Solid wood floors are absolutely beautiful but also expensive to install, and quite difficult to care for. The installation costs further affect the resale value of a house. Ideally, homes that feature quality hardwood floors retail at high prices, and process of getting a conversion can be long and tedious.
With all these in mind, laminate floors offer a decent solution. With matching beauty at significantly lower installation costs, there is no doubt the trend is here to stay. But laminate floors are also not the easiest to clean.
Derived from wood products, they are characterized by challenges that are almost similar to those of hardwood floors as you see in the section below.
The Challenges of Laminate Floors
Moisture unfriendly: Just like finished and unfinished hardwood floors, laminate floors are not friendly to moisture. Spilled water and other liquids can penetrate into the layers of the floor and lead to issues such as glue weakening and warping.
Prone to scratching: Scratching is a common wooden floors problem and laminate flooring is not an exception. When loose sand particles and tiny stones find their way into the house, they can unappealing scratches.
Another common cause of scratches is dragging heavy items such as sofas, tables and refrigerators on the floor.
Discoloration: Laminate floors can darken or change in color as a result of overexposure to moisture, exposure to some cleaning products and cleaner residue, and over-exposure to the sun.
Humidity issues: It is not uncommon for laminate floors to get affected by humidity issues. The layers tend to expand when humidity is high and shrink when humidity is low. These kind of changes can cause permanent damage on the flooring.
Caring for Laminate Floors (Do’s and Don’ts)
Wipe spills immediately: It is normal to spill water, juices and other liquids on your laminate floor. Mostly, the problem is common in the kitchen and dinning areas. Use a paper towel or clean microfiber rag to wipe spills immediately.
If you suspect that a spill can cause staining, wipe the spot with a cloth wring in warm water after clearing the spills.
To clear greasy stains after wiping off spillage, use a solution of water and vinegar. Mix the two in the equal portions (You can use a ratio of 1:3 if you do not like the smell of vinegar) in a spray bottle and shake well.
Spray the solution on a dry microfiber cloth and use it to draw up grease from the stain. Do not spray the solution directly on the floor because some of it can get drawn into the subfloor.
For stains that are hard to remove with a vinegar solution, try rubbing alcohol or baking soda paste.
Use protective pads: The legs of heavy furniture and appliances can cause unsightly marks and scratches on your laminate floor. Use protective pads to prevent such issues. Further, avoid dragging the items when cleaning the house or at any other time.
Avoid keeping pets or trim their claws: Pets are good and they can make a home lively. However, you must have the right conditions to live with pets comfortably.
Laminate and other types of wooden floors are not the best for pet owners. If you find yourself in a position where you can’t have one without the other, consider using floor coverings or trimming the claws your pets.
Coverings are a great idea because besides protecting the floor from scratches, they keep dirt that pets bring to your wooden floors at bay.
Use doormats: The best way to maintain clean laminate floors is to keep dirt from them. Allowing dirt in your house and implementing regular cleaning only results to permanent damage after a given period of time.
Doormats are a small investment that can help maintain high level cleanliness in your house. They capture grit and dust from outside traffic, and most are heavy duty and easy to clean.
Choose cleaners wisely: Laminate floors are sensitive. As such, it is easy to dull them with regular cleaners. A good tip when selecting cleaning products is to check with manufacturers.
Most flooring manufacturers provide guidance on the kind of cleaners to use on their products. Check with yours to determine whether they recommend a specific product.
If you cannot find this information, a solution of warm water should be your go to option. Alternatively, buy commercial cleaners specifically made for laminate floors.
Avoid cleaners that contain wax or polishes. Although marketers might present them as great for laminate, they gradually cause dulling and discoloration.
Avoid scouring products: A steel wool, scouring pads, beach sand and pumice powder are generally recommended for unfinished floors. Still and all, you should not be tempted to use them on laminate floors. They scratch laminate and cause marks that you can do nothing about.
Avoid using a vacuum with a beater bar: A beater bar is good but not for your laminate and other hard floors. As a result, be keen when choosing a vacuum so that you your cleaning routine can be gentle.
Do not expose your floor to extremely high temperatures: Wooden floors are heat sensitive. Do not place hot cooking pots and pans directly on floor. They can ruin the appearance of your floor.
The Causes of Streaking On Laminate Floors
To clean your laminate floors without streaking, you must first understand the things that cause streaking. This keeps you from making the same mistakes over and over again
A dirty mop: A dirty mop leaves streaks on laminate and other floors. As a result it is important to ensure that your mop is clean before using it.
A good maintenance routine is to ensure that you clean your mop after every use. This gives it ample time to dry because the next use.
Soapy Cleaners: Some cleaners leave streaks on laminate floors because of a soapy residue. Avoid this by going over the floor again with a mop wrung in clean water.
Alternatively, spray a clean microfiber cloth with a small amount of clean water and wipe the floor in the direction of the grain. Finish up by drying the surface with a clean dry rug.
Product build-up: Cleaning products can leave residue that builds-up over time. Eventually, the buildup begins to manifest as streaks at some point.
Cleaning water: Water used clean laminate floors can be visibly dirty or contain impurities that affect the ability to do a good cleaning job.
How to Clean Laminate Floors without Streaking
Streaking is a common problem without floors. As such, you must identify the right cleaning products for your floor, and follow the right procedure to keep it streak free. A readily available solution is to use a mixture of water and vinegar. Still, clean warm water can be equal to the task depending on how dirty your floor is. All the same, you must begin with sweeping, vacuuming and treating stains.
There is no better way to get rid of grit, regular dirt and pet hairs than sweeping. It helps clear most of the mess, such that you only leave tiny microscopic bits for the vacuum. You can use a traditional push broom more efficient modern alternatives.
Sweeping is reliable but it does not help with pet dander and everything else that you cannot see with the naked eye. To help eliminate such dirt, use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar. Further, ensure that your vacuum is light and suitable for wooden floors. We have a detailed guide on how to select one.
Sweeping and vacuuming all the stains on your floor. Although most stains are easy to clean with regular cleaning solutions, there are some that require a little bit of elbow grease. Use baking soda paste or rubbing alcohol to tackle them.
If using baking soda paste, apply it on the stain and let it sit for a minute or two. Scrub the spot gently and in circular motion with a soft brush. Next, wipe the past with a dry microfiber cloth and rinse it off by dabbing the spot with a cloth wrung in clean water. Finish up by wiping the surface with a clean dry cloth to remove excess moisture.
Cleaning with Warm Water
Warm or hot water is good enough to clean most laminate floors. To do the actual cleaning, transfer water into a spray bottle and use it to dampen a clean mop. Pass the mop over the surface and rinse it in clean water as necessary to avoid leaving streaks. Preferably, work with small sections so that you can wipe the surface dry with a clean rag immediately after cleaning.
Cleaning with Water and Vinegar
Mix warm water and vinegar in a spray bottle in the ratio of 1:1. If you do not like the smell of vinegar, mix three parts of water with one part of vinegar and shake well. Use the solution to dampen a mop or rag and clean your floor. Alternatively, use the traditional method of a bucket and rag or mop. All the same, ensure that you wring the mop or rag properly before cleaning. Lastly, dry the surface completely with a clean microfiber rag.