What Products Will Clean a Dirty Old Kitchen Floor?

Use a cleaning solution to remove dirt from kitchen floors.
Use a cleaning solution to remove dirt from kitchen floors. (Image: glass cleaner image by Randy McKown from Fotolia.com)

Kitchen floors are soiled by dirt, dust, oils and other substances. Water will remove dirt, dust and many others substances, but oils and other compounds need chemical solvents to be removed. Alcohols, ammonia, detergents and peroxides will remove a lot of grime from kitchen floors, but sometimes it is necessary to just remove the appearance of dirt. In this case, bleach or peroxide will get rid of colors. Remember, never mix bleach and ammonia.

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Detergents and soaps work in the same way. They serve as a phase-transfer catalyst, meaning they allow nonpolar (oil-soluble) substances to be soluble in polar (water-soluble) solvents and the other way around. What this means for your kitchen floor is that oils, grease, fats, waxes and other nonpolar substances can be cleaned using water and soap or detergent. Soapy water is used to dissolve and pick up the grease, and then a clean water rinse will remove any remaining residue. Any dishwashing liquid contains detergents.


Ammonia's cleaning action is very similar to soaps or detergents. It is nearly identical, except for two additional steps. Ammonia, when mixed with water, forms ammonium hydroxide. Ammonium hydroxide is a base that turns fats and oils into soaps, making them soluble in water. Ammonia is toxic to humans and should not be inhaled. Use in a well ventilated area and keep away from children and pets.


Cleaning with alcohol is not a process that uses any special chemical reactions. Alcohol simply works as a solvent. It is soluble in both polar (water-soluble) and nonpolar (oil-soluble) substances and acts as a phase-transfer catalyst. Many cleaning products contain alcohol. It's not safe to use around children and pets.


Vinegar is a diluted form of acetic acid. Acetic acid, like many acids, is good at breaking down and removing mineral deposits like calcium or lime. It has an extremely long shelf life and comes in multiple varieties. Different vinegars have different odors and may influence which one you want to clean with. Vinegar may smell, but it's safe enough to use around children and pets.


When all other methods of cleaning fail, peroxide can at least make the problem seem to disappear. Peroxides work by breaking down some chemical compounds. This reaction can make colors in stains vanish and odors from contaminants disappear. Products that contain peroxides can be used to clean the kitchen floor and more. Peroxides are relatively safe to use, but it doesn't hurt to limit exposure.


  • "Consumer Reports How to Clean and Care for Practically Anything"; Consumer Reports; 2002
  • "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House"; Cheryl Mendelson; Scribner; 1999
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