How to Clean Laminate Floors

What's the trick to clean laminate floors that shine? Read on for maintenance tips, everyday cleaning methods, and stain removal how-tos.

About Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors get their beautiful appearance from a photographic reproduction, which is layered inside protective plastic coatings on a supporting core of wood-based material. Even though laminate floors look like hardwood, they cannot be refinished. So it's worth your time and effort to keep them clean and free from damaging grit and moisture. Put mats by exterior doors, runners or area rugs in high-traffic areas, and floor protectors beneath the feet and corners of heavy furniture.

First and foremost, always follow the manufacturer's care instructions for your new laminate floor. Don’t hesitate to call your manufacturer with questions; it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you inherited a laminate floor when you moved in, plan on taking care of it by sweeping, dusting, or vacuuming up loose dirt. Sweep or vacuum in the direction that your floor is laid to catch debris between the interlocking pieces. Wipe up all spills right away, including dry materials that fall.

Light damp mopping will help if simply wiping is not enough. Exercise caution; avoid overly wet mopping, which can result in water seeping behind baseboards. If there is standing water on the floor after mopping, dry it with a microfiber cloth. When you do mop, use two buckets of water—one for clean water, and one for dirty water. Using a dirty mop head on your floors is usually the reason why annoying streaking appears afterwards. Before you mop, vacuum first instead of sweeping. Vacuuming is much more effective at picking up particles. Just be sure to switch your vacuum setting to a soft brush. Rotating bristles on standard brushes can scratch a laminate floor. Water is really all you need to clean your floor. If you must use cleaner, opt for a manufactured-approved solution designed for laminate. For a homemade laminate floor cleaner, use a small amount of vinegar mixed with water. Never use wax, acrylic products, or bleach because they can damage the floor's finish.

Of course, it’s always good practice to clean up spills right when they happen. Luckily for you, laminate floors do not stain easily. But if something does get stuck on, don’t fret. Your first line of defense is a manufacturer-approved stain remover. For particularly tough stains, try the following home remedies:

  •     Blood: Remove blood with a window cleaner, then wipe with a damp cloth. As with mopping, follow by wiping with a dry cloth.
  •     Candle wax: Let the molten wax harden before carefully scraping it off with a plastic knife. Never use a metal knife to do this!
  •     Chewing gum: Freeze the glob with a plastic bag of ice before scraping the hardened gum off with a plastic knife. Again, do not use a metal knife.
  •     Grease and tar: Remove grease with mineral spirits.
  •     Heel or other shoe scuff marks: Remove by rubbing with a pencil eraser.
  •     Ink and crayon: Remove with rubbing alcohol.
  •     Nail polish: Remove with rubbing alcohol or a tiny bit of nail polish remover.
  •     Red wine: Wipe off wine with a damp cloth.
  •     Shoe polish: Remove with rubbing alcohol.


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