Flooring Facelift: How to Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is a favored choice among many homeowners due to its durability, affordability, and diverse style options. Nevertheless, it’s not immune to discoloration over time, which can arise from factors like dirt, spills, sunlight, chemicals, moisture, and mold. Although discolored vinyl flooring can detract from your home’s aesthetics, you can rejuvenate its original shine. In this guide, we’ll navigate you through cleaning discolored vinyl flooring, ensuring your methods are both efficient and safe.

How to Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring

Depending on the type and severity of the discoloration, you may need different cleaning methods to restore your vinyl flooring. Here are some of the best ways to clean discolored vinyl flooring using natural or commercial products:

Baking Soda and Water

This is a simple and effective method for removing surface stains from vinyl flooring. Baking soda is a natural abrasive that can lift dirt and grime without scratching the floor.

To use this method, mix some baking soda and water in a bowl to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the stained area and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then wipe it off with a damp cloth and rinse with clean water.

Vinegar and Dish Soap

This is another natural method for removing surface stains from vinyl flooring. Vinegar is an acidic substance that can cut through grease and oil without leaving a residue. Dish soap is a mild detergent that can help loosen dirt and grime.

To use this method, mix half a cup of vinegar and two tablespoons of dish soap in a gallon of warm water. Use a mop or a sponge to apply the solution to the floor and scrub gently. Rinse with clean water and dry with a towel.

Lemon Juice and Baking Soda

This is a natural method for removing yellowing or browning stains from vinyl flooring. Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent that can lighten the color of the floor without harming it. Baking soda is a natural abrasive that can help remove stubborn stains.

To use this method, squeeze some lemon juice on the stained area and sprinkle some baking soda on top. Let it fizz for a few minutes and then scrub with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse with clean water and dry with a towel.

Rubbing Alcohol

This is a commercial product that can remove ink, lipstick, hair dye, nail polish, crayon, paint, and marker stains from vinyl flooring. Rubbing alcohol is a solvent that can dissolve these substances without damaging the floor.

Dab some rubbing alcohol onto a cloth and gently rub the stain away. Rinse with clean water and dry with a towel.

When working with commercial products or solvents, make sure you have proper room ventilation to prevent inhaling fumes.


I haven’t tried this one personally, but I’ve heard WD-40 is great for cleaning off scuff marks. WD-40 is usually used as a lubricant but it can help smooth out scratches and marks without harming the floor. To use this method, spray some WD-40 on a cloth and rub it on the scuff marks until they disappear.

However, use this with caution as it can make floors slippery. Always ensure you wipe off the residue thoroughly and rinse the floor with a vinegar-water solution afterward to negate any slipperiness.

Specialty Vinyl Floor Cleaners

This is a commercial product that is specially designed for cleaning vinyl flooring. It can remove dirt, grime, stains, and residue from the floor without leaving any streaks or film.

Some examples of specialty vinyl floor cleaners are Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner, Pledge Multisurface Floor Cleaner, and Armstrong’s Once ‘n Done No-Rinse Floor Cleaner. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results.

What Causes Vinyl Flooring Discoloration?

Surface Stains

Surface stains are the most common and easiest to remove. They are caused by external factors that come in contact with the top layer of the vinyl flooring, such as dirt, food, drinks, makeup, crayons, ink, oil, grease, and rubber. Surface stains can usually be cleaned with a mild detergent and water or a specialized vinyl floor cleaner.

Bottom-Up Stains

Bottom-up stains are more difficult to deal with because they originate from underneath the vinyl flooring. They are caused by internal factors that affect the adhesive or the substrate of the vinyl flooring, such as moisture, mold, mildew, alkaline substances, or incompatible adhesives. Bottom-up stains can cause yellowing, browning, or darkening of the vinyl flooring and may require professional intervention or replacement.

Within-the-Product Stains

Within-the-product stains are rare but possible. They are caused by defects or damages within the vinyl flooring itself, such as fading due to sunlight exposure, heat degradation due to high temperatures, or chemical reactions due to harsh cleaners or solvents. Within-the-product stains can affect the color or gloss of the vinyl flooring and may not be reversible.

How to Prevent Vinyl Flooring Discoloration

black and white checkered flooring, how to clean discolored vinyl flooring

Keeping your vinyl flooring radiant and stain-free involves routine care:

  1. Regularly sweep or vacuum to eliminate dirt.
  2. Address spills promptly.
  3. Avoid rubber-backed mats, which can induce yellowing.
  4. Shield the flooring from direct sunlight to prevent fading.
  5. Steer clear of harsh chemicals, opting for milder or natural alternatives.
  6. Refrain from dragging furniture. Use protectors for added security.

Conclusion: Cleaning Vinyl Floors

Vinyl flooring is a resilient and stylish option for homes, but it’s not impervious to wear and tear. By integrating the cleaning techniques mentioned above and adopting preventive measures, you can ensure your vinyl flooring remains impeccable for years. If ever in doubt, especially with persistent or extensive discoloration, it’s wise to consult a professional cleaner.

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