Frugal Tips for Cleaning and Reviving Dull Linoleum Flooring

by Reader Contributors

Cleaning and Reviving Dull Linoleum Flooring photo

Has your linoleum lost it’s shine? Tired of the scrubbing? Our readers share their most effective frugal tips for easily getting that dull linoleum flooring clean again.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I have a cheap linoleum in my kitchen that has ground in dirt. I can’t afford to replace the linoleum now and have tried to clean it, using a wide assortment of cleaners (Spic and Span, Mr. Clean, Mop and Glo, et. al.).  The only way for the floor to look clean is if I get on my hands and knees and scrub. This takes me about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. to do and then I have to use a “shine maker” as the floor looks clean but dull. Within a few days, it looks dirty again.

It appears that the dirt is “in” the linoleum. I don’t know the maker of the linoleum, where it was purchased or anything. Please ask your readers for help with any tips they have for cleaning a dirty, dull linoleum floor and reviving its shine!

Strip It First

I had the same problem with our floors. Many major home improvement stores carry strong floor cleaners. I used a floor cleaner/ stripper. Some require major protective gear, but this one only needed gloves and ventilation.

You pour it on full strength, wait a few minutes so it loosens all of the wax and ground in dirt (you can use a scrub brush to help along the process) then wipe up. Our floor was REALLY dirty, but this fixed it. We decided not to replace the floor after this process.
Melissa S.

Ammonia Works

When I used to clean my dad’s floors at his office, I used straight ammonia with a little water. Let it sit a few minutes. The dirt will come out.

Be sure and use plenty of ventilation.

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A Cleaning System

Your cleaning dilemma is one that faces many individuals, and you do not have to have an old floor to have a problem. Many people find that keeping the newer floors clean is also difficult.

It seems as though you have used a battery of cleaners with little success. Sometimes the cleaning method in itself will be the downfall of a cleaner looking floor. If ample rinsing is not done, even in some of the cleaners that suggest no rinsing is necessary, it will attract dirt to the flooring.

  • You are correct, the dirt particles appear to be lodge in the fabric of the linoleum. Dirt and dust will etch the floor. Therefore, allowing the dirt to accumulate in the etched areas or designs.
  • Use a broom, dust mop or vacuum on the floor prior to washing. Working on a dirt free floor is essential. Unless you want clean dirt! -)
  • I have found that using Clorox Cleanup with Bleach does a terrific job in lifting the dirt and brightening linoleum floors.
  • Place old newspaper or drop cloth around the carpeted or furniture areas. Remember you are using a bleach product, and it can/will fade or discolor any fabric (including the clothes that you are wearing to clean the floor).
  • Since you will be using a new method of cleaning, please test any new cleaner in a hidden area, use your judgment and then proceed at your own risk after reading/following the directions.

You will notice a marked difference in the cleanliness of the flooring, after using a sponge floor squeegee. Wash squeegee thoroughly when finished. I suggest doing this method only when you have a build up. If you sweep the floor daily and wash it with a mild non-sudsy ammonia and water or distilled white vinegar and water mixtures, your floor should remain clean and dirt free.

S.C. Johnson Wax has excellent products for shining the floor. If you find the regular products that are available to the general public via the grocery store are not doing the job, then I would suggest contacting a janitorial supply house. Many of these supply houses are available to non professional cleaners. Contact one prior to visiting their store.
Joanne P. W.

Use Chlorine

Debbie’s problem with her linoleum floor possibly can be helped with the addition of chlorine bleach to her mop water. I once had a white Formica counter top that had scratches where the dirt appeared to be down in the material, and after using every product under the kitchen sink, I went to the laundry room and used straight bleach and it worked miracles. Take precautions with proper ventilation and protect your skin and eyes.

Another solution may be to use an electric floor scrubber. My mother had one of these things and used it on her linoleum with success.


Try Windex. I use it without diluting. It works great, especially on those tough spots!
Wanda F.

Another Ammonia Fan

My husband is a professional floor covering installer. We moved into an older house with cheap vinyl tile. Ugh! We used professional strength ammonia (be extremely careful – very strong) to strip the floors. Open windows and keep children away. Then we used a professional wax product for vinyl floors (found at local carpeting store.) We applied 3 coats, each time allowing sufficient drying time. This lasts for about 2-3 months, depending on traffic flow. Worth a try.

P.S. If the dirt is truly in the linoleum, nothing will help.
Kalene, TN.

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Clean First, Then Seal Floor

I clean homes for a living. I have had clients that wanted me to clean their floors with the items you mentioned. I did for them, but for my own place, I don’t allow that junk in my home. I think what you are calling ground in dirt is really Mop n Glo that is built up.

I recommend using plain old sudsy ammonia. Pour on liberally and lightly move mop over the floor as ammonia breaks up the old wax. Moving the mop helps the wax to be removed more evenly. After your mop gets a dirty look to it start rinsing in sink with running water.

After all the old wax is off, it is good to close the pores of the floor with a sealer. Put a coat or two of the sealer on and then a couple coats of wax. Be sure to let dry thoroughly between coats. After your floor is waxed, never use Spic n Span, Mr. Clean, or any of that other junk on your floor again. Don’t use anything with ammonia in it. I recommend plain old vinegar and water for cleaning vinyl floors.

I get my sealer and wax from a company called Hesco ( but you might try Home Depot, Merlands, Home Base, etc.

Try Painting Over It

The only suggestion that I can give is to clean the floor as you have been. Then stencil a design onto the floor using an appropriate paint (the paint person at the store should be able to tell you what kind). The stencil could go around the outside like a border, or right in the middle like a medallion. To make things even more interesting you could use the same stencils to add some flair to the walls or cabinets as well.

Once you have it painted, you will have to put a topcoat on it to protect it from wear. I’m sure that you can get several more years out of your floor. I saw this idea on HGTV and thought that it was a great way to restore old linoleum when you can’t afford to by new.
Susan H.

Try Comet

I have the same problem and just about gave up  when my husband finally decided to do something since I was so frustrated to try anything again. He used Comet, not with a sponge but with a pot scrubber (not S.O.S but the plastic ones). It worked wonders. He still had to get down and scrub but it didn’t take that long and it didn’t hurt the linoleum either.

It looks wonderful, almost like new. Give it a try and good luck!!!

Reviewed January 2023

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