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How to Remove Stains from Vinyl Flooring (6 Methods)

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Chances are you've found yourself asking how to remove stains from vinyl flooring. The truth is, there are many ways to remove stains on vinyl flooring, and the odds are good that you won't even need to purchase a cleaning product!

One of the reasons vinyl flooring is so popular in homes is because it is resilient against moisture and stains, but stains do still happen. And when they do, this article will give you the tools to get your floors looking like new again.

How to Remove Stains on Vinyl Flooring

Accidents happen, and your floor could be the victim. Fortunately, there are quite a few solutions for cleaning up stains on vinyl flooring. Many of these solutions use products you likely already have in your home.

These cleaning methods will work for all types of vinyl flooring. Even though sheet vinyl and vinyl plank flooring are different in some ways, they're all cleaned the same.

Important Precautions Before Starting

Vinyl Floors are low-maintenance and notoriously easy to clean. Always try using a mop or cloth first, but for stubborn stains, here are a few precautions to keep in mind before getting started:

  • A white cloth is always preferable over a colored one. A colored cloth can bleed through and stain your floor.
  • Test solutions in inconspicuous areas to see how your floor reacts. This is especially helpful with strong cleaners like bleach or alcohol. Areas such as the back of a closet, behind a door, or under furniture are usually good testing spots.
  • Don't forget to ventilate! Many cleaning solutions are harsh and potentially dangerous to breathe. Opening a window or door will help protect you from harmful vapors.
  • Be gentle and let the solution do the work. Don't scrub hard into the stain. Deep scrubbing will only put the vinyl flooring at risk of getting scratched.
Soap suds

Liquid Dishwashing Soap

Good old liquid dishwashing soap and water is often the best place to start when it comes to removing vinyl floor stains.

Here's what to do:

  • Mix a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap with warm water until there's lots of soap suds
  • Using a soft towel or sponge wipe the stain
  • Rinse with water
  • Repeat if necessary

Pro Tip: Never use a sponge with a scouring side as it can scratch your vinyl floor.

Lemon cut in half


When it comes to removing stains from vinyl floors it's well worth your time and effort to give lemon juice a chance. Lemons have citric acid, which makes them effective at removing discoloration and even grass stains, plus your room will be left with a fresh citrus smell.

Here's how to remove stains from your vinyl flooring with lemon:

  • Slice a lemon in half
  • Rub and squeeze the lemon directly onto the stained area
  • Allow the area to sit with the lemon juice for 2 to 3 minutes
  • Using warm water, rinse the area
  • Repeat if needed

Jar of baking soda

Baking Soda

Whether you use baking soda for cooking or cleaning, this versatile budget-friendly product is in almost every kitchen cupboard.

Baking soda works great at removing stains from vinyl floors, and it's especially effective when it comes to stains like wine, fruit juice or tomatoes that are more acidic.

Here's how to use baking soda to remove stains:

  • Mix approximately 1-Tablespoon of baking soda with water to create a paste
  • Dab a white soft cloth into your baking soda paste
  • Using a circular motion, gently rub the paste into the stain
  • Rinse and repeat if necessary

Spray bottle with Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another versatile product you probably have in a cupboard somewhere in your house. If your vinyl flooring has scuff marks, make-up or ink stains, using rubbing alcohol can be very effective.

Here's what to do:

  • Using a soft brush or white cloth apply the rubbing alcohol to the stain
  • Gently rub the stain
  • Rinse the area with water and repeat if necessary

Pro Tip: Rubbing alcohol works great on stubborn stains, but don't rush the process. Stubborn stains don't always remove quickly.

Lady cleaning with a bottle of bleach


For stubborn stains like ink, bleach will often do the trick. But you need to be very careful working with bleach, both for your health and your floor. Wear gloves and a face shield, and open a window for ventilation.

Here's what to do:

  • Dilute the bleach: One part bleach to four parts water
  • Place a soft cloth in the solution until it is soaked 
  • Move the towel to the stain and leave it for no more than 1-hour (check it periodically)
  • Remove the towel and rinse the area thoroughly
  • Repeat if needed

Pro Tip: When soaking the stain with the bleach soaked towel, be sure to keep an eye on the progress. Specifically check the area around the stain, as this area could be damaged.

Bottle of white vinegar


If you have no-wax vinyl floors this method could cause the surface to darken from the acid in the vinegar. Because many people don't know exactly what type of floors they have, we do not recommend this method. It's better to play it safe rather than be sorry.

But if you want to try vinegar to clean your vinyl floor stains here's what to do:

  • Dilute the vinegar in warm water (1-cup vinegar to 1-gallon water)
  • Soak a soft cloth or sponge in the solution and wipe the stain
  • Rinse and repeat if needed

Pro Tip: Never use this method on no-wax vinyl floors.

Sample of vinyl flooring

What is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is a type of flooring material that comes in a variety of forms. A popular choice is sheet vinyl flooring since it comes in long, flexible sheets.

Other forms of vinyl flooring include the increasingly popular luxury vinyl tile and luxury vinyl planks, which are often designed to resemble hardwood floors, and sometimes even ceramic. 

Vinyl floors are notoriously resistant to liquids and moisture, and if installed correctly, are technically considered waterproof. Waterproofing is an advantage over vinyl's main competitor, laminate flooring.

The waterproof aspect of vinyl makes it an ideal choice for rooms prone to spills such as kitchens and bathrooms.

In addition, vinyl is also durable and scratch-resistant. Although it's durability depends on the thickness of the flooring. As a general rule, the thicker the flooring, the stronger the wear layer.

Vinyl flooring is considered an affordable option for consumers, and like its competitor, laminate flooring, it is significantly cheaper than hardwood and tile.

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Small boy sitting on vinyl flooring with a pink marker

What Causes Vinyl Flooring to Stain?

Stains on vinyl flooring will still occasionally happen, however, many are preventable and easy to remove.

Liquid spills, such as juice or wine, can leave stains on vinyl flooring. If not cleaned up, the vinyl floor can absorb the liquid and leave visible discoloration. Fortunately, in most cases, if you wipe up the spill at the time it occurs, you'll be able to prevent staining,

The sun can also discolor vinyl flooring. If you have an area that's consistently exposed to sun light and heat, your floor could be prone to fading. You can protect your vinyl floors from sunlight by closing curtains and placing rugs where the sun hits.

Just don't use a rubber mat! The rubber backing on the mat can leave behind markings and residue.

It shouldn't be a surprise, that pens, markers, crayons and make-up can all leave stains.

Another cause of vinyl floor staining is improper installation. If glue was used to install your floor it's possible that some of the glue has seeped up through the vinyl itself or a seam. When this happens, a visible glue stain is present.

Moisture can also cause staining. Vinyl is often promoted as being waterproof, but it's actually better to think of it as water resistant. The problem isn't the vinyl pieces themselves, but rather the joints between the vinyl. This is especially an issue with tile or plank vinyl floors.

Even when the tiles or planks are installed snuggly, the joints between the vinyl pieces can allow water to seep through and cause discoloration. Unfortunately, this damage is permanent and can not be fixed.

Mopping a vinyl floor

Caring for Vinyl Floors

Vinyl flooring is a popular choice because it is so user-friendly. With regular cleaning and a few precautions to help prevent stains and scratches your floors will look great for a very long time.

We recommend regular cleaning with the Bona Stone, Tile, Laminate and Vinyl Cleaner. It's easy to use, does not require rinsing and will leave your floors residue free.

Bona Hard-Surface Floor Cleaner Spray, for Stone Tile Laminate and Vinyl LVT/LVP, Unscented, 32 Fl Oz

Bona Stone, Tile, Laminate and Vinyl Cleaner

Bona's vinyl floor cleaner is pH neutral and will not leave streaks on your floors.

Best Practices 

When it comes to vinyl floors, a good defense is your best protection. The top layer of vinyl flooring is known as the wear layer. It protects against scratches and stains. So taking care of the top layer allows the flooring to stay strong against stains. 

Here are some tips to care for your vinyl floors:

  • Regularly sweep the floors with a broom and dustpan. The dirt and debris of everyday living can slowly break down the top layer of vinyl flooring
  • Use felt pads for the legs of furniture. The bottoms of furniture can scratch the vinyl whenever it rubs against the floors. The felt pads will protect against the damaging friction
  • Use welcome mats outside to prevent dust and dirt from entering your house
  • Inside, use fabric-backed mats where appropriate. Latex and rubber mats have a tendency to stain and scratch vinyl floors
  • Clean spills as soon as they happen. This is the best way to ensure the liquids, no matter the type, do not soak and stain the floor.

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