How to Remove Yellow Stains on Linoleum Flooring


Beverly asked: How do I remove the yellow stain that is under the throw rugs in my bathroom? The flooring is linoleum.

Linoleum flooring is made from raw materials, including linseed oil. When this oil is blocked from the sunlight it begins to oxidize and can change colors. The continual covering of floor mats and rugs can hasten this process. In many cases, it is possible to remove these stains with a few simple steps. Here are two different methods to use.

Sunlight Method

You Will Need:

  • Sunlight

Steps to Remove the Yellow Stains:

  1. Since the lack of light is what causes the problem, the easiest way to remove them is to introduce light to the area.
  2. Remove the rugs and allow the yellowed areas some time in the sunlight/daylight.
  3. The length of exposure time will depend largely on how long the areas have been covered and how yellowed the areas have become.
  4. Once the yellowed areas have reached the same coloring as the rest of the floor, continue to remove the rugs periodically to allow light to the covered areas.

Baking Soda Method

You Will Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Soft cloth

Steps to Remove the Yellow Stains:

  1. Begin by removing the rugs and sweeping away any dirt from the area.
  2. Next, wet the entire area with plain water.
  3. Sprinkle baking soda over the yellowed area and allow it to set for at least 10-15 minutes.
  4. Use a soft cloth to wipe the baking soda away.
  5. It may take several applications to remove the yellow areas if they are deeply discolored.
  6. Once the stain is gone, continue to clean the area with baking soda during weekly cleanings to keep the yellow stains from returning.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Though many still call it linoleum, modern “linoleum” is actually vinyl flooring. The preservative materials that keep the rubber backing on the floor mats from becoming dry and brittle can also cause a chemical reaction with the vinyl, leaving yellowed or discolored areas on the floor. Depending on the severity, the methods above may help, but often the stains caused from this reaction are impossible to reverse.
  • To prevent stains from occurring, check the labels on the any floor rugs to ensure that they are non-staining to vinyl floors.


  1. Beverly says:

    Thank you so much for the tips. I’m sure there are many of us out there that have this problem. Now, the stains can be removed. My other solution is to just keep the floors bare until company arrives, and then put them back down. It also saves on the wear and tear of my “special” rugs! Thanks for having such a great website. I’ll tell everyone about it!

  2. Beverly says:

    Let me know how these methods work for you.

  3. Where would you find this type of mat and what is the backing of the mats?

  4. Yes, I did this too! Looking for relief. Thank you for all the ideas and I will try to remedy my problem, and get back with the results. Since I found this issue when I lifted my rug, I have purchased the “spa rugs” thick and soft to the feet. No backing. and I only put them on the floor when I need them. I won’t be replacing my flooring anytime soon, so this will have to do.

  5. I saw rug labels that said “non-staining, fade resistant.” Does that mean the floor won’t get discolored or that the rug won’t fade or stain? It didn’t elaborate. What type of backing do I look for?

  6. I have a old dog, and I just found a place on my white, linoleum floor where I previously had a rug with a rubber back, that he had peed on when the rug was there, and now it has turned my floor yellow. I can’t get it off, can you help?

  7. Can you help?
    I’m moving homes and was told that I need to get my lino on my kitchen floor back to normal; it’s turning orange in center where nothing is covering it. Is this from a lack of light?
    If the baking soda does not work, what else could I try? If I can’t remove it, I have to replace it and it’s money that I haven’t got because we are moving.
    Can anyone help?

  8. Kristina,
    Light (too much or too little) can alter the linseed oil in the linoleum covering and result in a yellow or orange-colored stain. Since you said that your stained area is uncovered, I would guess that the damage is from too much light. However, the other possibility is that because the area is uncovered, you likely clean that spot more often and your cleaner could be causing the stains. If the baking soda doesn’t work, try using acetone (nail polish remover) to try to wipe away the stains. If the stains cannot be cleaned, there are few repair options. You could use a 1:1 bleach and water solution to bleach the area. The stained area could be cut out and replaced, similarly to when there is a cut in the floor, which you can do yourself. You could also have the floor sanded, buffed and waxed, which might be more cost effective than replacing the floor.

    Source: eHow – Removing Yellow Stains From Linoleum Floors
    Source: eHow – My Linoleum Floor Is Turning Yellow: How To Whiten It
    Source: San Francisco Chronicle – How to Repair Damaged Linoleum
    Source: ACS Publications – Drying of Linseed Oil Plant Effect of Artificial Visible Light

  9. My stains were caused from the mats you put under your rug so they don’t slip. The bathroom scale’s feet caused the floor to yellow.

  10. Christa says:

    I had the same problem as Sylvia. Bathroom scale feet on white linoleum. Ugh.

  11. “In many cases, it is possible to remove these stains with a few simple steps.”
    “…but often the stains caused from this reaction are impossible to reverse.”

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but these two things sound contradictive.

    Which is it?? I don’t care to go through the process if it’s not likely to happen. If that’s the case, I’ll keep the yellow stains covered.
    One is from a cushioned mat (similar to a very dense foam) in the kitchen and the other is basically a door rug that has dog food bowls on it.

  12. I have yellowish brown stains left from a wooden bath mat that was varnished. I don’t know if the baking soda/ vinegar method will work, but I will try it. If it’s the stain or finish in the wood mat, I think I’m stuck. Thanks.

  13. Pulled back the shower curtain and opened the blinds…Left it like this for three hours. No more yellow. Awesome.

  14. I have two white vinyl-covered chairs that have turned cream. The chairs are part of a dining setting of six. The other four chairs are still white.
    What can I do to get the chairs back to white?

  15. Marina,
    This is the article that you need: How to Whiten Yellowed Vinyl.

  16. This did not work at all. My floor is yellowed in the main part, not under the mats. I can’t get sunshine on the floors. All this did was waste my baking soda and my time.

  17. I do not believe at all the cleaning solutions are for yellowing, stained area due to rugs or mats. Baking soda is an abrasive that will help remove some of issues with tile floors, but not some of the issues raised. I will not comment on the sunlight solution you suggested.

  18. Hi, I live in NZ. My vinyl flooring has gone yellow in patches from bathroom scales; your advice is invaluable. I will try all the suggestions, thanks!

  19. NEVER put baking soda on real linoleum! I just did this and it ruined my floor! The stain is much worse now and I don’t know if it will ever come out! Modern linoleum is NOT vinyl and you need to stop calling it that. If you don’t know the difference, you shouldn’t be spreading misinformation on the internet!

  20. Put strips of sellotape over the rubber pads on the scales.

  21. You are incorrect in saying that linoleum is vinyl flooring. Linoleum typically has a paper backing whereas sheet vinyl flooring is overall thicker and does not have a paper backing.

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