What Cleaners Not to Use on Laminate Floors?

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You may be wondering how to clean laminate floors and keep them looking great. While your laminate floors may look as great as hardwood flooring, that doesn't mean you should clean them alike. The best way to clean laminate floors isn’t the same way to make those oak planks shine. Laminate floors need proper care because, unlike solid wood floors and plywood, the surface can't be refurbished in the case of stains or breakage. 

So what cleaners should you never use on laminate floors? It's important to clean and maintain your floors with the right brands and tools, treat each square foot with care, and stay away from a cleaning product containing wax, oil, or polish to avoid pricey replacements. Read on to clean wooden floors like a pro.

Cleaners You Should Avoid When Cleaning Laminate Floors 

We're happy you asked! Here's our list of floor cleaners and methods you should stay away from to maintain your squeaky floors. Some commercial floor cleaners will leave a haze on the laminate floor surface because any cleaning agent and cleaning solution containing wax, oil, or polish will leave a dull film on your clean laminate floor. 

1. Stay away from commercial brands with a poor reputation

While Lowe's is a Fortune 500 company, it doesn't necessarily mean it’s a trustworthy brand when it comes to laminate flooring. Their employees aren’t exactly flooring experts.

A few years ago, News Inferno made a report about a pending class-action suit over laminate flooring products in Home Depot. Customer complaints included warped planks that were "a nightmare to install" and of inferior quality. Some customers of Home Depot who were professional floor contractors claimed that the laminate flooring in Home Depot was "the worst to install" and that "at least 15 to 20 percent of planks were warped and unusable."

2. Avoid an abrasive cleaner

Even if your laminate floor has a thick wear layer, rubbing stains out of the floor with an abrasive pad, steel wool, or brush isn’t a good idea. 

3. Don't use too much water

Never mop laminate floors using too much water or a wet mop because it can affect the seams and cause damages.

4. Don't use cleaning products that aren't made for a clean laminate floor

Avoid cleaning products that aren’t made for laminate. Oil-based cleaners can leave residue and damage to the protective sealant of the floors. Don't use wax or polishes on laminate floors. 

How to Clean Laminate Floors

microfiber mop wiping puddle of water on laminate floor

1. Don't let a tough stain sit on the floor

You’ll inevitably encounter spills from time to time. To clean up small spills of liquid on the laminate flooring, use a paper napkin, a piece of cloth, a paper towel, or a microfiber pad to wipe up. Be sure to rub all spills as soon as possible because liquids cause moisture damage to laminate floors: 

  • Blood: Remove blood from your wooden floor with a window cleaner with a warm, damp cloth. 
  • Chewing gum: Scrape the gum from the floor using a plastic knife and wipe any debris with a damp cloth.
  • Wine, soda, or ink: Remove these stains with a soft, damp cloth. To remove the waxy crayon stain, apply mineral spirits to the wet cloth. You may need to add detergent for stubborn ink marks or add ink remover to the soft cloth to remove the stain. 
  • Nail polish: Add a small quantity of acetone or nail polish remover to a microfiber cloth and rub the spot until all the stains come up. 
  • Scuffs and heel marks: The best way is to go easy when removing scuff marks. Instead of using a chemical, begin with a soft, damp microfiber to lightly wipe the spot away from the surface. 
  • Grease: Rub a block of pack ice into the area until the grease solidifies. Then, scrape the frozen grease off using a plastic knife. Then, wipe off the remaining debris with a bit of window cleaner on the stain and a soft, damp cloth. A sponge mop is also known to be helpful and effective in dealing with various grime, dirt, and gunk in laminate flooring.

2. Mop your laminate floor every two months

To keep your laminate wood flooring in its best condition, mop every other month. A damp mop is a microfiber mop that’s gentle enough to use on a laminate surface. But, of course, regular mops, spray mop can be used too, as long as you wring it out and it's a dry mop. More so, make sure not to wash your mop pad with bleach or fabric softener

3. Use a DIY laminate floor cleaner

You can make your floor cleaner using readily handy household items. For regular cleaning, combine a teaspoon of clear, unscented dish soap, a white cup of vinegar, or rubbing alcohol with a gallon of hot water and put it in a spray bottle. 

4. Rethink using steam cleaners

Steam cleaners like a steam mop are generally safe to use on any vinyl floor, linoleum, porcelain or ceramic tile, and some forms of hardwood floor, but it's not encouraged to use on laminate floors. A steam cleaner may be great for getting rid of grime from hard flooring surfaces, but the moisture and extreme heat can also ruin your laminate floors. When the steam and moisture have broken down the adhesive that was holding the flooring, it will bubble up (unless you have a buckled wood floor or glueless laminate flooring).

How to Maintain Laminate Floors at Their Best Condition

Pet groomer clipping dog nail

What causes slight bows in laminate flooring? Poor maintenance, perhaps. Dilemmas do come up sometimes as well. You can often repair the problem by not replacing the entire room's laminate floorboard or the whole laminate planks/laminate pieces. But here are some tips to avoid these problems and keep your clean laminate flooring to its tip-top form.

1. Protect the surface all the time

To avoid future scratches, add a floor covering such as furniture pads and floor mats. More so, a welcome mat can be used to get rid of the shoe dirt and dust that can be one of the biggest enemies of your wood laminate floor (If dust is inevitable in your space, deal with it with your vacuum cleaner, dust mop, or Swiffer WetJet).

  • Use wood flooring felt pads everywhere to prevent laminate floorboards from being scratched with frequent movement of furniture. 
  • Placemats at entryways. A thinner rubber-backed mat inside is excellent to remove extra moisture.
  • If you're installing underfloor heating within the floor joist of your laminate floor, the standard rule is to not let the temperature exceed 27°C.

2. Trim your pet's nails

It's best to keep your pet's nails trimmed. They can scratch up your laminate floor. Keeping a pet's nails trimmed will limit damage to your floorboard as they roam around.

3. Use a vapor barrier for your moisture problem

Water vapor can cause serious harm to your floor. If your floor gets wet, it could cause irreparable damage to your floor. A vapor barrier helps prevent the floor from getting wet. These are sheets of plastics that slow moisture from moving through the floor. For example, if water vapor enters through a concrete slab subfloor, the vapor diffusion retarder slows the moisture movement, preventing damage to the floor. 

Laminate flooring consists mainly of wood, and wood reacts to moisture by swelling or warping. So it stands to reason that consistent exposure to moisture is also harmful to a laminate wood floor. A vapor barrier or moisture barrier is the best way to protect it: preventing moisture from below from penetrating the flooring and damaging it. You'll typically need a vapor barrier if you're installing flooring over concrete and if you're using the floating floor method. Aside from laminate flooring, homeowners also use vapor barriers in solid hardwood, engineered wood flooring, and vinyl flooring.

For flooring that needs a floating installation process, laminate, vinyl plank, or engineered wood flooring, apply a six-mil plastic sheet as a moisture barrier. It’s also recommended to use an underlayment with a built-in moisture barrier for easier water vapor control. 

Laminate flooring that often gets wet is more prone to mold and mildew. This can also damage your floor over time. Thus, vapor barriers are there to help stop the floor from getting damp. A floor vapor barrier or moisture barrier is a sheet of plastic that can hold moisture from running through a wall or subfloor. A vapor barrier is for installing floors or walls in areas that are often or are prone to moisture. Flooring moisture barriers are set beneath the underlayment of the floor. You can grab a barrier separately or get underlayment with a built-in. moisture barrier 

If any water vapor infiltrates over a concrete subfloor, the vapor diffusion retarder decreases the moisture movement, stopping damage to the floor. For any flooring that needs a floating installation method, be it laminate plank or vinyl plank flooring, use at least six mils plastic sheet as a moisture barrier. More so, you can apply an underlayment with a moisture barrier built-in for water vapor control.

4. Use the floating floor method

Floating floors are well-known for many types of floor coverings. However, the term "floating floor" doesn't refer to a type of flooring material. Instead, it's a method of installation for engineered hardwood and luxury vinyl flooring. In this way, individual planks connect edge-to-edge, forming one mat-like surface on the underlayment. 

A lot of homeowners opt for the floating method because it allows the flooring to react to changes in the room's humidity by enlarging and shrinking without buckling. Besides, floating floor installation saves funds and helps installation go a lot faster due to its ease and simplicity. However, homeowners must remember that a great floating floor installation needs a well-prepared subfloor. In some situations, it can have a hollow feeling underfoot that’s less pleasing than the solidity of nailed-down hardwood or bonded ceramic tile floor.

5. Install in the right areas

Properly installed laminate flooring, with tight seams and a great baseboard, can endure moisture content for a period of time. However, laminate flooring is a poor choice for family bathrooms or other areas where standing water is likely. 

6. Make sure to acclimate

To acclimate laminate flooring, you must leave it for enough period in conditions that it will get used to when laid. However, the most common way is to set the laminate flooring in the center of the room. Keeping the wood far from the exterior walls is recommended to prevent any significant temperature difference. Your laminate flooring can be piled but lay it flat the best way you can. The longer you leave the laminate flooring, the better the output. 

High-Quality and Durable Laminate Flooring by Zothex Flooring

Fixing gaps, cracks, bubbling floors, sagging floors, wood floor cupping, and warped wood floors are among the concerns of homeowners with laminate flooring.

These problems can be solved if one has the time, energy, and proper tools. But if you'd instead leave it to the pros, trust only Zothex Flooring. We're a family-owned business that provides high-quality flooring products and services in Sacramento. We take pride in providing a one-of-a-kind customer service experience. So contact us today and let our team of experts help you with all your flooring needs. 

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