Laminate is a great flooring choice for a lot of reasons. It’s durable, versatile, and designed to stand up to the demands of the active home. Of course, life happens. Food gets spilled. Pets have accidents. People get hurt. Messes are inevitable, but they don’t have to be permanent!
A plank of laminate flooring is composed of layers: First is the bottom layer, or the backing layer. This is the part no one sees once the floor is installed, and can sometimes have a pad attached.
The next layer is the core board. This is the real meat and potatoes layer that puts on its hardhat, goes to work every day, and gives laminate its strength.
The decorative layer, or photo layer, is what gives laminate its star power. It’s a thin laminated plastic that can look like any species of wood or stone on the planet. Want the look of cherry hardwood? There’s a laminate for you. Want the exotic, eye-catching look of West African zebrawood? There’s a laminate for you. The huge range of options is another reason for laminate’s mass appeal.
The top layer is protected by an aluminum oxide coating, which gives laminate its resistance to impact, wear, scratching, and moisture.
As mentioned in our companion article about how to remove stains from vinyl floors, there are a few caveats to cover before we get into the details:
–Read The Instructions Always check the manufacturer’s instructions about what kind of cleaner is suitable for your floor, and always go with that advice first. The last thing you want to do is turn a minor stain into a major issue.
–Testing, Testing, Testing Always do a spot-test with your cleaning solution on a hidden section of your floor before using it in main areas.
Proper care and maintenance is key for a long and happy life with your floors. Laminate does well with regular sweeping, dry mopping, or vacuuming. Don’t forget that laminate is water resistant, not waterproof, so be careful not to leave standing liquid, as it can seep into the core board and cause your floorboards to warp, and don’t wet mop. The occasional damp cloth is fine. Laminate doesn’t require expensive cleaning products; most of the things suggested below are already in your home!
Avoid waxes and acrylic products, as these can damage a laminate floor’s finish. Unlike hardwood, laminate can’t be re-finished, so routine maintenance is your best friend here. Also be sure to avoid scouring products and rough scrubbers like steel wool.
COMMON STAINS AND HOW TO REMOVE THEM FROM LAMINATE
Blood: Blood is a notoriously tricky stain. Try a warm damp cloth first, then move on to window cleaner.
Nail Polish: Nail polish comes off very well with…drumroll please…nail polish remover! Use a remover with acetone. Rubbing alcohol can also be used.
Candle Wax: Let the wax harden before trying to remove it, and then carefully scrape it off with a butter knife.
Grease and Tar: Remove with mineral spirits (available at hardware stores).
Chewing Gum: Harden the gum with ice, and then carefully scrape it off.
Scuff Marks: Who doesn’t hate shoe marks? The squeaky bane of PE teachers everywhere, rubber scuff marks can be removed with a pencil eraser.
Ink, Permanent Marker, Crayon: Remove with rubbing alcohol.
Pet Urine: As much as we love our furry friends, cleaning up after them can be troublesome, and we can all agree we would much rather our pets be seen and not smelled! White vinegar is well known for its versatility in cleaning all over the home: It can be used to clean windows, coffee pots, and sinks, to name a very few of its myriad uses.
White vinegar is also great for stubborn pet odors, due to our old friend basic chemistry. The pH scale is used to measure acids and bases, with the lower numbers being more acidic, 7 being neutral, and higher numbers being more basic. To put it in food terms, acid adds sourness to things like lemons, while the alkaline nature of unsweetened cocoa powder adds bitterness to dark chocolate.
Pet urine is highly acidic in nature, and while pet urine is acidic when it’s excreted, it dries into a basic (or alkaline) substance. Just as opposites attract, the best way to clean a base is with an acid. The naturally acidic nature of white vinegar allows it to counteract the basics nature of dried pet urine, break down its enzymes, and neutralize those smells!
There are a couple of ways to go about this. Undiluted white vinegar can be sprayed directly onto the soiled area and then rinsed away with warm water, or white vinegar can be mixed with water to form a solution. If you’re unsure about which method is best for your floors, it’s advisable to do a spot-test.