There’s no reason to overcomplicate your cleaning routine. The best way to clean laminate floors is to use a vacuum and a mop and to leave out chemical cleaning products most of the time. You should clean along the direction that your laminated floor was set when it was first put in, and use a spot-specific cleaning approach to deal with spills and stains when they occur.
That said, the process may be easier said than done. Let’s dig in.
Smooth but Scratchable
Laminate floors do an excellent job forming a smooth seal across your room. The seal means that there are few cracks or crevices for dirt to fall into. As a result, using a broom or thickly bristled vacuum can do more harm than good as it scratches the surface of your floor. When you do sweep, sweep “with the grain,” or in the direction the laminated floor tiles were laid, to best draw dirt out of whatever cracks or crevices there are.
We also recommend common and consistent cleaning as opposed to long pauses followed by a single, thoroughly cleaning session such as in Spring. Because laminate tiles don’t have as many cracks for the dust to fall into, it can build up on the surface. If the dirt builds up enough, then when you sweep it away it will have enough heft to scratch the floor tiles as you remove it.
Don’t Bleach It
The overlay on your laminate floor is resilient to water and spills that might seep through the cracks of other floors. It is not, however, as good at being washed with cleaning products or chemicals which can affect the sealant on the top layer of your floor. Instead, when mopping your floor, you should use hot water with very few cleaning products if any. With nothing on the surface of your floor to bond to, the stains or spills should easily come off with just that.
Finally, if an especially tricky material has been dropped on your floor, turn to milder chemicals with a consistency closer to dish soap. If you must use cleaning products, apply them to the local area where you see discoloration or the chance of staining. This spot specific washing allows you to minimize the effect on your floor’s sealant, as long as you also dry the spot once you’ve finished.
Three Simple Steps
To reiterate, here are the steps we’d recommend following if you end up needing to clean a spill off of your laminate floor. We think most of them apply to your regular cleaning as well, but because laminate has a sealant over its surface that wrinkles and tears under prolonged duress, quickly removing the source of the spill or splatter quickly can be the most important step to preventing damaging stains.
- Use a vacuum to pick up any dried items or dirt, and remove them as soon as possible. As it gets older, laminate flooring can become more porous (literally, forming tiny holes similar to human pores), at which point the more dirt settles into these holes, the more it will tear and scratch at your floor while being lifted out and away.
- Use hot water and, if you choose, a mixture of vinegar to mop up any liquid or goopy messes on your floor. When you’re done, give the floor a thorough drying with a towel or other cloth. Though laminate is so smooth water can cleanly rinse most filth away, it is also susceptible to damage from even mild cleaning chemicals.
- Once the spill is removed, if any spots or significant signs of staining remain then consider using mild chemical components, and never bleach. Only apply stain removers or detergents to the stained spot, and consider using a paper towel or hand towel to apply the most pressure to difficult and acute stains. Again, remember to dry the floor afterward.