Linoleum has superior wear resistance, but it also has a tendency to turn dull. The problem stems from the materials linoleum is manufactured from, which make the surface of the floor just porous enough to scatter much of the incident light. The best way to counteract this tendency is to clean and polish the floor regularly, buffing it to a glistening sheen with a floor buffer.
Linoleum has been around for 150 years, but it fell somewhat into disuse during the middle of the 20th century, in favor of vinyl, and staged a comeback toward the end of the century. Unlike vinyl, which is a synthetic plastic, linoleum is made from natural materials, including linseed oil, pine resin and pine dust. They combine to form a smooth, glossy surface, but it has the same tendency to dull as a linseed oil finish on wood. If you don't know whether your floor is vinyl or linoleum, look at the pattern -- it's printed or embossed on the surface of vinyl, whereas a linoleum pattern has more depth.
Before you take steps to shine your linoleum floor, you need to thoroughly clean it; if the floor is vinyl, you can use the same cleaning procedure. It's important to vacuum dirt, because dirt can turn to mud when you wash and get pushed into the surface's microscopic pores. If the existing wax finish has dulled, strip it with a wax stripper. Mopping with warm water will remove most dirt, but for a thorough cleaning, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray it on the floor before you mop. Standing water can damage linoleum, so dry the floor with a rag after mopping.
When it comes to shining your floor, it does make a difference whether it's vinyl or linoleum. Floor wax isn't recommended for vinyl floors, but it's a necessary part of the upkeep of a linoleum floor. You don't have to apply wax every time you clean, but you should re-wax every two to six months, depending on the amount of traffic on the floor. If you're washing the floor, but it isn't yet time for a new wax coat, try adding a little fabric softener to the rinse water when you mop. It has a magical ability to bring out the shine in linoleum.
When the time comes to re-wax the floor, use a liquid acrylic floor wax; paste wax won't harm the floor, but it won't make it shine, either. After waxing, you need one more procedure to get the floor sparkling, and that's to buff it with a floor buffer and a lambswool buffing disk. Once you get used to using a floor buffer, you'll find it easy to operate, and you can buff an average-sized kitchen or living room in less than 30 minutes. You can rent a floor buffer at any tool rental outlet.