What is the Best Laminate Floor Cleaner?

Clean laminate floor
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This is the great paradox of cleaning laminate floors.  Water, as the saying goes, is the universal solvent.  Yet laminate flooring abhors water.  Every maintenance guide that comes with laminate flooring admonishes you to clean up spills immediately.

Without water, how are you expected to clean the thing?  By a combination of dry mopping, laminate floor-only cleaners, and yes, water.

1.  Laminate Floor-Only Cleaners

It IsLiquid cleaners that are applied directly to the floor or mop. 
ProThey help control static.
ConExpensive and of dubious worth.

if you just want to buy something and never give it thought again, the best bet is to purchase a laminate floor cleaner.  These cleaners keep your floor as dry as possible.  Spray directly on the mop or floor, mop it, clean off the mop head, and then repeat.

Laminate's unique properties mean it does not clean like vinyl flooring, ceramic tile, or stone.  

Blame the static on laminate's top transparent wear layer that rests on the visual (photographic) layer and its moisture-hungry core of flaked particle board wood.

Laminate cleaners used in conjunction with anti-static mops will help tame those electrons.

Best Pick:  Buy From Amazon - Black Diamond Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner (1 Gal.)

Black Diamond has been making floor cleaning products since 1997 and they get consistently high ratings from buyers.  

There is no indication that purchasing flooring-branded laminate cleaner (i.e., Bruce Laminate and Hardwood Floor Cleaner for your Bruce laminate) is better than purchasing one that is not tied to the flooring company.

2.  Dry + Damp Mop Cleaning

It IsThe traditional method of sweeping with a broom, then damp-mopping.
ProThis cheap and easy method can clean your laminate floor most of the time.
ConIt does not address streaks or clean troublesome spots.

Even if you buy dedicated laminate floor cleaners, most of the removal of dirt and debris should be done with dry methods, such as sweeping.

 After this, clean with a mop that is very lightly moistened with water.

  1. Sweep: Sweep with a clean, soft-bristled broom used only for indoors.
  2. Vacuum: Vacuum out-of-the-way dirt with vacuum cleaner attachments.
  3. Dry Mop: Use a dry mop and/or a clean, dry towel over a regular sponge mop.  It helps to use an electrostatic-free cleaner like Swiffer in conjunction with Swiffer Dry Cloth refills, especially if you are mopping in weather conditions that encourage static electricity.
  4. Damp Mop: Mop with plain, warm water using an extremely wrung-out damp mop.  Optionally, you can add 2 to 4 oz. of ammonia to warm water, wring thoroughly, and mop.

Best Pick:   Buy From Amazon - Swiffer Sweeper Dry Sweeping Cloth

Close Laminate Plank Gaps To Prevent Damage

Laminate's particle wood core works only when the planks are tightly locked, allowing no moisture to seep downward.  Yet some laminate floors have seams, especially at the ends.

If your floor is gapped near high moisture areas, such as around the kitchen sink or dishwasher, you need to close those gaps.  

Kicking the boards back in place usually works--until the boards separate on their own again.  

To permanently fix, run a thin bead of carpenter's glue in the gap, kick the boards together, and then quickly wipe off the excess glue.

 Lay a strip of painter's tape over the fix until the glue has dried.

Methods and Cleaners To Avoid

  • Wet Mop:  Keep anything but the "driest" damp mop away from your floor.
  • Waxing, Polishing:  Your floor's surface treatment is already built in.  You cannot change its surface.  Do not use waxes or polishes.
  • Abrasives:  Do not use any kind of abrasive (or even remotely abrasive) cleaner, such as Clorox or Bon Ami.  These will scuff the wear layer.
  • Soap-Based Cleaners:  Soapy cleaners leave a film that dulls the surface and even attracts dirt.
  • Steam Mops:  Steam mops on laminate are unnecessary and possibly even detrimental. However, if you have a problem spot that is confined to a small area and are judicious about dispensing moisture to the surface, you can use one.