How To Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring: A Step by Step Guide

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 April 27, 2023

Get rid of the old yellow stains easily

Get rid of the old yellow stains easily

How to Clean discolored Vinyl Floors

Vinyl is a popular floor material because it’s durable and easy to maintain. But, over time, vinyl can become discolored and start to look dingy.

With the right care, you can help your vinyl flooring last longer.

We’ll show you how to clean discolored vinyl flooring. With these easy methods, you can bring your vinyl floors back to life in no time.

How To Clean Discolored Vinyl Floors

Say goodbye to stains on vinyl with these easy methods to clean discolored vinyl floor.

1. Dish Soap

Dish soap

Before you try anything else, dish soap is the first solution you should use.

Dish soap has a neutral pH level to remove stubborn stains or discoloration on your vinyl floors safely. So it won’t damage or dull your vinyl flooring.

And because of its gentle action, many manufacturers prefer this natural vinyl floor cleaner over more aggressive solutions – such as alkaline or acidic cleaners.

Plus, mixing dish soap and warm water is an easy way to clean your discolored vinyl flooring. And you probably already have it in your cupboard.

Step by Step Guide:

  • Mix one fourth (1/4) teaspoon of dish soap with one cup of luke-warm water.
  • Mist the solution onto your entire floor surface and mop the area using a mop.
  • Wipe up with a clean, dry cloth.

2. Bleach


Bleach is a common chemical that you can find in any store for home cleaning purposes.
It contains a mixture of water and sodium hypochlorite, making it a highly alkaline cleaner. And an alkaline cleaner is ideal for removing stubborn grease or discoloration stains you can’t clean with water alone.

Take Note

Despite being highly alkaline, bleach won’t harm your vinyl floor if you use it occasionally. But it can dull certain types of vinyl flooring.

Because of this, the CDC recommends diluting it for cleaning (1). And some vinyl manufacturers suggest only using it to remove stains on vinyl flooring.

Also, you should always make sure you thoroughly rinse any bleach cleaner from your vinyl surface. And don’t let any residue dry on your vinyl flooring.

Step by Step Guide:

  • Rub the stained areas with a 10/1 dilution of water/liquid bleach.
  • Use a mop and clean water to rinse the area after treatment.
  • Dry your vinyl floor with a dry mop or a soft, clean cloth.

3. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol

Isopropyl, also known as rubbing alcohol, is a clear and colorless liquid with a fruity odor.

Rubbing alcohol is used as a volatile chemical solvent for cleaning. It’s called a “volatile solvent” because it dissolves without leaving any residue.

This means it dries on your floors almost straight away without leaving a film. So it doesn’t need any rinsing after cleaning.

Rubbing alcohol is often used to dissolve grease and oily dirt, as well as stains. This is why many manufacturers recommend using a rubbing alcohol solution to remove tough stains as well as scuff marks from your vinyl floor.

Step by Step Guide:

  • Rub gently with rubbing alcohol in a circular motion using a white cloth.
  • Use a mop and clean water to rinse the area after treatment.
  • Dry with a separate cloth or dry mop.

4. Acidic Cleaners

White vinegar

Acidic cleaners such as lemons or white vinegar can help the discoloration on your vinyl.

Lemon juice contains citric acid, a natural, non-toxic antibacterial, and antiseptic. Citric acid is often used in commercial products as an acid spotter to remove yellowing. For example, to remove coffee or tea stains, yellow stains or brown discoloration, water stains, or urine.

On the other hand, white vinegar contains acetic acid, a natural cleaning agent efficient against rust and water stains.

So these acidic cleaners are great natural vinyl floor cleaners. And they’re ideal for removing stubborn stains such as rust from your vinyl floor.


But you should know that some manufacturers warn against the use of acidic materials on vinyl. This is because it can leave a dull residue on the surface.

So, always contact your vinyl flooring manufacturer beforehand to know if these solutions are safe. And use them as a stain remover only and not as a flooring cleaning solution.

Finally, make sure you rinse all cleaner from the surface of your vinyl. And just like bleach, don’t let any lemon or vinegar residue dry on your vinyl flooring.

Step by Step Guide:

  • Rub the discolored area with lemon juice or white vinegar using a white cloth.
  • Use a mop and clean water to rinse the affected area after treatment.
  • Dry with a clean cloth or dry mop.

What About Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar has the same cleaning action as white vinegar. But unlike white vinegar, apple cider vinegar has a dark color.

The risk of using dark materials is to stain surfaces and fabrics when using them. This is why white vinegar or white cloths are always preferred for cleaning.

5. Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar

Cream of tartar is a very mild acid salt.

You can mix it into a thick paste with water to clean a wide range of materials. For example, you can use it to clean brass, copper, rust stains, and coffee machines.

On vinyl flooring, cream of tartar works just like lemon juice. So it’s ideal for removing rust stains from vinyl flooring.

But once again, it can leave a dull residue, so use it as spot remover only. And make sure you rinse it thoroughly after cleaning.

Step by Step Guide:

  • Create a thick paste by mixing cream of tartar with a few drops of water.
  • Rub the paste on the rust stain and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • Clean with a damp sponge.
  • Use a mop and clean water to rinse your vinyl floor.
  • Dry with a mop or a clean cloth.

Preventive Maintenance Against Discoloration

Here are a few tips for protecting your vinyl floor from vinyl plank discoloration.

  • Avoid exposure to excess direct sunlight, as UV rays can also cause discoloration in vinyl flooring. To do this, hang blinds or drapes in front of your large windows to block the direct sunlight.
  • Use only non rubber mats or protective feet for your furniture. Using latex or rubber mats can cause yellow stains or discolor your vinyl.
  • Don’t use tapes or adhesives on your vinyl floor. This may damage the finish or discolor your floor.
  • Always wipe up liquid spills or food spills straight away with a damp cloth or sponge. Nail polish, acetone, varnish, tar, spices, crayons, ink and makeup stains can cause discoloration on your vinyl.
  • Avoid disinfectant cleaners and insecticide sprays with oil or solvents. These may settle on your vinyl and discolor, harm, or cause slipperiness on your floor.
  • Use door mats to avoid tracking these over your floors. Tar and asphalt from your driveway may discolor your vinyl.
  • Make sure you keep motors and exhaust areas free of dust to reduce the level of heat. Appliances and heating ducts emit a flow of hot air that may cause discoloration overtime on your floor. You can also adjust heating system dampers to control the outlet temperature and airflow direction.
  • Stay away from using baking soda with vinyl flooring. Vinyl manufacturers advise against the use of any harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning agents such as baking soda or mineral spirits. They can leave a dull residue on the surface of your vinyl floor. And it may cause permanent damage to your clean floors.

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