The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Laminate Floors

Laminate flooring has seen a steady rise in popularity in recent years. Over $980 million worth of flooring is installed in the U.S. each year.

If you know anything about laminate, it should come as no surprise that it’s such a popular choice among homeowners.

Unlike hardwood, it’s far more affordable, while still giving your floors that real wood look. They are very durable and are resistant to moisture from spills and other accidents. 

With so many styles and finishes to choose from, you can pick a laminate that matches your home perfectly.

Cleaning laminate floors is also notoriously easy. This is true, at least when you compare it to cleaning hardwood or tile. But laminate is only easy to clean if you know what you’re doing.

If you’re new to having laminate, you might be wondering what it takes to clean it. We’re here to help. Keep reading for the ultimate guide to cleaning laminate floors.

What Is Laminate?

Understanding what your floors are made of will help you better understand why you need to clean it a certain way.

While they might look similar, laminate, vinyl, and hardwood each have their own specific care needs. Using a single cleaner on all three would result in damage in at least one, if not two or all three types of floors.

Laminate is a hybrid flooring. It starts with a particleboard base that is then topped with an image layer. This image is what gives laminate the look of real hardwood boards. 

Then, the pieces are topped with a transparent layer. This layer protects the image and helps seal the floors, locking out water that could warp or otherwise damage your new floors.

High-quality laminate floors will look like hardwood. In some cases, they may even feel like them. But they aren’t real wood, so you can’t clean them like they are.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Products for Your Floors

If you want to keep your floors looking as new as the day you had them installed, you’re going to need to clean them. But just cleaning isn’t enough; like any kind of flooring, you need to find the right products and methods for your floors:

Skip the Regular Mop

Laminate floors should never be mopped.

Mops put too much water on your floors. Even if you wring your mop constantly, your laminate floors will be left soaked. 

While the topcoat of your laminate floors is designed to lock out moisture, the seams between your laminate boards aren’t quite as sealed. Too much water will cause pooling in your seams.

Over time, this can cause your boards to swell and warp, ruining your floors.

Many cleaning solutions you would use with a mop would also leave streaks and stains on your floors. While they might be clean, they will look anything but that.

Skip the Steam Cleaner, Too

Steam cleaners might seem like the perfect tool to use on any hard-surface floors.

They are great for using on sealed tile or hardwood floors, tough-to-clean grout, tubs, and even some countertops. But on laminate, they are a big mistake.

You’ve already learned that too much water on your floors will spell disaster. Steam does the same. 

Water, combined with the heat, can force water between the boards, causing warping that will dislodge your laminate boards over time. In high traffic areas, warping, combined with foot traffic, may cause your boards to pop out of place in some spots.

Pick a Damp Mop Instead

Instead of a regular mop, opt for a damp mop. These are designed to deposit less water onto your floors, so there is less of a chance of causing pooling between the laminate boards.

Use hot water and a small amount of your chosen cleaning product. Don’t forget to wring out the mop so that it’s damp instead of wet.

Never Use a Cleaner That Promises Shine

Any cleaning products that advertise helping you make your floors shine is the wrong choice for laminate.

Instead, these products are usually designed for hardwood. On laminate, these solutions will leave streaks that are tough to remove.

Get a Soft Bristle Broom and Use It Often

Deep cleaning your laminate floors is a bit more complicated than mopping tile or running a vacuum over the carpet. Do yourself a favor and do what you can to keep your floors clean in between, so you won’t have to deep clean as often.

The best way to do this is by sweeping often. Make it a habit to sweep daily, in addition to sweeping up any messes throughout the day.

Choose a broom with soft bristles to avoid scratching the top sealing coat on your floors.

Sweeping your floors does more than just clear away dirt that you’ll have to scrub later on. Fine dirt on your floors can scratch your laminate floors over time as you walk on them.

Put Your Vaccum to Use

If you think that vacuums are just for carpets, think again.

Running your vacuum over your laminate floors, and using the hose to get in tight corners or under furniture is a great way to get up as much dirt and dust as possible.

Picking a Product

A vacuum, soft bristle broom, and a damp mop are perfect for any laminate floors. But when it comes to choosing a cleaning product, things get a bit more complicated.

That’s because not all laminate floors are created equal.

The best way to choose a cleaning product to use on your floors is to check out the manufacturer’s recommendations. A product that works on one laminate floor could compromise the seal on the next.

Whichever product you choose, steer clear of anything that is pine-scented. These products are known to dull your floors, leaving a soapy residue behind.

It’s also a good idea to stick to mild detergents. Unless the manufacturer specifically recommends a specific product, mild cleaners are far less likely to scour or leave residue on your laminate.

Think Twice About DIYing

A quick internet search will tell you that many homeowners swear by making their own homemade cleaning products to use on their floors.

One popular recipe calls for vinegar and water. But if you want to extend the life of your floors, make sure that you’re using only a small amount of vinegar. 

Because vinegar is acidic, too much can damage the top layers of your floors.

Beware of any DIY recipes that call for bleach. This will strip the shiny finish off of your laminate floors. It can also soak in, causing the boards to warp much the same as water damage will do.

Cleaning Laminate Floors the Right Way

Once you’ve gathered the right products, it’s time to get cleaning!

Start by sweeping up any dirt, dust, and debris on your floors. Don’t forget to sweep under furniture and in the corners.

Next, grab your damp mop. Use hot water and a small amount of your chosen cleaning product. Wring the mop to ensure that you aren’t dumping too much on your floors.

Now it’s time to gently scrub your floors to dislodge any stuck-on stains or stubborn dirt.

When you’ve finished scrubbing, make sure to let your floors dry completely. Wait to move rugs or furniture back onto your floors. Otherwise, they may trap moisture beneath them and damage your floors.

Once you’ve cleaned your floors, keep them clean in between mopping by sweeping or vacuuming often.

Avoiding wearing your shoes, or at least dirty shoes, inside will also help to prolong the lifespan of your new laminate.

The Biggest Mistakes You Can Make With Your Laminated Floors

Before you can learn how to clean laminate floors properly, you need to learn a few crucial mistakes you never want to make with your new, or new to you, floors.

These mistakes can lead to stains, warps, watermarks, and more on your brand new floors. This is true even if they are high-quality. And these mistakes can prove disastrous if your floors are of poor quality.

Letting Messes Sit on Your Floors

Messes happen. You slosh your glass of red wine. Your beloved dog decides that your living room is his or her bathroom. Your children paint outside the lines, and your floor becomes a rainbow of color.

The good news is that unlike with carpet, these messes don’t necessarily spell the end of your beautiful new laminate floors.

But if you don’t clean them up right away, the opposite may be true.

Cleaning up messes as soon as they happen, or as soon as you notice them, is crucial. This will help keep the liquid from penetrating your floor’s protective top layer. 

Once the stain soaks past that layer, it may stain your floors. On a darker floor, a small stain here and there might not make a big difference. But on a lighter colored floor, small stains stand out very clearly.

When you miss a mess or are faced with a tough stain, clean it on its own before cleaning the rest of your floors.

For instance, mineral spirits are good for removing grease, tar, and ink. Acetone can remove a nail polish spill.

Use these solutions in small amounts, and clean up any excess. Once you’ve gotten rid of the tough stain, clean the rest of your floors the way that you usually do.

Wearing High Heels

If you aren’t someone who usually takes their shoes off when coming into your home, you probably don’t think twice about wearing your heels inside, too.

But while your favorite shoes for working or going out might seem harmless enough, they can do major damage to your laminate floors.

The pokey end of your stilettos or any pointed heels can cause gouge marks on your floors that are impossible to fix without replacing boards. So be sure to pop those heels off when you get home and opt for some softer-soled shoes like slippers if you want to wear something

Not Trimming Your Pets Nails

Just like your favorite pointed-heel pumps, your beloved four-legged friend’s nails can wreak havoc on laminate floors, as well as hardwood and vinyl.

Trimming your dog and cats’ nails regularly will help prevent this. If your pet doesn’t regularly walk outside on concrete, which naturally helps file their nails, you’ll need to trim them more often.

Skipping Furniture Pads

Furniture pads serve a variety of purposes.

Under a heavy couch, padded sliders make it easier to move your couch back and forth when you need to clean or re-arrange. But if you’re not putting furniture pads under lighter furniture as well, you’re making a big mistake.

Any furniture with hard or pointed legs can gouge your floors. Even a light bump can cause it to scratch the surface, damaging your floor’s finish.

Place stick-on furniture pads under the legs of chairs and tables, couches, beds, and any other furniture that you’re going to be placing directly on your floors. 

Putting Down New Laminate Floors

Laminate floors are a great addition to any home. They’re perfect for getting the look of hardwood without the hard work of cleaning it and the stress of maintaining it. Not to mention the cost of installation.

And when you learn how to do it right, cleaning laminate floors is easier than you might think.

Now that you know how easy it can be to clean laminate, you might be thinking about installing it in your home. We can help with that.

If you need new floors, whether laminate, hardwood, vinyl, or any other kind, request your free quote in seconds!