The beauty of natural wood adds specific charm to your home design, creating a comforting ambience and unique appeal. However, wood flooring is rather expensive and difficult to maintain, so many people seek for a more affordable and convenient solution. With its stylish look and high durability, laminate has become a popular choice among busy homeowners who appreciate elegance and comfort but have little time to spare on cleaning tasks. Laminate flooring closely resembles real wood while being much cheaper and easier to care for. Keeping it in good condition requires little effort indeed – you just need to adopt the right approach.
How to Care for Laminate Flooring
Proper care will allow you to preserve the good look and feel of your laminate floors for many years. Just stick to the following simple yet very effective tips for maintaining your laminate flooring:
Clean regularly – dust mop or vacuum laminate floors on a regular basis to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime that can scratch the surface or dull its appearance. Remember to use a soft brush or wood floor attachment on your vacuum cleaner, not the beater bar that can damage the fine material. It’s also a good idea to sweep or vacuum in the direction that the floor is laid to remove all the dust and grit from between the grooves;
- Remove spills immediately – have in mind that excessive moisture can cause laminate floors to wrap, so never allow liquids to stay on the floor for a prolonged period of time. Use a dry cloth or a paper towel to blot up spills as soon as they occur (overfilled flower pots or pets’ water bowls that may leak onto the floor are commonly overlooked and often result in damaged laminate flooring);
- Protect the floors
- Put felt pads under furniture and appliances to prevent scratching and pitting, and avoid sliding heavy pieces directly over the floor;
- Use door mats to keep dirt and mud out of your home and your laminate floors. Natural-material mats at outside entrances will collect dirt and absorb excess moisture;
- Clean your pets paws after a walk outside and keep their nails trimmed;
- Avoid direct sunlight as excessive heat and harmful UV rays may cause the colors of your laminate flooring to fade quickly and unevenly. You may even consider rearranging area rugs and furniture from time to time to make sure that your floors will age evenly;
- Place mats in high-traffic areas (in front of doors, vanities, kitchen sinks, stoves, etc.) to reduce wear;
- Maintain a normal indoor relative humidity level to minimize the impact of moisture on the laminate.
The above simple precautionary measures will not only help maintain the good condition of your laminate flooring but will also render thorough cleaning quick and easy.
How to Clean Laminate Floors
The best way to clean laminate floors is to spray an appropriate cleaning solution onto the right kind of mop, wipe the surfaces, and make sure they dry quickly. It’s as easy as that! Just remember to:
Remove larger particles first – use a dry mop or a vacuum cleaner with a soft bristle brush to clear away hairs, grit, crumbs, etc. Otherwise, the particles will get spread around when mopping the floor and will leave streaks and residue behind. They can even scratch and pit the laminate surface;
- Use a cotton, terrycloth or microfiber mop to clean laminate floors – those mops can quickly cover large areas, easily get under tables and chairs, and efficiently pick up all the accumulated dirt and dust. What is more, they require little water which is of paramount importance as laminate flooring will warp if exposed to too much moisture;
- Purchase a specialized laminate floor cleaner (strictly follow the usage instructions and always test a product you haven’t used before on a small inconspicuous area first) or prepare an effective home-made solution out of three parts water, one part vinegar and just a squirt of mild dish cleaning (or glass cleaning) liquid. Put your cleaning solution in a spray bottle and get down to work;
- Dampen the mop pad with hot water and spray the cleaning solution on it;
- Mop the floor without scrubbing or pushing too hard. Rinse the pad when it gets too dirty (you will not need to rinse the pads often, so there is no need to haul a bucket of hot water around the house) and replace it if you intend to clean more than one room. You can machine wash dirty pads afterwards and use them several times, so purchase a couple of spare pads and don’t hesitate to replace them whenever necessary;
- The floor should dry within several minutes after cleaning. If you have used a proper cleaning solution and a microfiber mop, there will be no streaks left.
How to Remove Stains from Laminate Flooring
If any persistent stains remain after you have mopped the floor, treat the spots according to the nature of the stain:
- Remove stains from red wine, coffee, fruit juices, etc. with the help of a damp cloth. Don’t use any cleaning agents – warm water should do the trick;
Treat paint, nail polisher, marker, lipstick, and other similar stains with an acetone-based polish remover;
- Spray blood stains with a window cleaner;
- Apply some detergent to ink stains and rub gently with a damp cloth;
- Use ice to harden grease, wax, or chewing gum, and then gently scrape with a plastic knife or a credit card. Dampen a soft cloth with mineral spirits to take care of persistent residues.
Whatever the stain, be careful not to scratch the laminate surface while removing it and always wipe the area clean with a soft, slightly damp cloth at the end.
Last but not least, you need to know what to avoid when cleaning laminate floors in order to ensure the best possible results and to prevent eventual damage.
Common Laminate Floor Cleaning Mistakes
To preserve the good condition of your laminate flooring for many years, you need to steer clear of common mistakes:
- Using water – as you might have already guessed, pouring a bucket of water over your laminate flooring in order to clean it is quite a bad idea. You risk damaging the floors permanently if you allow water (or any other liquids) to stand on the laminate surface for long – it can seep in between the laminate boards and cause swelling, wrapping, delamination, or joint-line separation;
- Using cleaning products that are not safe and/or specifically designed for laminate floor cleaning – avoid harsh chemicals, bleach, and soap-based detergents as they may damage your laminate flooring or leave a dull film on it. Keep in mind that abrasive cleaners can scratch the surface and liquid cleaners are not recommended either, as already discussed above. Even when you use an adequate laminate floor cleaner, applying it directly to the laminate surface can cause staining, so you’d better spray the cleaning solution on the mop pad instead. This method is not only safer but also makes cleaning easier and more efficient;
Using inappropriate cleaning equipment – similar to inadequate cleaning products, inappropriate cleaning equipment may cause permanent damage to your laminate floors:
- String mops or sponge mops leave too much water behind, however hard you squeeze them. If you clean your laminate floors with a wet dripping mop, you risk causing them to warp;
- Spray mops, steam cleaners and other similar cleaning machines use a lot of water in the cleaning process, so you are highly recommended to avoid them;
- Hard bristled brushes, steel wool, and scouring pads are all very efficient when it comes to scrubbing dirty floors. However, you should never use them on laminate flooring as they will easily scratch the smooth laminate surface. Using the beater bar of your vacuum cleaner will have the same negative effect.
- Polishing laminate floors – polish, wax, varnish, oils and shine enhancers are not appropriate for laminate flooring and will only dull its appearance. If you want your laminate surfaces to shine, it’s enough to buff them dry. Use an absorbent clean cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, to gently buff your floor to a nice shine.
If you still have second thoughts about the best way to clean laminate floors, or just don’t have the time to handle the task properly, you can always have your laminate floors professionally cleaned. Specialists will take good care of your laminate flooring and will restore it in an excellent condition, enhancing the overall appeal of your home décor.