How To Clean Stained Linoleum Floors In Easy Steps

Linoleum is one of today’s most popular flooring options. Why? When compared to wool carpets and actual wood floors, it is quite inexpensive. It is also a long-lasting and simple to clean floor covering. And if that wasn’t enough, it is available in an almost infinite number of designs and colour combinations.

close up of linoleum floor coating

A quick wipe with a clean, damp cloth will usually remove a stain or spill from a linoleum floor. But, what if the stain is a little more difficult to remove? Grease, for example, can be extremely difficult to remove from lino. Thankfully, if you have the proper tools and the right mindset, you can easily go about it and we will show you exactly how to clean stained linoleum floors, so keep on reading to find out more!

What is linoleum?

Linoleum was first introduced to the market in the 1860s, and while its popularity has waned through time, it can still be found in many houses around the UK today. Many people mistake linoleum for vinyl flooring. The two are substantially different from each other in terms of performance and composition.

Linseed oil is the main component of linoleum, and when it is oxidised, other materials such as pine resin, wood flour, or powdered cork dust are added to create the completed product. This combination is then moulded into sheets or tiles for commercial and domestic use.

The benefits of linoleum

Linoleum has a number of advantages in addition to its very long lifespan, including:

1. Comfort

Unlike ceramic or stone tiles, linoleum flooring provides a natural cushioning feeling. Because it is hypoallergenic, it is an excellent choice for your home as there is no dangerous material to be allergic to because the floor is built entirely of natural resources

2. Durability

It has antibacterial characteristics, which means germs can’t easily spread and multiply. Minor scratches and gouges are also less noticeable and can be easily fixed.

3. Water resistance

While excessive wetness can harm your linoleum, unlike laminate or wood flooring, it is water-resistant under normal circumstances.

4. Eco rating

Linoleum is non-toxic and free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is biodegradable and recyclable, making it one of the most environmentally friendly flooring solutions available.

How to clean a stained linoleum floor 

Dish soap

The first method is a classic one. It only requires two ingredients. You’ll just need a simple dish soap and water solution. While some may doubt the method’s efficiency, seasoned cleaning professionals have advocated it for years. So grab your mop, favourite blue dish soap, and bucket if you’re up for it:

washing linoleum floor with a bucket of soapy water and a cloth

Step 1: Pour 4 to 6 drops of soap into an empty bucket

Then, fill your bucket with lukewarm water. Dip your mop into the bucket and swirl it around to evenly distribute the solution. 

You don’t want to wet the tile floors, so wring out the mop until it stops dripping. Then, sweep the mop across the linoleum using even strokes. 

Step 2: Always begin at the edges and work your way backwards

Avoid squeezing yourself into a corner or strolling through the space you’ve just cleaned. 

Step 3: Allow 10 minutes for the solution to settle

Then, go over the floor one more time with clean water. To avoid leaving tracks or streaks, try to stay on the same path and then allow the floor to air dry after rinsing off the residue.

White vinegar and baking soda

This solution comes in a variety of forms. Some recipes require additional substances such as hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. While these may be effective for deep cleaning, they may leave dull areas or damage your linoleum. If you can’t stand the scent of distilled vinegar, consider the apple cider version instead:

Step 1: Mix 12 cups of water with half a cup of baking soda and a quarter cup of vinegar

Make sure all lumps are gone before stirring the ingredients. Fill a clean spray bottle halfway with the cleaning solution.

Step 2: Allow a minute for the solution to dissolve any dirt on your floor after spraying it in parts

Go over the area again with warm water and a damp mop, pushing the mixture into any cracks or crevices. Rinse your mop and sweep the floor one last time.

Step 3: Allow at least 10 minutes for the floor to dry before walking on it

Any lingering vinegar odour will be gone within half an hour. 

Borax and water

Here’s another two-step recipe that doesn’t include vinegar. We’re going to use Borax this time. It is a powerful cleaning agent and has been around since 1891.

When interacting with this product, use caution because it can be dangerous if absorbed or consumed. Keep it out of reach of pets and children to avoid inadvertent exposure. Now, let’s get started with that in mind:

Step 1: Dissolve two tablespoons of Borax powder in a 4-litre bucket of lukewarm water

Stir the mixture with your mop to ensure the powder dissolves. To avoid flooding your linoleum, wring out the mop before cleaning.

Step 2: Wash your floor as normal, concentrating on stained areas with mild pressure 

To avoid streaks, rinse with warm water once you’re through.


Put those old lemons to good use around the house before tossing them out. They can certainly help in the removal of linoleum stains and discolouration:

A bowl of lemon juice next to some lemons

Step 1: Wipe away the stains

Wipe away as much of the stain or discolouration as possible with a clean moist cloth.

Step 2: Cut a lemon in half

Rub it directly on the stain and then repeat with the other half as needed. To eliminate the lemon juice residue, wipe the area with a moist towel and then dry using a clean cloth.

Castile soap and water

Castile soap, vinegar’s toughest adversary, is our final homemade contender. It has no odour and is made entirely of veggies. It is also less harmful than most cleaners.

One castile soap bottle isn’t so inexpensive, but it will last for at least six months. While some are odourless, the majority have a fresh peppermint or citrus scent. These are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Pour 2 tablespoons of castile soap into a bucket of hot water 

To avoid a mess, dip your mop into the bucket and mix slowly. Apply the mixture to your floor with a well-wrung mop.

Step 2: Work the cleaner into the floor and give it time to absorb the soap

Rinse the bucket and wipe the entire floor with clean water once the linoleum is clean. Rinse thoroughly because castile soap can leave a filmy residue and then your floor will shine after two rinses.

Linoleum floor cleaning tips

While we believe that using any of the cleaners listed above will make your linoleum floors look great, here are our top 11 tips for floor maintenance:

1. Sweep once a day

Any rubbish caught beneath the floor can harm it, and dirt left in place is more likely to remain. Sweep your floors thoroughly every day to make your cleaning job a lot easier.

2. Avoid using a vacuum with beater bars 

The high-speed spinning of the beater bars and bristles can be abrasive to linoleum floors and cause scratching. Use a vacuum cleaner that is built for hard floors.

vacuuming linoleum floor

3. Use cleaning products sparingly

Excess moisture can cause linoleum to distort, just like hardwood floors. So, while a small amount of liquid will be required to clean the floor, always keep it to a minimum. Plus, never wet-mop your floor, and dry up as much water as possible once you’ve finished cleaning so that your floors are as clean and moisture-free as possible.

4. Avoid ammonia-based cleaners

Linoleum’s pH equilibrium is disrupted by ammonia-based cleaners. They may be effective at removing dirt and grime from hard surfaces, but they can also damage the floor.

5. Always use cool/warm water

While you might be tempted to clean linoleum floors with boiling hot water, you should avoid it since hot water will cause moisture damage to your floor more quickly than cooler liquids.

6. Wipe away detergents after each use

While certain detergents are supposed to be left on as a form of polish, if your floor cleaner isn’t made for this, make sure to properly remove it after usage. If you don’t, the detergent will leave a sticky residue behind, which will attract dirt. If you end up with a sticky residue, we’ve got your back. Check how to clean sticky hardwood floors.

7. Use a nylon scrub brush to buff off stubborn stains

Linoleum pigments tend to penetrate all the way and so you can buff off tough stains by removing layers of linoleum with a nylon scrub brush and then polish the area to make it shine.

8. Use baking soda to remove foot scuffs

If you have black scuff marks on your floor from shoes, use a paste of baking soda and water to remove them.

9. Avoid latex or rubber-backed rugs 

While using rugs and pads to protect your floor is a smart idea, avoid latex or rubber-backed ones, as they will most likely discolour the floor. Colourfast rugs with natural backings are your best bet.

10. Avoid using abrasive cleaners

Bleach and other harsh chemicals will harm your floor and leave yellow stains behind and cause it to decay in the long run.

11. Before you start steam cleaning, double-check everything

Steam cleaners can sometimes cause water damage to your floor. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions to see if the linoleum you have is safe to clean with a steam mop. If you clean your floor against the manufacturer’s advice, your warranty may be voided.

a cute smiling girsl lying on a linoleum floor

While linoleum is a low-cost flooring option, proper maintenance is still required. Whether you choose baking soda and vinegar, borax, or some other method outlined above, your floor will look as good as new! Coming next: How to clean laminate floors without damaging them and how to repair swollen laminate flooring without replacing them.

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