How Do You Remove Rust Stains From Vinyl Flooring?

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 06/25/24 •  4 min read

Have you spotted those stubborn, reddish-brown rust marks on your vinyl flooring?

While vinyl flooring is renowned for its durability and ease of maintenance, it isn’t immune to the occasional unsightly rust stain, often resulting from hard water. But fret not! Removing these stains doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In this guide, I’ll walk you through effective and safe methods to bid farewell to those pesky rust stains, all while ensuring your vinyl stays in near-new condition.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the world of rust removal, tailored specifically for vinyl flooring.

Understanding Rust Stains on Vinyl Flooring

Rust stains on vinyl flooring are typically caused by hard water, which is rich in minerals like iron. When this water evaporates from the vinyl surface, it leaves behind iron particles that oxidize, creating rust stains. These stains are notably stubborn and require specific cleaning methods for effective removal.

It’s crucial to note that vinyl flooring, despite its durability, is sensitive to certain cleaning agents. Harsh chemicals, such as abrasives, solvents, bleaches, and ammonia, can damage the protective coatings of vinyl, leading to dullness and additional wear. Therefore, the challenge lies in choosing a cleaning solution that is effective against rust while being gentle enough to preserve the integrity of the vinyl.

In the following sections, we will delve into methods that strike this balance, ensuring that your vinyl floors are not only rust-free but also maintain their luster and longevity.

Homemade Remedy for Cleaning Rust Off Vinyl

The average household will have these everyday products, but if not they are also relatively inexpensive to pick up at your local grocery store.

Start by getting dish soap, baking soda, a bowl of water, and rags ready and head to the rust-stained area. Spread a layer of baking soda over the rust stain and wet your rag with the soapy water.

Gently massage the rust-stained area for a few minutes and then rinse the floor with water. You’ll likely need to repeat this process a few times until the rust stain has lifted. The concept behind this is that the baking soda will oxidize the stain and the soap will help to loosen it leaving you with a floor that looks like new. If the baking soda doesn’t seem to be enough you can also try wiping the area with rubbing alcohol after rinsing it with water and before applying more baking soda.

Many other sources on the internet will recommend vinegar and baking soda together to remove stains, but grade five science teaches us that mixing these two ingredients doesn’t do much more than give us a nice bubble show and some saline solution. You can read more about the science behind why it’s a fail here. Don’t waste your time and money doing this.

Store Bought Vinyl Cleaner for Rust Stains

Most home improvement and grocery stores will carry products that you can use to remove rust stains from your vinyl floor. Look for an oxalic acid solution or powder but keep in mind that this powder is toxic so you’re going to want to wear gloves, open your windows, and maybe even a mask while you’re using it.

One I have used before and like is Iron OUT Liquid Rust Stain Remover (Amazon Link).

Follow the instructions on the container and as always it’s recommended to test the cleaner first (if you saved any scraps from the installation it would be a good idea to test the cleaner on a scrap piece of vinyl first).

As mentioned above, it is important to avoid products that have a high concentration of bleach. These products can cause even bigger issues like leaving white splotches that cannot be removed. You are also going to want to avoid chlorinated floor cleansers, for the same reason.

Preventing Rust Stains on Your Vinyl Flooring is Best

The key is to prevent rust stains from occurring in the first place.

A few good ways to help ensure you don’t encounter rust stains are by avoiding using nails to install your vinyl flooring, not splashing large amounts of water onto the floor, and using waterproof mats and a shoe rack to avoid puddles and water accumulation during wet seasons.


At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.