Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning laminate wood floors.

By Amanda Lauren
Updated: May 07, 2019
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A lot of people wonder how to clean laminate wood floors because it can be somewhat different from cleaning hardwood floors. After all, the two materials aren’t the same thing. But while many people think of laminate as a product that is inferior to wood flooring, that isn’t necessarily true.

Laminate wood flooring is made from layers of composite wood pressed together and sealed with laminate. Laminate wood looks like solid wood, but it can be a better choice in many ways: It is more durable, less susceptible to scratches (which can be a major issue if you have pets), and more moisture resistant.

Choosing to install laminate wood flooring can also help homeowners save money. It gives you the look of a wood floor at a much lower price point. Laminate is also easy to install yourself. So in addition to the price of materials, you can also save on the cost of labor.

Keeping your laminate wood flooring looking new is easy if you know how to take care of it. Here are the best ways to clean laminate wood floors.

How to clean laminate wood floors

According to Jennifer Gregory, brand manager of Molly Maid, cleaning your laminate flooring isn’t too difficult if you know the steps to take. Start by sweeping or vacuuming loose debris. “Don’t introduce water to the floor until you remove dirt, crumbs, and other debris,” Gregory says.

To remove dust and debris, you can use a Swiffer sweeper ($20; amazon.com) or a dry microfiber mop, like O-Cedar Dual-Action Microfiber Flip Mop ($21; amazon.com). If you prefer a vacuum, don’t forget to put yours on the bare floor setting—or consider one that adjusts automatically to various types of flooring, like the Dyson V11 ($699; amazon.com).

After removing excess debris, sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on the floor. Then mix one gallon of hot water, one cup of vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap in a bucket. (Manufacturers do not recommend using soap products on laminate wood flooring because it can make floors look dull and create excess buildup, but using just a little bit is fine.)

Now you’re ready to mop the laminate wood floors. Gregory recommends a microfiber or chamois mop instead of a sponge mop because "a sponge mop pushes dirty water into grout lines, making them harder to clean later.” Use a scrub brush to remove stuck-on dirt or in more highly trafficked areas of the home.

Gregory recommends mopping the floor from back to front to avoid mopping yourself into a corner. “Assess the room and follow a path that ensures you end at an exit,” she says.

Once the entire floor has been cleaned, mop once more using clean water to remove any traces of baking soda or soap residue.

Finally, dry the laminate wood floors completely using old towels, ensuring there is no standing water. This is a great way to repurpose towels you may otherwise throw out.

How to make dull laminate wood floors shine

To keep laminate wood floors looking shiny, it’s best to avoid excess soap-based products. Using too much soap creates buildup and a dulled appearance.

To avoid streaking, just use a commercial product made specifically for laminate wood flooring. If streaks continue to be an issue, it’s best to avoid any soap-based cleaners altogether.

How to remove scuffs and buildup from laminate flooring

To clean laminate wood floors without leaving a film or to remove buildup and scuff marks, the best approach is to go easy. “Scuffs on floors and walls are often easier to remove when they’re fresh,” Gregory says. “Rather than reaching for harsh chemicals first, try a tennis ball, which can actually remove scuff marks.”

Next, escalate to plain water. “Start with a damp, soft microfiber cloth and gently wipe the mark to keep the surface safe,” Gregory says. “Be careful to work only on the mark itself and resist the urge to scour the surrounding area. But whether or not the marks disappear with this first step, wipe with a soft, dry cloth.”

How to clean laminate wood floors naturally

To clean laminate wood floors naturally, especially when they are really dirty, try using baking soda. “Baking soda mixed with water is a mildly abrasive, eco-friendly cleaner, which can be applied with a soft cloth or sponge,” Gregory says. “Mix a solution of one tablespoon baking soda per one cup of warm water and stir before using.”

How often to clean laminate floors

The best way to keep any type of flooring clean is simply to stay on top of it. You should clean floors a minimum of every two weeks. If shoes are allowed indoors or if you have pets, you will need to clean more often. Keeping a floor mat at every entrance to your home can help control the excess dirt.

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