Laminate flooring looks better than ever with realistic wood grain and multiple style options, including stone and tile finishes. And although this flooring option is a durable one, it also requires regular care to keep it looking great. Since you can't refinish laminate, you want to protect it from the beginning to make it last longer.

Hammer on sheets of wood laminate floor
credit: F.J. Jiménez/Moment/GettyImages
How to Care for Laminate Flooring

Clean the Floor Regularly

Basic laminate floor care starts with your cleaning routine. Any moisture, dirt or debris can dull the finish and leave the floor looking worn, so you want to keep it off the surface as much as possible. Start with basic sweeping or vacuuming on a daily basis or any time you notice dirt on the floor. It's best to sweep along the lines of the floor to help loosen tiny debris that gets into the joints. If you use a vacuum, add an attachment meant for hard-surface floors without a rotating brush, which can cause tiny scratches in the laminate.

Even though laminate is strong overall, it can be easily damaged by water. That means you don't want to swish a soaking wet mop over the surface or use a steam mop to clean it. You can spot clean the floor with a soft, damp cloth to minimize moisture exposure. If your floor needs an overall cleaning, use a soft mop that's just damp instead of sopping wet. Wipe the floor with a microfiber cloth afterward to remove any remaining moisture.

Unless your floor is really dirty, you likely don't need anything other than water to clean it. However, you can buy a floor cleaner designed for laminate flooring that should be safe to use. If you use any type of cleaning product, apply it to the mop instead of putting it directly on the floor to avoid damage and streaking. A small amount of vinegar can give your mop water a boost for extra cleaning power without damaging the laminate.

Handle Stains Properly

You're bound to spill something on your laminate eventually, no matter how careful you are. Wiping up any spills immediately can prevent a stain from setting and cut down on the risk of moisture damage. But some stains require something more than just a soft cloth to remove.

Rubbing alcohol can safely remove several types of stains, including ink, crayon marks, nail polish and shoe polish. Window cleaner can help remove blood from laminate flooring. If you get grease or tar on the floor, use mineral spirits to lift the marks. Candle wax is easy to scrape off after it hardens, but you should only use a plastic knife or credit card for scraping. Never use metal. Chewing gum can be removed with a similar approach, but put a small bag of ice on the gum first to harden it.

Scuffs from shoes are common on any type of hard-surface floor, including laminate. The very shoes that make the marks may help remove them. Hold the shoe in your hand and lightly press the heel over the scuff mark as you twist and apply pressure. This trick works best with shoes that have light-colored soles. Tennis balls and erasers rubbed onto the scuff can also remove the mark.

Protect Your Laminate From Potential Damage

Give your laminate flooring the best chance possible of lasting by protecting it from common causes of damage. Furniture pads on the bottoms of furniture legs prevent scratching as the piece shifts. Rugs or mats on the busiest parts of the floor cut down on worn spots. It's also a good idea to put down a mat near any exterior entrances to soak up moisture from shoes and keep dirt from getting on the laminate.

Avoiding certain cleaners and tools can also help prevent damage. Skip any harsh, abrasive or soap-based cleaners that might hurt the laminate surface. Bleach should never go onto laminate flooring. Avoid steel wool or any type of scrubber or sponge with an abrasive surface.

Polish and wax are also things to avoid with laminate flooring. It seems like waxing a laminate floor would restore its shine, but it can have the opposite effect, leaving your floor cloudy and dull. Wax can also cause build-up on the flooring.