How To Whiten Yellowed Vinyl Flooring

An image showing Yellowed Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring exhibits a hundred percent water resistance, making it a popular preference among modern household owners. The flooring type come in different designs, is highly stain-resistant, and require minimal maintenance. Even better, vinyl flooring is less costly than some of its counterparts, such as linoleum.

On the downside, improper installation or maintenance could compromise the quality of your vinyl floor. For instance, using poor-quality adhesives during installation or exposing your floor to moisture for long periods could end up discoloring the floor. Fortunately, you do not have to replace the floor since the damage is reversible as long as you know how to whiten yellowed vinyl flooring.

 One of the ideal ways to whiten yellowed vinyl floors is using a mixture of lemon juice and water. You need to make a paste using the two ingredients and apply the paste over the yellowed area. Allow the mixture to sit in for at least ten minutes, then clean the area using a wet cloth. After eliminating the stain, consider coating the area using a sealer for best results.

Other effective ways to whiten yellowed vinyl include rubbing alcohol, a solution of bleach in water, or a mixture of soap, water, and vinegar. Read on to know how to whiten vinyl flooring using each of these methods and choose one that’s convenient for you.

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Why Vinyl Floors May Discolor?

Poor installation is a major cause of vinyl floor discoloration. This entails using low-quality materials during the installation process, leaving the core susceptible to moisture damage. The prolonged exposure to moisture, contamination, and too much heat or sunlight are also common causes of vinyl floor discoloration. 

Some common causes for vinyl floor discoloration include:

Prolonged exposure to moisture

Liquid spills are a common occurrence in any household, especially one with kids. Vinyl floors are moisture-resistant, but failure to control their exposure to moisture may result in liquids seeping through the floor, causing condensation buildup and eventually discoloration.

Consider cleaning up liquid spills as soon as they touch the floor to prevent moisture from penetrating the core. Alternatively, you may use a heater or fan to dry out the moisture and a dehumidifier to control humidity in the room since these practices enhance the longevity of your vinyl floors.


The result of moisture accumulation is the contamination of the floor by mold and mildew, which also cause discoloration. Moisture underneath the floor could also be a result of water pipe leakages. You will notice black mold growth on the floor in such cases, which is impossible to eliminate by regular cleaning.


Makeup or cosmetic products contain a pigment that is likely to discolor the floor. Constant exposure to makeup or cosmetics can therefore stain the floor if not cleaned on time. Wiping out the pigmentation with a damp piece of cloth soon after exposure could go a long way in preventing tough stains on the floor.

Too much heat or sunlight

Among the exemplary aspects of vinyl floors is UV light inhibitors, whose purpose is to protect the floor from the sun’s scorching rays. However, too much exposure to sunlight can overwhelm the floor, causing it to fade. Excess heat also causes expansion and contraction of the floor, which compromises the floor’s quality.

Rubber materials

Whether natural or synthetic, rubber contains chemicals that are likely to react with vinyl floors. Friction and constant exposure to heat or sunlight may trigger chemical reactions between rubber and vinyl floors, resulting in discoloration of the floor. It is therefore advisable to restrain from using rubber-backed rugs on vinyl floors.

Low-quality adhesives

The use of adhesives that are not suitable for a vinyl floor installation or those that exhibit a weak bond could leave your floor vulnerable to moisture damage. Water-based adhesives, for instance, may not be effectively moisture-resistant since frequent liquid spillage may weaken the bond, allowing moisture to seep into the floor, which results in discoloration.

Why Do Yellow Stains Appear on Vinyl Floors

Yellow stains on vinyl floors are mainly a result of either improper installation or poor maintenance practices. Exposure to heat, chemicals. accumulation of dirt, and rubber-backed mats can cause all cause yellow stains on vinyl floors. Additionally, if your floor has been in use for a significant amount of time, staining could be inevitable despite exercising proper maintenance.

Here are some common causes of yellow stains on vinyl floors:


Heat is a probable cause, especially if your vinyl flooring is next to the fireplace. Additionally, the moisture-resistant nature of vinyl floors makes them popular for use in bathrooms. However, vinyl floors are thermally sensitive, and the steam in bathrooms can gradually damage the floor. Cleaning vinyl floors with hot water can also have detrimental effects since too much heat may permanently discolor the floor and distort its pattern.


Materials such as asphalt contain harsh chemicals that are bound to react with and discolor vinyl floors. Chemicals found in rubber materials such as rugs or furniture casters also tend to react with vinyl floors and cause discoloration, especially in the presence of heat.

Accumulation of dirt

Every floor is prone to exposure to dirt and therefore requires regular cleaning. Cleaning vinyl floors helps to eliminate liquid spills and makeup pigments that could stain the floor following prolonged exposure. Failure to clean your vinyl floor to rid it of such stains could eventually result in yellowing due to the accumulation of dirt. Consider sweeping or vacuuming the floor more often than mopping the floor to minimize moisture exposure to the floor.

Rubber-backed mats

Heat tends to cause chemical reactions between rubber materials such as rugs and vinyl floors. These reactions can also result in stubborn yellow stains. For this reason, it is advisable to use woven rugs rather than rubber-backed rugs to avoid staining the floor.

How To Whiten Yellowed Vinyl Flooring

You can whiten yellowed vinyl floors is using a mixture of lemon juice and water. Make a paste using the two ingredients and apply the paste over the yellowed area. Allow the mixture to sit in for at least ten minutes, then clean the area using a wet cloth. After eliminating the stain, consider coating the area using a sealer for best results. You can also rub alcohol to eliminate yellowing caused by pigments.

Here is a step-by-step guide on whitening the yellowing on vinyl floors, depending on the cause.

Lemon and Baking Powder

A combination of lemon juice and baking powder effectively eliminates yellowing caused by chemical reactions between the floor and materials such as rubber. Here is how to go about the process:

  1. Make a paste by mixing baking powder and lemon juice in a ratio of one to two. You can add about 15ml of lemon juice to a tablespoon of baking powder for best results.
  2. Spread the paste on the yellowed surface, preferably using a spatula, and wait for at least ten minutes for the stain to loosen.
  3. Subsequently, wipe off the paste using a damp cloth and ensure the area is clean.
  4. Finish off by applying a sealer on the surface, which acts as a protective coating.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol comes in handy in eliminating yellowing caused by pigments. This method is ideal since the alcohol is more likely to evaporate than seep into the floor, worsening the problem. All you should do is put on protective gloves and follow the steps below:

  1. Spray some rubbing alcohol on the yellowed area.
  2. Wait for up to two minutes for the rubbing alcohol to take effect.
  3. Gently scrub the floor, preferably using an old toothbrush to remove the yellowing.
  4. Wipe off the residue with a damp piece of cloth, and you’re good to go.


You may follow the steps above using a mixture of vinegar, soap, and water. These materials are readily available, and unlike rubbing alcohol, they are non-flammable and pose minimal risks.

Is White Vinegar Safe For Vinyl Floors?

White vinegar, also called apple cider vinegar, is safe to use on vinyl floors. If anything, using white vinegar to clean vinyl floors is a highly recommended maintenance practice. It helps to disinfect and eliminate stubborn stains and is devoid of harmful chemicals.

Additionally, natural cleaners such as vinegar are more suitable for cleaning vinyl floors since abrasive cleaners tend to scratch the floor.

How To Remove Stains From Vinyl Flooring

The ultimate and easiest way to deal with tough stains on vinyl floors is using soap and water. Here is a breakdown of the process:

  1. Mix detergent with some water in a container until you make a thick paste.
  2. Apply the paste over the area with a stain.
  3. Scrub gently using a sponge to eliminate the stain.
  4. Clean up the residues using some water and a piece of cloth.

For persistent stains:

  1. Mix bleach with water while ensuring the amount of water is twice as much as the bleach.
  2. Soak a white piece of cloth in the solution and place it over the stubborn stain.
  3. Seal the piece of cloth overnight, preferably using a plastic wrap to prevent the solution from evaporating.
  4. Finally, remove the plastic wrap and the cloth, gently scrub the area using soap and water.

What Causes Yellow Stains On Linoleum

The yellow stains on Linoleum may result from throw rugs, unsuitable cleaning agents, and spills.  Linoleum flooring is a sought-after preference, especially for environmentalists, because it mainly comprises natural materials, unlike vinyl.

However, just like vinyl, proper maintenance practices are crucial for linoleum floors. Without proper maintenance, linoleum floors may start yellowing as a result of the following:

Throw rugs

Among the natural materials that make up linoleum is linseed oil, which is prone to oxidation in the absence of sunlight. Covering linoleum with throw rugs for prolonged periods can result in yellowing due to oxidation of the linseed oil. It is therefore advisable to occasionally expose the floor to sunlight to prevent such an occurrence.

Unsuitable cleaning agents

Cleaning agents such as ammonia-based cleaners tend to react with linoleum flooring and alter the pH balance. Additionally, cleaning using hot water may alter the protective coat on the linoleum, leading to yellowing. Chlorine bleach also contains dyes that may cause yellowing of the floor. Consider using natural substances such as vinegar when cleaning linoleum to enhance its durability.


Like wood, linoleum mainly comprises natural materials and is prone to damage from excessive exposure to moisture. Consider eliminating liquid spillages immediately rather than letting them stagnate and eventually seep into the floor and cause yellowing. If your household includes pets, ensure you clean up pet messes as soon as possible since ammonia is highly likely to compromise the floor’s integrity by altering its pH balance.

How To Clean Discolored Linoleum Floors

Discoloration does not signify the end of your linoleum floor since it’s reversible. One of the easiest ways to restore color to your floor is using baking soda through the following steps:

  1. Pour some cold water over the discolored area.
  2. Follow up by sprinkling some baking powder too.
  3. Allow the baking powder to sit in for a few minutes before wiping off the residue with a clean cloth.
  4. Clean the floor using cold water or add some detergent for best results.

The video below shows how to clean the yellow buildup on Vinyl flooring


Vinyl flooring exhibits desirable aspects such as a maintenance-free and moisture-resistant design with cost-effectiveness into the bargain. The floor is popular for use in bathrooms and laundry rooms due to its moisture-resistant nature. It is, however, important to note that exposing your vinyl floor to moisture for long periods could lead to mold growth or yellowing.

Fortunately, whitening yellowed vinyl floors is a DIY process that requires basic household items such as baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar. With either of these items in place, you can easily restore color to your vinyl floors by following the abovementioned steps. However, persistent stains signify serious damage to the inner layers of the flooring and therefore require a professional’s attention.

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