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How to Clean Laminate Floors

Once installed, laminate must be properly cared for to keep it looking as good as day one. Read on for our tips for cleaning your laminate floors.

Laminate Flooring with Dog iStock

Laminate flooring is a popular feature in many homes. Once considered a basic, economical choice, laminate has become much better looking over the decades, and some options are nearly impossible to distinguish from real hardwood—making it a functional and stylish choice. Laminate flooring is also durable, so it’s great for homes with kids and pets. But once installed, laminate must be properly cared for to keep it looking as good as day one.

Sweeping and Vacuuming

The most important aspect of cleaning your laminate flooring is regular care, and the first step is to consult your manufacturer’s instructions.

Generally, though, weekly sweeping or vacuuming will not only keep your floors from looking dirty, but will reduce the need for harsher, deeper cleans down the line. One part of laminate flooring to be mindful of is its top (or “wear”) layer. Made of a plastic, it guards against dogs, shoes, furniture, and other potential sources of damage. Though very durable, it’s important to take certain precautions to protect this layer when cleaning your floors.

Always use your vacuum on the “hardwood” setting to prevent the beater brush from spinning, and always use the vacuum’s soft brush attachment. Never use steel wool or other abrasive materials on laminate flooring, as doing so will damage that top wear layer.

Mopping

Laminate floors are not waterproof, and excessive moisture can cause major damage. (Among other issues, too much water can weaken the floor’s adhesive, causing bubbling.)

That said, it’s perfectly safe to mop your floors if you do so with care. It’s best to use a slightly damp, not wet, microfiber laminate mop, but a regular mop wrung out as much as possible works, as does a spray mop. Wipe down the floors with a dry cloth after mopping to remove any excess water; never let liquid pool on your floors. For best results, use a cleaning solution specifically made for laminate floors or a DIY option. (More on this below.)

While some may say it’s okay to occasionally steam clean your laminate floors, most experts agree that it’s a bad idea. Steam cleaning requires high heat and lots of moisture—two things that laminate flooring doesn’t like.

Spot Cleaning

Don’t worry if you spill on your laminate floors, just be sure to wipe up the mess right away. Paper towel, a microfiber wipe, or any other soft, absorbent cloth will work just fine (remember, you don’t want to use anything coarse or abrasive and risk scratching the surface).

For a tough stain, it’s ok to spot clean with a little bit of cleaning solution. Additionally, it’s safe to use acetone (nail polish remover) on laminate flooring, which is a good way to remove oily or colored stains, like ink, lipstick, or marker (this is especially useful for folks with kids who like to draw on everything; acetone should get out even the toughest marks).

Dab a small amount of acetone on the area, then wipe immediately with a damp paper towel or rag. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Cleaning Solutions

There are plenty of cleaning solutions made specifically for laminate flooring; you should have no problem finding a variety of choices wherever you buy cleaning supplies. Or you could go the DIY route instead.

A teaspoon of clear, unscented dish soap, or a bit of baby shampoo or ammonia-free glass cleaner, mixed into a gallon of water will do the trick. A solution of one part white vinegar and three parts water works great for spot cleaning and for larger areas, too. Whatever you do, avoid anything with ammonia—it’s harmful to that top wear layer. You should also skip any waxy or oil-based cleaners, which will leave streaks on your floors that are near impossible to get out.