Laminate is a popular flooring material, but cleaning it requires special care. Learn how to clean laminate floors the right way with these expert tips.
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Thanks to their low cost, durability and wide variety of styles, laminate flooring is a popular option in many modern homes. Laminate floors are made of several layers of synthetic materials, topped by an image layer that often resembles wood or tile. And while the top layers may look like wood or tile, they shouldn’t be cleaned the same way. This is why homeowners tend to be in the dark when it comes to knowing how to clean laminate floors.
“Floors are one of the least-favorite things for people to clean,” says Pam Clyde, owner of BritLin Cleaning in Round Rock, Texas. “And it is definitely the area that gets dirty the fastest, especially if a household has pets and children.”
While the proper cleaning technique is more involved than a quick swipe of a Swiffer (you shouldn’t be wet-mopping a laminate floor), knowing how to clean laminate floors properly will help keep them in good shape for years to come. Want to add floor cleaning to your cleaning schedule? Whether you’re learning the best way to clean your kitchen or how to clean a bathroom, laminate requires a specific know-how. Follow our step-by-step advice and your laminate flooring will shine.
How often should you clean laminate floors?
Your cleaning schedule depends on how dirty your floors get. Experts recommend vacuuming or dry-mopping laminate floors daily (the perfect task for the best robotic vacuums), and mopping and immediately drying laminate floors weekly—more often for high-traffic areas. “Most people clean their floors well enough to get by,” says Liz Trotter, owner of American Maid Service in Olympia, Washington. “But it’s not just a quick wipe, especially if your floor gets a lot of dirt tracked in.”
Not cleaning often enough risks more than just a dirty floor. “Dirt is very abrasive, and when your floor gets damaged, it’s harder and harder to clean,” Trotter says. For that reason, you should stick to a weekly cleaning schedule, rather than waiting until floors are visibly dirty or feel sticky or tacky.
Why are laminate floors hard to clean?
Moisture is the enemy of laminate floors, says Clyde. The same thing that makes laminate floors so easy to install also makes them difficult to clean. Laminate floors click and lock into place without glue or fasteners to hold them down. They are often described as “floating” above a subfloor. This construction is not watertight. If you wet-mop or steam-clean a laminate floor (or spill liquid on it), the moisture can cause damage.
Because laminate, unlike wood, doesn’t breathe, moisture will stay inside the flooring, rotting it and allowing bacteria and mold to grow. This is why the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) cautions against using “any type of cleaner that works by excessive amounts of liquid or uses steam.”NALFA also advises against using waxes or polishes, as they will form a film on the floors over time. Additionally, laminate floors should not be refinished, as they are not solid wood.
Clyde recommends always checking the product label and manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure the product is safe for use on laminate floors—she has seen some TikTok cleaning hacks that “could damage your floors.” Even a natural cleaning solution, such as white vinegar, can cause damage due to its acidity, Clyde says.
How to clean laminate floors
One thing is certain: You want to start with a well-vacuumed surface to remove any loose debris and get rid of dust. After thoroughly vacuuming the floor with an expert-approved vacuum (Clyde likes Shark brand vacuums with the roller brush turned off), gather the rest of your supplies. Beyond the proper cleaning solution, you also want to use the proper mop, something that can apply a solution damp, but not wet, says the NALFA. Stay away from abrasive sponges or pads, and no string mops, as they can hold too much water. A microfiber mop or cloth is best.
- Bona Pro Series Hard Surface Floor Cleaner
- Zep Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner
- Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
- Spray bottle
- Bona Premium Microfiber Mop for Multi-Surface Floors (ideally one wet, one dry)
- Extra microfiber pads
- Choose your laminate-specific cleaning product and prepare it as stated on the package. Remember that some products may need to be diluted. If diluting, use cold to lukewarm water, Clyde says, as hot water may cause the cleaning agent to evaporate too quickly.
- Transfer to a spray bottle.
- Spray the flat mop head with just enough cleaner to moisten it. Do not spray directly on the floor.
- Start at the furthest point away from you and work in one small section, such as a 3-by-3-foot square, at a time.
- Move the mop in an S-shaped pattern, rotating the mop head at each curve so that you’re always moving any dirt or debris forward, not simply pushing it back and forth.
- After completing a section, use a dry mop or dry microfiber cloth to dry the space in the same pattern. This will work better than paper towels.
- Repeat until the entire floor is clean.
- Change your mop pads at regular intervals as they get dirty. “At some point they get so dirty, all you’re doing is smearing things around,” she says.
Pro tip: To preserve their cleaning power, learn how to wash microfiber cloths correctly. Clyde suggests washing microfiber mop pads separately from any other laundry. Do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets, which can leave a film that may transfer to the floor the next time you clean it.
How to deep-clean laminate floors
Luckily, laminate floors have a protective coating, so they are harder to stain than other kinds of flooring. The best way to deep-clean laminate floors is the same as above. You’ll just want to repeat the steps as many times as necessary. In general, you don’t want to use harsh chemicals, abrasive products or steam/water on laminate floors, even if you believe they’ll deep-clean better.
The best laminate floor cleaners
Zep Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner
How to keep laminate floors clean
Floors are going to get dirty. And while there is no real substitute for regular, proper cleanings, removing shoes in the house can help cut down on the dirt that’s tracked in. Clyde even wears washable shoe covers because she says that even going barefoot can degrade floors, as the natural oils in the skin of your feet can affect laminate flooring over time.
While laminate floors are fairly durable and can be easier than cleaning hardwood floors, you’ll want to wipe up any spills quickly to avoid moisture getting in between the boards. If your laminate floors are certified by NALFA, they are likely protected by an extensive warranty against stains, fading and moisture damage. And luckily, similar to cleaning baseboards and cleaning carpets, knowing how to clean laminate floors the right way is actually quite simple and can go a long way in extending the life of your flooring.
- North American Laminate Flooring Association: “What’s Not to Like about Laminate Flooring?”
- Pam Clyde, owner of BritLin Cleaning
- Liz Trotter, owner of American Maid Service
How to Clean Laminate Floors So They Shine? ›
You'll want to remove any dust, dirt, or debris. These fine particles of grit can act like sandpaper and may dull the laminate. Follow with a floor cleaner and a damp, not wet, mop with a microfiber pad, Meska suggests. Then, dry mop to absorb any extra moisture on the floor.How do you make dull laminate floors shine? ›
- Sweep and vacuum the floors. Use a microfiber mop or a soft broom to sweep the debris out of the room. ...
- Prepare a laminate-formulated floor cleaner. ...
- Spray a thin layer onto your floor. ...
- Mop the floor. ...
- Air-dry the room. ...
- Buff any additional dull spots.
You'll want to remove any dust, dirt, or debris. These fine particles of grit can act like sandpaper and may dull the laminate. Follow with a floor cleaner and a damp, not wet, mop with a microfiber pad, Meska suggests. Then, dry mop to absorb any extra moisture on the floor.What is the best cleaner to make laminate floors shine? ›
Bona Hard-Surface Floor Cleaner is our top choice as the best overall cleaner for laminate floors for their newly improved formula, affordability, quick-drying time, and versatility. We also love that this cleaner is EPA Safer Choice-certified and comes in two scent options: lemon mint and unscented.Does white vinegar shine laminate floors? ›
Yes, it is safe to clean most laminate floors with a solution of vinegar and water, which is yet another reason to love vinegar! Mix 1 cup household vinegar with 1 gallon warm water. Use a slightly damp mop.Is Murphy's oil soap good for laminate floors? ›
Never use Murphy Oil Soap or similar products to damp mop wood or laminated floors. Oil soaps leave a film on floors that dull and damage the finish. Remove the film by mopping with one-half cup distilled white vinegar per gallon of water and a clean terry towel.What do professionals use to clean laminate floors? ›
Use a clean, dry microfiber towel or mop. Avoid oil-based cleaners and products designed for cleaning wood floors, cabinets and furniture. They can leave streaks that are impossible to remove. Don't ever wax or polish your laminate floors.Can I use Dawn and vinegar on laminate floors? ›
Sprinkle baking soda on the floor. Mix one gallon of hot water, one cup of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in a bucket. Dip your mop in the solution, being careful not to create puddles.What should you not clean laminate floors with? ›
The top layer of laminate flooring is water-resistant. Even so, water can seep through the cracks between planks if it's left to sit. This means you should avoid cleaning laminate floors with large amounts of water like with a traditional wet mop.Why do my laminate floors look dull? ›
When your laminate floor has a dull, cloudy finish, it is most likely caused by a buildup of floor cleaner, polish or wax. Dirt and debris easily stick to the excess product, making the floor look cloudy and dirty instead of having an attractive sheen. Dirt and dust on the floor can also make the flooring look dull.
Is Dawn dish soap good for laminate floors? ›
Yes, but we recommend checking the natural laminate cleaner above. Also note that dish soap should be used in minimal amounts. Contact the manufacture of your laminate floor. Our favorite dish soap is Dawn to mop floors.Is Swiffer WetJet good for laminate floors? ›
Yes, you can use a wet Swiffer or Swiffer WetJet on laminate floors. "The wet Swiffer is best for quickly cleaning small spaces," Forte says.Why are my laminate floors still dirty after mopping? ›
Avoid Using Too Much Soap
Soap only lifts dirt and oil into water, making them suspend in water. Therefore, the more soap you use, the more your mop gets saturated with dirt. So, if you do not remove all the soapy water from the floor, the dirt remains, forming streaks on the floor.
Pine-Sol® Multi-Surface Cleaner is safe for use on laminate floors. Just choose your favorite scent — we like using Original Pine on laminate floors. Pine-Sol® Multi-Surface Cleaner also comes in other scents, like Lemon Fresh®, Lavender Clean®, Sparkling Wave® and Tropical Flowers™.Is Bona good for laminate floors? ›
Yes, the Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner is safe for your laminate floor. Bona Cleaners are safe for your floor as long as your floor is sealed or finished, and unwaxed or unoiled. Both the Hardwood Floor Cleaner and the Stone, Tile and Laminate Floor Cleaner are pH balanced and leave no dulling or sticky residues behind.Can quick shine be used on laminate floors? ›
The answer is YES! You can use our Quick Shine® Multi-Surface Floor Finish and Cleaner on a variety of sealed hard surface flooring, including; hardwood, laminate, tile, vinyl, linoleum, stone, and more!Does Murphy's oil soap dull floors? ›
Do NOT clean your floors with Murphy's Oil Soap, Mop and Glo, Orange Glo, Swiffer Wet Mop, furniture polish such as Pledge, vinegar, ammonia, or any pine cleaners! All of these cleaners, over time, will dull and damage the finish.Can you restore faded laminate flooring? ›
Return Shine to Laminate Flooring
If your flooring's problem is simply a lack of lustre, this can be easily rectified. Again, white vinegar is the go-to solution for shine. Simply mop the entire floor with 1 cup of white vinegar, mixed with 1 gallon of warm water, and a teaspoon of washing up liquid.
To ½ cup of water in the spray bottle, add a ½ cup of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar of the equal amount to water in the bottle and mix properly. With this simple method, you do not need to struggle with how to clean and shine laminates using expensive but wrong products while you can make your own.