How to get the yellow out of a yellowed vinyl floor

No matter how clean we keep our kitchen and bathroom floors, eventually they'll yellow with age. This ugly yellowing can be caused by several reasons. Fortunately, in most cases it can be removed, restoring your floors to almost-new condition. Here's some of the strategies I use to clean up yellow floors, these ideas should work for you as well.

Baking soda paste. When I installed new kitchen floors several years ago, the floor installer cautioned me about using rubber backed rugs on the floor. Apparently the rubber in the mat reacts chemically with the factory finish, resulting in a dingy yellow color that follows the contours of the rug.

In most cases, the stain caused by rubber backed rugs only goes through the first layer of finish. Depending on how deep the stain has permeated, it may be possible to lift the stain with a paste of baking soda and water. Gently apply in a circular motion until the stain is gone. For deeper stains, the floor may have to stripped following the following instructions.

Spot yellowing. Most yellowing is caused by a build up of old floor wax, even if all you use is a product like Mop n Glo. This kind of spot yellowing is usually found in places that see little traffic such as under the cabinets or in the corners. To lift the yellow in these places means removing the old wax.

This is done by pouring a strong mixture of ammonia and water (mixed in a 1: 8 ratio) over the discolored wax and letting soak for about 10 minutes. Gently scrape off the greyish wax build up using a cheap but stiff bristle brush applied in a circular motion. Heavy wax build up may have to be scraped away with a putty knife. Wipe away remaining traces of wax with a rag dipped in the ammonia solution; rinse with clean water, and then wax the entire floor using your favorite floor wax product.

Overall yellowing. For yellowing that seems to be through out the room, stripping the old wax will restore the floors to like-new condition. To remove a wax buildup, apply a commercial wax removal product such as Armstrong floor wax remover, following the instructions. If you have areas heavy wax buildup that won't respond to commercial stripper, use the instructions for "spot yellowing" to treat these areas. Once the floor has been stripped, it should be rinsed and two new coats of floor wax applied.

It's easy to prevent a floor from yellowing by remembering to strip the floor regularly. Stripping the floor after every third waxing will keep it looking bright and stop unsightly wax buildup from turning yellow.

More by this contributor:

How to remove a stubborn wax buildup

How to clean floor rugs the green way

How to deep clean the kitchen