How to Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring

Updated
Categories Hard Floors
Keep it clean, shiny and free from yellow stains.

Is your vinyl flooring discolored? Does it look dingy? We’re here to teach you how to clean discolored vinyl flooring. With these methods, you can restore it so it looks almost as good as new!

We’ll share six different methods, so you can choose the best one for you. Plus, we won’t leave you without a few tips on how to care for your vinyl flooring properly. We know you want it to last for as long as possible.

How to Clean Discolored Vinyl Floor With Baking Soda

  1. Mix baking soda with water to make a thick paste.
  2. Use a soft white cloth to rub the paste over stains, especially stubborn ones.
  3. Rub gently. The baking soda is abrasive so it will help to loosen and lift the stains.
  4. Wipe with a separate clean cloth to remove baking soda residue.


What Is Vinyl Flooring Made Of?

Vinyl flooring is made from a synthetic material: polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It has other compounds involved to change the color, flexibility, hardness and sheen.

The main element in vinyl flooring is vinyl sheet. Manufacturers suspend the vinyl in a liquid before rolling it into a thin layer. It’s then dried via heat and air so the sheet becomes tough and durable.

Then it’s cut into tiles, so people can use it as flooring. The synthetic makeup of vinyl flooring makes it durable, inexpensive and easy to clean.

What Causes Discolored Vinyl Flooring?

General stains can lead to discoloration on vinyl flooring. This includes:

  • Adhesive stains: The adhesive from underneath the tiles is coming through and creating a stained appearance on the floors.
  • Moisture: Moisture from either underneath or on top can cause discolored stains. Vinyl flooring is water-resistant but not waterproof. So if exposed to moisture for long periods of time, it can stain.
  • Liquid: Spills from liquids, such as juice, water, and milk, can cause stains on vinyl flooring. Water can stain if left for too long, and sugary drinks are harder to clean up once they’ve dried. Always clean spills right away.
  • Food: Many foods leave behind stubborn stains, especially things like tomatoes or fruit spills. Clean these up right away.
  • Makeup: Makeup can stain floors if not cleaned up immediately.
  • Crayons and markers: Crayons and markers are tough to clean if left for too long.

What Causes Yellow Stains on Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring ages over time, so a yellow discoloration is expected after a few years. If you maintain the floors, though, this shouldn’t be a noticeable issue. To prevent yellow stains, here are the main thing you should avoid:

  • Bleach and harsh chemicals: These substances can damage and discolor the floor.
  • Heat: When cleaning vinyl floors, don’t use hot water or a steam cleaner.
  • Direct sunlight: If you get a lot of bright light in your home, or have large windows, vinyl flooring may not be the best choice for you.
  • Rubber rugs: Rubber rugs can ruin the vinyl tile color as it agitates the floor.
  • Dirt: Always take your shoes off before stepping onto vinyl flooring. The dirt, gravel and chemicals from asphalt irritate the vinyl and over time, will cause discoloration.

How to Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring

Let’s jump into our favorite ways to clean discolored vinyl flooring, so you can say goodbye to stains forever.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural vinyl floor cleaner, and it’s probably already in your cupboard.

  1. Mix baking soda with water to make a thick paste.
  2. Use a soft white cloth to rub the paste over stains, especially stubborn ones.
  3. Rub gently. The baking soda is abrasive so it will help to loosen and lift the stains.
  4. Wipe with a separate clean cloth to remove baking soda residue.

Prevent Water Damage

Don’t soak the floor and dry it thoroughly afterwards.

Lemon

Before you toss out those old lemons, put them to good use around the house! They can definitely help with vinyl discoloration.

  1. Wipe away as much of the stain or discoloration as possible with a clean damp cloth.
  2. Cut a lemon in half. Rub one half of the lemon directly on the stain. Repeat with the other half as needed.
  3. Wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove lemon residue.
  4. Dry with a separate cloth.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is especially good for ink and makeup stains.

  1. Dip a clean white cloth into rubbing alcohol.
  2. Rub it over the stained or discolored area. The alcohol will lift the stain.
  3. Repeat until the stains are gone.

Dish Soap

Mixing together dish soap and water is a good way to clean your vinyl floors when necessary. For a deeper clean, especially for embedded dirt, try this method:

  1. Mix one cup of apple cider vinegar with a gallon of warm water. The apple cider vinegar gently cleans the floors.
  2. Add one tablespoon of dish soap. The dish soap will lift and remove dirt.
  3. Use a mop with nylon scrub bristles as this can provide a deeper clean.
  4. Thoroughly dry the floor afterwards.

WD-40

WD-40 is a good way to remove scuffs. Test in an inconspicuous area before using.

  1. Place some WD-40 on a soft white cloth.
  2. Rub it over the scuff marks. Gently scrub in circular motions until they’re gone.
  3. If they don’t resolve, they’re probably scratch marks which can’t be removed.

Rejuvenate Vinyl Floor Cleaner

If you’d rather go with a product specifically designed for vinyl floors, we recommend Rejuvenate Vinyl Floor Cleaner.

This non-toxic cleaner removes dirt, grime and stains from harsh chemicals. It leaves behind no residue and will instantly make your floors look fresh again!

  1. Spray over the vinyl floors.
  2. Mop thoroughly.
  3. Dry afterwards.

How to Care for Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is pretty low-maintenance since it doesn’t need resealing or waxing, such as hardwood floors. However, we have some practical tips for maintaining and caring for your vinyl flooring.

  • Sweep often: We recommend keeping a soft bristled broom nearby for sweeping. If you can take a minute to sweep the floor every day, they’ll look better for much longer. The more dirt that’s on the floors, the easier it is to create scuff marks and discoloration.
  • Vacuum weekly: You can definitely vacuum vinyl floors. Just make sure not to use the carpet attachments as they can cause scratches in the floors.
  • Don’t mop often: Vinyl flooring is water-resistant but it’s not waterproof. So only mop when absolutely necessary. It can dull the vinyl finish and weaken the adhesive underneath. Always dry the floors thoroughly after you mop.
  • Preserve the finish: If you want to preserve the shiny finish on vinyl floors, your best bet is to use a specific vinyl cleaner, like the Rejuvenate Vinyl Floor Cleaner.
  • Don’t steam mop: Using intense heat can cause warping, bending and bubbling of your vinyl floors. Although steam mopping is a convenient and sanitary way to clean floors, it’s not suitable for vinyl.
  • The milder, the better: Harsh chemicals and bleach can cause damage to vinyl floors. The gentler and milder the cleaning solution, the better. It’s always a good idea to look for commercial floor cleaners which have been specifically designed for vinyl.
  • Rinse, rinse, rinse: If you have used a cleaning solution on your vinyl flooring, rinse it well. Leaving residue behind can cause discoloration and stains. Always rinse well, and dry thoroughly.
  • Protect the floors: Put protective feet on your furniture to prevent scuff and scratch marks. Heavy furniture can also dent the floors, so it’s important to take precautionary measures.
  • Don’t use abrasive scourers: You might think this is a good way to scrub away dirt and stains, but it can damage the floors. If you want to use something abrasive, baking soda is the best solution since it’s naturally slightly abrasive.
  • No rubber: Rubber can cause yellow discoloration on vinyl floors. So don’t choose rubber protective feet or rubber bottom rugs. This also includes rubber shoes.

Value Your Vinyl

Although it’s not an expensive flooring choice, it’s still important to care for it properly. That means cleaning it with mild solutions, rubbing the floors gently and never applying too much water.

Our favorite cleaning solutions including baking soda, dish soap or the Rejuvenate Vinyl Floor Cleaner. With these methods, and our top tips for maintaining vinyl, your floors will keep their good-as-new appearance.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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