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5 Causes of Sticky Linoleum Floors (And What To Do!)

There’s nothing worse than spending two hours cleaning your linoleum kitchen floor, only to realize it’s stickier than before. Linoleum is made with natural materials, making it prone to residue build-up. So, why are your linoleum floors sticky, and is there a way to prevent that?

Linoleum floors become sticky because they’re dirty, use of harsh cleaning products, too much wax build-up, the cleaning product isn’t rinsed away, or a mop that is old and dirty. Solutions include using the correct cleaning products, a new mop, and rinsing the linoleum with water.

In this article, I’ll go over the most common causes of sticky linoleum floors. I’ll also explain how to fix each problem so that you won’t repeat it in the future.

What causes linoleum floors to be sticky?

1. Your Linoleum Floor Is Dirty

Dust and dirt are the most common contaminants that end up on your floor. 

Although dust alone won’t cause much stickiness on its own, it can easily attach to water or oil molecules, resulting in the creation of a sticky residue (source).

Soda spills are the worst of all. They leave a super sticky residue that won’t disappear no matter how much you mop the floor.

If the sticky area of your linoleum floor is close to the stovetop, cooking oil is probably causing the stickiness – small droplets of cooking oil spray all over your kitchen when you’re frying something.

You can’t see these tiny droplets with the naked eye unless dust or grime is attached to them, though. So, the floor can look completely clean but feel sticky to the touch, leaving you baffled.

See Why Is My Floor Always Dirty? (Tile and Laminate Issues)

How To Fix

Cleaning your linoleum floor with hot water and a strong cleaning agent will take care of sticky residue and a dirty floor. It’s a good idea to let the hot water and cleaning product sit for 10-15 minutes before you start scrubbing the lino. 

We’ll talk more about what cleaning products to use in the next point.

Additionally, be careful with hot water, and try your hot water solution in a hidden spot first. Some linoleum types are sensitive to heat.

2. You’re Using the Wrong Linoleum Cleaning Products

With dozens of magical floor cleaning products on the market, it’s easy to buy the wrong one. Additionally, you never know what’s in them unless you read the label carefully.

Some ingredients used in floor cleaning products can make a horrible sticky mess on your lino. 

Furthermore, manufacturers don’t always take different floor types into account. Even if the label says “for linoleum floors,” it’s often a one-size-fits-all formula in the bottle. 

How To Fix

Hot or warm water should be your primary cleaning product. If possible, don’t use anything else to avoid leaving a sticky residue with cleaning products.

If the stickiness doesn’t go away, add a drop of dish soap to the water. 

Dish soap has a hydrophobic and hydrophilic end. The hydrophobic end attaches to the oil and the hydrophilic end to the water. This basically allows you to remove any grease from the linoleum (source).

If dish soap and hot water don’t do the job alone, add a tablespoon of baking soda. Baking soda makes dirt and oil dissolve in water. Most importantly, the tiny baking soda particles act as an abrasive that mechanically removes the contaminants (source).

Another great cleaning product is our trusty white vinegar. The acid in vinegar can dissolve any residue. Be careful, though – it can also damage the finish if you use too much of it.

Moreover, avoid using harsh cleaning products like acetone and hydrogen peroxide. These products will permanently destroy your linoleum.

3. The Cleaning Product Isn’t Rinsed Away Completely

Many off-the-shelf cleaning products for floors leave a messy residue for some reason. The soap in the cleaning agent doesn’t dissolve completely, leaving a chemical residue on your lino.

The problem worsens if the cleaning product contains wax and similar substances for a glossy finish. Also, keep in mind that unrinsed cleaning chemicals are very dangerous for your pets and can trigger allergies (source).

How To Fix

Always rinse your linoleum floors thoroughly. Even though the water and alcohol from the cleaning agent evaporate, other chemicals don’t.

Here’s how to correctly rinse your linoleum floor:

  1. Pour hot water into a cleaning bucket.
  2. Use a clean towel or sponge to remove the cleaning solution from the linoleum.
  3. Rinse the towel or sponge and repeat.
  4. Pour out the dirty water and clean the floor again using clean hot water.
  5. Use a clean towel to dry the floor.

Also, don’t let the product sit out for too long. It’ll be harder to rinse it out afterward.

4. There’s Too Much Wax on the Linoleum

Linoleum has a glossy wax finish that protects it and gives it its signature shine. 

However, using too much wax on your linoleum leaves a greasy, sticky residue. The residue picks up a ton of dirt and makes the floor even grosser.

How To Fix

Use dish soap and hot water to remove excess wax. 

If that doesn’t work, use rubbing alcohol. It’ll dissolve the wax with ease without damaging your lino. Furthermore, when cleaning your floors in the future, only apply a very thin layer of wax.

5. You’re Using an Old or Dirty Mop To Wipe Your Floor

Look, we’ve all been there. I have half a dozen different mops around the house, and none of them are new.

You can’t expect a dirty mop to clean something. You can see the irony in there.

Once a mop gets a grease stain on it, it’s very difficult to clean it. A bad stain can cause you to retire your mop prematurely. It’s often much easier to just get a new mop head.

How To Fix

Use a new and clean mop or towel when cleaning your linoleum floors. You should ideally replace your mop head every 2-3 months.

You could also consider an upgrade to a steam mop while at it. Steam mops are perfect for linoleum floors when combined with the right cleaning products.

Final Thoughts

Your linoleum floor gets sticky over time because of a build-up of wax, dirt, grime, oil, and other sticky substances. 

Most off-the-shelf cleaning products can remove all of that. However, they often leave a chemical residue themselves. When cleaning these residues, rinsing them away with warm water usually does the trick.

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