  9. Anonymous says

    to Ginger—trying to remove wallpaper. I saw on a decorating/tip show once that you can take liquid fabric softener, wet a sponge or a wash cloth with it and rub it on the wallpaper. Do small sections at a time so the fabric softener doesn't dry and it is suppose to remove it. I have never tried it but a friend did and she said it worked like a charm. Something about the fabric softener softened the glue! Good luck.

  10. Ginger says

    I'd love it if you could discover an easier way to remove old wallpaper from walls. Our walls were wallpapered by the original owner and they did NOT prime the drywall before putting up the wallpaper. This has made it a NIGHTMARE getting the wallpaper off and I've already had to pay someone to re-mud and sand the drywall in one room because removing the wallpaper damaged the drywall. I've tried everything thinkable, even a wallpaper steamer. HELP! I'm about to start tackling the wallpaper in yet another room.

    • Michelle says

      I live in a very very old 3 family home. This apartment was horrible wall papering in almost every room, the other rooms were horrible paneling. I could not move in with t like that. I loved the bones of the apartment. Great size, tons of closets but everything was old old old.. The landlord said I could do what ever I wanted but I had to pay for it. I struggled and tried everything to strip the walls and spent a fortune. One day I mentioned it to my dad who said to simply use apple cider vinegar. I found the trick to the vinegar was soaking the walls with it. I used a big sponge and really soaked the walls and then it had to sit for about 20 minutes. This made the paper fall off the walls. I wish I had taken pictures of the horrible time I had using the wall paper stripper and the fabric softener. Oh and make sure you score the paper because you really really want to get the paper wet

    • Kim Wright says

      I have found that Magic Erasers do the trick on my vinyl floors g r e a t. they also make the Magic Eraser mop and it would be a lot easier than spending an hour doing that. props on finding a trick to get rid of that though

      • Tiffany says

        I have also had success with the magic eraser on vinyl flooring. Not exactly fun to crawl around scrubbing…but it’s AMAZING when it’s done. I’ve tried using the swiffer with magic eraser “strip” and didn’t have near the same results. Oh well though, anything worth having (clean floors??) is worth working for, right??