Vinyl, the popular name for polyvinyl chloride, is a synthetic man-made substance which is made from ethylene and chlorine. It is a type of plastic. It was invented as a cheaper and durable substitute to metal, and to counter its (metallic) disadvantages. It is simpler to produce, simpler to use, and is quite rust-resistant.
What is Rust?
When oxygen comes in contact with certain metals over a period of time, the ensuing ugly blemishes on the metal is known as rust. What happens is, the metal, due to the continued presence of oxygen, combines with the oxygen atoms to form a different compound on the surface of the metal. Like in the case of rotten apples. The substance formed is known as the oxide of the metal and the process is called oxidation. Thus, if iron is coming in contact with the atmospheric oxygen, the compound is known as iron oxide.
Similarly, we have aluminum oxide and copper oxide. Water is a common catalyst. Which then explains the rusting of pipes, old park benches, and the Golden Gate Bridge. And if not removed, it will not only look unsightly, but will also cause damage to the metal.
Methods of Removal
Now the question on your mind is, if vinyl is really a rust-free substance, where in the world did the stains come from. While vinyl is rust-resistant, it's not really protected from rust stains. The stains may have come on the metal nails that you used to fix the flooring. Or you must have kept something metallic on the floor for a long period of time, which has now rusted and stained the floor.
So how to go about cleaning it? It's quite simple actually. All you need is some baking soda, vinegar, and a damp piece of cloth. Sprinkle some baking soda on the stained area. Baking soda acts as an abrasive, and is used as a good scrubbing material to clean up the stains. Next, dampen the cloth in some vinegar. Vinegar has 30% acetic acid, and is a good cleaner and deodorizer. Use the cloth dipped in vinegar, and wipe the stained surface with it. The combination of vinegar and baking soda will help loosen the stain, and gradually it will start disappearing.
Apply more vinegar and baking soda if required, and repeat the process. And watch as the stains vanish before your eyes! Don't forget to wipe the area with a wet cloth to remove the vinegar, otherwise the acid will remain on your floor and damage it. Vinegar also has a lingering smell, and you definitely don't want that in your house.
Using vinegar and soda is a very effective way of removing rust from the vinyl flooring. You must avoid floor cleaners that contain chlorine, as they may make the stains even worse. Avoid using bleach on colored floor, as it may lead to permanent discoloration.