How To Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring

By
Harold K. Hardesty
Harold is a Flooring Specialist at TheHouseWire, educating people on the flooring by writing guides about the topic. He is a well-seasoned flooring specialist with experience in the industry for nine years.
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Updated July 31, 2021

Get rid of the old yellow stains easily

How To Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring

Do you notice that your vinyl flooring is discolored or has yellow stains? Does this mean that your vinyl floor is damaged and you need to replace it completely?

Not necessarily. Cleaning discolored vinyl flooring may be the solution.

In this article, I’ll share some tried and tested methods to clean the discolored vinyl flooring and make them spotless. I also added some maintenance tips so that you can avoid discoloration.

Let’s get started!

Why Vinyl Floors May Discolor?

Over the years, the vinyl floor can lose its original color. In some cases, it may be due to poor maintenance or exposure to direct sunlight. However, sometimes, other factors are involved too:

  • Underlying Adhesives: When installing vinyl tiles, you’ll apply an adhesive material at the bottom. Sometimes, this material seeps through and creates a stain on the upper surface of the tile. 
  • Liquid Spills: If you don’t attend to liquid spills immediately, they tend to settle on the vinyl floor. Beverages like juice and milk cause heavy staining. 
  • Moisture: Although the vinyl floor is water-resistant, the thinner sheets are not waterproof. Therefore, if water stands for too long on the surface, it can stain the material. 
  • Makeup: If you drop makeup on the floors, make sure to wipe it off right away. Otherwise, the pigment in makeup products leaves stubborn stains on the floor. 
  • Food Stains: Like liquid spills, some foods also stain the floors, especially if they have darker colors. Make sure you clean the food stains as soon as possible. 

Why Do Yellow Stains Appear on Vinyl Floors?

The common reason behind yellow discoloration on vinyl tile is years of use. With a few precautions and regular maintenance, you can keep the vinyl surface free of discoloration.

  • Steam: Do not use a steam cleaner on a vinyl floor since the surface isn’t heat-resistant.
  • Sunlight: Likewise, excessive exposure to sunlight can cause yellow discoloration. If you have a huge window or your house gets direct sunlight, opt for another kind of flooring.
  • Dirt: The vinyl floor is not meant to be walked on with shoes. The gravel and dirt on your feet can irritate the surface and discolor it with time.
  • Rubber: Like gravel, rubber is also not ideal for a vinyl floor. So, you shouldn’t put rubber mats in your home if you have vinyl flooring.
  • Harsh chemicals: Do not use bleaching agents or harsh chemicals on the floor as they lead to discoloration.

How to Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring Using Homemade Cleaners?

Since vinyl flooring cannot withstand harsh chemicals, I’ve discussed easy homemade recipes for cleaning solutions in this section.

1.Baking Soda and Water

For this method, you only need two cleaning products: Baking soda(1) and water.

  • Mix both the ingredients to form a thick paste. 
  • Make sure that the paste is not too runny. It should have an even consistency. 
  • Cover the stains on the flooring with this paste using a white cloth.
  • Use a sponge or an old toothbrush to break the stain. 
  • Once you’ve removed it successfully, take a clean cloth to wipe off the paste residue. 
  • Let the floor dry before you put the furniture back in its place.
Besides being an abrasive cleaner, baking soda is also a deodorizer. Therefore, if you’re dealing with a smelly food stain, like that of old tomato sauce, baking soda can make your house smell fresh.

2.Dish Soap and Apple Cider Vinegar

It may sound like a weird combination, but when you add both of these ingredients, they form a very potent mixture that can remove stains from vinyl flooring.

  • Add half a cup of apple cider vinegar into half a gallon of water. 
  • Mix a few drops of dish soap in it. A tablespoon should suffice. 
  • Stir the mixture until it starts forming bubbles. 
  • Use a mop to clean the floors using this solution. It’s best to use a mop with nylon brush bristles since it will help provide efficient cleanup. 
  • Let the vinyl tile dry before putting the furniture back. 
Apple cider vinegar is a powerful cleaner but still quite gentle on the floors. Meanwhile, the dish soap will help lift stains.

3.Lemon Juice and Baking Soda

For this DIY cleaning method, you can easily get the ingredients from your kitchen. While lemon’s color lightening properties restore the floor’s finish, baking soda acts as a dirt cleaner.

  • Add a quarter cup of lemon juice to ⅛ cup of baking soda. 
  • Mix the solution until a past-like substance forms. 
  • Apply this paste onto the affected area.
  • Let it sit for up to 15 minutes. 
  • Use a damp towel to wipe the residue. The stain will be gone too. 
While this mixture may do wonders for fresh stains, it may not be effective in breaking up older messes. In that case, you should try the next method.

4.Rubbing Alcohol

As I’ve mentioned above, a common cause of staining on vinyl flooring is makeup. For makeup and ink stains, you can use rubbing alcohol. Furthermore, if the stains have gotten stubborn over time, rubbing alcohol won’t have any trouble removing them either.

  • Pour rubbing alcohol(2) into a cup or a bowl with a mouth wide enough for you to dip a cloth in. 
  • Then, dip a clean cloth into the alcohol. 
  • Put the cloth on the stain.
  • Rub the area gently. 
When using alcohol, beware that it’s flammable. Thus, it would be best if you didn’t use it on floors close to the source of fire, such as the kitchen or the fireplace.

Plus, wear protective gloves to avoid contact with skin.

5.Lemon

If you don’t have bottled lemon juice at home, you can use a raw lemon instead to clean the vinyl tiles.

  • Take a damp cloth and remove as much of the stain as possible. 
  • Then, cut a lemon in half and rub it on the stain. 
  • If required, do the same with the other half. 
  • Once the stain is gone, remove the lemon residue with a paper towel or clean cloth. 
  • Now, let the area dry before walking on it. 
Lemon is a whitening agent. That’s why it helps remove old stains from vinyl flooring while disinfecting the surface too. You can also use it to remove grime from your kitchen faucets and countertops.

5.Vinegar

Since white vinegar is present in almost everyone’s pantry, it’s an easy-to-access cleaning solution for vinyl flooring.

  • Mix one cup of white or cider vinegar in a gallon of water. 
  • Dip a mop into this solution. 
  • Wring out the excess water and mop the floor, dividing it into smaller sections for easy cleanup. 
Since vinegar does not leave behind streaks or suds, you don’t have to rinse the flooring with clean water later.

However, if the smell is too bothersome for you, add a few drops of any essential oil to this cleaner.

Discolored Vinyl Flooring Maintenance Tips

Here are a few tips for maintaining a vinyl floor:

  • If your floors have scuffs, you can remove them using WD-40. Put a bit of WD-40 on a cloth and use it to scrub the stain in circular motions. Before using WD-40, do a spot test. 
  • Do not sweep vinyl flooring with a harsh mop because it will scratch the surface. Instead, use a soft-bristled broom for sweeping. 
  • When vacuuming vinyl floors, do not use carpet accessories because they will leave scratches and scuff marks. 
  • Do not use heat on vinyl flooring. Steam mopping may be a great way to clean and sanitize other floor types, but you should keep it away from vinyl tiles. 
  • First off, don’t use harsh cleaners on the vinyl floor. However, if you’re using commercial cleaning agents, rinse the surface afterward to remove residue. 
  • Putting protective feet on your furniture legs can prevent dents and scuffs in the flooring.

Goodbye, Yellow Stains

Although it’s durable and long-lasting, maintaining vinyl flooring is vital to keep a fresh appearance. If you don’t care for it, the material will quickly lose its luster. For instance, exposing the floor to water and sunlight can damage it.

You must clean vinyl floors with mild solutions and avoid rubbing them too harshly. While all methods in this guide are helpful, my favorite is the one that involves baking soda and dish soap.

Let me know which of these cleaning solutions for vinyl floors did you find the best.

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