The Best Way to Clean Laminate Floors to Protect Its Shiny Finish
Make your laminate floors shine with our tips on cleaning, regular upkeep, and stain removal.
Today's laminate flooring is 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 flooring styles. Laminate floors are strong and difficult to scratch, and this material 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. Additionally, harsh products aren't recommended for cleaning laminate floors. When installed in other areas of the house, however, cleaning laminate floors is easy. Practicing regular light maintenance will keep your floors looking shiny and new for years to come.
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. Although laminate floors look like hardwood, they cannot be refinished and are difficult to repair. If laminate gets worn down, it will have to be replaced, so it's worth your time and effort to keep your laminate flooring clean and free from damaging grit and moisture. Put mats by exterior doors, runners or area rugs in high-traffic rooms, and floor protectors beneath the feet and corners of heavy furniture. These steps will help prevent your laminate floors from accumulating wear over time.
How to Clean Laminate Floors
First and foremost, always follow the manufacturer's care instructions for your new laminate floor, and don't hesitate to call your manufacturer with questions.
Step 1: Vacuum or sweep floors.
If you inherited laminate floors when you moved in, plan on taking care of them by regularly 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.
Step 2: Damp-mop laminate floors.
Light damp mopping will help if simply wiping is not enough, but you should exercise caution. Avoid overly wet mopping, which can result in water seeping behind baseboards. 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 streaks appear afterward. Before you mop, vacuum first instead of sweeping, as 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.
Step 3: Dry floors, if needed.
Water is typically all you need to clean your laminate floor. If you must use cleaner, opt for a manufactured-approved solution designed for laminate ($15, Target). 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 Floors
As with most surfaces, 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 or stained on your laminate floors, your first line of defense is a manufacturer-approved laminate stain remover ($5, The Home Depot). Natural recipes, like those with vinegar, baking soda, or liquid soap, can also help to remove laminate flooring stains. Just be sure to stay clear of abrasive sponges and scrubbers like steel wool when you're cleaning laminate floors as these 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 this process 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 red wine with a damp cloth.
- Shoe polish: Remove with rubbing alcohol.