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Removing Hard Water Stains from Linoleum

Many years ago I worked as a cook in a children's center. Part of my daily duties included sweeping and then mopping the large lunch room floor, entirely composed of linoleum. The building was old, as was the linoleum, and years of using hard water on the flooring had taken its toll. The water supply to the children's center was pumped from a drilled well full of hard water, and the wet mop bucket left hard water stains in a pattern along the perimeter of flooring. Using more hot water and detergent simply made the stains worse with each passing week.

A new children's cottage was built the following spring, and I spoke with the flooring contractor about the hard water stains in the main lunchroom. He told me that linoleum is made from all natural ingredients of linseed oil, wood flour, cork dust, burlap, and canvas, and is a porous material and can stain easily, especially from using hard water. Since hard water contains a greater portion of limestone, the limestone adheres and creates a buildup on porous flooring, such as linoleum.

He gave me the following tips for ridding the linoleum of the hard water stains:

  • Make a paste of club soda and borax or Oxyclean, and scrub the paste into the linoleum with a stiff brush for at least ten minutes. Wipe away the excess and the stain should be gone. If not, you can apply the paste, rub it in, and then allow it to sit as a poultice overnight, and then wipe it away the following morning.
  • Mix one-half cup of white vinegar with one gallon of hot water. Insert a thick bath towel into the solution and then allow the towel to sit on the stain for a few hours.
  • For stubborn stains, mix equal amounts of milk and turpentine and then apply to the stain without scrubbing.
  • Use a white, non-gel toothpaste and scrub into the hard water stain, and then rinse with warm water.
  • Make a paste of peanut butter and lemon juice, apply to the stain, cover with plastic wrap and allow the poultice to sit overnight. Wipe away the excess the following morning, and then buff the area to a shine with a dry cloth.

You may choose to completely strip the linoleum of its finish, and then refinish the entire floor. Stripping away the finish will remove the stains, but is an arduous task. Consult a flooring expert about removing stains from your linoleum if the tips above do not do the trick.

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