Cleaning laminate flooring the right way

This Is How to Clean Laminate Floors the Right Way

Laminate floors are a fantastic choice for any high-traffic home. Not only are they attractive, but they can stand up to the wear and tear that comes with having kids, pets, and a busy household. All that's needed to keep them looking like new is regular cleaning.

Despite their durability, though, laminate floors don't respond well to many of the cleaning techniques used on hardwood or vinyl. Harsh chemicals and abrasive scrubbers can damage the surface, and the buildup from wax or polish can leave your floors looking dull.

Want to learn how to clean laminate floors without doing any harm to them? Read on for a quick and easy guide to laminate floor care.

Laminate Floor Cleaning: What Not to Do

The first step in figuring out how to clean laminate hardwood floors is understanding how not to clean them. The composition of laminate flooring (a layer of compressed wood particles topped with a plastic veneer) makes it sensitive to heat and moisture.

Here are some common cleaning methods to steer clear of using on a laminate wood floor.

Avoid Water

The composite layer of laminate is made of wood particles packed tightly together and bound with adhesive. It absorbs moisture as much as (and sometimes more than) solid wood planks. The flooring expands when it soaks up water and can warp, bend, bubble, or even separate the seams between planks.

The top layer of laminate flooring is water-resistant. Even so, water can seep through the cracks between planks if it's left to sit.

This means you should avoid cleaning laminate floors with large amounts of water like with a traditional wet mop. If water or another liquid does spill on the floor, wipe it up as soon as possible.

Avoid Heat

The top layer of laminate (called the "wear layer") is made of a thin sheet of textured plastic. High heat can melt the plastic and disrupt the texture, cause the wear layer to peel off, or weaken the adhesive holding the composite layer together.

Because of this, you should avoid using a steam cleaner on laminate floors at all costs. The combination of heat and moisture can do permanent damage to the floor after only one cleaning.

Avoid Scratches and Buildup

While scratches won't damage the integrity of your floor, they can dull the laminate's natural shine. Avoid using these cleaning tools to prevent scratches and chips:

  • steel wool
  • stiff-bristled scrub brushes
  • woven plastic scrubbing pads
  • heavy vacuum cleaners, especially ones with a brush
  • abrasive cleaners

Along with scratches, floor waxes and polishes can also make your floor look dull when they build up over time. Try not to use oil- or ammonia-based cleaners made for hardwood floors. Soap can also leave a film behind, so use it sparingly and always remove the residue before it dries.

How to Clean Laminate Floors

Even though you may have to switch up your methods a bit, you'll be pleased to know that keeping a laminate floor clean is easy with the right tools.

Getting rid of any loose dirt, pet hair, or debris is the first step in cleaning your floor. As such, the most important item to keep in your cleaning arsenal is a standard broom and dustpan. You can also keep a small handheld vacuum or dust buster on hand for small messes, but avoid heavy vacuum cleaners that can chip or scrape the wear layer.

Along with a broom, stock up on microfiber cleaning cloths and invest in a laminate floor mop. These can be used with minimal liquid and get deep into the textured grooves in your floor, preventing residue without leaving scratches.

Cleaning Small Messes and Scuffs

After you sweep up any dry dirt or hair, most small messes can be cleaned up with a damp microfiber cloth. You can either use plain water or dilute some white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Remember to avoid pouring liquid directly on the floor when cleaning.

For stubborn spots or areas of buildup, some people turn to glass cleaners like Windex. This method is helpful in a pinch, but use it sparingly and only in small areas. Spray the glass cleaner on a microfiber cloth and rub the floor clean, going with the grain whenever possible.

Drips of candle wax or chewing gum will scrape off easily with a credit card if you freeze them with an ice cube first. For shoe scuffs, try rubbing the area with a dry tennis ball before reaching for cleaning chemicals.

Cleaning the Entire Laminate Floor

The best way to clean an entire room with laminate flooring is to use a damp microfiber or spray mop such as a Swiffer. These pick up dirt and grime without leaving streaks or pools of water. When washing a reusable mop head, don't use fabric softener, as this can leave residue behind the next time you clean the floor.

Protecting Your Laminate Wood Floors From Damage

Keeping your laminate floors in great shape is easiest when you prevent damage and messes from happening in the first place.

Consider placing a mat and shoe rack just inside your entryway to keep from tracking dirt and mud inside, and don't wear high heels inside the house. Leave pet dishes on a waterproof tray or non-slip mat to keep them from spilling water on the floor. You may also want to lay down a rug in high-traffic or mess-prone areas.

Laminate Floor Care Is Easy With High-Quality Flooring

It only takes a bit of effort once or twice a week to keep the dirt at bay. Follow the above instructions on how to clean laminate floors to keep your home looking brand-new for years to come.

If you're looking for a new laminate floor, National Floors Direct can help! Full of versatile, high-quality laminate options, we can elevate the appearance of any house. Contact us online today for a free in-home estimate and we'll send one of our professional flooring experts your way.