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How to Clean Discolored Vinyl Flooring

Updated on March 24, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

Table of Contents

Woman wearing gloves and cleaning living room floor with bucket and mop

Your flooring can enhance the room’s look and create a positive ambiance. Although vinyl flooring is a great way to add to the aesthetics of a room, they tend to accumulate dirt quickly and start looking dingy. 

Discolored vinyl flooring can take away from the beauty of a room and make it look unappealing. Fortunately, removing the discoloration from vinyl flooring is simple with the proper steps. Use this guide to undo the damage and make your flooring look brand new again.

What is Vinyl?

Vinyl is essentially a form of plastic resin (Polyvinyl Chloride) made from a combination of ethylene and chlorine. The material was invented in 1920 to make items more affordable. 

As a profound synthetic artificial material, vinyl allows people to construct their homes efficiently. Plastic is very versatile and makes materials such as gloves, medical products, records, and new flooring. 

Manufacturers prefer vinyl because the material is resistant to moisture and humidity, durable, low-cost, and recyclable, making it environmentally friendly.

Where to Install Vinyl Flooring

You can install vinyl flooring anywhere in your house except outdoors. Vinyl floors are hard-wearing and will last a long time if maintained properly. Even though the material is resistant to extreme temperatures, exposure to sunlight will cause it to lose its shine and eventually fade.

Causes of Vinyl Flooring Discoloration

Problems When Installing

Vinyl requires some form of glue to stick to existing floors, and the installer may sometimes overestimate how much is needed because there’s no standard measurement of how much adhesive to use. When installing, the excess adhesive may slip up and stain your vinyl.

Applying inadequate substrate could also be a significant cause of discoloration. The insufficient or low-quality substrate can let water seep into planks and damage them from below, which may dilute their color.

Cleaning Supplies

It is best to avoid harsh chemicals such as bleach on vinyl floors. The floors contain a protective top layer, and bleach can corrode them, exposing the inside vinyl layer to spillages and sunlight. When exposed to sunlight, bleach will leave yellow stains on your vinyl.

Different cleaning supplies lined up in neutral bottles

Mold and Mildew Infestation

Mold and mildew occur when there’s excessive moisture slipping into the substrate. Moisture can get into the planks if you mop your floors with excess water, have liquid spillages, or have leaking pipes. Some manufacturers make waterproof vinyl planks, which are mildew and mold resistant, but these are more expensive than regular vinyl planks.

Spillage

Vinyl can also be discolored by liquid spills, especially in the kitchen and dining room. Items are known to stain, such as beets and cranberry juice, can do a number on your vinyl floors.

Exposure to Sunlight

Vinyl is essentially plastic, so it isn’t UV-resistant. Areas around big open windows may expose your vinyl flooring to sunlight, causing a gradual fade, which cannot be reversed. The only remedy for this is to replace the affected vinyl flooring pieces.

Children’s School Supplies

Many of your children’s supplies, such as markers and crayons, can adversely discolor your vinyl planks. Crayons are made of wax and can react with the vinyl’s topcoat and corrode it, exposing the plank. You can even destroy vinyl when trying to scrub off permanent marker stains.

Remedies for Cleaning Discolored Vinyl Flooring

Home Remedies

You will need:

  • Preferred home remedy
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Soft-thistle brush

Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is a staple product in a home. The chemical is effective in the kitchen and is a powerful cleanser that can help remove discoloration.

Step 1: Miix baking soda with water to form a thick paste. This paste is easy to apply and allows the baking soda to stick to the planks. The paste should be enough to cover the discolored area.

Step 2: Wet your brush with the baking soda paste and start applying the paste on the planks. Leave the mixture on for approximately 15 minutes.

Step 3: Wet a microfiber cloth with clean water to wipe the floor. Inspect the results. 

Step 4: If the floor is still discolored, repeat the process until you’re satisfied.

Acidic Liquids

Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are slightly acidic and do not corrode the vinyl’s top layer. Because of their acidic nature, these liquids can be an excellent solution to deal with discoloration.

Lemon

Step 1: If you have minor spill stains, you can cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice onto the spills, and rub the liquid onto the stain.

Step 2: Wait 5 minutes for the lemon to react and wipe it off with a clean microfiber cloth.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Step 1: Miix equal parts vinegar and dish soap.

Step 2: Apply the mixture onto a stain and rub until you’re satisfied with the result. You can leave the solution to soak for a few minutes for good measure.

Step 3: Wipe the area with a clean cloth to remove any remnant soap.

Woman wearing gloves and cleaning floor with spray and sponge

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol works best for makeup stains, stains from spilled nail polish, and waxy substances. To use rubbing alcohol, wet a microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol and rub it directly on the stain. Mop the floor with plenty of warm water to prevent more bleaching.

Proprietary Methods

You will need:

  • Latex gloves
  • Your product of choice
  • Microfiber cloths

WD-40

This solution comes in spray form, and all you need to do is spray your discolored location and blot the stain away. Finish by cleaning the area with a clean microfiber cloth or mopping the room with clean water.

Bleach

Bleach is a last resort solution because it may corrode vinyl’s top layer. Dilute bleach with water and use a microfiber cloth to apply. Clean the area with clean water and a microfiber cloth as soon as the stain clears.

Maintaining Vinyl Floors

You can maintain your vinyl floors in several ways to prevent them from discoloring. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of discoloration and keep your vinyl flooring looking fresh.

Wash Initial Flooring

Maintenance begins with installation, so start by washing the initial flooring well to ensure that the floor is even and there are no holes where moisture can pass through.

Be Careful When Vacuuming

Although cleaning your floor with an efficient vacuum cleaner can be very helpful, keeping the beater bar off when cleaning vinyl flooring is vital. A beater far is a floor nozzle that spins when the vacuum is in use, which can be helpful for carpets, but harmful for vinyl floors.

Place Furniture Under Sunlight Exposure

Place your rugs and furniture in areas with sunlight exposure. Rotate your carpets and furniture often for even coloring. You can also use better-quality window coverings like blinds to shield your floors from the sun’s effects.

Don’t Scrub Vinyl Floors with Steel Wool

Scrubbing vinyl floors with steel wool can result in scratches and quick discoloration.

Use Furniture Pads to Prevent Scratches

Be careful when moving around heavy furniture, as dragging them across the floor could result in dents or scratches. Using a furniture pad underneath can reduce the risk of damage and protect your floors.

Couple happily lifting couch in new home

Always Wipe Spills As They Occur

Leaving our spills to dry out or clean later on can cause damage to your floors to lead to discoloration. Wipe away any spills as they occur to prevent damages.

Don’t Steam Clean

Steam cleaning your vinyl floors can damage vinyl floors by causing swelling, warping, delamination, and joint-line separation. The steam may also damage the glue between the vinyl flooring and lead to costly repairs.

FAQ About Vinyl Flooring

Why Is My Vinyl Floor Turning Yellow?

Vinyl flooring can become yellow when stains develop over time. Your floors could be turning yellow due to uncleaned spills and rubber-backed rugs. The combination of rubber-backed rugs and vinyl produces a chemical reaction that makes your vinyl flooring turn yellow. Yellowed flooring can look unappealing and dirty, making you feel conscious when guests enter your kitchen.

How Do You Get Yellowed Vinyl White Again?

The best way to get yellowed vinyl white again is by using the DIY solutions mentioned above. You can also use bleach as it is a natural whitener and can sometimes remove the yellowing. But make sure to mix the bleach with two parts of water before applying it on the floor.

How Do You Revive Vinyl Flooring?

You can revive vinyl flooring by following the cleaning tips mentioned in this guide. Keep all the products handy and be ready to clean the floor as you go. Make sure to clean up any spills right away and focus on maintaining your floor at all times. 

If your floor looks exceedingly dull or grimy, mix one cup of ammonia with a gallon of warm water and mop the floor with the mixture.

Final Thoughts

There is a wide range of options for cleaning discolored vinyl floors, allowing you to tackle the problem without a hassle. There are many reasons why your vinyl floor is discolored, and luckily, most are fixable. Take the proper steps to maintain your flooring and make it a habit to clean them regularly. Clean vinyl flooring can add to your home’s aesthetics and help you feel like you’re in a new home every day!

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!