Laminate floors are traditionally very durable and easy to live with, especially with pets and kids, but it can also be finicky for some people and it can seem downright inconvenient when it comes to keeping clean in some situations. I get a fair amount of questions at Lake Street Home about how to clean laminate flooring and I thought it would be best to write an article about this topic for your reference.
Top quality laminate floors often look as good as actual hardwood flooring, however that doesn’t mean that they should be cleaned in the same way. Laminate floors are different than traditional hardwood and vinyl planks (LVP flooring, WPC flooring and SPC flooring included). Unlike solid hardwood flooring, laminate flooring cannot be refinished. And unlike vinyl plank flooring, it should not be subjected to a heavy dose of water.
Laminate flooring has come a long way in the last 10 years or so and the new laminates are so much better than the ones that were used in houses just 10 years ago. If you have older laminate, you can definitely still keep it clean and beautiful following the steps below, but if you’re in the market for new laminate, I would definitely recommend you look into getting flooring with a bit of a matte finish and something in a medium color with enough variation to mask the dust between cleanings.
Whether they are new or were installed a decade ago, it is critical to properly maintain laminate floors with the necessary care. Here are a few tips to keep your floors looking great for years to come:
Clean up Dirt and Spills Right Away
Liquids can stain and damage laminate floors. Dirt can create microscopic scratches when ground into the flooring, deteriorating the tough wear layer. It is critical to clean up a spill or dirt on laminate flooring immediately to avoid damage. While the surface of laminate flooring is waterproof and quality laminate flooring has edges that are treated to be water resistant, it is still a wood-based product and your floor can be ruined by moisture seeping into the plank seams. Spot cleaning can save you time over cleaning the entire floor.
When in Doubt, Read the Instructions
Look at the manufacturer’s instructions for your floors. The brand may have specific recommendations based on the materials used. Most companies have detailed product guides and instructions on how to clean laminate floors properly on their installation instructions and websites.
Do not use Beater Bars or Rotating Brush
Laminate floors are consistently tougher than hardwood or engineered wood flooring, but they still may scratch, so you’ll want to use a soft-bristle broom or dust mop to sweep up loose dirt and debris. If you’re vacuuming, be careful to use an attachment without a beater bar or rotating brush, which could scratch the surface of your laminate flooring.
Avoid Water Saturation When Cleaning
Do not wet mop your Laminate floors. The water can seep into the seams and cause significant damage. Instead use a slightly damp microfiber mop and/or the misting technique described below. When water doesn’t sit on the floor, it can’t readily seep into the floor.
Skip those Homemade cleaners.
Use store bought laminate floor cleaners instead of home remedies. Make sure you follow the directions, though, because the laminate floor cleaner may leave streaks and residue if used incorrectly. Use any cleaner sparingly and apply it directly to the mop or microfiber cloth. Never wax or polish a laminate floor. I would avoid using Murphy’s Oil. It will leave major streaks on laminate flooring. Vinegar is debatable. I have not had the best luck with vinegar on laminate floors, but many people swear by a little bit of vinegar in hot water to cut pet grime. If you use vingear in abundance it can damage the protective seal on your floors. Many of the home remedies use far too much water or use chemicals that can damage the surface of the floor.
Protect the Surface
Use furniture pads under the legs of chairs and tables. Entry floor mats and rugs will help prevent wear and tear (and will stop most of the moisture and dirt that is brought in from outside).
The Best Way to Properly Clean a Laminate Floor
Follow directions carefully, especially warnings about spraying the solution on too heavily. A good overview of the approach is to:
- Sweep or vacuum the floor to remove any solid debris, sand, dirt, food particles, etc.
- Spray a fine mist of laminate flooring solution over a manageable area and wait two to three minutes
- Clean that area with a dry microfiber mop
- Spray the next section and dry mop that area
- Continue steps 2 through 4 until your entire floor is clean
This pattern prevents you from having to wait two or three minutes every time you spray an area. If your microfiber pad becomes saturated, you may be using too much solution. Either wring it out (best practice) or mop the next area without spraying it first in order to use up the excess cleaner in the mop.
Most microfiber mop heads and pads can be hand-washed or washed in your clothes washer. If you do launder them, dry them on low heat or allow them to air dry. Don’t use fabric softener with mop heads because it will make them less absorbent.
You can avoid streaking on your floor if you dry mop in the direction of your planks. That is mop with the grain of the laminate flooring, not across it. This will minimize visible streaking of the floor cleaner.
Tips on How to Remove Stains from Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring does not typically stain. As mentioned above, always try a store bought laminate cleaner or manufacturer approved cleaner. I recognize that sometimes those do not work so the following remedies for stains and debris may come in handy:
- Chewing gum on laminate: Freeze the glob with a plastic bag of ice before scraping the hardened gum off with a plastic scraper
- Candle wax on laminate: Let the molten wax harden before carefully scraping it off with a plastic scraper
- Heel marks on laminate flooring: Remove by rubbing with a pencil eraser or a Magic Eraser
- Nail polish on laminate floors: Remove with a small amount rubbing alcohol
- Shoe polish on laminate: Remove with a small amount rubbing alcohol
- Ink and crayon on laminate flooring: Remove with a small amount rubbing alcohol
- Grease and tar on laminate: Remove with mineral spirits After you have removed the debris or stain. Clean the floor normally to eliminate leftover residue.
Use common sense
Laminate floors have come a long way in the past 5 years, but treat them as an investment (by cleaning and maintaining them properly) and they will continue to look great for years to come.