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Why You Need To Avoid Wood Cleaners On Laminate Flooring

Jul 27, 2023

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Despite having a similar look and feel to wood, laminate flooring comes with an entirely different set of care instructions. This flooring type is a common choice, especially in apartments, because it's cheaper to install and often easier to maintain, but that doesn't mean that it's not still prone to damage like scratches, swelling, and staining. If you have laminate floors in your home, it's important to know how to properly care for them to ensure they will last and look good for years to come.

Laminate flooring is made of fiberboard with a texturized, sealed coating intended to mimic the look of wood, so, although it's still a wood product, it needs to be treated differently. It's well known that abrasive cleaners, intense scrubbing, and excess water should be avoided to prevent damage, but many people still use specialized wood cleaners on their laminate in an attempt to achieve that sought-after shine of natural wood. Unfortunately, however, these products will only leave you with further issues.

Wood cleaners typically include some kind of oil or other shine-boosting agents. This is great for traditional wood flooring as it helps moisturize and protect the boards, but on laminate, it doesn't have the same effect. Laminate flooring already contains a resin coating to seal and protect each plank, meaning traditional wood treatments are unnecessary and often have the opposite effect.

When you apply wood cleaning products to laminate, they won't sink in and provide any moisture. Instead, these products will just sit on top of your flooring, creating a hard-to-remove waxy residue that can make it look even duller than when you started. If you've already made this mistake, this residue can be cleaned away with a solution of warm water and vinegar on a microfiber cloth. Make sure you're not doing any intense scrubbing — laminate will easily scratch, so keep everything soft and gentle.

The best way to clean laminate floors is dry, using something soft like a microfiber mop. Establishing a consistent cleaning schedule to clear away dust, pet fur, and dirt is usually all you'll need to keep your floors looking good because they should already be shiny thanks to their protective coating. Sometimes, however, you face larger spills or mud that takes a bit more work to clear away.

Luckily, there are specialized laminate floor cleaners on the market, like this one from Swiffer, sold at Target. These products are designed to not leave behind streaks or residue, so they're a safe, multi-use product for your less-absorbent surfaces. Or, if you'd rather go for a DIY option, add a small amount of unscented dish soap in about a gallon of warm water, and use it as a mopping solution. Just make sure you're conservative with the amount of water you're using, as soaking laminate flooring can cause damage to the seams of the planks.