Steps For Giving New Life To Old, Yellowed Linoleum

Lead Image
  • 4-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 25-100
What You'll Need
Mop wringer

Linoleum, or sheet flooring as it is sometimes referred to, is made by pressing various fillers, such as ground-up cork and wood dust, along with pigments, into a binding material, usually linseed oil and resins. This composition is applied to a canvas or felt backing. Unknown to most homeowners, linoleum is easily affected or damaged by hot water and strong alkaline cleaners, especially ammoniated ones in addition to the obvious factors like solvents and oils. According to experts, linoleum must be protected with a water-based sealer/finish.

Please follow these easy steps to upkeep a linoleum floor:

Step 1—Strip floor with a mild solution of a non-ammoniated stripper diluted in lukewarm water according to directions. Test any chosen stripper in a corner of the room to make certain that it doesn't affect the floor in any way before using it.

Step 2—Rinse and neutralize with a new, clean mop and a white vinegar rinse (1 cup vinegar into 1 gallon of cool water)

Step 3—Rinse again with a clean mop and just plain cool water.

Step 4—Allow the floor to dry.

Step 5—Using fresh, clean rayon mop, apply a MEDIUM coat of sealer/floor finish. Do not allow puddling or dripping of floor products onto the floor.

Step 6—Allow the floor to thoroughly dry.

Step 7—(Optional) Only if necessary, apply a second, THIN coat of sealer/finish. Allow the floor to thoroughly dry.

Sweep the floor daily to maintain its look, and damp-mop weekly with a "neutral" floor cleaner diluted according to the manufacturer's directions.


Hot water and/or any harsh ammoniated or solvent-based floor cleaning product will turn the linoleum "yellow" (or create "yellow spots") and degrade the bonding oils. If yours has yellowed, it must be either lightened or removed through a bleaching action. You must "bleach" the floor, perhaps, back over several times. Dilute 1 part chlorine bleach with three parts cool water. Apply liberally and evenly onto the floor and allow to stay for 30-45 minutes.

If the stain appears to be lightening, repeat the process. If not, wet the floor with bleach solution again and sprinkle scouring powder containing "chlorine bleach" onto it. Then scour the floor. Immediately, rinse the floor thoroughly with cool water. Neutralize floor with a vinegar rinse (1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water). Then damp-mop and rinse the floor with water one last time. You may have to repeat this process several times before a visible change is noticed. If nothing happens, you may have to get used to looking at yellowed linoleum.

Before attempting this suggestion on your entire floor, test an inconspicuous yellowed area with the same procedure. If you like the results, then move on to the rest of the surface.