Cleaning Linoleum with Improvised Means

Modern linoleum’s protective properties are quite high. However, time is merciless, and as time goes, linoleum will wear and get dirty. Cleaning linoleum at home is a large problem every linoleum owners face. It’s not a secret, however, that you can clean almost all types of smudges and contaminations. You just have to know what to use. Today we’ll talk about cleaning linoleum by improvised means.

Traditional Linoleum Cleaning Techniques

The most effective and efficient way to clean any flooring is to use vacuum cleaner with steam generator and squeegee. It will remove most types of pollutants and disinfect the flooring. However, specialized vacuum cleaners cost quite a fortune, and many people usually resort to standard cleaning methods.

There are a lot of detergents available in stores. No need to advertise any one of them; just make sure you’re picking specialized linoleum detergent.

Dry cleaning of linoleum is quite a risky business. Aggressive detergents may leave hard-to-clean stains on your flooring. In some cases they may even irreparably damage the surface.

The best option for frequent wet cleanings is to use warm tap water with a dip of liquid soap. Some homeowners recommend shredded laundry soap or washing powder, but liquid soap remains your best bet. Why? Well, laundry soap or washing powder will leave whitish stains on the flooring, and you’ll have to wash it again.

A mop is often used to clean the linoleum //

A mop is often used to clean the linoleum //

A little word about the inventory. Soft floor mop remains the most versatile way to clean the flooring, but it will be one hell of a job. Better use microfiber or foam rubber sponge. Telescopic mop with wringing mechanism is quite affordable and will speed up the process by at least 50%. In addition, it is much more comfortable than the regular floor mop. Metallic or hard synthetic sponge is not a good solution, as they may damage thin domestic linoleum.

PRO TIP: LET IT LAY DOWN – Professionals recommend that you don’t clean freshly laid linoleum for a month. Let it “lay down” and take its natural shape. Cleaning it with vacuum or broom should be enough.

Cleaning with Improvised Means

Both commercial and improvised means of cleaning can be broken into two categories: regular and “aggressive”. The latter should only be used to remove hard-to-clean stains.

Linoleum First Aid

Dark stains from shoes near the front door is a real problem for most homeowners. They are very hard to clean with usual detergents, and most owners had just given up. However, it’s not hard at all to clean them for good. Fresh rubber stains could be removed with a stationery eraser. Just rub the stain for a few minutes, then clean it with soapy water.

Refined gasoline, kerosene or turpentine can be used to clean coffee stains, rust, iodine, felt-tip pen and even bitumen or other bitumen-alike oil products. Just be careful. Soak a cotton swab in gasoline and use it to clean the stain. After the job is done, clean the area with soapy water immediately. Gasoline, kerosene and turpentine are very aggressive liquids – excessive cleaning may lead to etching of image or texture. There are no ways to restore the damaged picture, and you’ll have to replace the linoleum.

Read also:  How to Lay Linoleum: DIY Instruction

Rust stains, mold and green grass smudges can be cleaned with weak chlorine solution or bleach. Be even more careful – chlorine is way more aggressive than the petroleum, so the solution must be really weak. Dissolve 1 part of bleach in no less than 10 parts of water.

Iodine can be removed with much less drastic measures. Take a wet mop with potato starch and put it on a stain for 15-20 minutes. Even potato peelings can do the trick, although they have way less starch and they could only work with small stains. Repeat the procedure if one time wasn’t enough.

Fresh marks from ballpoint pen and other ink stains should be immediately treated with salt and washed with vinegar. The stain will get away in a few minutes. Sulfur is also a nice way to remove ink stains. Just scrub the ballpoint pen mark with wet match head. Don’t forget to wash it with water afterwards.

Chewing gum is an another large problem, especially if you have kids. Don’t even try to wash the crushed chewing gum with warm or hot water – it will make it worse! You need to freeze the chewing gum before removing it. Put a few ice cubes or a piece of frozen meat from refrigerator on it. You’ll be able to remove the chewing gum with a knife or metallic putty knife in 15 minutes.

No need to go for the gasoline or other aggressive detergents if you spotted a wine stain or other biologic dye marks. Ammonia, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice will do the trick.

PRO TIP: DON’T SCRATCH IT – Some people recommend to clean the ink stain with thin emery or pumice stone, then grease it with linseed oil or mastic. While this method may be effective, you’ll scratch the surface of the linoleum and leave a considerable mark.

Cleaning the Brilliant Green

Brilliant green stains are among the most noticeable. We think it would be fair to devote the whole subsection to this problem.

There are several options:

  • Fresh stains can be removed by acetic acid with potassium permanganate and acetic acid with hydrogen peroxide. Apply the acetic acid with light potassium permanganate solution first and wait for the brilliant green to change color from green to pink and then brown. Wash the first solution away and apply the second solution with hydrogen peroxide. It will bleach the stain, and it would disappear soon;
  • Fresh stains can be cleaned with purified acetone solution. Purified acetone can be found in any nail polish remover;
  • 10% ammonia solution or camphor alcohol will do the same trick.
Read also:  How To Remove Old Linoleum Or Glue When Replacing Flooring

Preventive Care

It is easier to prevent a problem from occurring rather than heroically trying to solve it. There are several effective recommendations on how to prevent any serious contamination:

  • Linen oil will create dirt- and water-repellent coating on the surface of linoleum. Any refined oil would work, but linen oil will leave no smell, and its consistency is the best for such kind of works;
  • Some people prefer to grease the linoleum with linseed oil. Not a large mistake, but modern linseed oil is often questionable in quality. If you like to walk barefoot on your linoleum, avoid this option;
  • Time for something exotic! Wash the floor with a 1:1 solution of water and cow milk. Thin coating of natural animal fats will make your linoleum shine. However, this procedure is done in two steps. Leave the linoleum for 8-10 hours after greasing, then wipe it off with soft rags or felt. Repeat the procedure every month.

PRO TIP – VINEGAR’S YOUR FRIEND: Add a little bit of kitchen vinegar into the washing solution. It will make your linoleum shine and protect it from soapy stains.

A Few More Words About Prophylactic Care

Linoleum is extremely vulnerable to hot water. Warm water is okay, but hot water will soften the linoleum, making the dirt go even deeper. As a result, it will be much harder to clean it afterwards.

Most linoleum models are made with glossy coating. It is a very thin, easy-to-scratch protective layer. As a result, do not use any abrasive compounds to clean linoleum, for they will remove the coating. Even the baking soda can irreparably damage the surface.

Although linoleum is quite durable, do not wash it with any alkaline or concentrated acids. It may irreparably damage the picture or protective coating.

Domestic linoleum is very soft and can easily be pressed. If you’re using old cupboards with thin feet, they may press your linoleum. You can use gaskets to avoid it. Just be sure not to use rubber gaskets – the rubber will veld with linoleum and you’ll not be able to clean it by any means.

If you have little trust in improvised means and prefer to use special detergents, do not mix different solutions. You will risk damaging the flooring.

A mop and a pack of detergent near dirty linoleum //

A mop and a pack of detergent near dirty linoleum //

PRO TIP: EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM – The earlier you try to clean the stain, the better your chances of success are. 90% of even the most hard-to-clean stains can easily be removed if they’re treated early.


There’s nothing hard in cleaning the linoleum with improvised means. Just be sure not to lose time. Find more information in the video guide below.

How to Clean Linoleum Flooring Video Guide

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