Laminate flooring is made of a combination of resin, plastic and wood, and it can be made to look like any type of hardwood flooring. This type of flooring is thrifty, durable and more earth friendly than wood because it is made of plastic and wood scraps that would otherwise be discarded.
This combination is definitely more durable than wood alone, but it is not quite a durable as linoleum and other entirely inorganic flooring products.
The wood in laminate flooring is sensitive to water. Excessive exposure to water can cause it to swell, warp and crack just like wood. While the surface of the flooring is very moisture resistant, if water seeps in between the flooring panels, it will soak into the material and cause irreparable damage.
How Can You Clean Laminate Flooring?
Many people wonder if it’s safe to use a steam mop on this product. So, can you use a steam mop on a laminate floor? Interestingly, there are two completely divergent answers to this question:
1. Manufacturers of steam mops say you can safely use this cleaning method on laminate products if you are very careful to use minimal water and a very high temperature setting. They also say that you should mop “with the grain” of the flooring (i.e. mop along the panels, not across them). Do not to saturate your flooring and take care to dry mop the floor afterward. Setting up a fan after dry mopping is an extra step you might wish to take to ensure moisture evaporates thoroughly.
2. Manufacturers of laminate flooring say you should never use a steam mop. Instead, they recommend using a dust mop sprayed with a laminate floor cleaning product. A 50/50 vinegar and water solution may also be used and is actually preferable for frequent cleaning. Be careful not to saturate the mop, and don’t spray the product directly onto the floor.
What About Tough Stains?
Laminate flooring manufacturers recommend using pure acetone (nail polish remover) on a soft cloth to wipe away tough stains such as tar, ink, paint, oil, markers or lipstick.
To remove hard stains, such as chewing gum or candle wax, use an ice cube to completely harden the substance and then scrape it up gently with a plastic scraper (e.g. an old credit card or the plastic tab from a bread wrapper). Wipe the surface clean with a soft cloth dampened with vinegar and water or laminate floor cleaning solution.
Don’t Use Standard Floor Cleaning Products Or Equipment!
Manufacturers of this flooring product caution against using:
- Wet mopping cloths
- Abrasive cleansers
- Soap of any kind
- Scouring powder
- Steel wool
“Natural” cleaners such as Dr. Bronner’s soap or Murphy’s Oil soap must also be avoided. They will damage the finish and make the floor slick. Avoid using equipment such as wet mops, electric buffing and polishing devices or a vacuum cleaner with a beater brush. Manufacturers specifically warn against using Shark, Swiffer, Bissell or Steamboost steam mops.
Clean Your Laminate Flooring Gently And Often
Frequent sweeping is a very important part of laminate floor cleaning. To clean your flooring properly use a soft broom or the hard floor attachment of your vacuum cleaner to remove dust and debris. Do this often to prevent having grit and dust dull the floor’s finish.
Follow up by mopping with a micro-fiber dust mop lightly sprayed with vinegar and water or a specialty cleaning product designed for your flooring. Do not use standard floor cleaning products as this will leave a dull finish.
Less Is More
You might think it would be better to use a specialty floor cleaner often and every time you clean, but the reverse is actually true. You are better off sweeping or vacuuming very frequently and mopping lightly with a vinegar and water solution occasionally. Spot clean gently as needed, and once in a great while thoroughly clean the floor using a specialty product such as Bruce or Bona laminate floor cleaner.
Shop Carefully And Check Your Warranty
When you are shopping for laminate flooring, be sure to read descriptions of the product thoroughly and ask questions to determine exactly what sort of cleaning process is recommended. Read the warranty carefully and be sure to purchase and use only products and processes that are recommended and approved by the manufacturer. Otherwise, you will risk voiding your warranty.