New Life for Old and Yellowed Linoleum

Linoleum, or 'sheet flooring', 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:

  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.
  2. Rinse and neutralize with a new, clean mop and a white vinegar rinse (1 cup vinegar into 1 gallon of cool water)
  3. Rinse again with a clean mop and just plain cool water.
  4. Allow floor to dry.
  5. Using fresh, clean rayon mop, apply MEDIUM coat of sealer/floor finish. Do not allow puddling or dripping of floor product onto floor.
  6. Allow floor to thoroughly dry.
  7. (Optional) Only if necessary, apply a second, THIN coat of sealer/finish. Allow floor to thoroughly dry.
  8. Sweep the floor daily.
  9. Damp mop weekly with a "neutral" floor cleaner diluted according to direction.

CAUTION: "HOT" water and/or any harsh ammoniated ( like "Mr.Clean ) or solvent-based ( like "Lestoil" ) 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 3 parts cool water. Apply liberally and evenly onto floor and allow to stay for 30-45 minutes. If stain appears to be lightening, repeat process. If not, wet floor with bleach solution again and sprinkle scouring powder containing "chlorine bleach" onto it. Then scour floor. Immediately, rinse floor thoroughly with cool water. Neutralize floor with a vinegar rinse (1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water). Then damp mop rinse 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 use to looking at yellowed linoleum. BEFORE ATTEMPTING THIS SUGGESTION ON ENTIRE FLOOR TEST AN INCONSPICUOUS YELLOWED AREA WITH SAME PROCEDURE. IF SUCCESSFUL WITHOUT HARMING FLOOR, THEN PROCEED ONTO REST OF FLOORING.