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5 Reasons Why Vinyl Floors Are Sticky (Practical solutions)

Vinyl floors can be an excellent option if you are after a quality-looking finish without the cost. However, it seems that sticky vinyl floors are a common annoyance that plagues many of those who have it in their home.

Sticky vinyl flooring can have a variety of causes, from the adhesive to using the wrong chemicals to clean your floors. Each of these causes can be treated so that your floor can be in its best condition once again.

1. Excess Adhesive From Installation

After installation, if the vinyl flooring was installed with glue that you have to apply yourself, it is very likely that this excess glue can rise up in between the seams of your flooring and make your vinyl floors sticky.


The proper tools are needed to ensure that your floors are not damaged in any way.

What You’ll NeedAmazon link
Spray bottleView
Floor stripper*View
Acetone-based nail polish remover*View
*Either floor stripper or nail polish remover, not both

Applying the Stripper/Polish Remover

If you are using a floor stripper, be sure to read the directions thoroughly before using it.

Whatever stripping solution you choose can be placed in the spray bottle. If using a spray bottle, it is best to spray only a bit at a time to prevent any potential damage to your flooring. 

If you’d like to be even more cautious, it would be wise to spray your stripping solution on a cloth instead for more control.

Once you have either sprayed the area you’d like to clean or dabbed at it with a soaked cloth, the solution should be left to sit for a few minutes. The type of product you use may impact the time, inspect the label for soaking times.

 Removing the Glue

After the solution has been sitting for a couple of minutes, you should grab your scraper and begin to remove the glue. Be sure to not scrape vertically, since this can damage your floors.

Cleaning the Floor

After the glue has been removed from on top of your vinyl floors, it is important to mop the area since you don’t want harsh chemicals remaining on your floors, and also since there is bound to be dirt on the floors from the installation process.

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Be sure that there are no puddles on your flooring my dry-mopping your floors are drying with a towel.

Preventing It From Happening Again

This process can be avoided by installing vinyl flooring that uses a locking mechanism instead of glue or if you use flooring that has an adhesive back.

These types of flooring would ensure that you do not have to apply adhesive yourself, which can lead to adhesive leaking through to make your floors sticky.

2. Using Harsh/Incorrect Cleaning Chemicals

There is a common misconception that the harsher the cleaning chemical, the better your floor will look and feel. This isn’t exactly the truth, though, since strong basic cleaners may not clean your floors well.

A common rule of thumb is to use the opposite pH to clean a specific substance. For example, most dirt is basic(high pH), so using an acidic cleaner will work well to get rid of the dirt.

If you clean dirt with a basic cleaner, no matter how strong it is, the dirt won’t be cleaned as well and there will be a sticky residue afterward.

On the other hand, using a potent acid can eat away at the vinyl itself, making it feel sticky.

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It is important to know the alkalinity or acidity of your soil if your vinyl floors are sticky and you suspect that it has to do with the harsh cleaning chemicals you are using.

A soil test can be done with household products such as vinegar and baking soda. To test for alkalinity (how basic soil is), you should gather 2 tablespoons of soil and add a half cup of vinegar to it. If the soil fizzes with the added vinegar, your soil is alkaline.

In this case, it is best to utilize an acidic cleaning solution to combat the basicity. This will not leave sticky residue behind and you should notice a positive difference in how clean your floors are.

For testing acidity, gather another 2 tablespoons of soil and wet it with distilled water. Then add half a cup of baking soda. If this mixture fizzes, your soil is acidic.

In this scenario, it would be best to use a more basic cleaning solution to combat the acidity. As with the first scenario, there should be less sticky residue and your floors should appear cleaner.

Preventing It From Happening Again

To prevent this from happening again, be sure to consistently use a suitable floor cleaner for the acidity/basicity of the soil dirtying your floors.

The acidity and basicity of soil can change over the years, so if you find your floors becoming sticky once again, it may be useful to test your soil once again.

3. Insufficient Rinsing

Using chemicals can only go so far when you use dirty water or a dirty mop to apply them to your flooring.

If you find that, even after using the correct cleaning supplies for your vinyl floors, your floors are still sticky after mopping, there is a simple solution to this problem.

Since your mop is wrung into the bucket you are using to wet the mop, the dirt and debris the mop picks up is then transferred into the bucket.

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The water will become progressively more discolored and gross, and when this water is used to clean the floors, you are essentially making no progress with cleaning since you may be dirtying the floors even more.

Not only does the mop transfer dirt and debris into the bucket of water, but it also traps dirt and debris in its fibers. This is is their function, to pick up filth, but as more and more filth is picked up by the mop, the mop then can transfer this onto already-dirty flooring.

At that point, you are unfortunately not cleaning the floors, but pushing dirt and soapy water around.


Be sure to rinse both the mop you are using with clean water as well as to change the water as soon as you see it becoming dirty or if debris has started to accumulate.

A mop has been properly rinsed and cleaned when the water running from it runs clear.

It is a good idea to go over already-mopped floors with a new bucket of clean water as a once-over. This should ensure that your floors are no longer sticky.

Preventing It From Happening Again

To make sure that your vinyl flooring remains clean and not sticky, it is important to keep using these steps while cleaning. Rinsing the mop as well as replacing the water every time the floors are cleaned should prevent further stickiness.

4. Employing Heat Cleaning Techniques

Because of the glue used in vinyl flooring, heating vinyl floors can melt the glue, which can come with a variety of problems.

This now-liquid glue can escape through the seams of the floor and cause stickiness. Warmed glue can also cause warping, bending, slipping, or loosening of individual boards of vinyl flooring.

Shark S1000 Steam Mop, White/Seafoam

Similarly, if you have underfloor heating and it is set too high, then this heat can melt the glue. So, while underfloor heating is very efficient and desirable, keep it to the recommended temperature for vinyl.


When using heated cleaning techniques, it is important to have the heat on the lowest setting.

Your technique while mopping or steaming is also important. Be sure to use quick strokes while going over your floors. Holding it over one area for an extended period of time will make it more likely for the glue to melt.

If you must stop mopping or steaming to pause and do something else, be sure to turn it off if you are leaving it on your flooring or take it off the floor.

Preventing It From Happening Again

It would be safest for your floors to not use heating techniques for cleaning, but if you are set on using heated appliances, be sure to follow the above recommendations to prevent stickiness of warping of your floors.

5. Not Keeping up With Waxing

Waxing vinyl floors can solve the problem of stickiness since waxing is pretty much adding a new and clean layer on top of your flooring. If done correctly, this new, thin layer will be much more attractive than the floor beneath and also less sticky.


The only way to resolve this would be to wax your flooring, and this article will go over the process briefly for your convenience.

  • The floors must first be cleared of all objects, including tables, chairs, and anything else on the floors.
  • The floors must then be cleaned with warm water and a vinyl floor-specific cleaner (amazon link). Make sure to wring the mop so as to not use too much water, and also make sure to let the floors air dry.
  • Read the directions for your wax. Mix the wax in the bucket as stated in the directions and then place the mixture in the wax tray.
  • Make sure to brush the wax on as straight and evenly as you can.
  • With waxing, less is more. Applying too much can lead to problems and is more expensive.
  • Consult the directions again for the needed dry time and make sure no one is stepping on the flooring and that furniture stays out of the room and is not moved back onto the floor.

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Preventing It From Happening Again

Waxing your vinyl flooring should be done when you see the previous layer starting to deteriorate or when about six months have gone by. For an added shine and luxurious look for your floors, keeping up with waxing is important.

Step-by-Step Cleaning for Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring has many benefits, including the fact that they are ideal for layering over uneven concrete. However, they are incredibly frustrating when sticky, so a good cleaning technique is imperative.

You should first make sure to sweep the floors before mopping. This lessens the cleaning burden of mopping quickly and efficiently.

This is an optional step. If you have an adhesive broom, the static pad will pick up most dirt that was left behind after sweeping. Be sure to change the pad and use a clean one if the pad, at any point in the process, becomes very discolored.

Using warm water and a vinyl floor cleaning product that is right for the type of dirt on your vinyl flooring, mop the floors.

It is important to use both clean water and a clean mop (be sure to rinse out the mop every so often). The most effective mop would be a sponge mop that has a built-in strainer.


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