How to Clean a Linoleum Floor that is Yellowed

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how to clean a linoleum floor that is yellowed

It’s not uncommon for white linoleum floors to yellow – especially if they’re more than 15 years old. But even though it’s common, it’s still not desirable.

Depending on how discolored your floors are, you may be able to restore their original color. 

Here’s how to clean a linoleum floor that is yellowed.

What’s the Best Way to Clean a Yellowed Linoleum Floor?

The best way to clean a yellowed linoleum floor is to treat it with a bleach-water mixture. Start by sweeping your floor, then mix ¼ cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water. Next, apply the bleach water to the floor and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. After that, come in with a gentle scrub brush, scrub the floor, and rinse.

3 Other Ways to Clean Yellowed Linoleum

old and yellowed linoleum floor
Bleach will be the most effective way to clean your discolored linoleum, but it’s not the only way. If bleach water doesn’t work or you’re looking for a more gentle option, try one of these.

Use Ajax Powder with Bleach

A fantastic alternative to bleach water is Ajax powder with bleach. Ajax is a multi-purpose household cleaner with a gentle abrasiveness that can help scrub off old stains. 

While this method should be safe for your floors, do a spot test to check for scratches or bad reactions.

To clean your yellowed linoleum with Ajax powder, take the following steps:

  • Thoroughly sweep the floor
  • Liberally sprinkle Ajax powder with bleach on the floor
  • Wet a sponge and scrub the powder in circular motions
  • Wipe clean with a fresh rag

Work in small sections, rinsing as you go.

Try Vinegar

If you’re looking for a completely natural way to treat your floor, try vinegar. Since vinegar is acidic, it might lift some of the yellowing. (Although not as well as bleach would.)

However, if you’ve previously used bleach to treat your floor, make sure you’ve thoroughly rinsed it off before using vinegar. Combining vinegar and bleach creates a lethal gas – never do it.

To treat your floors with vinegar, mix one cup of white distilled vinegar with a gallon of water. Apply to the floor and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then scrub with a gentle brush and rinse the floor.

Make a Baking Soda and Lemon Juice Paste

Here’s another natural option: baking soda and lemon juice.

Baking soda is a gentle abrasive, capable of scrubbing stuck-on stains from the floor. Lemon juice is acidic and has natural lightening properties. Paired, this duo can help restore your yellowed floor.

(This works best if you only need to treat a few spots versus your entire floor.)

Here’s what to do:

  • Create a thick paste by combining two parts lemon juice to one part baking soda
  • Apply the paste to the stain and leave it on for 45 minutes
  • Use a gentle brush to scrub the area
  • Rinse the floor with water and wipe clean

What Causes Linoleum Floors to Yellow?

It’s not uncommon for linoleum floors to yellow over time. And, there are a few culprits.

Using a rug with a rubber backing, rubber furniture pads, or a rubber rug pad. Rubber and linoleum do not mix. So if you notice discoloration underneath your rug, it probably has a rubber back, causing the floor to yellow.

Using chemical cleaners. If you’re using harsh or abrasive cleaners, it can cause your floors to prematurely yellow. You should also avoid any ammonia-based cleaners.

Age. Oxidation over time causes discoloration. So, if your floor is 15+ years old, yellowing is probably the result of age.

Frequently Asked Questions

What takes yellow out of vinyl flooring?

Treat the floor with Ajax powder with bleach or a bleach-water solution to get yellow out of vinyl. If you use bleach water, mix ¼ cup bleach with one gallon of water, allow the mixture to sit on your floor for 30 minutes, scrub, and then rinse off. Be sure to spot test before treating your entire floor.

Will bleach hurt vinyl flooring?

You never want to use undiluted bleach on your vinyl floors or as your daily cleaner. However, bleach water can help you restore the yellowing vinyl floor to its original color. Just make sure you spot test before using.

Can I Put a Rug on Vinyl Flooring?

Yes, you can put a rug on vinyl flooring, but it needs a felt rug pad, not rubber. Rubber-backed rugs and rubber rug mats cause a vinyl or linoleum floor to yellow.

Final Thoughts

The best way to clean a yellowed linoleum floor will come from bleach water or Ajax powder with bleach. Bleach is excellent for restoring a white linoleum floor. Just make sure you dilute it before applying it to your flooring.

You can also try natural methods such as vinegar or lemon juice and baking soda. While these may not work quite as well, they are worth trying.

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Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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