Laminate Flooring 101: The Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Them Scuff-Free

1. Do read the cleaning instructions that come with your laminate flooring

Before you get cleaning, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for your floors. The brand may have specific recommendations based on the materials used. Most companies have detailed product guides and instructions on how to clean laminate floors on their websites. Read carefully as using harsh or abrasive cleaning products can null the warranty.

2. Don’t let stains sit on the floor

“If something spills, clean it up immediately,” says Steve Evans, cleaning expert at Memphis Maids. “Use a dense microfiber cloth or a sponge and gently blot until you absorb whatever has spilled.” Tackle stains pronto. Even if your laminate flooring is water-resistant, if you leave liquids for too long, they can potentially damage or discolor the surface.

3. Don’t use abrasive tools

Technology has made a lot of recent laminate flooring materials scratch-resistant, but that doesn’t mean you should reach for abrasive (steel wool, for example) items. You’ll want to use a soft-bristle broom or dust mop to sweep up debris. If you’re vacuuming, be careful to use an attachment without a beater bar or rotating brush, which could scratch the surface.

4. Do (carefully) mop the laminate flooring every two months

To keep laminate floors fresh, mop them every two months. Damp mops (a.k.a. microfiber mops) are gentle enough to use on laminate flooring. If you’re going to use a regular mop, just wring it out until it’s almost completely dry.

5. Don’t use too much water

“The number one factor to keep in mind is that laminate floors do not get along with water,” Evans says. “At least, with excessive water. Keep water and liquids to a minimum whenever you’re cleaning these floors.” Even if the flooring material is water-resistant, you don’t want the water to pool or seep through the top layer, which could potentially lead to extra installation costs that come with replacing the laminate planks. That said, a traditional mop bucket is a no-no for laminate floors. If you forget to pick up all the water it can also cause staining or fading.

6. Do skip cleaning products not labeled for laminate flooring use

Oil-based cleaning products can leave streaks and residue, or damage the protective sealant of the floors. If you use laminate cleaner, do so sparingly and apply it to the mop or microfiber cloth rather than directly to the floor. Never use wax or polishes on laminate floors.

7. Do consider a DIY laminate floor cleaner

Make your own DIY floor cleaner. For regular cleaning, combine a teaspoon of clear and unscented dish soap with a gallon of hot water. Evans recommends a solution of white vinegar and water because it doesn’t leave a sticky residue, which is often an issue with hard floors. He suggests one part vinegar to 10 parts water. “It’s effective yet not that aggressive to your floors,” he notes.

8. Do use household hacks for stubborn stains

For tough stains like candle wax or ink, the best cleaning methods are right at hand. Apply a plastic bag of ice to chewing gum and candle wax, and remove with a plastic knife, scraper, or credit card once it has hardened. Tackle paint, ink, nail polish, and crayon with rubbing alcohol.

9. Do protect the surface from future damage

To avoid future scratches, add furniture pads under the legs of chairs and tables, especially if they get moved frequently. For spots that are likely to get dents or withstand heavy foot traffic, invest in rugs to help prevent wear and tear. Placing a rug under a dining room table or under a desk chair not only saves your floors but enhances your interior decor.

If your laminate flooring already has scratches, you can try the Pergo repair kit to camouflage the damage.

10. Don’t forget a doormat

Dirt that gets tracked in from outside not only makes your floor dirty, but can also damage the floor. The grit, for example, from a dirty shoe bottom can be one of the biggest enemies your laminate floor faces because it can scratch, dull, and even dent. Stop dirt in its tracks with a welcome mat that is as fashionable as it is functional. A woven wool-and-jute mat from Hay does just that. Something this low-maintenance can make all the difference.

11. Do trim your pet’s nails

True, this isn’t a tip to clean your laminate floors, but it is a solid tip to care for your floor. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed to prevent abrasion on the decorative layer. Your cat or dog’s nails can scuff up the laminate floor.

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