Laminate wood floors have many benefits, including being durable. But because they are manufactured from a type of resin with a clear protective coating on top, they can be more challenging to clean using traditional methods. If they get too wet, you can end up with a streaky, waxy mess, and drenching them can result in bubbling, fading, or they can even separate at the seams.
You should also use more natural cleaning solutions if you can (as many floor cleaners will leave a waxy film), apply using a microfibre mop or spray bottle, and dry floors straight away. Here is a guide on what cleaning products to use and how to clean laminate floors without streaking.
What do you use to clean laminate wood floors?
When cleaning your laminate wood floors, you need a cleaning product that leaves less residue and evaporates quickly to ensure a streak-free shine. Solutions that don’t contain harsh chemicals are ideal, including:
Vinegar solution—mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and distilled water in a spray bottle, and shake before using. To freshen up the scent a little, you can also add a few drops of an essential oil like lemon. This solution is not only super-easy to prepare, you can store it for weeks and it won’t lose its cleaning power! You can use apple cider vinegar, but it won’t have the same sanitising effect as distilled white vinegar.
Tea-based cleaner—Boil one cup of black tea using a single tea bag and a cup of hot water. Cool the tea mix down and then pour into a spray bottle. Shake the mixture before using it and discard the leftovers as it won’t store well!
Baby shampoo—Believe it or not, baby shampoo is safe and gentle for most types of flooring, including laminate wood floors. Simply fill a spray bottle with room temperature distilled water. Add one tablespoon of baby shampoo, then shake it until it fills up with bubbles. Spray lightly onto your floor.
Although using tap water may be easier, it can add deposits to the surface of your floor and make it appear dull or dirty. Instead, go with room temperature distilled water, as you can store some solutions for up to a few weeks.
How do you remove stains from laminate wood floors?
Stains should be attended to as soon as possible, and also before you decide to do a general clean as their residue can cause streaking across a finished floor. Products to use include:
Baking soda paste—For any food-based stains, make a paste from baking soda and distilled water, then apply to the affected area. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a cloth dampened with water.
Rubbing alcohol—Tough stains need a bit more effort, and rubbing alcohol (or an acetone-based nail polish remover) should do the trick. Apply a little directly to the stain with a cotton ball and wipe. However, don’t let the alcohol sit for too long, as it can cause your floor’s protective coating to peel. This may result in an unsightly streaky or dull appearance.
What’s the best method for cleaning laminate wood floors?
Before you start the cleaning process, it’s always wise to apply a bit of your chosen cleaning solution to a small section of the floor to observe what happens. Then follow these five simple steps:
If there are no adverse effects, start with vacuuming your floor to remove loose debris and dirt. This will help minimise the movement of any grime or dirt on the floor, which can cause streaking. Select your vacuum cleaner’s bare floor setting, and then vacuum by following the grain of your floor. Use the appropriate attachment for any crevices or corners.
Stand with your microfibre mop or spray bottle against one of the walls with your back facing the rest of the room and spray in front of you while you walk backwards. This will keep you from stepping on top of the freshly sprayed cleaning solution, which can leave marks, including footprints.
If you are using a microfibre mop, spray a bit of the cleaning solution onto the pad. If using a spray bottle, hold it above the floor and lightly mist the surface. Regardless of how you apply it, make sure you don’t add too much — it should be damp but not soaking wet as excessive liquid can cause warping and/or streaking.
After applying your cleaning solution, mop your floors using smooth, straight, even movements over the damp areas. Keep the pressure controlled, or you could end up scrubbing some areas too much and others not enough, causing streaking. Every few minutes, check the floor to make sure you’ve not missed any damp spots.
As soon as you’ve finished applying the cleaning solution, go back to where you began and dry the floor. Walk backwards using a mop pad or microfiber cloth to pick up any moisture from the floor. This will help to minimise footprints and hopefully leave a pristine finish! If you’ve used a mop, make sure you use a clean pad for the drying stage. Otherwise, you’ll just be applying another layer of dirt onto the clean surface. Keep pads clean by running them under some warm water or washing them on a “delicate” cycle.
- Michelle Driscoll, 2020, How to clean laminate wood floors without streaking, Wikihow
- Stephanie Pollard, 2021, 3-ingredient laminate floor cleaner, Hello Nest