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 are plenty of solutions that don't involve replacing the boards.
How Often to Clean Laminate Floors
Laminate floors should be dust mopped or vacuumed daily to remove surface dirt and grit that can cause scratches and wear down the finish of the floor. Don't forget to look under area rugs that can trap grit that will scratch floors. Spills and muddy messes should be cleaned immediately. Depending upon the amount of traffic on the floors, they should be thoroughly cleaned at least weekly.
Equipment / Tools
- Dust mop
- Vacuum cleaner
- Damp mop
- Cleaning cloths
- Laminate Floor Cleaner
- Distilled White Vinegar (Optional)
- Rubbing Alcohol (Optional)
Dust Mop or Vacuum Floor
Get yourself a dust mop or a vacuum cleaner to remove surface dirt instead of a wet mop. A wet mop will pick up gritty particles and spread them around the floor. At best, this will contribute to streaks and residue. At worst, the grit will scratch and pit the surface of your floor. 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.
While it may seem counterintuitive, a traditional broom is not the best tool for laminate flooring. Regular brooms leave behind particles, resulting in a floor that still contains grit when you break out the mop.
Choose a Cleaning Solution
An expensive laminate floor cleaner is not always the best 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 using vinegar or even a little rubbing alcohol. 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 cause of muted-looking laminate floors over time.
Damp Mop Floors
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. If an excess of water or liquid is left behind to dry, you're using too much: The floor should dry within one to two minutes of mopping.
Buff to a Shine
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.
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.