If you’ve just spent a pretty penny on a brand spanking new laminate floor, you’re undoubtedly going to want to make sure it retains its factory fresh good looks for as long as possible. Mercifully, laminate flooring is a lot easier to clean than carpet or hardwood and there are plenty of products and methods available to keep your flooring in top shape without spending a small fortune.
Of course, while it is easy to maintain, there is still plenty that must be done in order to prevent wear and degradation. Here, we will take you through the best ways to clean your laminate floor safely, without risking streaking or damaging the wear layer.
How to Clean Laminate Floors
The best thing you can do on a continual basis is to make sure all quick spills are taken care of and that you clean your floors on at least a weekly basis to prevent debris build-up.
The beauty of laminate flooring is that even stain that would cause major issues on a carpet (red wine, for example) can be mopped up easily enough with a few pieces of kitchen towel as long as you act fast, with a quick spray of cleaning solution if necessary. You will, however, need to make sure that any excess moisture is completely taken care of before leaving the stain be, as even if the planks are sealed with wood glue, moisture can still make its way between the joints if left to fester.
The weekly cleaning process should always begin with a ‘dry run’ – which will entail a thorough sweeping and vacuuming to remove surface dirt. Pet hair, dirt, sand and other debris could leave scratches on your floor if tracked around the home, so this is always the first place you should start. If there is still stubborn debris remaining, use a microfibre mop or a damp cloth to take care of sticky bits, making sure to dry the area thoroughly afterwards.
The Best Ways to Clean Laminate Floors
If the above methods don’t provoke much joy and you’re still left with stains and streaks on your floor that won’t quite budge, there are a few more elaborate methods you can try using a range of everyday household products. Hot water is perhaps one of the simplest, but most effective way to clean your laminate flooring. Simply use a standard sponge or mop, making sure to wring it thoroughly. If water alone is not enough, however, there are plenty of other options to consider.
Any educated owners will know that laminate flooring has a top layer designed specifically to protect the photorealistic image underneath and keep the floor looking newer for longer, protecting it against stains and damage. That’s why many owners are so reticent to use potent chemicals such as bleach on their laminate floors, as they worry it might remove some of that top coating. These fears are perfectly reasonable, but one product that works wonders for removing stains and won’t have any negative impact on the top layer of your flooring is white vinegar. As long as it’s diluted, it can even be used to safely remove any rogue adhesive that might have made its way to the surface during installation.
How to clean laminate flooring with vinegar – After you’ve swept your floor thoroughly (otherwise, you’ll just be spreading dirt), create a solution made up of a gallon of warm water and 1/2 a container of white vinegar. Use a mop as you would with hot water – squeezing out any excess to avoid moisture damage. The vinegar will not only help remove stains but should also prevent streaking from occurring.
As we’ve discussed above, abrasive cleaners and products such as steel wool are certainly not recommended for laminate flooring, as it could remove the top wear layer and lead to more significant scratches. White vinegar is certainly an option, but if you don’t have any to hand, mixing a few squirts of softer dish soap into some warm water should suffice. If you add in some vinegar too, you should be able to prevent streaks. Many manufacturers will tell you that you can only use their ow brad of cleaner, otherwise, your warranty will be voided. But nine times out of ten, the above methods should work a treat and shouldn’t harm your floor in any way as long as you are sparing with your use of water.
How to clean laminate flooring with soaps – Simply put a few squirts of low-strength dish soap in a bucket of warm water and give it a bit of a stir. Dip your mop and wring it out before applying to the laminate.
Whilst the above solutions should be enough, we appreciate that you might want to use a cleaner developed specifically for laminate flooring. Thankfully, there are plenty on the market to choose from. These solutions will have been engineered to not only keep your floor looking brand new but to kill any nasty bacteria and mould, which is a cursed blight to any household. The vast majority of these cleaners are of the “spray and wipe” variety, but there are also disposable pads and dilatable liquids to consider too.
How to clean laminate flooring with cleaning products – Before shopping around, check to see if your flooring manufacturer makes a bespoke cleaning solution. Otherwise, store brand cleaners are passable as long as the bottle states that it can be used on laminate flooring. To use, simply follow the instructions on the bottle. Be wary, however, of cleaners that contain lotions, wax or conditioners as they can lead to streaking.
Any home that contains kids or pets (or adults that enjoy hosting the occasional raucous party at the weekend) will undoubtedly acquire some quite serious stains after a while, particularly in the kitchen and dining rooms, both of which are areas that typically use laminate flooring. If you’ve got a troublesome stain, you might want to consider the tips below.
Coffee and Wine – Obviously any stain of this nature should be wiped up immediately, but if the stain remains (or you’ve left it too long) we would suggest starting with a vinegar and water solution (see above). Spray this solution on the affected area and wipe with a kitchen towel. Repeat until the stain is gone. If it’s still being stubborn, however, you might need to invest in some bespoke laminate flooring cleaner.
Nail Polish – Another common household stain that should be taken care of as soon as possible with nail polish remover that’s acetone-based. Use it sparingly, however, and make sure to clean it up afterwards with some kitchen towel as it can stain itself if left to sit. The same procedure can also be used to remove glue and oil-based paint. You should also be able to use nail polish remover to get rid of marker pen.
Wax – Candle wax can be an incredibly inconvenient stain on carpets, but on laminate flooring, it shouldn’t prove too much of an issue. Wait until it dries and then use a rubber scraper or plastic knife to remove it, wiping the space with a vinegar and water solution or floor cleaner once the wax has been taken care of.
Chewing Gum – Perhaps the most notorious of all stains – chewing gum is one of the most stubborn things you can get on any surface and laminate flooring is no different. Try using an old credit card or rubber scraper first if it’s a fresh piece of gum. If the gum has sat for a while, however, you’ll need to either freeze it or heat it up. First, try using an ice cube to harden it and scrape it up with a plastic scraper. If it’s too hard, however, you might need to melt it slightly using a blow dryer before scraping it up. If all else fails, oil or peanut butter is a surprisingly effective solution.
- Laminate flooring shouldn’t require the use of waxes and laminates. Indeed, they will actually damage your floor. All-purpose cleaners are also not a good idea.
- Steam cleaners are another no-go area, as they can lead to a build-up of moisture that can prove disastrous to all but the strongest laminate.
- Put felt pads on the bottom of your furniture to prevent them from scratching your flooring when the furniture is moved.
- Never slide your furniture – always lift.
- In areas of particularly high footfall, place a rug not only to soak up spills but to absorb some of the general wear.
- Use a soft-bristled broom to prevent scratches.
- If you don’t have any nail polish remover to hand, ink remover also works on some stains and won’t damage your floor as long as you clean up afterwards.
- If regular cleaning isn’t bringing the sparkle back, restore some shine to your laminate flooring by using a specialist floor shiner. Make sure, however, that it’s suitable for laminate before rolling up your sleeves!