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.
Do not use any type of vinegar or acidic based cleaners on a laminate floor or any other floor; it will eat the finish off and allow your floor to get dirtier faster. Always use the proper cleaners from a flooring store if you want to keep your floor looking good for a long time.
I called Pergo directly when I got my laminate floors. They told me to only use vinegar and water.
My laminate floors have old cleaner build up. What is the best way to get rid of it? Is there a stripping product?
Is a steam mop good to use on laminated floors?
Well Wanda, I really wish someone would answer your question, because it’s mine too. I’ve been on my hands and knees for hours now trying to get my floor clean, with no luck. I’ve used my Shark steamer, Murphy Oil Soap and cleaner, Windex, a scrub brush, and last but not least, I tried Comet. My laminate is light-colored and I cannot for the life of me get that dirt crud out of the grain. I had heard so many wonderful things about laminate, but I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time cleaning a floor in my life. HELP!!!
My laminate floor was driving me crazy. Kids running in and out all the time. Finally, I found what works for my floor: a small amount of washing detergent added to the water. Worked wonders.
I tried the vinegar, water and alcohol solution. I had been using the vinegar, water and a few drops of Dawn, but found that I had a slight film left from the Dawn, the floors also then had footprints that would show. With two cats, a dog and an eight-year-old, I was getting frustrated with the pet hair, salt tracks and footprints. My “solution” was to use a half-gallon milk jug, fill it half-way with hot water, add 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 tbs. rubbing alcohol.
Then, I poured a bit on a 4×4 area and quickly wiped with a Swiffer mop, to which I had attached (what most of us have on hand) an Always thin maxi pad! It stuck to the mop, wrapped around and soaked up the excess liquid like a charm. It dried very quickly and any excess was again soaked up by the pad. I thought it was a pretty clever use for a pad, myself. I think the Swiffers are expensive for as many as you get in the package. My floors are nice and shiny and I can use the leftover solution (there was a lot left) for cleaning my bathrooms and kitchen, then I can dump the rest down my kitchen sink after adding baking soda for a once per week homemade Draino. 🙂
I just tried your laminate floor cleaning plan, Carolyn, and I think it worked great. My floors aren’t completely dry yet, but for now they are clean and shiny. I used three maxi pads, and rubbed the black dust/dirt pieces off the pads occasionally so that they were not left on the floor when I “back-swiped.” Very clever way to use up the pads after my hysterectomy!
We had a laminate flooring specialist look at our floor. It has marks on it, probably from installers or painters or whoever. Anyway, he says NOT to clean with a Swiffer; it leaves a film on the flooring. I have been using the Swiffer, both wet and dry. Now, I do not know what to use. Anyone else have problems with the Swiffer?
For everyday dust and dog hair, I use a good old-fashioned dust mop! I tried brooms, and different vacuums, but the dust mop works best. I have also used both a steam mop and vinegar mixture with success. We installed the laminate wood flooring throughout our entire new house, and if I had it to do over, I would have gone with carpet. Luckily, we did put vinyl flooring in the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room. Definitely higher-maintenance flooring than I expected on the laminates.
I have just used Carolyn’s method mentioned previously (H20, vinegar, and alcohol), and my floors look beautiful! No film or water spots left behind. 😀
I had problems keeping my laminate floor clean too. I bought a Hoover FloorMate and have been using that for over a year now. Love it; it vacuums, washes and dries the floor. I fill it with warm water and add either their product (multi-floor detergent) or just vinegar and water. My floors are looking good and it’s as easy and quick as using a vacuum.
So, it’s “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?”
This is wrong. Actually, it’s the height of rudeness and quite inhospitable to greet someone at your door and tell them to remove their shoes. You might as well say to the guest, “I think you are dirty and not worthy to come into my home.” It makes the guest feel instantly uncomfortable and unwelcome. So what if you have to clean the floor later (although that is unlikely to be honest)? You should aim to make a visitor feel at home, not like a piece of trash.
Oh God, Patrick – get over yourself!
New floors installed yesterday. Love the vinegar/water solution, my parents have used it forever.
I agree. If I invite someone into my house, I invite their shoes also. Not everyone has an easy time slipping shoes off and on.
It is actually more rude to walk into someone’s house and not be respectful to their residence. I have friends from many cultures and many of them prefer to remove their shoes when they get into the house. Whenever I go to their house, they don’t ask me to remove my shoes and always say “no worries,” but out of respect for their home and their preference to remove their shoes, I do the same. It’s called being courteous. If it is okay for you to kick your feet up onto the coffee table at your own home, then I assume that you feel that you have the right to do that in someone else’s home? What might be normal practice for you isn’t always going to be the same for everyone else. Were you raised in a barn or something?
I clean houses for a living. Vinegar and water works great for laminated flooring.
Everything else just seems to build up. I have cleaned all kinds of floors in my 31 years of cleaning, and I would not have laminated floors in my house. I hate that stuff!
The vinegar, alcohol and water concoction worked like a treat! Soft, smooth, streakless gleam–void of films or stickiness. But if I don’t have any maxipads, would tampons do the trick? 😉 Also I’m with Patrick; I believe asking visitors to remove their shoes is a bit over the top–so our guests may keep their shoes on (we’re not that popular anyway), but household members: strip and leave ’em at the door! LoL
I think Graeme, the very first commenter, is a very smart person! Listen to him. No vinegar and any large amounts of moisture is not good for any wood product. Vinegar is an acid, and will dull and permanently etch your surface. Do not saturate your floor with a mop. Everyday cleaning should be just a simple dust mop and the occasional damp rag to clean up sticky messes. A laminate floor cleaner recommended by the flooring manufacturer, used only once every week or two. Usually, you spray the mop with the laminate cleaner, not the floor. Steam is a no-no! The moisture will seep in the cracks and may cause expansion or contraction. It (moisture) may cause swelling. Remember, there are different qualities of all types of flooring. You get what you pay for…if it is priced fairly. If you are expecting miracles with a $0.69 flooring, you are expecting too much. A decent laminate that you will be happy with for years to come should cost $3-5 in Canada.
I should add that most people will over-use vinegar in the vinegar/water mixtures. It is cheap and people think, “if I add more, maybe it will clean better?” Only use one cap-full per three gallons. Once a month on a damp mop probably should be okay, but most people tend to throw in extra vinegar thinking that one cap-full is not enough.
I am so confused reading all the comments above that I don’t feel any of the comments are of any use! I came on this site to find out the best solution to clean a laminate floor and everyone here has an opinion, but nobody seems to agree! I guess that I better check out another site.
Laminate floors suck big time. I hate them. Nothing, I mean NOTHING, cleans them!
Well Patrick won’t like me… When we had new flooring installed, I had a new rule which applies to the kids. No shoes worn inside. Well that rule had a problem. My girls’ socks would get dirty and it was too slippery. So, rule was changed, only bare feet inside, shoes and socks come off at the door. This rule also applies to their friends when visiting.
One year later… The girls go barefoot almost all of the time and their friends are usually barefoot when they come over to visit. No complaints from the kids.
Big Sam says
Vinegar and water solution works great!
These comments are all interesting. However, I find myself still wondering what is the best approach. I have buildup that is quite bad, and the floors are sticky. I have tried vinegar, and commercial cleaners, but these are only successful for a time. The laminate is very dull. Despite all this, I love my floors and would like to find out how to keep them looking beautiful. They are of a good quality. Keep the suggestions coming; I may find the right solution yet. Thanks.
I agree that shoes carry dirt, germs, filth, sand and gravel that will scratch, dirty, stain and make a mess in the house. Shoes belong at the door, not in a house where people walk with socks on or bare feet. People say they can’t get their shoes off or have trouble getting their shoes off? Ask them if they wear their shoes to bed with them or if they wear them in the shower. Out of respect for someone else’s house, take off your shoes at the front door and place them on a designated floor mat/shelf.
The Owl says
Allow me to inform you that in south-east Asia we remove our shoes before entering our houses because the weather here is always warm since we are near the equator. In this way, our floor is always clean. Since it is the culture, nobody needs to tell anybody to remove his shoes. In fact, we practice this even at some public places. If you come here, you will naturally remove your shoes before entering our houses or we will politely request that you do so. I would not feel comfortable going into anybody’s house with my dirty shoes on. At home, we walk around barefooted or change to another pair of sandals. We never wear walking shoes into our homes.
I agree with the last comment. Shoes should come off at the door. We take our shoes and socks off as soon as we get in. It’s just too dangerous to run around in socks. We do wear slippers, as it can be very cold. Our semi-rural area is very muddy, so wearing shoes in the house is not really an option. Most of our guests bring their slippers to wear when it’s cold.
Linda G says
Thank you… I am off to try the vinegar/alcohol/water solutions on a sponge mop… not happy with that floor cleaner in the bottle they sell… manufacturers use anything to make money. I had tried a bit of dish soap, but it would streak, so this time the trick is the three above. I agree… no shoes in the house… can you imagine with the rise in hepatitis, etc. and tramping that around the house… people spit, they throw up and dozens of other things on the ground. Why would anyone want that tramped around… and we wonder why sicknesses are prevalent…stepping in urine, feces, etc. I’m sorry; my health, families and my pets should be important to my visitors and wearing shoes in the house, you end up sleeping with whatever is on your shoes. Thanks for the advice all and have a wonderful day (hugs).
I am having a heck of a time trying to clean frac sand dust from laminate wood flooring. It is a lot like flour and there is usually a large amount on the floors. No matter how many times we mop, it still looks dirty. I have even tried doing it on my hands and knees and drying it with a clean towel. Does anyone have any ideas…
I have dark Wilson Art laminate and I have tried all the methods stated and nothing works. I keep leaving this dull, sticky film all over my floors. I dry clean my floors everyday with my Dyson vacuum hardwood floor attachment and a Swiffer dry cloth; with two dogs and three kids, the cleaning is never ending for me. Even though we don’t wear shoes in the house, which to me is common sense not to!! Because who knows what you step on outside and why would you want to bring all that into your home is beyond me, or maybe it’s just because you’re too lazy??!! But I could really use some help as to what I could be doing wrong and why I keep getting all the dull, sticky haze on my floor every time I mop it. Thanks.
Bobby D says
I use my auto polisher to clean the floors; put a shower cap on it first, then a microfiber bonnet. Also connected a 4 ft. piece of PVC pipe as the handle. I have my vineger and water solution in a spray bottle and work a 3×3 area at a time. Also have a box fan running and point it at each section I just finished to dry it faster. YES, LAMINATE FLOORS ARE A PAIN!!!!
Lumber Lady says
Someone told me to use rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide in water. Anyone ever hear of that combination?
I use hot water and rubbing alcohol and it works great…cleans and disinfects, and leaves no residue or streaks.
I have (washable) flip flops in several sizes which I offer guests visiting my home.
In Hawaii and other Asian countries, it would be the height of disrespect to wear shoes you’ve walked outside with into their homes.
I agree with those that suggest to guests to please remove their shoes at the door for the reasons given and would suggest Patrick educate himself on why this is the proper thing to do. I’m sure that Google has much information to offer on this topic.
The other reason would be to not scratch and damage the laminate flooring.
I absolutely hate when I am asked to remove my shoes at someones house, especially if Im wearing boots, or have a hole in my sock…or whatever!! I do not require that people remove their shoes when they visit my house. If your floor is so important, then put down a plastic runner or something, but it should always be optional for guests to remove shoes.
I’m “team Patrick”…I don’t want to walk around in my socks at someone else’s home… don’t have people over if you want them to tiptoe around your house. And actually walking barefoot is more harmful to your floors due to natural oils on your skin. Everybody has an opinion and should be allowed to voice it.
Patrick is an idiot.
I have had laminate. It’s a joke. They should take it off the market until you can walk on it without showing footprints from wearing clean socks or until you can clean it just to walk on it again in clean socks and not see every print from your socked feet that you have walked. It’s cheep because it terrible… Berber carpet, no footprints, always looks crisp and clean. I bet the manufactures of laminate floors don’t put it in their own homes. Or, hire a maid to be on her hands and knees daily for hours.
Best cleaning method for my light-colored laminate flooring is to use my hands and knees. Although I agree with some of the cleaning solutions y’all use, I have to say that the “mop” method is most likely why there is buildup dirt on your floors. Mops are ok for touch ups, as are sprays and paper towels, but at least once a month you really need to get down on all fours and really clean those corners. I use a little water and vinegar with a sponge (outlined with plastic scrubbing material) and it works wonders. My sister-in-law swears I clean them daily. Not the case; I just take care of them in the “old fashioned” way once a month. No stress, no scratches, no buildup. Still look brand new after 7 years of 3 cats and 4 athletes. Really!!
Every remedy named here I have tried and still have a film, footprints and streaks. Rene said it best; laminate is a joke. As much as I dislike carpeting, I would rather have that than wood laminate floors, will probably go back to the carpet until I can afford the hardwood. As far as the comments about removing shoes when entering someone’s home, I find it insulting and am glad that I do not have anyone that pretentious in my circle of friends. When people come to my home, I am interested in entertaining and making them feel comfortable and not being as materialistic as to feed into a need to protect a floor. Guess what, EVEN YOUR SOCKS ARE DIRTY. I don’t like taking my shoes off at the airport and I would not like someone requiring me to take them off in their home.
I clean lots of houses that have laminate and I use Bona. I get it at Walmart and the floors are always clean and shiny and it dries quickly.
As far as taking shoes off in the house, I choose to treat my guests with respect and their comfort in mind first. Is the temperature warm or cool enough, do they have a comfortable place to sit, etc., and if they are most comfortable with their shoes on, then that is the most important thing. When I go somewhere, I am irritated to take my shoes off, because unless that house has wall to wall thickly padded carpeting everywhere, it hurts the bottom of my feet to walk without padded shoes. People need to remember that there are a lot of things like this that are just physically uncomfortable or painful for older folks.
As far as cleaning laminate floors, does anyone know of some way to seal the seams, to prevent water from inadvertently getting in there and warping the floor?
I think it’s funny how many people on here comment that no matter what they try they cannot get their floors clean, and then continue on about how “rude it is” to ask visitors to remove their shoes. Lol, maybe there’s a correlation? Don’t want to ask visitors to remove shoes, well, get used to dirty floors. Growing up we never wore shoes in the house. When we had visitors, we would politely ask that they remove their shoes and no one ever got upset. Our house was always clean. The fact that people think it’s normal to walk around in a pair of shoes all day, across dirty roads, puddles, mud, dirt, grass and all sorts of other nasty stuff and then walk into your home and stomp all over your carpet… Give me a break. People who are ignorant enough to start complaining when politely asked to removed shoes can turn around and go back the other way. I’ll make sure I wear a muddy pair of boots over to your place for the next get together.
When we had our wood floors stripped and refinished, we were told the worst thing for them is dirt, sand and small stones since they scratch off the poly coating. Same is true for laminate. Once scratched up, it doesn’t get clean. So, we do not wear shoes in this house, so the little stones and dirt on the bottom of our shoes won’t scratch off the finish off the wood floors. Also, I personally don’t like the idea of all the germs that reside on the bottom of shoes. I do use a little distilled vinegar in a bucket of water to wash my floors. Done this for 17 years and they still shine.