Cleaning Tips For Linoleum Floors
Linoleum has been around for many years and has a growing market share. This flooring was first sold in England around 1864. This type floor is making a comeback and is being marketed as “anti-microbial” and “recyclable”. Both claims may or may not hold up under all conditions that you encounter. Hospitals and clinics are attracted to the anti-microbial claims but poor practices can destroy the floor if the customer requires it to be mopped with bleach or other harsh disinfectants. To differentiate from linoleum, it can also be referred to as Marmoleum or by other trade names such as Forbo. All of the warnings and guidance for the old linoleum apply to these new products since they are essentially the same in composition and sensitivity.
Linoleum is a compressed and heat-cured mixture of linseed oil, wood flour, and color pigments pressed on a burlap, felt or polyethylene mesh backing. Unfortunately, a sharp edge or point can cut through a sheet of linoleum causing the underside to be vulnerable to moisture and chemical damage. Linoleum is quiet to walk on, and resists shrinking, oils, and greases. It can be damaged by most acids, strong alkalis, natural and artificial lighting, disinfectants and even standing water. If you do not immediately remove the water you use to scrub it, linoleum will absorb the water and become soft resulting in a faded look. You should seal the pores of linoleum flooring to protect it against wear, to prevent it from absorbing water, and to keep dirt from sticking to its surface. It can be easily abraded and will deteriorate under chair wheels, dollies and other heavy weights especially if grit is present.
Daily dust and damp mopping on this type of floor is essential for longevity and appearance. Microfiber mops are a great alternative to traditional mops since they pick up soil but do not abrade the floor. Check with the installer for recommendations for the correct chemical and maintenance procedures since the warranty can be voided leaving you responsible for premature aging or poor appearance.
Only all-purpose neutral pH detergents should be used for daily care. The natural oils in linoleum are attacked by high pH products (over 10), especially strippers and degreasers. Surface attack, discoloration, and increased porosity are the result of over-stripping a linoleum floor. Stripping should be kept to a minimum with a mild scrub and re-coat instead. Do not flood linoleum as it will deteriorate after repeated exposure to excess water. Keep aggressive cleaning frequencies to a minimum, as over cleaning reduces the life of linoleum – especially harsh scrubbing pads. Because it is so porous, a seal layer (recommended by the installer/ manufacturer) can be used to protect the floor and help with resisting exposure to moisture.
Linoleum has challenges that can be dealt with successfully if best practices are followed. Your comments and questions are always welcome. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…..
Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.