How to Clean and Care for Laminate Flooring to Keep It Looking Like New
Laminate flooring is a durable and easy-to-maintain option that can give the look of real wood or stone at a lower cost. Knowing how to properly clean laminate floors will keep them looking beautiful—like new—for years to come.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Even though laminate flooring is often included in wood flooring options, it is not wood, at least not in the way we think of wood. Laminate is manmade and involves gluing a top layer of resin-infused photographic paper on top of particleboard or wood-chip composite. Laminate flooring is essentially a wood photograph. It looks so good that it’s easy to get fooled. Even using a magnifying glass, you’ll swear you’re looking at natural wood.
Laminate wood does have its advantages: It is scratch-resistant, easy to install, and relatively inexpensive. The downside is that laminate is extremely vulnerable to moisture, especially water.
Knowing how to clean and maintain a laminate floor without ruining it is mandatory if you want to keep your laminate floor investment in great condition and looking beautiful.
Pros and Cons
Cost: Laminate flooring is much cheaper than hardwood or stone, making it a budget-friendly choice for many homeowners.
Durability: Laminate flooring is resistant to scratches and dents, making it a good choice for high traffic areas. It is also resistant to moisture, making it a good choice for bathrooms and kitchens.
Easy to clean: Laminate flooring is easy to clean and maintain, requiring only a damp mop or broom to remove dirt and debris.
Wide range of styles: Laminate flooring is available in a wide range of styles, including wood and stone looks, so you can find a style that fits your home’s decor.
Easy to install: Laminate flooring is easy to install, with many options available as a “floating floor” that can be installed over an existing floor without the need for glue or nails.
Not as durable as hardwood or stone: While laminate flooring is durable, it is not as strong as hardwood or stone, and may not last as long under heavy use.
Limited repair options: If a piece of laminate flooring becomes damaged, it can be difficult to repair and may require replacement.
Limited resale value: While laminate flooring can be a cost-effective option, it may not add as much value to a home as hardwood or stone when it comes time to sell.
May not be suitable for all areas: Laminate flooring may not be suitable for areas prone to moisture, such as basements or outdoor spaces. It is also not recommended for use in commercial settings, as it is not as durable as other flooring options.
Cost of Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring can be a budget-friendly alternative to hardwood, tile, or stone flooring, with prices starting at around $1 per square foot. However, the overall cost of laminate flooring will depend on several factors, including the quality of the material, the thickness of the planks, and the size of the covered area.
For example, high-quality laminate flooring with thick planks and a realistic wood or stone finish may cost $3 to $4 per square foot, while lower-quality laminate with thin planks and a less realistic finish may cost as little as $0.50 per square foot.
Additionally, you’ll need to consider the cost of installation, which can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the project and the contractor you hire. DIY installation can save you money, but it can also be time-consuming and may not produce the same level of quality as a professional installation.
Another factor to consider is the cost of underlayment, an optional layer of material installed under the laminate flooring to provide cushioning and sound insulation. Underlayment can cost $0.50 to $1 per square foot, and while it is not necessary for all types of laminate flooring, it can be worth the investment for added comfort and noise reduction.
Overall, the cost of laminate flooring can range from $1 to $5 per square foot, depending on the material’s quality and installation cost. While laminate flooring may not be as durable or long-lasting as some other flooring options, it can be a good choice for those on a tight budget who want the look of wood or stone at a fraction of the cost.
How to Clean Laminate Floors
Cleaning laminate floors can be a breeze if you know the proper techniques. Here are some tips on how to clean your laminate floors like a pro:
- Start by dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming your laminate floors to remove loose dirt or debris. This will make the cleaning process easier and more effective.
- Next, make up this cleaning solution: 1 part alcohol (isopropyl, denatured, plain vodka, gin), 4 parts distilled water, and a few drops of Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid.
- Fill a spray bottle or the reservoir of your spray mop, with this solution spraying then gently scrubbing small areas at a time. Or dip a mop or sponge into the cleaning solution and wring out excess liquid. You don’t want to oversaturate the laminate, which can cause warping or damage.
- Use a clean, dry towel to blot up any excess moisture and buff dry. This will help to prevent streaks and water spots on your laminate.
- You may need to use a mild abrasive cleaner if you have tough stains or ground-in dirt. Just be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that the cleaner won’t damage the laminate.
Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid
Mistake: Wet mops
A soaking wet mop is a great way to deep clean concrete, tile, or vinyl flooring, but NEVER use a wet mop on laminate flooring. Wring that mop out so it is a dry-damp. Work in small areas to scrub and clean, then follow with a microfiber cloth to quickly remove any remaining moisture.
Never allow water or moisture of any kind to sit on laminate for any period of time. Clean up spills immediately. While those cracks and spaces between the laminate planks may appear sealed, they aren’t. The particleboard under the top layer of resin-infused paper will act like a thirsty sponge to soak it up. That will make the board swell, and there’s no going back on that. If you have a spill, wipe it up immediately.
Mistake: Wax or polish
A laminate floor’s surface is a specific protective layer. If you cover that with polish or wax, you will ruin the appearance of the laminate flooring and forever wonder what happened to the beautiful appearance your laminate flooring once had.
Do not use green Scotchbrite scrubbing sponges, Bon Ami, or any other thing that is in the least bit abrasive. The laminate’s top protective layer can resist fine scratches, but don’t press your luck. Abrasive cleaners will turn that finish dull in no time at all.
Mistake: Steam cleaning
Steam cleaning is excellent for some surfaces, but laminate flooring is not one of them. Hot wet steam being forced into those seams and crevices between the boards is asking for trouble. It will work its way into the particle board beneath, causing it to swell, and then you’ll have a big problem on your hands that cannot be repaired. Steam can also loosen the adhesive of laminate floor over time.
Not interested in making your own laminate cleaning solution? You have quite a few options when it comes to commercial products. Here are my top picks by category, with Amazon links (so you can quickly learn more). However you might also find them in stores like Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and Walmart.
Best for Shine
Best for Pets
- Use a dry or damp mop to sweep or mop the floor regularly. Avoid using excessive water as it can seep into the seams and cause the laminate to swell.
- Use a laminate floor cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water to remove dirt and stains. Avoid using wax, polish, or detergents as they can leave a film on the floor and make it slippery.
- Protect the floor from scratches by using felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs and avoiding dragging heavy objects across the floor.
- Avoid standing water on the laminate as it can seep into the seams and cause the laminate to swell.
- If the laminate becomes damaged, it may be possible to replace individual planks rather than the entire floor, but it will not be easy.
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What are your thoughts on swiffer mop? They make one solution for wood floors that I had assumed was also good for laminate. We are smack in the middle of a whole house laminate intall!!
Swiffer Wet Jet is great for your laminate floor. Just make sure you work in small areas spraying, mopping, and then wiping dry so there is no standing solution.You are not going to enjoy how expensive the Wet Jet refills are. That’s why I recommend you make it yourself. Here are the tips and tricks to get the bottle open to refill without ruining it. (Apparently the Wet Jet follks aren’t keen on us making this ourselves!)
How to Make WetJet Multi-Surface Solution Refills for Pennies
what can be substituted for isopropyl in the recipe for laminate flooring: Next, make up this cleaning solution: 1 part alcohol (isopropyl, denatured, plain vodka, gin), 4 parts distilled water, and a few drops of Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid.
Also, what can be substituted for rubbing alcohol in this recipe:
Wood, Laminate, Vinyl Floor Cleaner
1 cup rubbing alcohol
4 cups distilled water
8 drops blue Dawn
You can substitute denatured alcohol, plain vodka, or gin for the rubbing alcohol, as noted in the post and also in your question!
All of these helpful hints were for a wood laminate floor. Do you have any helpful tips for vinyl laminate?
How to Clean and Care for Hardwood, Laminate, and Vinyl Floors Floors
I’m surprised you didn’t recommend Bona. The people who installed my laminate flooring used it to clean the floor after they were done. They recommended it.
I find the Bona line of floor cleaners to do a fine job of maintaining a clean floor (laminate, wood, stone … there are several variants in the Bona lineup), but Bona does not, in my opinion do a good job of cleaning. My test was to clean a dirty floor with Bona Floor Cleaner, allow to dry then go over it again with a clean white cloth. There should be no dirt on that cloth, right? Well that wasn’t the case. That was my experience.
Thanks for replying so quickly. I’m definitely switching and have already put Better Life on my Amazon wish list.