How To Clean Discoloured Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is a very practical thing. It is easy to clean, simple to sweep up, and it is a very good floor covering. Spilling fluids onto carpet can be a much harder spill to clear up, but when you spill things onto vinyl flooring you can just mop it up. The same goes for spilling, well, anything actually! But, how to clean discoloured vinyl flooring? We’re talking about flooring that has developed serious discolouration over years of use and foot traffic; and this can be a harder fix than just mopping up a spill. Never fear! We are here to teach you how to save your vinyl.

What causes vinyl flooring discolouration?

Vinyl flooring is made up of different layers, like our skin. Over the years, dirt, grime and grease can penetrate the layers and cause unsightly yellow spots. This can be caused by:

  • Mould and mildew. However hard you try, mould and mildew can penetrate even the best laid floors. If your floor is subjected to a lot of ingress of fluids – such as a floor that is close to the entrance to a house, where people may walk on it with wet shoes; or if the floor has not been laid correctly, then mould and mildew may enter and cause problems with the flooring.
  • Trapped moisture. If the floor is not correctly installed, or if there is no moisture barrier, water can get in and start to destroy the flooring from underneath.
  • Sunlight. The bright light from the sun can easily damage your flooring; bleaching it and heating it, and eventually changing the colour of it. You may notice sun damage in places which are more exposed to the sunlight, such as places near large windows or patio doors.
  • Chemical changes. Contact with certain rubber materials can lead to you seeing discolouration in your vinyl flooring. You may notice some yellow spots where rubber backed rugs, or furniture with rubber wheels, have been in contact with your vinyl flooring.

You can usually get around the majority of these issues. In the case of contact with rubber, you can move the offending furniture frequently, so that it is not in contact with your flooring and so not causing these issues.

It is more tricky to resolve the problem of too much sunlight, but you can keep curtains closed more, or place rugs where there  is an excess of light.

If your problems are caused by an incorrectly laid floor or an installation which has allowed moisture to get in, then your best bet is to remove the discoloured flooring, lay it properly with the correct moisture barrier, and start again.

How to clean discoloured vinyl flooring

If you are living with discoloured vinyl flooring and you don’t want to rip it all up and start again, there are options open to you.

1. Baking soda

Baking soda is an abrasive cleaner, so it will remove stains and marks from just about anything. It is also gentle enough that it won’t damage your floor.

  • Mix equal parts baking soda with water, until a thick paste has been formed.
  • Using a soft cloth, rub the mixture into the floor, especially over stubborn stains.
  • Wipe with a separate cloth,moistened with water, to remove the baking soda.

2. Lemon juice

Lemon juice is acidic, so it can lift out stains from hard and soft surfaces relatively easily.

  • Remove as much of the spill or stain with a damp cloth as you can.
  • Cut a lemon in half, and rub the open part of the lemon on the stain.
  • Wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove the lemon juice, then dry with another dry cloth.

3. Cider vinegar and dish soap

Cider vinegar is a gentle but effective cleaner, as is dish soap. Put the two together and you can remove most stains!

  • Mix one cup of cider vinegar with one gallon of water, and add one tablespoon of dish soap.
  • Using a nylon bristled brush, mop the floor as you normally would.
  • Dry the floor thoroughly.

Vinyl floor maintenance

To keep your vinyl floor looking its absolute best, you need to be gentle with it. Think daily sweeping with a soft brush, and keep mopping to a minimum (I can hear the sighs of relief from here!)

Don’t use a steam mop on your vinyl flooring, as the heat can warp it and cause bending and warping and the ingress of moisture.

Try to avoid allowing any rubber coming into contact with your vinyl flooring, as it can cause a chemical reaction that causes discolouration.

Keep any cleaning products on the mild side – natural abrasives, such as baking soda and lemon juice are the best cleaners. Or, you can choose a specialised vinyl floor cleaner if you prefer your floor cleaners shop-bought.

For a little video on how to clean vinyl flooring, have a look at this video:


Although vinyl flooring is one of the cheaper options that you can choose for your flooring needs, it is also practical and attractive, and as such it should be treated with care so that it lasts as long as it possibly can. Looking after your vinyl flooring is definitely a cheaper option than replacing the whole lot, so you are advised to look after it so that it looks after you. Even if you have some very old, discoloured vinyl flooring, you can rejuvenate it with some of the tips above. How to clean vinyl flooring? Now you know!