Laminate Flooring Cleaning How-To

Keep that laminate floor looking luscious by cleaning it on a regular basis. While it may be tempting to break out the mop and bucket, don't: Soap and water may damage the flooring or make it look cloudy and streaked. Cleaning the floor with dry methods is the first choice, except when you're cleaning up spills and stains that require special treatments.

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Bust the Dust

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Keep laminate flooring free from dust, pet hair and debris by cleaning the floor regularly with a static dust mop or a microfiber dust mop. Mops that use static pads capture small debris in the pads, which can be tossed in the trash or gently brushed clean for a bit more reuse. A soft-bristled broom picks up larger debris, such as cookie crumbs and small chunks of dirt. Cleaning at least once a week -- or as often as needed -- keeps the floor free from debris that may otherwise scratch or scuff the laminate surface. If the room with the laminate floor has an exterior door, place doormats inside and outside the room to help keep dirt to a minimum. Use a non-bleeding or natural fiber mat atop the flooring inside the room.

Suction Support

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A vacuum cleaner comes in handy to remove the large amounts of crumbs, debris and pet hair that finds its way to the floor. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment designed for hard floors rather than carpeting. The beater bar in a traditional carpet vacuum cleaner may scratch or scuff laminate flooring. Use the crevice tool to reach into corners, but lift the tool and reposition it rather than sliding it along to prevent scratches on the floor.

Gentle, Damp Cleaning

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While dry methods help keep the floor clean, they don't remove dirt that builds up over time, such as sticky, unnoticed spills that attract dirt, or paw prints from a pet that just returned from outdoors. Spray a dedicated laminate floor cleaner onto a clean microfiber dust mop, or use a mixture of equal parts vinegar and hot water, also lightly sprayed onto the dust mop rather than applied to the floor directly. Wipe the floor with the mop after sweeping or dusting all the loose, dry debris away. Do not saturate the mop or the floor, as the moisture may cause the flooring to warp. If the floor is extremely dirty, replace the microfiber mop head frequently to avoid spreading dirt around, or rinse it thoroughly and wring out excess water before applying it to the floor. Avoid using cleaners containing oils or wax -- or any types of cleaners designed for general floor cleaning -- as these may leave streaks or a film and may damage the laminate material.

Spill, Spot and Stain Removal

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Blot and wipe up any spills as soon as you notice them, wiping from the edges of the liquid toward the center to avoid a bigger mess. Wipe the remaining spill away with a slightly damp cloth, or a cloth sprayed with laminate floor cleaner. Spot-clean marks or dried substances that are not easily removed with a soft cloth, applying a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the cloth before wiping the floor. For materials such as wax or gum, place a few ice cubes in a zippered sandwich bag; then rest the bag atop the substance for several minutes. Scrape the hardened material away with the bowl of a plastic spoon or the edge of a plastic gift card. Regardless of which brand of laminate flooring you are cleaning, it's best to follow these tips.