Laminate flooring is a common household flooring choice because it is cheap and relatively easy to clean. That being said, laminate floors are not particularly hardy. They scuff and stain fairly easily, and you can’t always clean them like hardwood floors. In the event of damage, you also can’t simply refinish the floor. With all that in mind, knowing how to clean laminate flooring quickly and correctly is essential.
General Advice for Cleaning Laminate Flooring
The best advice for cleaning laminate floors is to do so right when any problems arise. In the event of spills, act quickly to mop up excess mess before it has a chance to stain. The best option is to use a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the floor, and such cloths are effective for collecting dust and dirt.
If you are not present when the spill occurs, don’t despair—there may still be hope. Begin your cleaning efforts by vacuuming or sweeping the floor. Use a soft-bristled attachment so you don’t scratch your floor. If you don’t remove excess dirt or debris, your efforts to remove stains can ground particulates into the flooring and create new stains.
Follow the cleaning instructions that come with your laminate flooring. If no such instructions are at hand, keep reading for our stain-specific cleaning solution suggestions. When you have finished, be sure to wipe the floor dry. Too much moisture has the tendency to damage laminate floors, so you should never leave your floors wet.
Cleaning Solutions to Remove Oil Stains
The cleaning solutions that are effective for returning laminate flooring to a spotless state depend on the kind of mess being cleaned. Some of them—like a bag of ice and a putty knife for candle wax or gum—are pretty unintuitive, but you probably already have them floating around your home.
Vinegar is effective for most stains and general cleaning of laminate flooring. Even tricky stains like furniture polish, hard water marks, or coffee can generally be removed by applying vinegar. The best method is to mix a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and warm water thoroughly. Because it isn’t wise to let puddles sit on laminate floors, use a spray bottle to apply the vinegar solution to the stains. Don’t let it sit too long before wiping it up with a microfiber cloth.
You may have to use this method a few times to completely get rid of the stain. Vinegar can also remove unpleasant odors and add shine to laminate floors. If you don’t like vinegar’s pungent smell, mix a few drops of lemon juice or mild dish soap into your solution.
Rubbing alcohol makes a very effective floor cleaner, especially when cleaning laminate flooring. Even the waxy stains of crayon marks can be removed with a bit of rubbing alcohol and elbow grease. Mixing it with mild dish soap makes the solution even more effective at cutting through oils and grease. Rubbing alcohol has the added benefit of disinfecting the floors it is applied to, making the area safer as well as better to look at.
For ink-based stains like pen, permanent marker, and nail polish, acetone is the best cleaning solution. It can also remove more viscous contaminants like tar and paint. Use acetone with discretion, however; it is pretty strong stuff. Again, don’t let it sit on the floor too long.
Magic Eraser can be a helpful laminate-cleaning tool, especially for particularly difficult stains like hair dye. Moisten the eraser a bit before using it to clean laminate floors.
Things to Avoid
Because laminate floors are not as hardy as hardwood, you must be careful to not use anything that is too abrasive when cleaning them. This applies to both tools and cleaning products. Never use sanders or steam cleaners when cleaning laminate. Stay away from solutions like bleach and ammonia even if they are diluted, and don’t apply polishes or waxes.
Cleaning with oil-based products is a gamble when it comes to laminate since they can leave residue or streaks or even damage the floors’ protective sealant. On the other hand, traditional mopping is also unwise because it runs the risk of water seeping down into the seams of the floor. This can cause your laminate flooring to fade, swell, or bubble.
As you choose the right laminate cleaner for your flooring, err on the side of caution, not using too much. Best practice is to apply the cleaner with a microfiber cloth and not let it sit too long.