I have vinyl tiles on my kitchen floor that have not been really cleaned for some 25 years.

Scrubbing with regular soap using a hand-held, floor scrub brush has basically no effect. (I tried Simple Green, also vinegar.)

After rubbing part of one tile with "Goof-Off" (a nasty solvent) for 5-10 minutes, it looked quite clean.

Clean part of one tile

I do not want to spent the time or use the amount of solvent that would be needed to clean the rest of the tiles that way.

Any suggestions? (I am willing to rent equipment, if needed.)

  • 1
    Are you wanting them to look good or be clean? Because you have some serious serious dirt in the cracks. Whatever product you use there will be some hand scrubbing. Have you considered just installing new vinyl or other flooring?
    – DMoore
    Jan 31, 2017 at 16:54
  • New flooring is an expense and bother. I would prefer to clean what I have.The cracks could be scraped out with a knife and filled with some type of grout.
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Jan 31, 2017 at 16:55
  • 4
    @Yehuda_NYC I think it's time to move beyond a brush to something more like a commercial floor buffer. Many have a scouring pad that is quite coarse and abrasive, meant to strip wax from waxed linoleum/VCT tile. Jan 31, 2017 at 17:24
  • 5
    Be careful with aggressive mineral solvents. They can work great in the short term, but irreparably change the underlying material, causing it to slowly lose its dirt resistance, soften, or even break up. Jan 31, 2017 at 17:38
  • 5
    25 years means the tiles are dead and gone. YOu're lucky they aren't peeling, cracking, and crumbling. Get a new floor. Houses cost money to maintain, so you might as well get used to spending some. You may not be planning to move soon, but you'll never sell it with a floor that dead. Jan 31, 2017 at 19:04

3 Answers 3


If it were my floor and I had to keep it I would test a small section with straight bleach - cracks and tile. Let bleach sit for a good 30 mins and wipe. Wait 1-2 days. If there is no discoloration then that is my weapon.

I would then mop the floor with extremely hot water and bleach (10% volume). You are going to need a mop with a scrubbing brush. At first I would just recommend hitting the floor with the hot water and bleach and letting a bit of the solution sit on the vinyl - not enough to leak elsewhere. After 3-4 moppings you can probably start scrubbing harder. And you will need a steel brush for the cracks. But the basic premise is the boiling water will shock the dirt free and the bleach will start eating at the next layer. You could do this in 2 moppings with a heavy amount of grit or 10 moppings letting the water/bleach do most of the work.

Note: This is just what I would do personally. Obviously using bleach has a chance to damage the tile. I have used bleach on many many vinyl tiles without damage though - but I am not sure all manufacturers would suggest this.


Visit a rental store. Rent a floor buffer (machine) and buy some pads to use with it, and floor stripper (chemical to work with machine.) Or, indeed, replace the tile which might have a better result and really should not cost a huge amount.

Your chemistry experiments trend the wrong direction for success, IMHO - floor stripper is made for the job and generally effective, but if attacking it with other things is more your style, baking soda (or washing soda - sodium bicarbonate or sodium carbonate) and water (a base, not an acid, turns grease into soap, but not so harsh as lye [sodium hydroxide - nasty stuff] and no fumes) would be a better approach to try. I cleaned out a very badly burnt pot this weekend which was going nowhere with soap using baking soda and water paste (and scrubbing.) Ammonia (do not mix with bleach DO NOT mix with bleach!) is a fumier (i.e. smelly) approach.

Solvents and plastic tiles are a very bad combination.


Try using some Goop on the floor and let it sit overnight. This stuff listed as 'non-toxic' and will work itself into cracks and crevices. Wipe it up the next day with a damp rag. If it doesn't work, it has numerous other uses and is inexpensive.

  • 2
    Do you mean Goop the hand cleaner?
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Feb 1, 2017 at 0:46

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