Laminate Flooring: 11 Do’s and Don’ts for Keeping them Clean | Architectural Digest

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Laminate Flooring: 11 Do’s and Don’ts for Keeping them Clean  | Architectural Digest

By Kristi Kellogg , Jennifer Beck Goldblatt , and Yelena Moroz Alpert

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Wondering how to clean laminate flooring and keep it looking as great as it did upon installation? Even though your laminate wood floors may look as good as hardwood floors, that doesn’t mean you should clean them the same way. The best way to clean laminate flooring is not the same method you would use to make those hickory planks in your living room shine.

Clean your laminate floors carefully to keep them looking like new.

Laminate planks need special care because, unlike hardwood floors, the surface can’t just be refinished if stains, scuffs, or other types of damage occur. To avoid pricey repairs and replacements, it’s critical to maintain the flooring material and treat it with care—especially in high-traffic areas. (Wearing stilettos around the house is one way to increase wear and tear!) But don’t worry, keeping your floors looking good doesn’t take a lot of time, work, or elbow grease.

“Regular sweeping or vacuuming, with occasional mopping, will extend the life of your floor and keep it looking as good as the day it was installed,” says Jennifer Meska, director of merchandising at LL Flooring, who mentioned that laminate tends to be less expensive than real wood, so its become a go-to option for many homeowners and builders.

Whether you have new laminate or vinyl floors or simply want your existing surface to look like a new flooring installation, here are the best laminate flooring tips, and the mistakes to avoid.

Before you get cleaning, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for your floors. The brand may have specific recommendations based on the materials used. Most companies have detailed product guides and instructions on how to clean laminate floors on their websites. Read carefully as using harsh or abrasive cleaning products can null the warranty.

“If something spills, clean it up immediately,” says Steve Evans, cleaning expert at Memphis Maids. “Use a dense microfiber cloth or a sponge and gently blot until you absorb whatever has spilled.” Tackle stains pronto. Even if your laminate flooring is water-resistant, if you leave liquids for too long, they can potentially damage or discolor the surface.

Technology has made a lot of recent laminate flooring materials scratch-resistant, but that doesn’t mean you should reach for abrasive (steel wool, for example) items. You’ll want to use a soft-bristle broom or dust mop to sweep up debris. If you’re vacuuming, be careful to use an attachment without a beater bar or rotating brush, which could scratch the surface.

Mop every two months or so.

To keep laminate floors fresh, mop them every two months. Damp mops (a.k.a. microfiber mops) are gentle enough to use on laminate flooring. If you’re going to use a regular mop, just wring it out until it’s almost completely dry.

“The number one factor to keep in mind is that laminate floors do not get along with water,” Evans says. “At least, with excessive water. Keep water and liquids to a minimum whenever you’re cleaning these floors.” Even if the flooring material is water-resistant, you don’t want the water to pool or seep through the top layer, which could potentially lead to extra installation costs that come with replacing the laminate planks. That said, a traditional mop bucket is a no-no for laminate floors. If you forget to pick up all the water it can also cause staining or fading.

A spray mop could come in handy because sprays limit the amount of water you’re using. Dry the floors immediately.

Oil-based cleaning products can leave streaks and residue, or damage the protective sealant of the floors. If you use laminate cleaner, do so sparingly and apply it to the mop or microfiber cloth rather than directly to the floor. Never use wax or polishes on laminate floors.

Make your own DIY floor cleaner. For regular cleaning, combine a teaspoon of clear and unscented dish soap with a gallon of hot water.

Evans recommends a solution of white vinegar and water because it doesn’t leave a sticky residue, which is often an issue with hard floors. He suggests one part vinegar to 10 parts water. “It’s effective yet not that aggressive to your floors,” he notes.

Another option? If your floor has developed a slight film or waxy buildup on it (which happens over time when the wrong cleaning products are used), you can instead combine a gallon of hot water with a cup of white vinegar. Vinegar, which is a natural cleaning agent, will break down the film without hurting the laminate surface. (Note: The same rules about water apply to either of these DIY solutions. Make sure to wring the mop so it is only slightly damp. Never let water pool on the floor.)

For tough stains like candle wax or ink, the best cleaning methods are right at hand. Apply a plastic bag of ice to chewing gum and candle wax, and remove with a plastic knife, scraper, or credit card once it has hardened. Tackle paint, ink, nail polish, and crayon with rubbing alcohol.

To avoid future scratches, add furniture pads under the legs of chairs and tables, especially if they get moved frequently. For spots that are likely to get dents or withstand heavy foot traffic, invest in rugs to help prevent wear and tear. Placing a rug under a dining room table or under a desk chair not only saves your floors but enhances your interior decor.

If your laminate flooring already has scratches, you can try the Pergo repair kit to camouflage the damage.

Dirt that gets tracked in from outside not only makes your floor dirty, but can also damage the floor. The grit, for example, from a dirty shoe bottom can be one of the biggest enemies your laminate floor faces because it can scratch, dull, and even dent. Stop dirt in its tracks with a welcome mat that is as fashionable as it is functional. A woven wool-and-jute mat from Hay does just that. Something this low-maintenance can make all the difference.

True, this isn’t a tip to clean your laminate floors, but it is a solid tip to care for your floor. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed to prevent abrasion on the decorative layer. Your cat or dog’s nails can scuff up the laminate floor.

By Alia How Are You

Before cleaning, it’s important to understand different flooring products. Unlike real wood, which can come in a thin or wide plank, laminate flooring is made with three layers.

You’ll also want to look at the AC rating of your new floor. The AC stands for abrasion criteria and ranges from AC5 (commercial use) to AC1 (light foot traffic). For a space that gets busy, consider AC3 from a quality laminate retailer to ensure longevity and minimal wear and tear.

The core layer: For this layer of laminate flooring its purpose is to support the foot traffic or any other weight that is applied to the flooring by homeowners. It can be made from high-density fiberboard (HDF) or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Some low-quality laminate floors could have a core layer that is made from cardboard, which could lead to uneven floors.

Note that laminate flooring, a type of floating floor, goes over the underlayment, which should be evenly distributed on the subfloor. Having underlayment is essential as it is going to ensure that floor installation goes smoothly and locks properly, which will help ensure that there is limited creaking and plenty of stability for foot traffic.

The decor layer: Layered on top of the core layer is a paper printed with a realistic wood look. New floor designs can look like real wood that is as suitable in the living room as it is in a basement.

The wear layer: A top coating gives extreme scratch resistance to the product. For high-traffic areas like a mudroom or foyer, look for a wear layer that offers added protection. This layer is often pressed with a textured plate to give it a real wood grain texture you can see and feel. It’s this top layer you need to be most concerned with protecting while cleaning laminate floors.

If your house has laminate floors, don’t worry. “Laminate floors are easy to care for,” Meska assures. Arm yourself with a microfiber mop instead of a traditional mop head with strings, since excess water absorbed into the material can seep between the laminate planks and cause damage (like swelling or floor bubbling). If you only have a regular sponge or string mop on hand, be sure to wring it out—so that it is damp and not soaking wet—to prevent staining or fading. “You can use warm or hot water but not boiling hot water,” Evans adds.

A spray mop can do the trick too. Or you can use a Swiffer stick with microfiber rags for weekly cleanings, Evans recommends. These are also great for accessibility if you have hard-to-reach places, such as under the living room couch. Looking for a more thorough cleaning routine? Consider a steam vacuum like the Shark HydroVac, which comes with a multisurface brush roll that picks up everything from dust to crumbs.

It’s important to steer clear of harsh tools and abrasive cleaners, such as bleach and ammonia, which can cause irreversible damage even if heavily diluted. It can even void your warranty. You’ll also want to skip acetone and nail polish remover, even if you think it could get rid of a stain. Laminate floors are durable, but they can scratch or scuff, so avoid things like steel wool as well.

By Alia How Are You

Although laminate is a hard floor, it is unlike tile flooring which can withstand hot steam. Be careful, even if you spot treat tough stains (testing a small section before you cover several square feet of laminate surface). “Laminate floors are sensitive to excessive heat,” Evans says. Do keep in mind that steam cleaning may loosen that top protective wear layer and damage the surface.

A microfiber cloth or other gentle tool is your new best friend.

The one thing you’ll never see on a visualizer feature when you’re searching for new floors is the streaky film that comes from using improper household products. It’s important to use laminate floor cleaner, such as Bona Hard Surface floor cleaner, that is specifically formulated for laminate floors. Wax or polishes are not necessary and could damage the top layer of the flooring. If your floors are already dull because you accidentally used the wrong product, some experts recommend buffing them lightly with a mildly abrasive DIY cleaner of baking soda and white vinegar. Mix with warm or hot water and apply with a soft cloth. Use a microfiber mop to ensure this eco-friendly solution is fully removed after deep cleaning.

Note that Evans does warn that baking soda or scouring powders could potentially scratch the surface, so you’ll always want to test a section before you apply this solution to your new floors. Instead, Evans says to mix one tablespoon of powder detergent, like Tide, with one gallon of water. “Since it's a tiny amount of detergent, you won't get that soapy film on the floor but they will still smell and look clean,” he says.

“Regularly sweeping the floor should delay the need to mop and add unnecessary water to the floor,” Evans says. “Just sweep every other day using a dust mop to remove everyday dirt.

To start, grab a broom or vacuum cleaner. 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 adds. Then, dry mop to absorb any extra moisture on the floor. For each step start at one end of the room and work in a consistent direction to avoid moving dirt around the floor. You can deep clean stubborn spots and scuffs with Lysol Multi-Surface Cleaner Mango & Hibiscus by gently buffing the trouble areas. If you have an area rug, remove it a few times a year to clean the laminate floor beneath.

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Laminate Flooring: 11 Do’s and Don’ts for Keeping them Clean  | Architectural Digest

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