What’s the Best Way to Wash a Laminate or Wood Floor?

Many people don’t realize just how important their floors really are to their homes.

Of course, a beautiful laminate or hardwood floor can add a fair amount of stylistic appearance to a room and tie everything together, but beyond that, most people don’t pay much attention to their floors.

After all, there really isn’t much to think about, is there? 

In reality, your floors will do a lot more for your home than you would think. A good floor can go a long way in how comfortable a room’s appearance feels and how comfortable walking around in that room will feel, especially if you tend to walk around barefoot.

For example, marble flooring is going to be freezing cold on winter mornings, compared to a carpet that would stay around the same temperature as the room.

Because of these differences in flooring, it will usually take a lot of time and thought to come up with the best flooring option for your home.

Once you have decided on a floor that will suit your needs well, you will then need to think about how you want to maintain the floor’s appearance.

Different flooring materials will require different habits to properly maintain the appearance, so you will have to tailor your floor-washing routine to the type of floor you have.

Thankfully, there are plenty of floor types that have similar washing routines, such as both laminate and hardwood floors. 

The Difference Between Cleaning Laminate and Hardwood Floors

For the most part, cleaning laminate and hardwood floors is going to be the same process.

Both require somewhat delicate or specialized soaps so that you do not damage the flooring underneath, and both of them can be done with just a mop and a dust broom, unlike with carpeted floors.

With that being said, there are some differences between these two floor types that you will need to be mindful of when you are washing your home floors. 

Hardwood floors, depending on the quality of the finish and the type of wood that is being used, can be somewhat delicate to work with.

This would mean that you wouldn’t want to use anything that would be a bit hard on the surface, as you don’t want to scratch or scuff it.

Laminate, while still more delicate than a slate floor, does not require the same gentle touch as a real wood floor would.

On the other hand, because most laminate flooring isn’t finished with a water-resistant coating like most hardwood floors are, you will need to make sure that you do not use mops that are too damp.

The laminate can absorb the moisture in a cleaning product that is too damp, causing it to distort and swell up. Notice how laminate floor is usually thinner and is made up of a composite material.

Aside from these key differences, you can usually go about cleaning your laminate or hardwood floor the same way as you otherwise would.

Both start out with a preliminary cleaning process, and then move onto using cleaning appliances, before finally making any adjustments that you would need to handle for tougher stains.

Cleaning Your Floor Efficiently 

To begin washing your floor, no matter if it is a laminate floor or a hardwood floor, you will want to begin by sweeping up loose debris and dust out of the way.

This will make it easier to use other cleaning products, as those cleaning products won’t have to spend their energy going through an initial layer of dust and grime.

Typically, this step will just involve using a dust broom and dustpan to gather up all of the sweepable debris that you can find on the floor.

For hardwood floors, you can also use a slightly damp rag, if this is a more suitable solution than using a broom. Using a slightly damp rag can also be more effective in corners and other, more confined, areas of the home.

Once the floor has been thoroughly swept, or even vacuumed, you can begin the actual cleaning process of getting your floors washed.

When working in this stage, you will need to make absolutely certain that any cleaning product you use is specifically designed for either hardwood or laminate floorings, depending on where in the house you are cleaning.

These specialized cleaners are designed to be safe for their respective floor type, and will often come with basic instructions on how to use them on your floor.

In the case where you do not have access to this kind of specialized floor cleaner, you can always feel confident that vinegar (usually white vinegar or apple cider vinegar) diluted by water can get the job done in a way that won’t leave your floor scuffed.

Always remember that you can add more vinegar or detergent to the water to help you clean, but you cannot do this process the other way around.

That is to say that you should always begin with a little bit less than you might expect so that you can gauge the results and adjust the amount of vinegar or detergent accordingly. 

For hardwood floors that have been properly finished, you can thoroughly soak a mop in wood-friendly soap water to get more efficient results.

As long as your floor has been finished so that the water content of the cleaner will not be absorbed by the underlying wood, you won’t have to give a second thought to using a mop on your hardwood floors.

For laminate flooring, it is always best to stick with a mildly damp rag, so that the surface does not have that much of a chance to absorb the water, allowing your laminate floorings to remain as beautiful as they are when you clean them.

What About Stains? 

Chances are that when you are working with cleaning your floor, you are going to come across a stain or two.

The way that you get rid of stains on both laminate and hardwood floors will depend on the type of stain and where the stain comes from.

Darker spots and pet-originated stains can be taken care of with floor wax and occasionally bleach or vinegar if the stain is deeply set into the wood. You can also use floor wax to get rid of heel marks in the floor.

For stains that are based in oil, you will want to use a soft dish detergent to break down the grease in the oil before rinsing the area.