Linoleum floor covering is manufactured with linseed oil, pine resin and cork dust, and it can last up to 40 years under heavy foot traffic. It was largely replaced by synthetic vinyl in the 1950s, but it has made a comeback as homeowners increasingly opt for natural building materials. Linoleum is durable, but it isn't invulnerable to stains. You can handle most with noncorrosive cleaning ingredients, gentle solvents and a couple of handy tricks.
Removing Yellow Stains
The natural oil in linoleum oxidizes when the flooring is inside in the shade, and the oxidation produces a dull yellow coloring. The easiest way to restore the natural colors is to expose the flooring to sunlight. Since you can't bring the floor outside, you may have to use mirrors to bring the sun to the floor, and it may take several weeks for the yellowed areas to normalize. If the linoleum under a rug or carpet has yellowed, simply remove the obstruction and wait for the yellowing to go away. You can also remove yellowing with baking soda. Wet the affected area; sprinkle on the baking soda and let it dry, and then wipe it away.
If your kitchen or bathroom floor is covered with linoleum, you may find rust stains at the base of a cabinet or under an appliance. You can get these stains out with a commercial rust remover or with cream of tartar. Start by washing the area with liquid detergent and warm water, and then use a commercial rust remover according to the directions on the label. For a safe alternative, mix cream of tartar with enough water to make a paste. Then apply the paste to the rust stains and scrub them out with a cloth. Rinse well with clear water after removing the stains.
You may be able to remove discoloration caused by a juice spill, hair dye or ink by washing the affected area with soap and water. If that doesn't work, make a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water and use it to wipe the affected area. Vinegar can dull the surface of linoleum, so use it judiciously. You can also remove dye stains by rubbing them with denatured alcohol or 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution, or by making a paste with water and baking soda and leaving it on the stain for an hour or so before wiping it away.
Linoleum has a tendency to attract scuff marks from shoes, and you can often get these off by wiping them with soap and water. They'll also come off with a pencil eraser. If your floor collects a large number of these marks, you can keep them under control -- and save your back and knees -- with a simple trick. Cut a slit in an old, worn tennis ball and slip the ball over the end of a broom handle. You can now erase scuff marks by rubbing the ball over them, and you won't even have to bend over to do it.