How Do You Remove Tough Stains from Vinyl Flooring?

Updated: Apr. 25, 2024

Clean up problem stains faster and easier with these expert tips.

A Person Removing Tough Stains from Vinyl FlooringTMB Studio

Sheet vinyl “resilient” flooring is so easy to clean that it may never require anything beyond damp mopping with a cleaner intended for vinyl floors. But if your floor has marks or stains that still won’t come off, you can use stronger stuff.

Although the methods described here won’t harm most vinyl floors, we strongly recommend that you test them in a closet or on a section of flooring that’s hidden by furniture. Use white rags only; chemicals that dissolve stains can also make fabric colors bleed and stain your floor. Learn to clean luxury vinyl plank flooring.

Remove Stains with Isopropyl Alcohol

A Person Removing Tough Stains from Vinyl FlooringTMB Studio

Isopropyl alcohol, sold as a disinfectant at drugstores, is a mild solvent. It’s the best cleaner for heel marks and works on other tough stains too. You can also use lighter fluid or mineral spirits. Remember that all these products are flammable; turn off any nearby pilot lights and hang rags out to dry before throwing them away.

Bleach will often erase stains left by liquids like fruit juices, tomato sauce and wine. Mix one part household bleach with four parts water, soak a rag in it and lay the rag over the stain. Bleach works slowly; you may have to leave the rag in place for an hour or so.

Remove Stains with Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is the solution for stubborn rust stains. It’s often labeled “wood bleach”—but not all wood bleach contains oxalic acid, so check the label. Most paint stores and some hardware stores carry oxalic acid. If the stain won’t rub off, wet a rag with the acid solution and lay it over the stain for 10 minutes. If the stain remains, rewet the rag and repeat.

When that’s done, rinse the floor with clean water.