How to Remove Rust Stains from Vinyl Flooring

woman cleaning floor

Learning how to remove rust stains from vinyl flooring can help you save money and maintain a clean look throughout your home. From basic home remedies to store bought concoctions, there are a few different ways to conquer pesky rustiness without having to replace your flooring.

Understanding Vinyl Flooring and Its Vulnerability

Rust stains can be unsightly and also very difficult to remove, due to the composition of the vinyl itself. Vinyl is a synthetic material created out of chlorine and ethylene. In layman's terms, it is a very durable plastic that was manufactured to substitute for metal flooring. It is cheaper to purchase, easier to install, and unfortunately can be susceptible to rust stains when the room's continual oxygen flow combines with the vinyl to produce oxidation.

Remove Rust Stains from Vinyl Flooring

You can either create your own cleaning solution or purchase a professional formulation.

Removing Rust Stains with Homemade Solution

This homemade solution will fade the rust stain off your vinyl floor.


  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Rags


  1. Spread a thin layer of baking soda over the rust stain. Baking soda is rough in texture and able to lift rust stains out of their resting place.
  2. Wet your rag with vinegar and rub over the stained surface.
  3. Rinse with water and repeat until the stain has faded away.
  4. Make one final rinse and wipe with clean water, as vinegar can be very odorous and unwelcoming in a home.

Removing Rust Stains with a Commercial Remover

Many home improvement stores or marine supply shops carry oxalic acid solution powder that can be used to remove rust stains. Keep in mind that oxalic acid is extremely poisonous, so purchase only a small amount, or keep the remainder up high out of reach of young children. Oxalic acid can also be found in wood bleach.


  • 5 percent oxalic acid solution
  • Household cleaner
  • Large bowl or bucket


  1. Sprinkle the oxalic acid over the stain.
  2. Spray with a regular household cleaner to help aid the acid.
  3. Up end a bucket or bowl over the acid to prevent fumes from the solution from escaping into the air. Take care to ventilate the area well when you remove the bucket.
  4. Leave the solution in place for one hour, then rinse well with clean water.

Products Options

Vinyl floors have special requirements to avoid discoloring while you remove the rust. Keep this in mind when you purchase cleaners for your floor.

Products to Use

A few household cleaners that will assist in removing a rust stain when combined with the oxalic acid include:

  • Ultra One Rust Remover: Ultra One Rust Remover is a cleaner/degreaser that can sometimes help with rust removal.
  • Bar Keeper's Friend: Bar Keeper's Friend is specially designed to remove tough stains.
  • Zud: Zud, a commercial heavy cleanser, can often lift rust damage out of your floor.

Products to Avoid

When removing your rust, try to avoid chlorinated floor cleansers. This will further staining and can cause irreversible damage.

Using regular bleach on vinyl can also cause issues, especially if the floor is colored, as it can create white splotches that cannot be undone. In fact, one of the only types of bleach that can be used is the above mentioned wood bleach. Chlorine bleach will actually set rust into your flooring, as it contains oxidizers. Using this type of standard bleach will discolor your floor's design or cause yellow staining.

Floor Cleaning

Preventing Rust Stains

You can avoid rust stains altogether by properly caring for and preparing your floor with appropriate finishes and treatments if they are available for your specific flooring choice. Additionally, follow these tips to help prevent rust from forming:

  • Avoid using metal nails to install your flooring, as these easily rust.
  • Try not to splash a lot of water on your floor.
  • Keep the faucet flow low whenever possible to prevent water droplets from hitting the ground.
  • Reroute rain-soaked coats and shoes through a different area of the house when possible.

Keep Your Vinyl Looking Great

By preventing and cleaning the rust stains from your vinyl floor, you can help keep it looking great for many years. Use the right products to clean up the rust stains as they form and get the longest life possible from your floor.

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How to Remove Rust Stains from Vinyl Flooring