Laminate floors, increasingly popular for both household and commercial applications, have the look of expensive hardwood even though they are manufactured of various materials. An idea that was imported to the USA from Europe, the product typically comes in lengths to resemble lumber, or in parquet blocks. It recreates the look and durability of real hardwood flooring without the expense.
Though it is scratch-resistant and low-maintenance, it is not scratch-proof, and it does require cleaning.
Caring for Laminate Floors
The first principal of keeping laminate floors clean is to keep them from getting dirty. In most parts of the world, people consider it the height of filth and inconsideration to wear inside the house the same footwear you wear outside. You bring in not only the dirt, muck, grease, and disease from the streets to coat your carpeting; you also bring in sand and gravel to grind away at the surface of your wood floors. The oil from the bottom of your bare feet also dirties floors, but that is minor in comparison.
So go barefoot or change into indoor-only slippers when you come in the door. Always have at least one pair awaiting each member of the family, and place some extras there for guests.
Homemade Laminate Floor Cleaner
Note: Always vacuum or dust hard floor surfaces before mopping.
Tools and Supplies:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Dust mop
- Sponge mop
- Old towel
- White vinegar
Laminate Floor Cleaning Instructions:
- Mix 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar in 1 gallon of water. If a vegetable oil polish has ever been used on the floor, double the amount of vinegar. You can add a few drops of an essential oil you like to cover the smell of the vinegar if you like, though the vinegar smell will dissipate after the floors have dried.
- Do not replace the vegetable oil cleaner after cleaning the floor; the residue they leave on wood can break down the sealant over time.
- Some manufacturers recommend cleaning with ammonia; vinegar works just as well without as much potential of damaging the sealant. Water is also slightly alkaline, so it can leave damaging water spots on your wood floors unless you neutralize the water with vinegar. Some suggest adding a third of a cup of rubbing alcohol to this mixture, presumably to inhibit streaking.
- Dampen an old towel in the mixture and wring out all the excess moisture.
- Wrap the towel around the sponge mop head. Moisture can more easily and completely be wrung out of the mop than it can from the sponge. Self-wringing mops can leave excess water on the floor. The moisture then works its way between the parquet blocks, warping their edges.
- If you want something a little more high tech than an old towel, building supply stores sell terry mop covers that are attached by elastic to sponge mop heads or Swiffers. The Swiffer Wet Jet mop system includes a floor cleaning solution. (There is also a product that consists of a package of wet cloths containing vinegar and water; these attach to Swiffer mops and can also be used on wood floors.)
- It is not necessary to rinse.
- Dry the floor if needed with another, dry towel.
A variation on this process consists of substituting plain, hot water for the vinegar-water mixture.
Laminate Floor Cleaning Tips
If you want to clean small areas, try spraying Windex on the floors and wiping off with a paper towel. This relieves you of having to mix up a bucket of solution for doing one small area. Be cautioned, however, about the warning above that ammonia can strip off protective sealants – Windex contains ammonia.
After sweeping or vacuuming, I spray the Windex on a small area and then use a dry Swiffer sheet (or a paper towel) attached to my Swiffer mop to clean the area. This method lets me clean as big or as small an area as I want to without getting out a mop and bucket and committing to washing the entire floor! I buy the economy size Windex at a restaurant supply store and use it to refill my spray bottle, which saves money as well.