These 10 tips will keep your laminate floors looking good-as-new
Your laminate flooring gives you the look of hardwood without all the hefty price tags and fussy maintenance. However, you can’t refinish it like real wood, so proper care is important. Following these tips will help keep your laminate floors as beautiful as the day you installed them.
1. Clean Your Laminate Floors Regularly
A good rule of thumb for any cleaning routine is to be regular with it. Keeping a habit of cleaning and checking on your laminate floors will help avoid the need for deep cleans—which could potentially cause dulling or damage. It will also help you spot stains and spills before they become serious.
2. Follow the Manufacturer’s Cleaning Instructions for Your Laminate Flooring
When you invested the cost to install new laminate flooring, you may have received cleaning instructions from the manufacturer. If you still have these handy, they’re your best reference when it comes to the right products to use.
3. Don’t Use Any Abrasive Products
Anything scratchy, scrubby, or scrape-y is bad news for your laminate floors. Scouring pads and steel wool will scratch up your laminate flooring, while harsh cleaners can strip it of its protective coating. Even a stiff-bristled broom is something to avoid.
4. Tackle Dust With a Vacuum or Dry Microfiber Mop
Dust can make your once-brilliant laminate flooring look dull and dingy, especially when it gets left there awhile. You can handle it with a quick swoop of a dry microfiber mop every few days, or at least once a week. A vacuum is also a useful tool as well—especially when there’s fur involved. Just make sure there’s nothing on the bottom that could scratch the surface of your laminate floors.
5. Mop With a Damp (Not Wet!) Microfiber Mop
Your laminate flooring isn’t water-tight like traditional tile. Different flooring options have different pros and cons, and a “con” of laminate is its vulnerability to water damage. Water can soak into the cracks, causing unsightly swelling or bubbling, so you can’t clean it with a dripping mop as you would with anything nonporous.
"When cleaning your laminate flooring, a neutral cleaner and damp microfiber mop are best to do the job,” said Aysa Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dustbusters, a family-owned and operated janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. “If some cleaning solution or water reaches below the surface—whether you have tile or rolled laminate—it can cause the floor to retain moisture and then buckle or bubble."
6. Avoid Puddles of Water
Just as a wet, drippy mop can cause water damage, so can any other source of excessive water. Keep an eye out for puddles, such as kitchen spills or pools left by your kids coming in from the sprinkler. If these sit for too long, they could cause lasting damage.
7. Know the Best Way to Spot-Clean Stains
If your stain calls for something heftier than laminate-approved cleaners, you have alternate spot-cleaning options. Rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover can take off marks like crayon or ink. Hardened stains like gum or dried-up food are removable with a dull tool, such as a plastic knife. Avoid anything metal or sharp, as this is likely to leave damage behind.
“Avoid using scrubbing pads so that you do not scratch the laminate coating,” Biddle said. “You should also avoid using cleaning sponges as they can take a layer of the coating off, too.”
8. Use Laminate Floor-Approved Cleaning Products
Most cleaning products will list the types of flooring they’re meant for, so be sure to read your labels. You can also DIY a cleaner with plain water and a small squirt of dish soap.
Even more important than what you use is what you don’t use. Here’s what you should avoid:
Bleach, which can cause discoloration and strip the finish of your laminate floors
Vinegar, since the acidity can damage the laminate’s finish
Wood cleaning and protective products, as this may leave a residue
Steam cleaners, which can cause water damage
If your laminate-friendly cleaners aren’t providing the results you want, a professional laminate floor cleaner near you can help achieve that shiny, sparkling clean you’re looking for.
9. Leave Your Shoes at the Door
Keeping your shoes on when you come home doesn’t just leave behind dirt (or worse). Tiny pebbles stuck in the grooves of your shoe sole can scrape up your laminate floors. Oh, and those stiletto heels and soccer cleats should be Public Enemy #1.
It might take some time, but try to get your family in the habit of removing shoes at the door. You can even offer a cozy pair of slippers to sweeten the deal.
10. Be Mindful of Anything That Could Cause Damage
Fronting the cost to repair laminate floors is avoidable with the proper precautions. Remember: if it’s scratchy or abrasive, or if it causes pools of water, avoid it as much as possible.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Put protective pads on your furniture legs
Lift heavy items (e.g. furniture, trash cans, etc.) rather than dragging them
Keep your pet’s claws trimmed
Use protective mats wherever splashes or spills can happen (e.g. your front door, your dog’s water bowl, etc.)
If anything does happen, don’t panic. A local laminate floor repair pro can help restore your laminate to its former glory. Or, if the damage is excessive, a laminate floor installer near you can put in a floor that’s shiny and new.