It's a familiar scenario. Laminate flooring becomes gritty, sticky, or streaky after mopping, leaving the floor worse off than if you'd left it dirty. Well, put down the crowbar! There is no need to pry up your laminate floor just because it's functioning like a plywood subfloor. Understanding laminate flooring, and the best way to clean and shine it, is the key to making your faux wood floor look like its hardwood counterpart. And while laminate floors can be difficult to mop, there is a solution that doesn't involve replacing the boards. Let's start with the basics.
While it may seem counterintuitive, a traditional broom is not the best tool for laminate flooring. Get yourself a dust mop or a vacuum cleaner to remove surface dirt. Regular brooms leave behind particles, resulting in a floor that still contains grit when you break out the mop. These gritty particles mix with the wet mop and get spread around the floor. At best, they'll contribute to streaks and residue. At worst, this grit will scratch and pit the surface of your floor. Either way, a broom is a no-go. And if you use a vacuum cleaner, choose a machine with a setting for hard floors, as vacuums with rolling brushes can scratch and damage laminate over time.
Skip the Laminate Floor Cleaner
True—some homeowners have a specific brand of floor cleaner that they won't give up. But an expensive laminate floor cleaner is not always the answer. Choose a cleaner that is designed to work with your floor type and also fits your budget or, better yet, make your own solution. And whatever solution you choose, don't overdo it. While using tons of cleaner on a dirty floor is tempting, it leaves behind a residue that dulls the floor's finish. This residue is the leading causes of muted looking laminate floors over time.
Clean a floor without water? Sounds crazy, right? Actually, water and other liquids can seep in between the laminate boards and cause swelling, ultimately damaging your floor. When cleaning, keep water use to a minimum and only spray as much cleaner onto the floor as you need for a given section. If you're using a traditional mop, wring it out until it's barely damp. And if an excess of water or liquid is left behind to dry, you're using too much. The floor should dry within 1 to 2 minutes of mopping.
Buff the Floor
If you really want to make your floor shine after mopping, buff it dry. An absorbent cleaning cloth attached to a dust mop works well, as does a dry, microfiber mop head. Cloth diapers make a great DIY option and microfiber cleaning cloths work well for an ultimate hands-and-knees job. Work in circles with your tool of choice and gently buff each section of the floor for a nice shine.
Protect the Floor
Once your floor is looking great, it's time to take protective measures to keep it that way. Place both indoor and outdoor floor mats at the entrances of your home. Consider a no-shoe rule in the house and put a little reminder in the mudroom. Wipe up spills, messes, and plant watering overflow as soon as it occurs. And use protective floor pads on the bottom of chairs, couches, and tables to prevent your floor from aging or premature damage.