There’s a reason just about every designer on popular home TV shows ends up installing laminate floors. (We see you, Bobby Berk.) It’s made out of wood composite — a.k.a. materials like sawdust pressed together — but looks just like solid hardwood flooring. Plus, it’s often costs less, installs more easily, and comes with a clear protective layer on top.
But just like any other floor in your house, it still requires regular care. Here’s everything you need to know about maintaining your laminate floors, according to Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab.
How should you clean laminate flooring?
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Regularly run a canister vacuum over the surface to remove dirt and debris from cracks and crevices. The Institute likes the Miele Complete C3 Vacuum, which is also backed by our GH Seal. This machine comes with a Pure Suction Floorhead designed for use on all smooth flooring and it stood up to all the criteria in our tests, including debris pick-up, weight, and ease of use. Of course, if you only have an upright model, you can still use that too. “Turn off the rotating brush to keep the bristles from scratching your floors and scattering dirt,” Forte advises.
About once a month, damp-mop the floor for a thorough deep cleaning. Kitchens and spaces that see a lot of foot traffic might need it more frequently. Grab a mop with a washable, reusable microfiber head, like the ones made by Bona, or one with disposable pads, such as a Swiffer. Spray with a laminate floor cleaner (see below) sparingly, so you don’t oversaturate the floor, and then wipe with the mop.
To prevent damage, do not polish or wax a laminate floor. Also, skip abrasive cleaners, scouring powder, and steel wool. They have the potential to scratch the floor and damage the protective finish.
What is the best cleaner for laminate floors?
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Weiman Hardwood Floor Cleaner works well on laminate floors and carries our GH Seal. Black Diamond’s Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner also scored high in our tests, and the spray bottle makes spot cleaning as easy as a spritz and a wipe, especially on scuff marks. Bona makes a separate cleaner for stone, tile, and laminate floors too. It comes in a spray bottle or a jug you can use to refill spray mops.
Skip adding any extra fragrances or essentials oils to the bottle or bucket. These cleaners will impart a good smell as is, and additional ingredients may damage the protective coating.
Can you use a wet Swiffer on laminate floors?
Yes, you can use a wet Swiffer or Swiffer WetJet on laminate floors. “The wet Swiffer is best for quickly cleaning small spaces,” Forte says. “The WetJet with its battery-operated spray and on-board cleaning formula is better suited for large areas.” Bonus: The disposable pads also mean there are no messy mops to store.
Can you use a steam mop on laminate floors?
“It’s best not to use them,” Forte says. “The flooring manufacturers caution against them and it may even void your warranty.” While the steam mop brands may claim they’re safe, check what the care guidelines are for your floor first. Today’s laminates are more resistant to moisture and spills, but the steam can still cause warping and other damage.