Laminate floors are naturally known to be durable. However, to enhance their longevity, you will have to clean them regularly. So what is the best way to clean laminate floors and maintain them? You might be wondering, if the cleaning power of steam mops is suitable to clean this type of floor.
Can you use steam mops to clean laminate floors? The simple answer is no. Understand that laminate floors are made of planks linked together. By now, you know that wood and moisture are not allies. Steam mops work by releasing steam into the surface it is cleaning. This water may slip into the planks causing damage to the laminate floor. The damage shows itself through the bubbling, swelling or peeling of the laminate floor. So generally, cleaning your laminate floor using a steam mops results in damaging your floors.
This article will look into the make-up of laminate floors, reasons you should not use steam mops on laminate floors, how to clean your laminate floor safely, tips on cleaning laminate floors, tips on maintaining the floors and other related issues.
Understanding Laminate Floors
Before we dive into why you should not use steam mops on laminate floors, we need to understand what laminate floors are, and what they are made of.
Laminate floors from their appearance they look like natural hardwood. However, these floors are made of synthetic materials including melamine resin and fiberboard. The materials are pressed together in a process known as lamination. So what about the natural wood appearance?
The woody material is usually a photographic layer that resembles wood. This layer is fitted to cover the laminated material and another topmost layer that is clear is fitted. It is used as a protective top cover.
To install the floor, the planks are fixed so that they click meaning that no glue or adhesive is used. Before we can go any further, note that the materials used to make laminate floors are highly sensitive to moisture and heat.
So how exactly does using steam mop damage the floor? Well for starters, the steam mop produces both heat and moisture. The two tend to seep into the floor so that either it damages the entire material or it seeps through the planks fixed together. This causes the planks to loosen, warp, or even peel.
Although the consequence of using steam mops on laminate floors is not immediate, it is a slow process but eventually, your floor is damaged. It also cuts short the durability of your laminate floor.
Reasons why you should not use Steam Mops on Laminate Floors
Other than damaging your floors, the following are other reasons why you should not use a steam mop on laminate floors.
- Molds and Rot
Now that we understand how moisture gets into the laminate floor, what is the consequence? Well for starters, the moisture could cause the planks to start rotting. Usually, when this happens, the hardwood picture starts to fade and the floor produces a murky rotten smell. This happens because of the accumulated moisture.
Other than a foul smell, the moisture could lead to mold growing in the cracks of the laminated floor.
- The Floor will lose its Shine
As mentioned before, the laminate floor is covered by a transparent protective topmost layer. The layer is not only protective but also used to enhance the shining of the floor so that it has a glossy sheen.
When you continuously use a steam mop, the glossy sheen gradually fades away so that you left with a dull floor.
Therefore, if you are looking to maintain that brand new look of your laminate floor, avoid using a steam mop.
- Void Warranty
Most manufacturers of laminate floors clearly outline that you should not use steam mops on the floor. You can always check the care manual to be sure. For instance, one manufacturer mentions that damage resulting from exposure to extreme temperatures or relative humidity is not covered.
This, therefore, means that should you go against the care guideline and use a steam mop, that has the heat and moisture, you cannot revoke your warrant. It is considered void.
How to Clean Laminate Floors
Now that using steam mope is an outright bad idea, what alternative do you have? Do not worry, we cannot leave you high and dry. There is a solution to your rather dirty laminate floors.
When cleaning your laminate floor, always remember that the floor should remain dry and free of dirt and dust without coming into contact with water whatsoever.
- Using a Vacuum Cleaner
It is recommended you use a canister vacuum on your laminate floor, to get rid of debris, dust and dirt in the cracks. Depending on the model of vacuum cleaners you are using, always make sure you turn off the rotating brush. This helps to keep the brushes from scratching the otherwise sensitive floor.
Make a habit of dusting your floors, this is because accumulated dust and dirt could scratch the floor, therefore, damaging them. So, dust your laminate floors after every few days or as soon as it becomes dusty.
- Damp-Mop the Floor
For this method, use a laminate floor cleaning spray like this. Be careful not to overspray the floor and cause it to be wet, therefore use the cleaning agent sparingly.
Once you have sprayed the floor using a soft cloth, terry cloth, or microfiber to wipe off the cleaning agent by softly rubbing off the dirt from the floor.
If you will be using a reusable soft cloth or a mop with a washable microfiber, make sure you do not use softeners on the soft cloth or microfiber.
Fabric softeners contain chemicals that build up eventually making your laminate floors appear dull.
Therefore, when you use these softeners on the soft cloth, the chemicals left behind are dull color on your laminate floor.
This cleaning method should be used at least once in a month and especially for kitchen floors. Kitchen floors tend to experience the most traffic and quite a lot of dirt and stains.
Tips for Cleaning Laminate Floors
The above two methods are the best when it comes to cleaning laminate floors. However, there are still some extra tips if you are looking to maintain your laminate floors. They include
- Do not allow your laminate floor to be exposed to any moisture. I cannot emphasize this enough. Therefore, using a damp cloth, wipe up any wet spills as soon as they occur. Do not allow any spills to stand on the floor
- Dust off your floor regularly to avoid the accumulation of dust and dirt that could scratch the floor
- If you are looking to clean tough stains including, paint, lipstick or even oil use a nail polish remover or acetone on a soft white cloth. When you are done cleaning, make sure you get rid of all traces of acetone.
- At no pint whatsoever should you use detergents, soap, or any other cleaning product that is not made specifically for laminate floors? Using the above-mentioned products could cause the floor to swell, warp, and separate at the point where plank are joined. Moreover, if you damage your floor by using the above products your warrant may be considered void.
- Do not use any abrasive cleaners including steel wool.
- To get rid of candle wax stains, place an ice cube on the stains. Use a plastic scraper to scrape off both the stains and ice. Make sure you don’t scratch the floor.
- Avoid using dry magnetic- type pads to attract dirt, dust, and debris from the floor. Using these pads may cause the dirt residue to build upon the floor, therefore, dulling your floor.
- Avoid pine-scented cleaners they leave behind a dull soapy residue
Tips for Maintaining Laminate Floors
- Place adhesive pads or a mat on your furniture feet to prevent scratching the floor. Other than the furniture, pets could also scratch off the protective layer of your laminate floor. Therefore, keep your pet’s nails short and well-trimmed.
- Do not out on your stilettos on laminate floors. Your risk damaging your floor
- Do not use any substance to enhance the shine of your floor. The polish leaves a residue of wax, which scratches your floor and is very difficult to clean.
- Place an entry mat or rug at your doorstep. It helps to trap the dirt, sand and grit that would otherwise be left on the floor and therefore scratching the floor
- Make sure you maintain a humidity level of 35% to 55% throughout the year. During winter, you can use an air conditioner, dehumidifier, or a heating element to maintain humidity levels. On the other hand, during the dry season, use a humidifier to prevent excess shrinkage of the floor due to low humidity.
- Avoid drugging objects across the floor; rather lift them if you have to move them from one place to another.
- Should you scratch your floor you can easily cover the scratched area with a kit made of laminate floors. These kits are available at your local flooring retailer. Alternatively, if the damage is quite severe you can hire professionals to have it fixed. For laminate floors the faster you fix it, the more damage control you achieve.
Can you use vinegar to clean laminate floors?
Using vinegar on laminate floors has been a heated debate for a long time. Many people have come forward to confess that using a little bit of vinegar with some warm water works perfectly for the floors.
However, note that vinegar is acidic. That means that when used in excess it can remove the protective seal on the floor. Therefore, the trick is using some little vinegar. Depending on the space of your floor mix vinegar and water in the ration of I cup of vinegar is to 1 gallon of warm water. Use a soft cloth to rub the solution and be careful not to wet the floor.
Can I use a shark steam mop on laminate floors?
I know we said that the greatest danger to laminate floors is water or moisture. However, with a shark steam mop, you do not have to worry about leaving behind water on your floor. The mop is built so that it can regulate how much water is released and the steam flow.
Shark steam mop is especially resourceful if you are looking to get rid of that residue left behind after using cleaning agents on your laminate floor. This residue can either dull your floor or even worse make it slippery and therefore a potential hazard.
When using a Shark steam mop, you do not need to use and cleaning agent. As such, it helps to get rid of the residue, leaving your floor with the glossy sheen. That said though, remember do not use any type of cleaning agent with a shark steam mop.