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Real hardwood floors may have the most robust reputation for being high maintenance, but that doesn’t mean other types of flooring can be cleaned with just any product and just however you decide to go about it. Learn how to clean your laminate floors without inadvertently causing them harm.
How Are Laminate Floors Different from Hardwood Floors and how to properly clean them?
Laminate floors are typically a compressed particle wood or MDF that is finished with a protective outer layer. They are more affordable than hardwood floors while still possessing the attractive, sleek, and shiny look that homeowners love.
Routine Dry Mopping or Sweeping is Key
To clean your laminate floors and keep them scratch-free, one of the best things you can do is adopt a frequent routine of dry mopping or sweeping your floor. Dust, dirt, debris, pollen, animal dander, and hair all build up and cause scratches. Dry mop your floors with dry microfiber cloths such as Swiffer or simply sweep with a broom that has soft bristles and dustpan at least every other day.
Can I Use My Vacuum on Laminate Floors?
If you have a vacuum and prefer to use it over sweeping or dry mopping, there are just a few things to look for before you use it. If your vacuum is primarily used for carpets, it probably has what is called a beater bar or beater brush. This type of brush is suitable for vacuuming carpets because its rotation stirs up the dirt and dust in it.
What is suitable for carpets usually is terrible for laminate floors. Vibration and rough bristles can scratch and wear down the finish on your flooring.
You need a vacuum that focuses on suction so it won’t harm your floor. Look for a canister type, such as the Eureka Mighty Mite. It’s lightweight, small, and specifically designed for hard floors. It comes with attachments that make it good for area rugs, and even your furniture.
Can Swiffer WetJet Be Used on Laminate Floors?
People almost always ask if Swiffer can be used on laminate floors. The answer is yes, but I’d like to go a bit more in depth. The Swiffer WetJet does have a multi-surface cleaning solution option that includes laminate flooring. The trick with using this wet mop option is that you need to be very careful with how much cleaning solution is used. You don’t want your floor getting too wet, and it is always a good idea to go over your floors with a clean towel to dry up any excess moisture so it doesn’t have time to seep into your floor.
Alternatively, the Bona Hard-Surface Floor Cleaner is highly recommended and while it might not be as widely known as Swiffer.
You might be interested din my closely related article can you use swiffer on vinyl plank floors.
Can I Make My Own Cleaner Solution?
You can absolutely DIY a cleaning solution for your laminate floors. All you need is a teaspoon of dish soap (preferably clear) or a teaspoon of baby shampoo mixed into a gallon bucket of hot water.
Again, you need to be very careful of how wet your mop is. You want your mop to be barely damp, so be sure to wring it out very well before actually putting it in contact with your floors. If you are nervous about your mop, try a flat mop that is designed specifically to mop without a lot of excess water.
How Can I Make My Laminate Floors Shine?
The best way to have shiny laminate floors is to take proper care of them. Laminate floors are made to be shiny, so never use a polish or a wax. Using either of those types of products can actually cause harm to the surface of your flooring and diminish their intended shine.
NOTE: If your laminate floors are cloudy, streaked, or just dull; it may be because you’re using too much soap in your DIY cleaning solution, or using a store-bought cleaning solution that isn’t right for laminate flooring.
If this has happened here is a quick home-made cleaning solution to bring the shine back.
- First, dry mop or sweep your floor to get rid of any grit.
- Next, mix together a solution of a half cup water, half cup white vinegar, and half cup of rubbing alcohol. Put it into a clean spray bottle and grab your mop.
- You want to do the floors one small area at a time, so don’t spray the entire floor and then start mopping.
- Spray a small area and mop before the spray has a chance to dry and then move along. Once you’ve done this for the whole floor, go back over it all with a dry microfiber towel to get any damp spots.
This DIY cleaning solution really shouldn’t become a regular part of your cleaning routine. If you take proper care of your laminate floors with frequent sweeping and weekly damp mopping, they should shine all on their own.
Additional Tips to Keep them Shiny
There are some other things you can do to keep your floors healthy and shiny, give a few of these tips a try:
- Seal the door gap. Take a good look at your front and back doors to the house. Look for any gaps between the door and the floor. These gaps may seem harmless, but actually allow a lot of dirt and dust to blow into your home. You can purchase a draft guard online, or make your own draft stopper. You’ll need some sewing skills, but you can have fun with it and get creative if you’re into DIY projects.
- Get a door mat. Read my extensive article abot best door mats for hardwood floors. Most of them are appropriate also for laminate floors. Place it outside your front and back doors so that you, your family members, and your guests stomp out some of the dirt and dust from your shoes before entering the house.
- Remove your shoes. Leave your shoes at the door, or in the mud room and walk your lovely laminate floors while sock-footed. Heals, cleats, and heavily soled shoes can cause dents and scratches on your floors, even when a person walks carefully, not to mention the street grit and grime they can bring in.
- Clean up spills right away. Clean up any spills as quickly as possible. Laminate flooring doesn’t like to get wet. If water seeps into the seams of the flooring, and the underneath layers become too wet they can warp. Soak up spills right away to prevent warping.
- Use area rugs. Area rugs have the benefit of protecting your floors and adding a style component to the room. Whether you want a timeless look, or prefer to be trendy and change every few years, area rugs will do a lot to protect your flooring from the routine wear and tear that normal traffic can cause. If you’re interested in area rugs, check out my article titled, “Are Polypropylene Rugs Safe for My Floors?”
- Trim your pet’s nails. You might not even think of this one, but if you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on your floors when they run to greet you, or run for the open door, then you need to get out the clippers or make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your pet’s nails can wear on your flooring and cause scratches.
- Put a mat under your pet’s food and water dishes. This area of the floor should be protected by a mat at all times, because you are not always going to be around when your pet is eating or drinking and if they spill water, or crumbs of food and then it sits on your laminate floor for an hour or two, it can cause problems.
- Put a mat under any baby high chair(s). If you have a baby in the home or have a friend or relative with a baby that regularly visits, consider placing a mat underneath their chair to catch any food spills or water spills. Babies are notoriously messy eaters, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, placing a mat down under them while they eat can lessen your anxiety as you watch food and drink spill over the edges of the chair and allow you to feel like you can wait to clean up just once when they are all done instead of getting up to clean every time they have a spill.
- Have a cleaning routine. Dry mop or sweep daily, and damp mop no more than once a week. Don’t forget when you’ve finished with the damp mop to go over the floor with a towel or a microfiber cloth to soak up any residue moisture.