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How to Clean Laminate Floors: Without Damage

Make that laminate shine.

Laminate flooring is an excellent budget-pick replacement for hardwood. Similar to hardwood, laminate can be somewhat tricky to clean.

However, by knowing how to clean laminate floors correctly, you can enjoy your hardwood dupe for years to come.

We’ll walk through the best way to clean your laminate and what to avoid. That way, you won’t cause any damage. It’s all sleek and shine, here!

Key Takeaways

  • Vacuum, sweep, or dry mop laminate floors regularly to remove dust and dirt, and avoid using abrasive tools or harsh chemicals.
  • Use a damp microfiber mop with warm water, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol for deeper cleaning without damaging the laminate.
  • Spot treat stains with acetone nail polish remover, window cleaner, or ice depending on the type of stain.
  • Protect laminate floors with doormats, rugs, and by trimming pet nails to prevent scratches and wear.

How to Clean Laminate Floors

How to Clean Laminate Floors

Cleaning and maintaining laminate floors is easy when you know the right approach. There are many cleaning methods you can use to suit your lifestyle and the level of cleaning required.

Light Cleaning: Vacuuming and Sweeping

Let’s start with light cleaning, which you can do 1-2 times per week.

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

  • Vacuum with a soft attachment
  • Broom with soft and flared bristles
  • Dustpan

A regular vacuum or sweep is necessary to keep your laminate floors looking fresh and clean. This will help to keep dust and dirt at bay — which otherwise may cause your floor to look dingy or dull.

When sweeping, choose a soft-bristled, flared broom — these look like split ends. Flared brooms are softer and will also pick up more dust instead of merely moving it around. A stiff broom can cause damage, such as scratches, to the surface.

Always follow the natural grain of the planks to avoid scratches. This will also pick up dust or dirt hanging out in the seams.

When vacuuming, choose a vacuum with a low-setting and soft attachment. This is an effective way to remove dust, dirt, and debris quickly. It’s also a better alternative when you’re in a rush or have difficulty sweeping due to back pain.

Take Note

Never use a vacuum attachment for carpets. This includes beater bars and rollers — these will damage the top layer of the planks.

Light Cleaning: Dry Mopping

You can also dry mop your floors to remove dust and debris without scratching the laminate.

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

  • Dry mop
  • Microfiber pads
  • Dustpan

A dry mop is also an excellent tool for regular sweeping. These are fitted with a long microfiber pad that gently glides over the laminate surface.

Again, you should go with the natural grain of the planks. A dry mop won’t scratch the floor, but by going with the grains, you’ll pick up more dust and dirt.

Dry mops are popular cleaning tools for hardwood floors due to their gentleness. They’re also easy to use since most are fitted with a swivel and can quickly move around furniture and corners.

When dry mopping, start at the back of the room and work in sections. If there’s a lot of dirt, make small piles along the way that you can collect with a dustpan once you’re finished.

Quick Mopping: Warm Water

After sweeping or vacuuming the floor, it’s time to mop. This can be done quickly using warm water and a microfiber mop.

  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Microfiber mop
  • Towel

Fill a bucket with warm to hot water (not steaming and not lukewarm, somewhere in between). Dip your mop and wring out as much water as possible to leave it damp.

Start at the farthest part of the room and work your way in sections. Keep dipping and wringing the mop as you go. When the water looks dirty, dump it and refill it with clean water.

Finish with a clean towel to dry the floor.

Deep Cleaning: Vinegar

Vinegar is an excellent choice when your laminate floors require a deeper clean. Not only is this a natural, mild disinfectant, but it will also restore shine and neutralize odors.

  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle or bucket
  • Microfiber mop
  • Lemon juice or dish soap (optional)
  • Towel or cloth

When cleaning with vinegar, there are two approaches you can take. One is filling a spray bottle with equal amounts of vinegar and water. Give it a good shake and spray in sections. Follow with a microfiber mop and watch as your laminate floor shines.

You can also use a spray mop since they don’t use a lot of moisture.

If you’re using a wring or spin mop, add a cup of vinegar to each gallon the bucket can hold. Dip the mop in the solution and wring out as much moisture as possible. Work in sections starting at the back of the room. Be sure to follow the floor’s natural grain for the best results.

Some people find the strong scent of vinegar too much to bear. Don’t worry; it will wear off once the area is dry.

However, if you can’t stand the smell, add a bit of lemon juice to the mixture. This will help to level out the pungent vinegar scent. You can also add a squirt of mild dish soap with a citrus scent for an even fresher smell.

Finish off by drying the floor using a clean towel or cloth. It’s important to avoid standing water; not only can this create annoying spots, but it might damage the planks.

Keep the spray bottle close at hand for any unfortunate spills. Vinegar works great at removing coffee, juice, and wine stains from laminate floors.

Deep Cleaning: Alcohol

Alcohol is, surprisingly, a highly effective cleaner when it comes to laminate floors. You can use alcohol such as rubbing, gin, or even vodka for this method.

  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

  • Alcohol
  • Water
  • Spray bottle or bucket
  • Microfiber mop
  • Dish soap (optional)
  • Towel or cloth

As you may know, alcohol is an effective disinfectant (1). It is also almost neutral pH level, similar to water (2). This makes it the perfect home remedy for laminate floors.

When cleaning, you can make a solution of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Use this mixture to mop the floor gently or as a spot cleaner for unfortunate stains such as oil or shoe marks.

You can also mix one cup of alcohol to each gallon of water in a mop bucket. Mop the floors with a damp mop to avoid standing water. Alcohol, such as ethanol and isopropanol, will help the water to evaporate quicker. This reduces any chance of annoying watermarks (3).

For a refreshing scent, add a few squirts of mild dish soap. This will also help to dissolve and remove grime and grease.

Once you’ve finished mopping, dry the floor with a clean towel or cloth.

Deep Cleaning: Commercial Product

Choose a commercial product if you want to clean your laminate floors while ensuring no damage is done. One of our favorites for laminate is the ZEP Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner. It’s easy to use and helps to restore shine.

  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

  • Commercial laminate floor cleaner
  • Water
  • Bucket (optional)
  • Microfiber mop

When using a commercial product, make sure it’s safe for laminate floors and doesn’t contain oil or wax. Oil- or wax-based products will make laminate floors slippery and leave a filmy residue.

Mix the product as directed on the label. Read the directions carefully to know whether or not the product requires rinsing after mopping.

Spot Treatment: Acetone

If your kiddo has extended their art to the floor, don’t panic. You can easily remove pen marks or even permanent marker with acetone nail polish remover.

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Paper towel

Apply a small amount of nail polish remover to a paper towel and rub the marker stain. Keep going until the drawing is gone. This also works wonders on spilled nail polish.

Spot Treatment: Window Cleaner

If you have an accident on your laminate floors, a window cleaner is your best bet. These are mild yet effective at removing stains such as blood.

  • Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

  • Window cleaner
  • Damp microfiber cloth

Spray the affected area slightly and wipe it away using a damp cloth. Never leave the cleaner on the area for too long.

Spot Treatment: Ice

Spilled something greasy on your laminate floors? Not to worry.

  • Time: About one hour
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

What You’ll Need

  • Ice pack
  • Plastic knife or dull tool
  • Window cleaner
  • Microfiber damp cloth

Apply an ice pack directly to the spot and leave it to freeze.

Once the grease is frozen and solid, scrape it off using a plastic knife or dull tool. If you don’t have an ice pack, use a bag of frozen peas or any other frozen item.

If there are still bits remaining from the stain, spray the area with a window cleaner. Wipe away immediately, and the grease should be gone.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Laminate Floors

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Laminate Floors

Cleaning laminate floors is easy as long as you use the proper techniques and tools. You can get rid of stubborn stains and spots without using harsh chemicals. Here are a few things you should avoid:

  • Abrasive tools: Never use abrasive tools like steel wool or stiff brushes on laminate floors. These will cause scratches and can damage the protective layer.
  • Waxes or polishes: Using polishes or waxes on laminate floors can make them slippery and create a filmy residue. It can also dull the finish and attract dirt and dust. Instead, use vinegar or rubbing alcohol to restore shine to the surface.
  • Ammonia: Ammonia might be an effective stain remover, but you should keep it far away from your laminate floors. The strong chemical can strip the top coating from the planks over time (4).
  • Steam is a no-no: Avoid using steam cleaners — even mops — on laminate floors. These tools use high temperatures to blast dirt and bacteria away. However, the steam is jetted into the surface to remove all embedded dirt. While this works great on grout, laminate is another story. The moisture from the steam might make its way into the seam and can damage the planks from within.
  • Don’t sand or refinish: Keep in mind that laminate might look like hardwood, but it’s very different. While you might sand hardwood floors to refinish them or restore the surface, you can’t do this on laminate. If you try to sand it, you will remove the top layer and create scratches that can’t be fixed.
  • Use doormats and rugs: To avoid scuff marks and wear, place a few throw rugs or doormats to protect the floor. Doormats will also help keep dirt outside and work as a friendly reminder for guests to remove their shoes.
  • Trim pet nails: Laminate doesn’t scratch as easily as hardwood, but it can still happen. If you have an eager pup running around, make sure their nails are trimmed to avoid scratches.

Advantages of Laminate Flooring

Although laminate flooring has many advantages, it’s essential to compare it to what you’re trying to replicate — hardwood. Here are a few benefits of laminate flooring that are worth considering:

  • Appearance: Laminate looks identical to other wooden floors due to the photorealistic image layer, but it’s much more durable. It’s great for families with pets since the laminate can handle claw attacks better.
  • Easy installation: It’s straightforward to install laminate over your existing floor. It’s also cheaper. If you’re handy, you can lay laminate yourself, but hiring a professional is best.
  • Child and pet-friendly: Although laminate isn’t entirely safe, it’s still more protected due to the wear layer. While hardwood can get deep scratches, laminate might see subtle scratches that can be removed. There are special markers and putties available to treat scratches.
  • Allergy-resistant: The hard top layer of laminate is more resistant to dust, mites, and pet hair. There aren’t as many crevices for allergens to hide in compared to hardwood planks.
  • Great warranty: Flooring manufacturers often offer an excellent warranty depending on the quality and price. The smallest warranty usually covers your floors for up to a year, whereas some manufacturers offer a lifetime limited warranty.
  • Eco-friendly: Laminate can be recycled and reused. You can remove and reinstall it in a different room or home. Many laminate manufacturers use eco-friendly practices to help protect forests and the environment.
  • Easy maintenance: Keeping your laminate floors looking top-notch isn’t as difficult as hardwood floors. Regular vacuuming or sweeping is the best way to keep dirt and dust at bay. Laminate floors also don’t require any harsh chemicals. You can easily remove stains and spots with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.
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How to Remove Scuff Marks From Laminate Floors?

One way you can them is by using a pencil eraser — yes, you heard correctly.

Rub the eraser over the marks, and they should begin lifting off the floor. If there are still signs of the marks, try to spray the area with a vinegar and water solution. Wipe away the solution immediately with a cloth and repeat if necessary.

Is Using Swiffer Sweeper Wet Mop on Laminate Floors Ok?

A Swiffer Sweeper is designed to dissolve and remove tough dirt and stains. However, when using this convenient tool on laminate floors, you should be careful.

Make sure you’re using a Swiffer Sweeper pad that’s safe for laminate, and dry the floor once you’re finished. The disposable wet cloths are quite effective on laminate floors because they don’t use as much moisture.

How Do You Make Laminate Floors Shine?

Sweeping or vacuuming regularly should be enough to keep the natural shine of laminate floors. However, when you need a deeper clean, use vinegar.

Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spritz it directly onto the floor or on a dry mop and work your way in sections.

What is the Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?

The main difference between laminate and vinyl flooring is durability. Vinyl flooring is much better at resisting moisture, whereas laminate is constructed from composite boards that soak up water like a sponge.

How Long Does Laminate Last?

Laminate flooring can last for 15 to 20 years, depending on the quality and how well it is maintained. The secret to preserving the surface quality is to use non-abrasive cleaning methods. The detergent could fade the lamination if it is too harsh.

Why Does My Laminate Floor Look Dull?

Your laminate floor looks dull because you may have used the wrong detergent, which has scratched and scuffed the laminated surface. Another reason could be using too much detergent, which dries to leave a cloudy residue.

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy Anthony is a cleaning expert, author, and contributing writer for Oh So Spotless, a leading online resource for all things related to cleaning, organizing, and maintaining a spotless home. With over 15 years of experience in the cleaning industry, Amy has gained extensive knowledge and expertise that have made her a trusted authority on best practices, efficient techniques, and innovative cleaning solutions.