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Common cleaning

Mark My Words: Cleaning oil from vinyl flooring

Q. We recently took our toy hauler out of winter storage. We had stored a couple of quads and a golf cart inside it for the winter and some type of oil leaked onto the vinyl floor. It was in the vicinity of the right rear of the golf cart, and it is an electric cart, so must be like gear lube from the rear axle or something out of the electric motor itself.

To make matters worse, I didn’t see it before backing the cart out, and, of course, I got a tire in it and smeared it 3/4 of the length of the trailer and on the tailgate. It seems to have soaked right into the vinyl and stained it. We tried numerous household and floor-cleaning products and even tried spraying brake cleaner on a small area. Nothing seems to touch it.

I’m thinking this must be a fairly common problem with toy haulers. The toys we put in them are subject to leaking all sorts of oil/fluids on the floor. Do you have any suggestions to get the stains out, or is my floor just ruined?


A. I’m afraid it’s bad news! Most vinyl and linoleum flooring is actually fairly porous, and oil will get trapped in the pores of the material, making it almost impossible to remove. Gear oil is especially nasty as it is thick and tenacious. You really can’t use most solvents on that flooring as they will also cause damage.

You might try sawdust or kitty litter on the area to try to get it to wick some of the oil back up, but I doubt you’ll be able to get it all out and make the stain disappear.

Perhaps one of our other readers may have a suggestion. If I receive any, I’ll send them along to you. For now, it’s looking like new flooring to me. Or you might try rubber garage mats or flooring over the old vinyl. That stuff is impervious to just about anything.

About Mark Nemeth

In 1997, Mark quit his aerospace engineering job and became a full-time RVer. For almost five years he traveled the country while maintaining his website, Mark’s Fulltime RV Adventure ( posting monthly travel logs. Mark now travels part-time and works as the RV Safety Education Director for Escapees RV Club providing technical training at Escapees Boot Camp seminars, as well as assisting in many other areas of the club. He is also technical advisor for Escapees magazine. Learn more about Escapees RV Club at

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