Laminate Flooring cleaning and maintenance
One of the biggest advantages of laminate floors is they are made to look good for many years with minimal effort. They require no special products or equipment to maintain their look. For cleaning purposes, a vacuum cleaner, dry mop and perhaps a damp towel for the tougher stains are all that’s needed to keep laminate floors looking good.
Laminates are built to stand up to wear, but like any product, there is a degree of requisite maintenance. Although it mimics the look of hardwood flooring, laminate flooring requires different cleaning care and can’t be treated the same as a true wood floor.
Some tips from the pros:
First, the end user should dust mop the floor regularly with a micro fiber dust mop. Although sweeping or vacuuming gets the bigger debris, most brooms and vacs leave behind the smaller particles of dust that a microfiber dust mop will catch. This is important because minute pieces of sand and rock, which are often ignored or unseen, are almost as dangerous as the larger pieces. Small pieces of sand and rock that move around the house will not cause evident scratches, but they can cause microscopic scratches. After a period of time, these microscopic scratches will pile up and cause dulling of the floor. However, microfiber mops usually do the trick if used regularly. They are available in 18- and 24-inch sizes and in several styles.
As a precaution, it is advised that homeowners place floor mats and foot brushes outside doorway entrances to keep sand or rock from entering the home. Dirt can also lead to scratching that eventually will dull the floor.
Next, an occasional damp mopping is suggested. The key here is damp, not soaking wet. Getting a laminate floor too wet can cause water to seep between the joints, causing the flooring pieces to swell and suffer damage. Sales pros recommend to damp clean the laminate floor using a vinegar- or ammonia-based solution. They suggest pouring a quarter cup of vinegar into a 32-ounce empty spray bottle filled with plain water for a quick solution. Then dampen a terry mop or a Swifter with water and mop, spraying the floor as you go. When avoided so as not to saturate the floor.
Other possible cleaning fluids that have been suggested include a combination of vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water (equal parts) — one-third white vinegar, one-third rubbing alcohol, one-third water and three drops dishwashing liquid (1 quart total).
Do not use polish or wax on these floors. While laminate floors are especially durable, as with any hard surface flooring they can be scratched or gouged. If there is furniture in the room, it is suggested that homeowners use felt pads or wide-base casters under the pieces. Moving heavy furniture without these pads will cause the floor to scratch.
Tips on spot cleaning?
To remove oil, paint, permanent marker, tar and rubber heel marks, experts recommend using a neutral cleaner on a clean light colored cloth. If needed, alcohol or a nail polish remover containing acetone can be used. To remove blood, fruit juice, wine, beer, soda pop and pasta sauce, warm water should be used. To remove chewing gum, harden with ice then scrape very gently. Wipe the rest with warm water on a clean, light-colored cloth. In case of more severe damage, which is unlikely to take place in most homes, a trained professional can be called to replace a plank.
The new plank should be almost indistinguishable from the others, if done properly. Spills should be wiped up immediately because liquid can seep into the cracks or joints of the floors and cause them to become weak and damaged. Liquid can also cause the lamination to wear away. Despite having easy care requirements, laminate generally cannot be refinished and must be replaced when damaged.
Because it has a wood or fiberboard core, large spills and excessive moisture can damage a laminate floor. Thinner versions are less expensive but do not resist wear as well and will degrade in a matter of years.
10 facts about cleaning laminate floors
- A mixture of 1⁄4 cup of vinegar into a 30- ounce spray bottle works well with a mop. The water and vinegar are combined, then sprayed on a small area of the floor and mopped up right away.
- Another option is to sell cleaners made specifically for laminate floors.
- Microfiber pads also work well without the need to use liquid.
- Laminate floors can also be cleaned by using the wand attachment on a vacuum. (Anything else can scratch the laminate if sand or grit is in the vacuum.)
- Laminate should never be waxed or polished.
- Spills should be blotted up as soon as they happen. Liquids should never be allowed to stand on the floor.
- The floor should never be washed to prevent swelling, warping or delamination. The less water applied the better.
- For spots such as candle wax or chewing gum, the spot should be hardened with ice then gently scraped with a plastic scraper (like a credit card). Then the area can be cleaned with a damp cloth.
- Protective pads can be placed under tables and chairs. A rug under furniture with coasters is also a good idea.
- If there is an area that cannot be cleaned to your customer’s satisfaction, a trained professional can be called to replace the plank(s).