About Laminate Floor Cleaner and Cleaning Laminate Floors

Choosing the right laminate floor cleaner is important if you have installed laminate flooring in your home. If you have laminate floors in your home, you probably know that a laminate floor cannot be sanded down and refinished the way solid hardwood floors can be. This makes taking good care of your laminate floor is vital if you want it to look its best and endure as long as possible. Laminate flooring will last a long time (most manufacturers offer guarantees of 10 years or longer) and is not particularly challenging to take care of, but it is not entirely maintenance free either. Regular cleaning must be performed and part of that process should include a laminate floor cleaner that will not damage your flooring.

Why Use Laminate Floor Cleaner?

Laminate floors are made up of layers, so the type of laminate floor cleaner you use makes a difference. Usually, laminate flooring consists of four layers. There is a clear top layer for protection from harm, a second layer which is printed to simulate the look of real wood, the core layer which is the thickest layer usually constructed from plywood or another wood product, and a sturdy fourth layer that maintains contact with your subfloor providing resistance to moisture plus stability. Because of the way laminates are constructed, you cannot use harsh or abrasive cleaners which could scratch, strip or destroy the protective top layer subjecting the lower layers to moisture and further damage.

Traditional soaps and floor cleaners not specifically designed for laminate floors should be avoided. This includes soap based cleaning products that you dilute with water. Soap can make a laminate floor feel sticky or leave a noticeable film. Wax, mop and shine products, as well as some oil based cleaning solutions can dull the finish on your laminate floor. Using a laminate floor cleaner made or recommended by your flooring manufacturer is your safest bet.

While laminate floors are generally resistant to moisture, nearly all manufacturers warn that standing pools of water will damage your laminate floor and some go so far as to recommend that you do not install their products in high moisture areas. Steam cleaning laminate flooring or using any type of machine is never recommended. Moisture can warp your flooring or cause it to expand. Moisture and standing water are damaging to hardwood floors as well, but hardwoods can be refinished so it is important that you use a damp but not dripping wet mop with your laminate floor cleaner. Rinsing the floor after you clean it is not necessary or helpful, unless the instructions that come with your laminate floor cleaner specifically mention it. When using a laminate wood floor cleaner and a mop, remember that less is more. Finish mopping by wiping the floor with a dry cloth.

How to Clean Laminate Floors

Sweeping, vacuuming and damp mopping with a laminate floor cleaner are about the extent of maintaining your laminate flooring. Stains and spills will require a more thorough and concentrated effort, but day to day cleaning is simple. Waxing and polishing is not necessary and will in fact leave a film that ruins the shine. You would not ever use a floor buffer or a steam cleaner on your laminate floor. Sweep the floor daily and vacuum once a week. After you vacuum, use your laminate floor cleaner with a damp sponge mop. Take care not to flood the floor or create puddles by wringing out the mop before you use it so that it is just damp and not dripping.

Your basic maintenance routine probably will not cut it if you have to deal with a stain or blemishes like heel marks, stuck on gum or spilled wine. Even on tough stains, you do not want to use soapy cleaners, steel wool, scouring cleaners or abrasive pads all of which can damage or dull your floor. Never steam clean laminate floors. Chewing gum or dried candle wax can be scraped off with a stiff plastic spatula. Stubborn stains can be removed with acetone, paint thinner or nail polish remover.

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Types of Laminate Floor Cleaners

Pergo, Armstrong, Mohawk and Dupont - The major laminate floor manufacturers also make and market their own lines of laminate floor cleaner. The upside of buying say Pergo laminate flooring and Pergo laminate floor cleaner is that it takes the guesswork out of buying a cleaning product. You will not have to scan labels for ingredients to determine if the product you are thinking of buying is safe to use on laminate and you will not void your warranty. The downside is cost and availability. These products are typically more expensive than other cleaning products and are not sold everywhere.

Homemade Laminate Floor Cleaner - Homemade laminate floor cleaner recipes usually consist of vinegar or ammonia and water. Some people swear they are just as effective as commercial laminate floor cleaners and that may be true depending on your circumstances. People with children, pets or a lot of traffic might not agree, however. The most obvious benefit of homemade laminate floor cleaner is cost. Using water and widely available, cheap ingredients can save you money over buying a name brand laminate floor cleaner provided that you do not mind experimenting with recipes and your floors end up clean enough for your standards.

Green and Environmentally Friendly Laminate Floor Cleaners - With more attention being paid by homeowners and other consumers to earth friendly products, many green cleaning products are hitting the market. They typically come in recycled packaging and contain biodegradable, non-toxic ingredients. There is, however, no clear definition, industry standard or government regulation that companies must meet in order for their laminate floor cleaner to be considered environmentally friendly. These products also often cost more than products that are not aggressively marketed as earth friendly. If you are looking for a green laminate floor cleaner, you will have to thoroughly examine the ingredients then decide if the product is truly environmentally friendly, worth the cost and effective on your floors.

Maintaining Laminate Floors for the Long Haul

Take care of a laminate floor and it can last twenty years or longer. There are many laminate floor cleaners to choose from, but there is no single best laminate floor cleaner. The best floor cleaner for you may be the one your flooring manufacturer recommends, a homemade one, one that is environmentally friendly, or whatever is on sale and gets the job done without ruining your floor. Beyond sweeping, vacuuming and using the right laminate floor cleaner, there are other easy, common sense ways to maintain laminate flooring. A no shoes in the house rule is a good policy for keeping floors pristine though adhering to it can be tough for guests and family members. Mats and area rugs near doors and entranceways will help to keep dirt and moisture off of your floors. Lift and carry furniture instead of dragging or sliding it across your floors. Attach felt pads to the bottom of furniture legs. With just a little effort and awareness, you can keep your laminate floors looking new for many years.