It's common knowledge that you shouldn't wax laminate flooring or clean it with oil soap because these products leave a dingy residue, but what about using a laminate floor cleaner? According to Big Rentz, that's also problematic if you use too much or do it too often because the surfactants that most products contain can also leave a film that dulls the finish. To restore the shine, you need to dissolve the film, and that may ultimately require an acidic cleaner.
What Not to Do
Your first thought may be to mop your floor with a generous amount of warm water, but laminate flooring will thank you for that by swelling up and buckling. The fiberboard core under the decorative finish readily soaks up whatever liquid manages to seep between the floorboards, and if you wet mop, that could be a lot. This is the reason why you should never use a steam mop for a laminate floor.
You shouldn't use bleach or ammonia either. Both have the ability to dull the shine of the finish permanently. One more thing: Don't use abrasives, such as steel wool, because they can etch the finish, and that also permanently dulls it.
The Best Laminate Floor Cleaner
What better cleaner to use to restore the glass-like appearance of your floor finish than a glass cleaner? Just be careful to choose one that doesn't contain ammonia, such as Windex Original. Spray it on a section of the floor and wipe it off with a soft, dry cloth. If you need to scrub, use a sponge or a synthetic kitchen scouring pad, which doesn't have enough abrasive power to scratch the finish.
If this preliminary cleaning doesn't remove the film, it's time to graduate to an acidic cleaner, and that doesn't mean sulfuric acid. Vinegar is the strongest acid you should use on your floor, and even then, it should be diluted by mixing a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Mop the floor with this solution, but keep in mind that water can damage laminates. Use a sponge mop and wring it out well each time you dip it into the cleaning solution. Dry the floor with a soft cloth immediately after mopping.
For tough spots where extra cleaning power is needed, put a drop of dish soap on a sponge or cleaning pad and scrub. When the film is gone, mop over the area with the vinegar solution to remove the soap, then dry the area with a soft cloth.
How to Remove Waxy Films
Even though window cleaner and vinegar will remove most waxy films, and you can remove tough spots by scrubbing with dish soap, some wax deposits call for something extra. Water-based cleaners aren't strong enough to dissolve thick deposits of wax, especially if they have been ground into the finish by foot traffic. For these stubborn spots, you may need a stronger solvent.
The solvent you need, says How To Clean Stuff, is not acetone; you should never use acetone to clean a laminate floor. It's mineral spirits, also known as Stoddard solvent. Mineral spirits have a strong smell, so you'll need plenty of ventilation, and you may need to wear a mask.
Moisten a rag with mineral spirits and scrub. If the rag turns dark, you'll know it's working. Rearrange the rag so you're always using a clean section and change rags often for best results.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.