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How to clean laminate flooring to make it buffed and beautiful

Need to know how to clean laminate flooring? Follow our guide to get your floors squeaky clean and shining like new.

Updated

Laminate flooring is an attractive alternative to carpets, with many homeowners drawn to its wood-like feel and finish. Far more affordable than natural wood, it is also easier to install and maintain. However, there are a number of things you need to know when it comes to how to clean laminate flooring – follow our guide below to keep yours dirt-free and gleaming.

How to clean laminate flooring

Laminate maintenance isn’t difficult, but you do need to establish a routine and pay attention to the details. A lot of it is down to regular upkeep complemented with a schedule of thorough cleaning.

Day-to-day maintenance is essential to prevent the accumulation of dirt, which can cause scratching, but stay away from harsh cleaning detergents and never wax or polish laminate. Over-brushing can damage the surface of your flooring as well. Here’s how to clean laminate floors the no-hassle way. Tip: Check any instructions that came with your flooring. Follow those directions, as they will be specific to the type of material.

Weekly upkeep

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To prevent a build-up of dirt and debris, you should sweep or vacuum your floor on a weekly basis. Even if it’s sold as ‘scratch-resistant’, all hard flooring is sensitive to scuffing; bits of grit could even harm the laminate. Use a soft brush, as the hard bristles of traditional floor brushes will cause scratching over time.

If you’re using a vacuum cleaner, make sure you use the soft-brush attachment – never use the beater brush as it’s too rough. If you track a lot of dirt into your house (coming in from a muddy garden or the beach, for example), then you’ll need to increase your cleaning to a few times a week.

Emergency clean ups

When spills occur you need to move quickly to soak up the liquid. Allowing pools of fluid to linger will not only stain your flooring but could also wear away the protective coating. Worse, it could seep through the seams and cause damage underneath the surface. Using a clean, dry towel or sponge soak up the moisture until completely dry.

How to wash a laminate floor

With pets, muddy footprints and life’s everyday accidents, every floor will require a good clean now and again. Thorough laminate floor cleaning should be carried out once a month, or when you see marks or stains congregating.

  1. Fill up a bucket with clean, warm water and add a teaspoon of washing-up or baby shampoo (remember: no harsh chemicals). Alternatively, use specialist laminate cleaner, but stay away from oil-based products as they can make your floor streaky. Check the directions on the bottle and if you’re unsure do a test on an inconspicuous part of the floor.

  2. Soak a flat mop in the liquid (microfibre mops are generally favoured as they are soft and gentle) and lightly run over the floor so it is left slightly damp – the idea is not to leave it soaking wet. Avoid puddles by regularly wringing out your mop or, if it’s microfibre, ensuring it is just-damp and not dripping wet.

  3. To make sure there is no water residue, go over the floor with a dry mop or microfibre cloth.

Removing stubborn laminate floor stains with vinegar

If you don’t want to use a commercial cleaner but you have particularly dirty floors that the washing-up liquid mixture (above) can’t handle, you can make your own vinegar solution. White vinegar is an excellent cleaning agent, but you need to make sure it is properly diluted before spreading it across the floor.

  1. In a bucket, mix one part white vinegar to three parts water.

  2. Add a teaspoon of washing-up liquid.

  3. Use a spray bottle to squirt the solution over the floor.

  4. Mop, following the guidance above.

  5. Dry with a microfibre cloth.

White vinegar has many uses as a natural surface cleaner and disinfectant. Check out our tips on how to use white vinegar for cleaning around the house.

How to get wax off a laminate floor

Get to the problem ASAP as wax, especially if it’s from a coloured candle, can damage and stain the floor.

  1. If the wax is still hot grab a bag of frozen peas or put ice cubes in a plastic bag and then hold down on the wax until it hardens.

  2. Once hardened, use a credit card to leverage the wax off the floor (don’t use a sharp knife or scraper).

  3. If you have some dye residue on the floor, use nail polish remover.

  4. Dip a soft cloth into the polish remover and gently rub the stain until it has gone.

  5. Wipe off with a damp cloth.

If you have problems with wax on a natural wood floor, read our guide on how to get candle wax off walls and wooden floors.

How to polish your laminate floor

It’s simple to make an effective, homemade floor polish.

  1. In a bucket, mix 500ml of warm water with a tablespoon of white vinegar and two tablespoons of vegetable oil.

  2. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and give it a vigorous shake. Squirt onto the floor, making sure not to make it too wet.

  3. Rub with a microfibre cloth until nicely buffed, section by section.

How to protect laminate floors: 5 top tips

There are a few things you can do to help ensure your laminate floor stays in pristine condition.

  1. Put furniture pads under the legs of chairs, sofas and tables to prevent scratching (especially important if you frequently move the furniture).

  2. Use mats and rugs to help slow wear and tear, or place under anything with casters. A doormat will help stop dirt being tracked across the floor.

  3. Don’t try to roll or drag anything heavy across a laminate floor.

  4. Take off your shoes, especially if wearing heels.

  5. Trim your pet’s nails – a cat or dog can play havoc with laminate floors if their nails aren’t kept in order.

Cleaning laminate flooring: Your questions answered

What is laminate flooring?

While it looks and feels like regular wood flooring, laminate flooring is made from heat-pressed wood fibres. It’s durable and easy to install, while being cheaper than natural wood flooring.

It’s main drawback is that it is not waterproof (and so shouldn’t be installed in bathrooms) and it can also have a hollow, un-wood-like sound to it.

What is the best way to clean laminate floors?

Following our advice above about how to clean laminate flooring, you’ll want to sweep or vacuum using a soft brush on a regular basis (at least once a week). Mop every month, making sure any cleaning liquid or water doesn’t soak the floor.

What is a good floor cleaner for laminate floors?

You can either use a specialist laminate floor cleaner or make your own using vinegar and water (see above for details). For general cleaning, you can use a teaspoon of washing-up liquid or baby shampoo in a bucket of water. Stay away from anything abrasive and never try to polish a laminate floor.

What is the best mop for laminate floors?

You’ll want a mop that doesn’t run the risk of scratching the floor. Microfibre mops are a good choice as they are soft and will collect dust while giving the floor a nice shine. They also don’t need as much water as a regular mop, so you run less risk of over-soaking the floor.

Can you steam clean laminate floors?

When it comes to cleaning laminate flooring it’s best not too. Laminate isn’t keen on heat – steam runs the risk of warping and damaging your flooring, as well as loosening the adhesive holding the floor down. Using a steam cleaner could even void your warranty.

Does vinegar ruin laminate floors?

Not if you prepare it properly. As outlined above, use a mixture of one part white vinegar to three parts water, and then add a teaspoon of washing-up liquid. Use a spray bottle for squirting over the floor before mopping.

How often should I mop my laminate floor?

As a general guide, once a month is fine unless your floor is marked or sees a lot of foot traffic; basically, if it looks like it needs the once over, get the mop out.

How do I get my laminate floors to shine?

One thing not to use is wood polish as that could actually damage the laminate. The steps in the guide above will help ensure your floor comes out with a nice shine – pay special attention to drying the floor with a microfibre cloth as this will help give the laminate a buff.

We have guides for other floor types as well, such as how to clean parquet floors and how to clean engineered wood floors.

Originally published