Remedies for Cleaning Dirt Off Linoleum Floors

Written by erik devaney
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Remedies for Cleaning Dirt Off Linoleum Floors
Linoleum consists primarily of linseed oil. (floor inlay image by Adrian Hillman from

Before you attempt to clean dirt off of your linoleum floor, ensure that it is linoleum and not vinyl, which you can accomplish by removing a small flake of the floor's surface with a blade. Unlike with vinyl, the colours and patterns of linoleum go all the way through, so your resulting divot should have the same appearance as the rest of the floor. Once you are sure you are dealing with linoleum, several remedies can help you achieve spotless floors.

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Vacuuming is a beneficial first step in cleaning dirt off of linoleum as it picks up all the loose particles that mopping would otherwise spread around. Cleaning Tips recommends going over all the main surfaces of your linoleum with a vacuum and using an attachment to vacuum corners and along the edges of walls and other structures. Regular vacuuming--or sweeping--is one of the best preventive methods for keeping your linoleum floors clean.


According to How to Clean Things, many cleaning products, such as those that contain ammonia and bleach, are too caustic for linoleum and can potentially cause damage. A natural, safer alternative is to use vinegar, which has an acidic content that represents approximately 5 per cent of its total volume. For best results, soak a rag in vinegar, or in a solution of vinegar and water, and wring it out so that it is not dripping. Go over the linoleum once with the rag to loosen up dirt particles, and make a second sweep using a bit more labour to scrub away stubborn spots and stains.

Dish Detergent

While the above source recommends vinegar as a safe remedy for cleaning linoleum, Life Script warns that even this slightly acidic substance is too strong for linoleum to handle and can potentially cause damage. As an alternative, try cleaning away dirt with a solution of dish detergent, such as Dawn, Palmolive or Ivory, and water. Use a brush with nylon bristles or a coarse dishwashing sponge to scrub the solution into the stains.

Stripping and Waxing

For incredibly deep, stubborn and/or old dirt stains in linoleum, you may need to pull out the heavy artillery and complete the more elaborate process---in comparison to other methods---of stripping and rewaxing your floors. According to Cleaning Tips, this requires you to pour ammonia onto your floors, section by section, and rub it in with a rag. After letting the ammonia soak for between 15 minutes and a half hour, scrub each section again with a nylon brush, and rinse the floor with water. The ammonia will dissolve the wax coating on your linoleum floor and remove any dirt stains embedded within it. Once the floor dries, apply a new coat of wax.

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