How to Clean Laminate Floors {the right way} that Leaves No Marks or Haze14 min read

How to Clean Laminate Floors {the right way} that Leaves No Marks or Haze14 min read

Good news!  Laminate floor has synthetic materials and, meaning, they are man-made and are designed to be durable.

What does that mean?  It should be pretty easy to take care of and clean.

Some basics:

Laminate is made up of wood and manmade products.  It has multiple layers one on top of another to achieve different objectives.

But what you need to know are two things.

Wood is used and how to protect that part of the laminate

And…

Several layers of coatings and the products that can react with and damage the floors.

Moisture:

Your single biggest enemy when it comes to protecting laminate is moisture.

In any shape or form, you should avoid moisture.  If you are using it in the basement, then you should consult an expert before installing.

Ideally, you should put a vapor barrier before installing. In fact, a vapor barrier is needed anywhere you install.

How to Clean Laminate Floor

Let’s start at the front door

How did you end up with so much dirt? Aha, it’s all because of your damn shoes.

I have a practice in my house – leave the outside shoes by the front door or mudroom.

Use a good front door mat to trap most of the dirt before entering the house.

I am a big believer in building redundancy if it improves the efficiency.

If you have carpet all over your house it is going to trap all the dirt and you wouldn’t notice.

What do I mean by that?  Have a dual door mat system – an outdoor mat and an indoor mat.

This will ensure that all the dirt, debris, driveway asphalt, pebbles, oil, tar, driveway sealers will be wiped off in the mat otherwise would be tracked indoors.

Enforce a policy to wipe the shoes outside before stepping in.  Go one step further and have no shoe in the house policy.

Just doing this is going to greatly reduce the dirt that you’re dragging.

Regularly scheduled sweeping or vacuuming

Debris left on the floor will get caught in the cracks and crevices. It also gets caught underfoot and gets dragged.

Any sharp objects will put scratches on your floor.

This is probably the simplest step.  In fact, this simplest of the cleaning procedure is the most important step indeed.

Use hard floor attachment when vacuuming

Try to use as per your manufacturer’s recommendation.

For laminate floors use an attachment designed for hard floors.  Say no on to beater bar.

Find the right mop and stay on a schedule

The best I found so far is a microfiber.  Again, find a high quality one, it’s not that expensive.

It will pick up all those micro dust and trap it.

A flat head microfiber works better by keeping the moisture out.  This helps you to spray your favorite cleaning solution and then wipe using a flathead high-quality microfiber.

Don’t use these products

Never use bleach and ammonia-based cleaners, pine cleaners, lemon cleaners, and oil soap.

They leave a messy residue after cleaning or doesn’t look fine after the finish. Some might even ruin the top protective layer.

It’s best to check with the manufacturer on the recommended solution.

Waxes and polishes:

Laminate floors are designed to not need anything more than just cleaning.

It has several synthetic layers and a protective layer.  There is no need to wax or polish the floor.

By the way, if you end up with a laminate floor that has a matte finish, don’t try to polish and make it glossy.  They are manufactured to have the same sheen.

Don’t try to change it or you risk damaging the floor.

What cleaning products to use?

What’s usually recommended is a special hard floor cleaner. Some of them are specially formulated for laminates.

How to use?

After a thorough cleaning, use the solution in the spray bottle and lightly mist the surface.

Then go with the grain of the floor plank and mop back and forth in the same direction.

Get rid of Haze

Have you noticed the haze keeps appearing?  And not sure how to get rid of it.

Problem is not with your technique and it’s almost always to do with one of two things.

Either you have a dirty mop pad or a wrong cleaning solution.

If it’s the mop pad, you need to rinse multiple times before using it.

However, most times the culprit is the cleaning solution.

You get the haze with the oil base. So, try to use the cleaning solution that is specifically designed and formulated for laminate.

What if it’s the Mop?

First off use a good high-quality dense microfiber pad.

Rinse while you mop regularly.  If you are too specific about cleaning, I recommend using the double-bucket technique.

Keep two buckets of clean water.  After you mop a small area if you see the color changing, you must rinse it in the first bucket, then rinse again in the second bucket before using.

Wash frequently. Never use a fabric softener. Period.

Softener clogs the fiber. You kill the life out of the microfiber and you don’t want that.

Still can’t get rid of the haze?

Unfortunately, a mess has been created by repeated use. You have no other option other than using the laminate floor cleaner.

Now even after repeated use of the right product, if you can’t get the haze removed, just accept that fact that you have made damage to your flooring surface.

Are you planning to install a laminate floor? Or just had this installed recently?

You are in luck!

Use the laminate floor cleaner from the get-go and you should be set.

Preventative measures

Use felt pads under all your furniture. They are not that expensive.

Felt pads make the furniture easier and lighter to drag.  But, most important, it greatly reduces the scratches that you put on laminate floors by dragging them.

Homemade Laminate Floor Cleaners

Quick Tips on Laminate Maintenance

  • Do not wet the floor or soak the floor with water. Do no use wet mop.
  • Immediately clean any water spills and keep the floor dry
  • Regularly vacuum with hard floor attachment only (and not the beater bar)
  • Do not drag objects to prevent scratches. Use felt pads under furniture
  • Never use abrasive pads, steel wool and such to clean a tough spot.
  • For oil, nail polish, paint, lipstick and other cosmetic spills, use acetone to spot clean. Use a damp rag to clean immediately after it.
  • Do not use soap, oil, ammonia or bleach-based cleaners.
  • Use recommended floor cleaners specifically formulated for laminate floors

How to Keep Your Laminate Floor Looking Brand New

  • Have a double mat system by all external doors
  • Put a “no shoe in the house” policy
  • Use a vinyl or rubber friction mat under the area rub from rubbing the floor
  • Use wider floor protector for heavier objects from creating pressure indentations
  • Check your hygrometer and maintain the optimum indoor humidity level (40% to 60% works the best). Use humidifier or dehumidifier as appropriate to maintain the level.
  • Run you’re A/c and heating unit at an optimal temperature to protect laminate floors from constant expansion and contraction.
  • Trim your pet nails and file them properly. This will prevent scratches to your floors

Frequently Asked Questions about Laminate Floors

How to clean laminate floors without streaks.

There are two reasons for this.

  • A wrong choice of cleaning solution or
  • Too much liquid (cleaning solution or water) used to clean

If it’s the cleaning solution, then you should avoid some notorious ones that use bleach, soap and oil-based cleaning solutions.

If you get the streaks even if you use the recommended floor cleaning solution, there is a cleaner’s hack you can put to use.

Have two mops -the wet and the dry.  Mist the cleaning solution and make sure not to overspray.

And then go over with the wet mop with even and gentle back and forth cleaning movements.

Keep it with the grain of the wood while you run the mop.

You should start to see the floor getting dry almost immediately.

But if you are noticing the wetness for a longer period, it essentially means you are using too much of the cleaning solution.  You should reduce further.

In any case, once it starts drying, go over with the second mop that you kept on standby- the dry mop.

Clean the floor again with dry mop once more with even strokes, again with the grain.

This should clear of any streaks left behind.

Out of luck, still?

I have also seen some manufacturers recommend Windex.  They are formulated not to leave streaks, so try using that, instead.

How to clean laminate floors with vinegar.

White vinegar + warm water = a perfect DIY home cleaning solution.

A word of caution with this method.  Since water is involved in the mixture, you have to be very careful.  Laminate has wood core and moisture will only damage the floor.

So, you have to lightly mist the solution and clean immediately. You should make sure the solution doesn’t work its way between the joints.

Tongue and groove seem don’t have the protective layer and is not water resistant.

Use distilled white vinegar.  It’s super cheap and an awesome product.  You just need a little bit of white vinegar and rest of it with water. I use 1-part vinegar and 3-parts water. But you will be fine with 50 – 50 also.

Do you hate the smell of vinegar?  Just clean and the smell will leave in a few minutes, but the clean shine last for a long time.

Or you could do this…

You may add just one drop of essential oil to match your desired mood, which will neutralize some of the vinegar smell too.

Now take this concoction and pour it into a good spray bottle. If you can get a beautiful even mist out of the bottle, it’s better. Never soak the floor in any case, cause you still have the bad boy (water) in it.

It’s always best to spot clean the surface in a remote location that is usually out of sight (example: inside a closet) before using it all over the house.

How to clean laminate floors with a steam mop.

I am against using a steam mop.  Moisture is the first thing that you should avoid.

Like mentioned earlier, seem between the planks are not watertight.  You don’t want moisture to soak the joints.

That will bend, warp and spoil the floor.

How to clean laminate floors naturally

I get it. Nobody is transparent with the labeling and all the different chemicals used. Some of the ingredients are carcinogenic in nature (cancer-causing agents) and you want to avoid them at all cost.

Here is what I am lately using and is working great. It’s not only the best laminate floor cleaner but is an All-surface cleaner for me.

This is it guys:

  • A few drops of antimicrobial dish soap
  • A few drops of essential oil (don’t use too much as they are not water soluble)
  • 1-part filtered warm water
  • 1-part distilled white vinegar
  • 1-part rubbing alcohol

This is a great multi-surface cleaner, but don’t use this to clean dishes though.

How to clean sticky laminate floors.

Sticky floors are common when you drop food items or let liquid pour and not pick and clean immediately.

You have a 10-seconds policy to clean any spill or dropped food particles.

Sooner you get to a spill or dropped items, faster you can clean before it gets dry.

Food particles when dried tend to become sticky.

The other main reason being a wrong product used to clean the floors. If you use too much of a soapy or oily cleaning product and not remove the excess, your floors will become sticky.

Best is to vacuum and go over with one of the below

  • Laminate floor cleaner or
  • Warm water + vinegar solution

Use one of these and mop the floor dry

How to clean scuff marks off laminate floors.

Black soles and heels are the main reason for the scuff marks. Implement a no-shoe policy for preventative maintenance.  But if you already got them already on your floors, here’s what you do.

First, vacuum the floor and remove any dust or debris.

Solution #1:

This is an easy unconventional solution that works most of the time. Use your kid’s eraser.  Just try to erase the mark and then vacuum any dust left behind.

Solution #2:

Doesn’t work, then try using your floor cleaner just on the scuff marks and clean it with a microfiber.

Still not clean?  Well, you probably got tough scuff marks – Do this instead.

Solution #3:

Go to your garage and get hold of WD-40.  Do not spray WD-40, instead dab a little bit on a clean paper towel.

Just go over with the tip soaked with WD-40 and rub the scuff marks gently. This will almost always remove marks instantly.

Immediately use a dry paper towel and wipe any excess.  Never get WD40 between the joints.

At last, use a little bit of your cleaning solution or the Water-Vinegar mixture to clean any residual WD-40 on the floor.

Solution #4:

Same as above, but instead of WD-40 use toothpaste and see how the tough spot comes right off.

Solution #5:

Take a clean microfiber towel. Dip a spot of the microfiber in acetone or nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.

Rub over the scuff marks and just over it.  Do not spread it in any case.  Never use any abrasive pads – just microfiber is fine.

It might take a couple of applications but keep working on the scuff marks with acetone or rubbing alcohol until you see it removed.

Then find another clean area of the microfiber and slightly dampen it and wipe the floor.  Finally, use a clean dry portion of the microfiber and wipe the wet surface.

10. How to clean and maintain laminate floors with pets

Training your pets to not stain the floor is the best you can do to your floor.

Scratches can be controlled if you trim their nails and file them regularly, so they are not sharp.

The second best is to get a scratch pad for your cat, so she doesn’t bother with your floors.

Get a shallow tray filled with sand, so your cat can use it properly and not contaminate other spots.

For your dog, while she is being trained, get All-absorb training pad and confine her to one room, until she is fully ready.

In any case, we all understand accident happens, so let’s see what to do if…

Remember the 10-second rule, implement it with your pets too.  Fresh stains are easier to remove and clean.

Pet feces and urine are extremely toxic and acidic and have the ability to etch the floors after prolonged exposure.

If you found something almost dry and sat there for a while, here is what you do.

  1. First, remove debris and wipe the area with a damp cloth or paper towel
  2. Sprinkle baking soda over the area of the pet stain.
    • Let the soda sit there for a few minutes as it absorbs any moisture.
    • Never rub it. Baking soda and a rubbing pad is abrasive, and you will ruin the protective layer
  3. Spray the distilled white vinegar over the baking soda and let it sizzle. This will break any hard-dried stain to loosen.
  4. Without scratching, remove the baking soda from the surface.
  5. Once all the baking soda has been removed from the floor, hit the spot with vinegar and water cleaner and clean with paper towel or microfiber cloth
  6. Repeat the above if the stain is too hard to remove.
  7. Air dry (or blow dry) the area and clean the stained spot with dry microfiber to remove any streaks

Conclusion:

Keeping your laminate floor spotless might seem light a daunting task.

If you follow some simple systems and processes, you might be surprised how you can maintain your laminate floors like a brand new one for ages.

Never saturate the space with water.  Vinegar and water make a good DIY cleaning solution.

Keep all other non-laminate cleaners out to make the floor haze-free.

Regularly vacuum and mop the floor and you too can have a wonderful looking laminate floor that your grandma will be totally proud of.

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