Cleaning Wood and Laminate Floors

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Proper care of your floor prevents damage, extends its life, and keeps it looking new for years. How do you properly care for your flooring?

If you enjoy going barefoot or even if you don't, kick your shoes off at the door. Why remove your shoes? If you have a rough board that needs smoothing you grab a sheet of sandpaper for the job. Guess what's on the bottom of your shoes? Sand and dirt grind away at the fibers in your carpet causing them an early death.

A closer look at the bottoms of those shoes and you'll find oil, dirt, and heaven only knows how many tidbits of leftover dog deposits. Small wonder why your floor stubbornly refuses to come clean. Do wear slippers or socks inside. The oil from the bottom of your feet also dirties your floors.

Always vacuum or dust hard floor surfaces before mopping.

Clean your wood floors with ½ cup vinegar in a gallon of water. If you have been using vegetable oil on your floor increase the vinegar to 1 cup per gallon of water. Go over your floor several times to remove the residue. Rinse with warm water and dry. Vegetable oil cleaners can leave a residue on wood floors that can deteriorate the sealant over time.

Laminated Floor Caution:

the manufacturers of some laminated wood floors now recommend cleaning them with ammonia. We prefer only vinegar and water. As you saw in the linoleum floor section, ammonia is used to strip the wax off floors. It may do the same to the sealant on most laminated floors.

Self-wringing mops can leave excess water on the floor, which works between the boards warping the edges. Then sanding and refinishing becomes necessary. Water also contains alkaline, the culprit behind water spot damage on glass shower doors. It leaves damaging water spots on your wood floors. Vinegar neutralizes the alkaline helping to eliminate the problem.

To clean hardwood or laminated floors mix ½ cup distilled white vinegar in a gallon of water. Dampen a towel in the mixture and wring out all the excess moisture. Use the towel as your mop. No need to rinse. Dry the floor if necessary.

Mary Findley spent 12 years professionally cleaning homes and answering your questions as moderator of our Cleaning Forum. Visit her website at for her free bi-monthly cleaning tips.