How to Clean Laminate Floors: A Step-by-Step Guide

By
Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated November 6, 2021

Freshen up your floors in a flash with these cleaning hacks

How to Clean Laminate Floors: A Step-by-Step Guide

Laminate floors look great when they’re clean. But dirt and stains happen, we’ve all been there. So how do you maintain them without scratching the surface, causing damage, or leaving streaks?

Laminate floors require special care. Unlike hardwood floors, you simply can’t refinish them like you would for your oak planks. So avoiding expensive replacements is vital.

From candle wax to nail polish, we’ve got the solution for you. You can rest assured that these tips will give you a shiny finish each time without causing any damage.

So, read on to find out the best way to clean laminate floors in no time at all.

How to Clean Laminate Floors Without Leaving Residue

  • Combine one cup of white vinegar per gallon of hot water for a homemade laminate floor cleaner
  • Or use a laminate floor cleaner if you have some
  • Apply to a dry cloth and use this for spot cleaning spills and tough stains
  • Use it with a damp mop for larger areas
  • Wipe down with a microfiber cloth afterward to remove any residue

How to Clean Laminate Floors

How Often Should You Clean Your Laminate Floors?

Manufacturers recommend regular cleaning of your laminate floors, especially in high-traffic areas. It helps to get rid of the fine dirt and grit that builds up. These act like sandpaper and scratch your laminate floors, which you want to avoid!

But how often is “regular” cleaning?

According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), a good schedule to follow is to sweep and dust mop a laminate floor daily, then run the vacuum around at least once a week.

Finally, treat your floors to a monthly damp mop using a laminate wood flooring cleaner for deeper cleaning.

How To Deep Clean Laminate Floors

Cleaning laminate floors requires just a few simple steps. So let’s take a look at your options.

With a Dry Mop

Using a dry mop each day to clean laminate floors gets rid of pet hair and debris, so it helps to prevent scuff marks.

So, how should you do it?

1. Mop Regularly

According to the world floor covering association (WFCA), regular dusting with microfiber mops keeps dirt at bay.

It doesn’t take much for dust and dirt to build up. But when it does, it acts like sandpaper and can dull the appearance of your laminate floors. Daily mopping means you’re not pushing all the muck around with a broom or vacuum cleaner, so it stops the sandpaper effect.

2. Use a Dry Mop With Replaceable Heads

It’s best to start off with a dry dust mop on your laminate floors. They’re most effective for picking up surface dirt, which gets you ready for the next steps.

We suggest choosing a synthetic or microfiber mop that comes with a replaceable head. That way, you can clean and reuse the microfiber cloth rather than having to buy new ones all the time.

3. Mop Efficiently

Seeing as dry mops don’t leave streaks, you can mop laminate flooring in multiple directions. This picks up more dirt from the surface than if you stick in the same direction.

But it’s best to start from the back of the room and work your way forwards to the door. Otherwise, you’ll have to walk through the room to get out and could leave a trail of dust over your freshly mopped laminate floors.

With a Vacuum

A vacuum cleaner is another handy appliance for keeping your laminate floors squeaky clean. So here’s the best way to use it.

1. Vacuum Hard to Reach Areas

You can get into all those tricky nooks and crannies with a vacuum and all its different attachments.

They tend to come with a crevice tool, dusting brush, and a wand to extend your reach. So it’s much easier to clean around heavy furniture and hard-to-reach areas on your laminate floors.

And besides, they’re quicker and more efficient than a dry mop for daily cleaning. The suction picks up fine dust from your laminate floor, as well as any debris between the cracks.

2. Use a Suitable Vacuum Cleaner

It’s important to make sure your vacuum is suitable for a laminate floor, though. If it has a soft brush attachment, it’s best to use that instead of the beater bar.

Otherwise, make sure the vacuum is brushless or that you can turn the rotating brush bar off. A beater bar or spinning brushes can scratch the surface of your laminate wood floors, so you really want to avoid it.

And before you start, check the wheels are clean to avoid adding more mess to the floor. Rubber wheels and bumpers are also best as they’re softer on laminate floors and won’t ruin the finish.

Your other option is to choose a robotic vacuum. They’re great for cleaning laminate and hardwood floors without you needing to lift a finger. Simply set it up, pop it on the floor, and off it goes while you sit back and relax.

With a Cleaner

A cleaning solution is a great choice for removing stains. So let’s run through how to use a laminate floor cleaner without causing any damage.

1. Spot Clean

First up, wipe up any spills immediately using a soft cloth to prevent stains. You can’t refinish laminate floors the same way you can a hard floor setting, so you want to avoid any damage.

It’s best to use a hardwood floor cleaner for spot cleaning as they’re great for removing spills and stains. But make sure you apply the floor cleaner onto a cloth instead of pouring it straight onto the floor. You don’t want excess liquid pooling on the surface.

Note

It’s also important to use a cleaner that’s recommended by the manufacturer of your laminate flooring. Otherwise, it could cause damage or void your warranty.

2. Create Your Own Solution

Don’t have any floor cleaner in the cupboard? No problem. You can make your own!

Simply add 1 cup of vinegar per gallon of water for a homemade laminate wood floor cleaner. Or, if you don’t have vinegar, you can use ⅓ cup non-sudsing ammonia instead.

If you haven’t used this mixture before, try it on a small section of your laminate floors first. You don’t want it to cause any problems, so it’s best to test a small area.

To prevent any issues arising over time, only use this method occasionally. For more regular cleaning, stick to a branded laminate floor cleaner that’s recommended for your flooring.

3. Remove Tough Stains

One way of cleaning laminate flooring might work on some stains, but have no effect on others. So here are some alternatives you can try for tougher messes.

Lukewarm water and a non-abrasive cleaner, such as ammonia, works well on sticky and greasy stains. So put the mix in a spray bottle, apply, then wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth. You can use this for things like:

  • Chocolate
  • Grease marks
  • Sugary drinks, such as juice, cordials, and wine.

Nail polish remover or denatured alcohol can also be used for other types of stains. Just pour some onto a clean white cloth and wipe the stain until it’s gone. It works best on:

  • Oil
  • Paint
  • Marker pens
  • Lipstick
  • Ink
  • Tar

Now for the dreaded chewing gum and candle wax that always seem to appear around your home. First, apply a gel solvent to them and leave for a couple of minutes. Then carefully scrape with a plastic knife or similar to remove it.

It’s easy to scratch the laminate floor with this method, so you need to be super gentle. And follow up with a natural cleaner or some water to get rid of any residue left on the floor

4. Combine With a Mop For Heavier Cleaning

If you want to clean larger areas, you can use a laminate floor cleaner with a mop. Just make sure the cleaner is recommended by the manufacturer, and that it lifts dirt without polishing the floor.

It’s also important to use a damp mop rather than a wet one. The floor should dry within a couple of minutes at most. If it’s taking longer than this, then you’re probably using too much liquid.

When you’re finished mopping, wipe the area with a damp cloth to get rid of any residue that’s left on your laminate floor.

After all, you want a shiny finish and don’t want to leave streaks or damage the protective coating!

What to Avoid When Cleaning Laminate Floors

You shouldn’t use a steam cleaner on laminate floors. The US laminate association clearly advises against the use of steam mops. It leaves a lot of moisture when you clean laminate floors with one, which can cause irreparable damage and ruin the finish of your floor.

You can still use a steam mop that’s specifically designed for cleaning laminate flooring. One designed for laminate will wipe up excess liquid as they go, leaving your floors dry. At least, in theory. These kinds of steam mops can still leave moisture that seeps into the floors.

Keep In Mind

Our best advice is to check beforehand with your flooring manufacturer, making sure the use of a steam mop won’t void the warranty.

For example, Quick-Step Hydroseal floors are extremely resistant to water thanks to the hydroseal technology. The manufacturer Quick-step confirms that the use of a steam mop is permitted — still not recommended.

There are a few other key things to avoid if you want a shiny finish:

  • Soap or detergent-based cleaners
  • Wax-based products
  • Polishes
  • Abrasive scrubbers and cleaners, such as steel wool, and scouring powders
  • Sanding your laminate floors
  • Hard-bristle brooms

All of these things can leave a dull finish, or worse, scratch your laminate floors.

If you want to use a broom, then opt for a soft-bristle broom that won’t scratch your floor. But remember that sweeping can brush particles around, so they act like sandpaper. A dust mop or vacuum avoids this and is more efficient, so it’s easier to maintain your laminate flooring.

How to Protect Laminate Floors

There are a few simple things you can do to protect your laminate wood floors and keep them looking top-notch.

  • Use floor protectors or pads under furniture legs to minimize scratching
  • Take your shoes off, particularly high heels, before walking around the house
  • Use entry mats, so you can wipe their feet
  • Apply a vinyl rug underlay to area rugs to stop them from slipping
  • Keep your pet’s nails trimmed and their paws clean so they don’t damage the floors

FAQs

Answering your all-important questions on how to clean laminate floors.

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Does Vinegar Ruin Laminate Floors

No, it doesn’t. Many laminate flooring manufacturers actually recommend using a white vinegar floor cleaner.

But you should use it occasionally, especially if it’s a homemade solution. If a product isn’t tested, it can cause problems and your laminate floor could deteriorate over time.

That said, white vinegar is great for cleaning laminate floors if you have an accident and don’t have a stain-removal product to hand.

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Can You Steam Clean Laminate Floors?

No, as explained, it’s best to avoid a steam cleaner.

And it’s crucial to avoid mopping with a soaking wet mop or with steam. Excess water or steam can soak through the protective layer and damage your laminate wood floors. It can cause warping, swelling, and joint-line separation. It ruins the appearance of your laminate floor and can even void your warranty, so it’s critical to avoid excess moisture.

You can still get steam mops designed for laminate floors. According to their manufacturers, they come with a function that absorbs the water, wipes up excess moisture, and leave the floor dry.

Just be aware that even steam cleaners manufacturers warn about the fact that your floors should be sealed. And they also suggest you test your floors before using their steam mop. So they’re very cautious.

But even these aren’t recommended. They’re meant to dry the floor as they go, but Consumer Reports suggests they still leave residual moisture that can seep into the laminate floor and damage it (1). Even sealed floors might have crevices where water can easily seep in. And besides, the heat alone can damage the finish on your wood floor.

So, if you really want to use a steam mop, then check the details with your laminate flooring manufacturer. In particular, your warranty, to make sure it won’t void it.

Some laminate flooring manufacturers allow the use of the steam mop of certain types of laminate such as Quick-Step Impressive and Quick-Step Majestic floors. Just make sure the mop is used on a low setting and use a soft cloth over the steam jets.

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