How to Clean Laminate Floors: 5 Do’s and 7 Don’ts

Cleaning laminate floor

Laminate floors are a cost-effective option for flooring with highly realistic textures and finishes. While laminate floors may resemble hardwood floors, it doesn’t mean you should clean them the same way. Laminate floors are more susceptible to moisture damage than wood, so you should be especially careful when cleaning them. Here are some tips on how to clean these types of floors.

The 5 do’s of cleaning laminate floors

Dark brown laminate floor

1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your laminate floors

Before you start cleaning, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for your floors – different manufacturers may offer specific instructions for how to clean their brand of laminate wood floors. One of the first things you should do after you’ve installed your laminate floors is to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions on floor maintenance. If you clean the surface as recommended and follow the provided tips, you won’t damage your laminate floor. If you don’t have the manual, you can always look up maintenance instructions on the company’s website or contact them for further advice. 

2. Use a dusting mop or vacuum cleaner attachment regularly

cleaning laminate floor with vacuum cleaner

Sweep your laminate floor with a dry dust mop every couple of days to remove dirt and debris. Even though laminate flooring is made to be quite scratch-resistant, prolonged exposure to excess hair, dirt, and debris can cause scratches to develop if not removed regularly. Alternatively, you could use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment. 

A standard floor brush shouldn’t be used on laminate flooring – the stiff bristles on the brush could cause scratches to develop over time. When cleaning, sweep in the direction that the laminate floor tiles were laid. That way, you’ll easily pick up any dirt particles that fall in between the seams and grooves of the laminate flooring pieces. 

3. Run a damp mop over laminate floors every now and then

cleaning gray laminate floor

Laminate flooring isn’t as sturdy as other flooring options, and it can be easily damaged by devices like steam cleaners, polishers, and buffers. If dusting or vacuuming isn’t adequate, try light damp mopping every two months or so. Be careful not to use an overly wet mop, which can cause water to reach the seams and seep behind baseboards. If your laminate floor is particularly dingy, here are some options to try:

– Hot water

Hot water is generally considered one of the best ways to clean laminate flooring because it doesn’t leave streaks, especially when done correctly. This cleaning method is also the least likely to damage the protective coating of your floor. 

Soak and wring out a mop in a bucket of hot water. Ideally, you should use a sponge mop – a traditional-style mop also works well, but it’s generally easier to control the saturation level of a sponge mop. Be sure to wring out the mop well before using it to avoid inadvertently staining or warping your laminate floor. Cover the entire room, working from one side to the other or starting from the center and working your way out. Since you’ll be using a mildly damp mop, you may need to re-soak and re-wring it several times during the cleaning process.

– Laminate floor cleaner

If you must use a commercial cleaner, go for a manufactured-approved solution that is designed for use on laminate flooring. Never use bleach, wax, or acrylic products because they can ruin the floor’s finish.

– Vinegar 

For a homemade laminate floor cleaner, create a solution of vinegar and water. Diluted vinegar effectively removes stains and stuck-on debris that may have caused laminate flooring to fade. Pour 1⁄4 cup of distilled white vinegar into a spray bottle and add water to fill it up. Spray the solution directly onto the stains, and then use a damp mop or soft microfiber cloth to wipe it off.  

4. Dry the laminate flooring with a clean, dry, microfiber cloth

microfiber cloth

If you don’t use too much water during cleaning, your laminate floors should air dry quickly. However, if they’re taking too long to dry, use a clean microfiber cloth to dry them. 

5. Clean spills, stains, or dirt that get stuck on the floor immediately

Spills and stains are inevitable with pets, kids, and a busy home. Fortunately, laminate flooring has a durable top coat that helps to reduce damage and can withstand the chemicals that you might need to use to remove some staining agents. Here are some of the most common stains and spills and how to remove them from laminate floors:

– Blood stains

To remove blood, spray a window cleaner on the stained areas, then wipe with a clean, damp, non-abrasive cloth. Finish by wiping with a dry cloth. Always try to clean blood stains as soon as possible to prevent them from setting.

– Chewing gum

Chewing gum is easier to remove when it’s completely hardened – you can speed up the hardening process by freezing the glob of gum with a plastic bag of ice before scraping it off with a plastic knife. You can then use a soft, damp cloth dipped in mineral spirits to rub off any residue. Avoid using a metal knife as you might end up scratching the floor.

– Crayon marks, oil paint, permanent marker, glue, and ink

If you have kids, chances are you have encountered one or more of the stains mentioned above. To remove permanent markers, crayons, or ink stains, you’ll want to use acetone or nail polish remover with acetone in it. Pour the solution on a clean paper towel and gently wipe the stained areas in a scooping motion until all the visible marks disappear. For tougher stains, try adding a bit of detergent or ink remover to the cloth to remove the stain completely. After you remove the unsightly discolorations, wipe them with a cloth soaked in warm, clean water to finish up.

If glue is accidentally spilled on your laminate flooring, wipe it up immediately. Use acetone on clean paper towels, and then apply a vinegar-water solution to remove any lingering glue residue. Make sure to do this as soon as the spill occurs, as dried glue can be quite difficult to remove. 

To remove oil paint, use a dry paper towel to remove excess wet paint in a scooping motion without spreading the stain. Spray a vinegar-water solution on the affected area and then wipe with clean paper towels until the stain clears.

– Heel marks and scuffs

Remove heel marks and scuffs by simply rubbing a pencil eraser over these marks until they completely lift off the laminate flooring. 

– Grease 

Apply an ice pack to the greasy area of the laminate floor until the grease hardens, and then use a plastic kitchen knife to scrape it off. Wipe off any remaining grease residue by spraying some window cleaner on the spot and slowly wiping it off with a damp cloth.

– Nail polish, tar, or shoe polish

To remove these stains, add a little acetone nail polish remover to a microfiber cloth and apply it to the stain. Rub into the stain in circular motions until it lifts. Wipe over the area with a clean cloth soaked in water afterward.

– Coffee, wine, or juice

Wipe up these spills immediately to prevent damage to the laminate flooring. Soak any liquid up using clean paper towels, and then spray a vinegar-water solution onto the affected area. Wipe away the solution with paper towels until the stains fade. 

– Candle wax

Allow molten wax to dry completely before carefully scraping it off your laminate floor with a plastic kitchen knife.

The 7 don’ts of cleaning laminate floors

1. Avoid using too much water or letting water sit for too long on laminate floors

Water and laminate flooring don’t mix. Traditional mopping is not advisable for laminate floors since water can easily seep into the seams and cause swelling, floor bubbling, or similar damage. Pools of water can also cause fading and staining.

Mop up standing water on laminate flooring as quickly as possible, as water can migrate into the seams. The laminate edges are more of an issue since they are exposed. If the water reaches the edges or open seams, you’ll need to use a wet-dry vacuum to remove it. 

When the water reaches under the laminate flooring, it has to be removed immediately. If it reaches the edges of the flooring, pull up any baseboards around the perimeter. Damaged boards will need to be replaced on a one-for-one basis.

2. Don’t use a steam cleaner

steam cleaning laminate floor crossed with red lines

Although the surface of laminate flooring is water-resistant, it has an inner core that is made up of high-density fiberboard. So while a spill here and there should be damaging, excessive moisture could break down the inner core. But while using a wet mop is out of the question, do steam cleaners cause as much damage? 

Although steam cleaners won’t cause as much damage as a wet mop, laminate flooring is sensitive to heat and moisture, so the humidity generated by your steam cleaner can cause harm. Continued use can cause your floor to loosen, warp, or peel.

3. Don’t use abrasive cleaning tools

Laminate floors get scratches very easily, so you’ll want to avoid using a rough abrasive tool to clean them at all costs. When sweeping to remove dust and debris, use a soft-bristled broom or a mop to avoid scratching the surface. If you plan to use a vacuum, make a point of using an attachment that doesn’t feature a beater bar or rotating brush, which could easily scratch the surface. 

4. Avoid using buffing, waxing, or polishing machines on your laminate floors

Any type of buffing, waxing, or polishing machine shouldn’t be used on laminate flooring. Although buffers and polishers are not as damaging as abrasive cleaning tools, they’re still not recommended for cleaning laminate floors. You’ll also want to avoid using cleaners that promote shine, as they can dull your floor and cause a waxy buildup that will be difficult to eliminate.

5. Don’t use soap-based detergents

Soap-based detergents are far from okay to use on laminate flooring. Most manufacturers don’t recommend using soap products on laminate flooring because it can make them appear dull and create excess buildup.

6. Avoid sanding the laminate floor

Avoid sanding or refinishing laminate flooring at all costs. A laminate floor may be similar to hardwood in terms of appearance, but it isn’t, and you shouldn’t treat it the same way. Sanding or refinishing laminate flooring will leave it badly scratched and worn out.

7. Avoid using magnetic-style cleaning pads

Because excessive moisture has detrimental effects on your laminate floors, you may consider using dry magnetic-type pads that pick up dirt and debris. However, these should generally be avoided since they tend to cause buildup on the floor over time, resulting in dullness

Additional tips to take care of your laminate floors

rolling a carpet on a laminate floor

1. Take care when moving furniture around the room

To prevent scratching your laminate floor, add furniture pads under the legs of tables and chairs, especially if you move them around frequently.

2. Place rugs or mats on the entryways of rooms with laminate flooring

Dirt tends to get tracked in from outside when you walk into your home, which not only makes the floor dirty but can also cause damage to laminate flooring. The grit that sticks onto shoe bottoms can be one of the worst enemies to your floor. To prevent dirt from getting tracked into your house, throw down a welcome mat or place a rug that allows visitors to wipe their shoes before coming in.

3. Trim your pet’s nails

Cat and/or dog nails can scratch your laminate floor, so it might be helpful to keep your pet’s nails trimmed to prevent damage to the bare floor as they roam around.

4. Take shoes off when walking around the house

It might be worth taking your shoes off, particularly high heels, before walking on laminate floors to prevent scuff marks and scratches.

5. Apply a vinyl underlay to your rags

Consider applying a vinyl rug underlay to your area rugs to keep them from sleeping and scratching your laminate floors.

Final thoughts

To avoid expensive replacements, it’s important to maintain your laminate floors and treat them with care. These cleaning tips will help you figure out the most suitable practices and what to avoid to prevent damage.

Zoltan Szatmari

Zoltan is a test and industrial engineer from Europe who loves learning anything new and working on small projects. When he is not working, he is usually hiking or going to the cinema.

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