How to Clean Laminate Floors
What's the trick to clean laminate floors that shine? Read on for maintenance tips, cleaning methods, and stain removal how-tos.
Laminate flooring was long considered the ugly duckling of the floor world. Today, it’s a cost-effective, attractive option with highly realistic finishes and textures. It can mimic the look of any type of wood imaginable, including rare or exotic hardwoods, as well as stone and other styles. It’s strong and difficult to scratch, plus it doesn’t expand and contract like hardwood. However, it is more susceptible to moisture damage than real wood, making it a poor choice for bathrooms and laundry rooms where water might leak. In addition, harsh cleaners aren't recommended on laminate. When installed in other areas of the house, however, cleaning your laminate floor is easy. Practicing regular light maintenance will keep your floors looking shiny and new for years to come.
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 and are difficult to repair. If laminate gets worn down, unfortunately it will have to be replaced. So, it's worth your time and effort to protect your investment by keeping 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. These steps will help prevent your floor from accumulating wear over time.
General Cleaning for Laminate Floors
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.
How to Remove Stains from Laminate
Of course, it’s always good practice to clean up spills right when they happen. Luckily, laminate floors do not stain easily. But if something does get stuck on or stained on your laminate floors, don’t fret. Your first line of defense is a manufacturer-approved stain remover. Natural recipes, like those with vinegar, baking soda, or liquid soap, can also help to fight laminate flooring stains. Just be sure to stay clear of abrasive sponges and scrubbers like steel wool when you're cleaning laminate floors as they can create permanent scratches. 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.