How To Whiten Yellowed Linoleum (Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Whiten Yellowed Linoleum

Linoleum is a great, cost-effective option for kitchen and bathroom floors. It’s known for being durable and long-lasting, more so when it’s properly cared for. The key to making linoleum floors last longer is regular cleaning.

To whiten yellow linoleum floors you will want to make a paste using baking soda, and lemon juice. Apply the paste to the stain and scrub it in using a brush. Rinse the paste. Additionally, you can use water and vinegar, or even bleach if the first method doesn’t work for you. 

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Baking Soda and Lemon Juice Method

Both baking soda and lemon juice are fantastic secret weapons when it comes to cleaning. Lemon juice is antibacterial, antiseptic, and one of the best natural cleaners. Baking soda also works wonders in removing tough stains.

Step 1: Make a Paste

Mix some lemon juice and baking soda together in a bowl to form a paste. The amount will depend on how big your stains are. It’s perfectly fine to eyeball it. Just use a little to start with, and add more of each ingredient as needed.

Step 2: Apply the Paste

Apply the paste directly to the stains. If you don’t mind getting your hands messy, feel free to apply it with your hands. Otherwise, you can use a spoon to scoop it out onto the spot.

Step 3: Scrub the Stain

Use a scrub brush to rub the paste thoroughly into the stain.

Step 4: Rinse Off

Wait a few minutes, then rinse off the mixture with water. Wipe any excess with a damp cloth.

Step 5: Repeat as Necessary

If the stain is still there, you can try repeating the process. This time, let the paste sit for longer (try 15 minutes) before you rinse.

Vinegar and Water Method

Unsurprisingly, vinegar is another great way to get rid of unsightly yellow stains on linoleum. Vinegar is non-toxic, kills bacteria, and easily breaks up dirt and tough stains. The best part is that it’s extremely inexpensive.

Step 1: Fill a Spray Bottle

Fill a spray bottle with plain white distilled vinegar.

Step 2: Spray the Stain

For mild stains, spray the vinegar directly onto the stains. For more stubborn stains, you can sprinkle some baking soda on the floor first, and then spray with vinegar.

Step 3: Let it Sit

Let the vinegar sit for 15 minutes.

Step 4: Wipe Clean

Wipe the vinegar with a damp cloth or sponge.

Remove Stubborn Stains with Bleach

Note: This may not be the best method if you have dogs or cats, since it can be harmful to them. Cats, in particular, are sometimes drawn to the scent of bleach and rub up against anything cleaned with it. Dogs are also likely to lick or roll around on a recently cleaned floor.

Bleach is also an agent that should be used only once in a while on linoleum. While it’s good for the occasional tough stain, it should not be part of your regular cleaning routine. It’s also a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous area of the floor first, in case it ends up damaging the linoleum.

Step 1: Combine Bleach and Water

Put on rubber gloves, and then pour 4 cups of bleach into a bucket filled with 1 gallon of cold water.

Step 2: Soak a Rag

Dip a rag into the bleach solution. The rag should be soaked.

Step 3: Wipe the Stains

Wipe the entire area with the wet rag, continuing to saturate it in periodically. Make sure the entire floor has a thin layer of the solution on it for the best results.

Step 4: Let it Sit

Let the mixture sit on the floor for up to an hour. You will notice the stain fading if the solution is working, which will help you gauge how long to leave it on for.

Step 5: Mop the Floor

After soaking, use a mop to soak up the solution.

Step 6: Rinse with Water

Rinse the floor with clean, cold water.

Step 7: Replace Water, Add Vinegar

Rinse out the bucket, and add equal amounts of white vinegar and cold water.

Step 8: Mop Again

Soak the mop with this solution and wash the floor with it.

Step 9: Rinse with Cold Water

Rinse again with cold water. If the yellow stains are still there, continue to step 10.

Step 10: Scrub with Bleach Powder

Mix a bleach scouring powder (like Ajax) with water. Use a scouring pad to spot-clean the problem areas. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse with cold water. Repeat this step as necessary.

Sunlight for Stains Under Rugs

People are often surprised to hear that sunlight can help treat yellowing linoleum, but there is science behind it. One of the raw materials that make up linoleum is linseed oil.

When the oil is blocked from sunlight it will oxidize and change colors. If you continuously cover areas of linoleum with throw rugs or mats, it will yellow faster than the surrounding floor.

The simple, obvious solution for this is to expose the areas to sunlight. Remove the rugs and mats from the floor and give them some time in the daylight. Open blinds or curtains if you have any in the room.

The amount of time needed to solve the problem depends on how long the areas were covered up. Once you notice that the area matches the color of the rest of the floor, you can return the rugs. But make sure to remove them every so often to give the area the light it needs.

How to Prevent Yellow Stains from Forming

Now that your linoleum is looking as good as new, let’s talk about how to keep it that way. Here are some tips to keep your floors in great shape:

  • Use a dry, microfiber mop on the floor daily to keep dust at bay.
  • Sweep the floor with a soft-bristled broom once per week. You can also use a vacuum with a “hard floor” setting to clean up and debris.
  • After sweeping, mop the floor weekly using cold water and a product safe for cleaning linoleum. There are several cleaners that are designed specifically for linoleum.
  • Only use cold water to clean linoleum floors. Hot water can damage the surface.
  • Avoid using any alkaline-based cleaning products regularly, such as ammonia, when cleaning linoleum. Ammonia has a high pH level, which can cause damage to the material.
  • After cleaning, dry the floor with some old towels. The grooves in linoleum will absorb excess water that sits there and can make it look dingy and worn out over time.
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Related Questions

How can I remove rust stains from linoleum?

Like with yellow stains, you can also use vinegar and baking soda with rust on linoleum. Just spread baking soda over the stain and then spray it with vinegar. Gently work the mixture into the floor with a rag for a few minutes, and then rinse with water. You may have to repeat the process a few times. You can also pick up a cleaning product at the store that is specifically designed to remove rust stains from floors.

Why do linoleum floors develop yellow stains?

This material yellows from rugs, many spills over time, inappropriate cleaning methods, wax, and age. These stains can be prevented with a regular, thorough cleaning.

How should I clean scuff marks off of linoleum?

Linoleum is prone to scuff marks from shoes. These marks are typically easy to remove with a pencil eraser. If that doesn’t help, try putting a few drops of baby oil on the floor. Let the oil sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it off. You can also try mixing dish soap with water and scrubbing the marks with a soft brush.

Kathryn Flegal

Kathryn is a craft aficionado who loves writing about DIY home improvement projects. When she’s not writing, she loves reading, listening to musicals, and playing with her kids.

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