Step-By-Step Tutorial on Cleaning Laminate Floors with Vinegar

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Cleaning Laminate Floors With Vinegar: What You Need To Know

Mar 10, 2022
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In addition to being a superb salad condiment, vinegar has been used as a cleaner for thousands of years. The acetic acid within vinegar is a natural disinfectant that can kill most germs that it touches.

But the best thing about it is that, compared to commercial cleaners that are packed with chemicals, a vinegar mixture is very gentle. That’s why cleaning laminate floors with vinegar is such a great idea: it won’t damage or leave ugly streaks on its surface.

This article will tell you all that you need to know about cleaning laminate floors with vinegar in a few scant minutes!

3D rendered illustration

Why You Should Use Vinegar to Clean Your Laminate Floors

Compared to commercial products that are loaded with chemicals, vinegar is more natural with the sole active ingredient being acetic acid. The acetic acid is caustic, so it could damage your floor if it’s not used properly.

So, can you use vinegar on laminate floors?

Fortunately, we don’t use pure vinegar for cleaning (at least, not usually). The vinegar is heavily diluted beforehand with water to take out most of its caustic ability. We’ll show you how to do this further down the article.

Besides cleaning up your floor, vinegar also has a polishing effect. It is especially great for use on laminate floors that have become dull or muted due to lack of maintenance.

Not just on laminate floors, vinegar-based cleaners can be used to clean other sensitive floor types such as hardwood.

How to Safely Use Vinegar Cleaners

Even though the vinegar is diluted, it is still caustic and can cause damage if it’s left for too long on laminated floors. That’s why it’s important that you clean it up as quickly as possible to keep exposure time down to a minimum.

The moment you spray the vinegar onto your floor, you should wipe and dry it immediately. Even a few minutes of exposure could be harmful to your laminated floors.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

Before you can begin, you will need to mix a vinegar-based cleaner. There are many different variations of it. Pick a recipe depending on what you currently have available.

Vinegar and Water

The most basic type of vinegar-based cleaner is the vinegar and water sort. The ingredients are extremely simple:

  • A spray bottle
  • Distilled white vinegar, ½ cup
  • Filtered or bottled water, ½ cup
  • Scented essential oil (optional)

The last two ingredients need a few expository lines.

You should use filtered water whenever you can for your cleaner. In case you don’t have filtered water on hand, use bottled water. We highly recommend against using tap water. The water coming from out of your tap could be heavy, meaning that it’s laden with dissolved minerals. These minerals could form streaks on your laminate floors.

As for the scented essential oil, it is an optional touch. A lot of people don’t like the smell of white vinegar. A few droplets of essential oils will mask the scent. You can choose whichever scent you like. If you’re indecisive, you can never go wrong with orange or lavender!

How to Mix the Cleaner

The vinegar to water ratio for cleaning laminate floors is 1:1. So, for example, ½ cup of vinegar should be mixed with ½ cup of water. This amount is good enough to clean a decent-size floor, as well. You can adjust the amount based on how much cleaner you need.

In your spray bottle, mix the water and vinegar together. Shake the bottle so that the two mix well. That’s it! You can now begin cleaning laminate floors with vinegar!

Vinegar - Rubbing Alcohol Cleaner

It is very simple and all of the ingredients can be cheaply and easily purchased from a supermarket or a grocery store. As a matter of fact, you probably have all of them right in your kitchen already!

Here is a brief list of what you will need.

  • A spray bottle
  • Distilled white vinegar, ½ cup
  • Rubbing alcohol, ½ cup
  • Filtered or bottled water, ½ cup
  • Scented essential oil (optional)

The combination between white vinegar and rubbing alcohol probably won’t smell very inviting to a lot of people. So, if it turns you off, use some essential oil to mask the smell.

How to Mix the Cleaner

Once you have gathered all of the ingredients, start by filling your spray bottle with the filtered water. Add the ½ cup of distilled white vinegar and the ½ cup of rubbing alcohol into the bottle, as well.

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Mix them all together by shaking the bottle.

When all of the ingredients have come together, add the essential oil if you want. Around five drops and your cleaner will smell nicely.

Vinegar - Baking Soda Cleaner

An alternative to rubbing alcohol is baking soda. Combining it together with vinegar will also produce a very good cleaner. The list of ingredients is quite similar to the one above with the exception of a few extra ingredients and different measurements.

  • A spray bottle
  • Distilled white vinegar, 2 tablespoons
  • Gentle dish soap, ½ cup
  • Baking soda, 1 ⅔ cup.
  • Distilled or bottled water, ½ cup
  • Scented essential oil (optional)

How to Mix the Cleaner

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir until all of the solid ingredients dissolve. After that, pour the liquid into your spray bottle.

The scent of the solution shouldn’t be too bad with the addition of baking soda and dish soap. Nevertheless, if you want it to smell extra good, you can opt to add a few drops of essential oil, too.

Cleaning Laminate Floors with Water and Vinegar, Step-by-Step

Here is how to clean laminate floors with vinegar and water combination, if you decide to pick this type.

Step 1: Sweep or Vacuum the Floor

Before you mop it, it is important to sweep or vacuum all of the dirt and debris from your laminate floors. If the floor is dirty, mopping it will only spread all of the dirt around. Certain types of debris such as loose stones or tiny gravels could be tracked across the floor by your mop, scratching up the surface.

Sweep or Vacuum the Floor

With that said, take up your broom, your vacuum, or your best laminate floor cleaner machine and do a dry sweep across the floor. Pick up all dirt and debris that you can find.

Pay special attention to the areas near the baseboards of the walls. Check the corners of the room and underneath furniture, too. These are all the places that typically don’t get a lot of attention, so dirt and debris could have built heavily there.

Step 2: Test the Cleaner

To be extra certain that the cleaner would work with your floor, pick a small, out-of-the-way spot of the floor. For example, the room’s corner or the spot behind furniture where no one goes or looks at.

Spray a small amount there, scrub with a microfiber cloth or a mopping pad, then dry thoroughly. Wait a couple of minutes. If the spot shines and doesn’t seem to be damaged, you can proceed to use the cleaner for the rest of the house. However, if there’s any problem at all, stop.

At this stage, you can choose to re-mix the cleaner, choose another kind of cleaner, or call in a professional to check out your floor.

Step 3: Spray the Floor

Take up the spray bottle and spritz an area around one square foot. You shouldn’t spray the entire floor at once. Vinegar — even the diluted form — has to be wiped away quickly. If it’s left for too long on the laminated boards, the acid will wear down the lamination.

Spray the Floor

Step 4: Wipe Down the Floor

After you have sprayed the small patch on the floor, use a damp mop or a microfiber cloth to wipe down the area.

Make sure to wring the mop or the cloth out beforehand. You don’t want them to be soaking wet. Moisture is harmful for the floor and will cause damages.

Step 5: Dry the Floor

Use a second, dry cloth to wipe moisture from the floor after you have wiped it down for the first time. Make sure that the top surface is completely dry before you move on.

Dry the Floor

Repeat step 2 to 4 until the entirety of your floor is clean!

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Cleaning Laminate Floors with Vinegar and Baking Soda (or Rubbing Alcohol and Vinegar), Step-by-Step

This portion will apply to both baking soda - vinegar and rubbing alcohol - vinegar combination.

Step 1: Sweep or Vacuum the Floor

The start of this process is the exact same as above: dry sweep the floor first to remove all of the dirt and debris. Ensure that the floor is as dirt-free as possible before you bust out the mop and the cleaner.

Vacuum the Floor

Step 2: Test the Cleaner

Go to a corner of the room and test out the pre-mixed cleaner there to see if it is safe for use. Only attempt to apply the cleaner to the rest of the house once you’re certain that it won’t damage the laminate floors.

Step 3: Spray the Floor

Like before, spray the floor in small sections. Don’t attempt to spray the entire floor down in one go. You will risk damaging the floor if you let the cleaner sit on the floor for too long.

Aside from the vinegar eating away the lamination, if you use the baking soda - vinegar combination, the problem could be made worse by the baking soda. If left for too long, the baking soda will solidify into white streaks on the floor. The streaks will cause the boards to turn dull and hazy.

They are very difficult to scrub clean once they have manifested, so do your best to avoid them.

Step 4: Wipe Down the Floor

Use a mop or a wrung-out microfiber cloth to wipe down the area that you just sprayed the cleaner on to. As always, make sure that after you have wiped the floor down that the surface isn’t soaked with water. Moisture is bad for the lamination.

Wipe Down the Floor

Step 5: Dry the Floor

Take a second mop or cloth to dry out the floor. Absolutely no trace of moisture should still be left on the just-cleaned patch of floor by the time you’re finished.

Continue with the rest of the floor using step 2 to 4.

How to Spot Clean Laminate Floors with Vinegar

Other than day-to-day floor cleaning, you can also use your vinegar cleaner to spot clean. For example, if there’s any caked-on mud on your floor or a stain, applying a vinegar cleaner on it will help.

What Sort of Stain Can I Clean with Vinegar?

Liquid spills like wine and soda stains can be easily cleaned up using vinegar. It will also help you clean up caked-on mud and dirt, too.

But we only recommend using vinegar to clean these two types of stains. Other types such as ink, crayon, organic stains (mold), or water stains will require the use of different cleaners in order to be effective.

How to Mix a Stain-Fighting Vinegar Cleaner

A stain-fighting cleaner is very similar to the water-vinegar cleaner. Only this time, the ratio is a bit different. Add 1 part vinegar per 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Shake to mix.

How to Clean Up Stain with Vinegar

Step 1: Apply the Cleaner to the Stain

Spritz the cleaner onto the stain. You should only lightly mist the surface. Don’t apply too much so that the floor becomes soaking wet.

Step 2: Scrub the Stain

Scrub the spot with a damp microfiber cloth. Depending on the severity of the stain, it could take quite some time before it begins to fade. If the cleaner is wiped out by the cloth before it could neutralize the stain, apply some more from your spray bottle.

Spray and scrub until the stain disappears.

Scrub the Stain

Step 3: Dry the Spot

Once it does, use a second microfiber cloth to clean up the cleaner residue and excess moisture. By the time you’re finished, the floor should be completely devoid of moisture or cleaner. If there is anything left behind, your floor could be damaged.

Conclusion

And that’s it!

With good maintenance, a laminate floor can last for years before it has to be checked out or replaced. It is actually not as flimsy as it looks. After reading this guide, we hope that all of your questions about cleaning laminate floors with vinegar have been satisfactorily answered.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • 01. What Kind of Vinegar Do You Use to Clean Laminate Floors?
  • You probably noticed that we only listed white distilled vinegar as the main ingredient for our laminate floor cleaner. There is a good reason for this.

    In theory, any vinegar can be used as a base for a floor cleaning agent. However, what sets distilled white vinegar apart from others is that it doesn’t contain any coloring chemical. As a result, it won’t stain your floor when you apply it.

    Apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and so on all contain very strong coloring chemicals. If you apply red wine vinegar onto your floor, it’s no different than spritzing straight red wine onto the lamination. The spot will turn a very ugly dark crimson.

    Of course, there are certain types of vinegars out there that don’t contain colors. An example would be rice vinegar. Rice vinegar is a decent alternative for distilled white vinegar in case you don’t have it.

    Kind of Vinegar

    Nevertheless, we still recommend using white vinegar whenever possible. It is, without a doubt, the best vinegar to mix into a vinegar floor cleaner laminate-type.

  • 02. Is Vinegar Bad for Laminate Floors?
  • We have spoken briefly about this at the beginning of the article. Vinegar — since it is an acid — could damage your floor if it is not used correctly. The keyword here is “could”. With the proper technique, vinegar on laminate floors shouldn’t be a problem.

    First, you shouldn’t use pure vinegar on your floor without diluting it first. Pure vinegar is highly caustic and can eat away at the top lamination layer of the floor.

    Second, even when the vinegar is diluted with water and other chemicals such as soap or baking soda, it still retains some of its caustic ability. When you spray it onto your floor, you should wipe it away as quickly as possible. If it’s left for too long on the floor, the vinegar will still damage the lamination.

  • 03. Why Does My Laminate Floor Look Dull?
  • Part of the allure of laminate floors is its glossy surface and beautiful coloring. However, after some time, you may notice your laminate floors looking dull and lifeless. There are many different reasons why this happens.

    Using the Wrong Kind or Too Much Cleaner

    Using the wrong type of cleaner on your laminate floor will cause it to become dull. This is why it is so important to test the cleaner in a small corner first before you mop with it. The point of this test is to make sure that this won’t happen.

    Diluted vinegar is one of the few cleaners that are gentle enough for use with laminate floors. Which is why you should be cleaning laminate floors with vinegar whenever possible.

    Additionally, using too much cleaner — even the right type — will cause it to lose color, as well. If you apply too much cleaner, a lot of residues will be left behind even if you meticulously dry out the spot. To avoid this, make sure that you only mist the spot that you want to clean. Avoid soaking it.

    Excess Moisture

    Too much moisture is incredibly bad news for your laminate floors. Water can leak through the protective lamination through the gaps between the laminated planks.

    In the best case scenario, the water will leave a visible water stain in the wood pattern. However, the water can also cause the planks to buckle, swell, or even warp if there’s too much of it.

    Excess Moisture

    This is why you have to dry out your floor carefully whenever you mop as well as ensuring that you don’t apply too much moisture onto the floor surface.

    Sunlight

    If the only spots that are dull on the floor are next to or near the windows, then the cause could be sunlight bleaching.

    Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will cause the color of your floor to fade. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to reverse the bleaching after it has happened. The only thing you can do is to prevent it from happening again. Install window blinds and shut them up in mid-day or early afternoon when sunlight is the harshest.

    Pets and Plants

    Pet food bowls can be dragged across the floor by your furry companions, causing deep scratches on the lamination. You can install carpets and paddings around the bowls to prevent them from messing up your floor.

    Pets and Plants

    As for plants, water could have dripped out of the planting pots and onto the lamination when you water them. If you forgot to mop it up, the water could infiltrate the boards and cause damage.

  • 04. How Do I Get My Laminate Floors to Shine?
  • The lamination layer on top of the floor isn’t there to just protect the wood fibers underneath, it’s also there to keep it shiny. As a result, cleaning up the lamination and taking care of it is all you need to do to keep your floor shining.

    So, how to shine laminate floors?

    First, vacuum the floor carefully to remove dirt and debris. If they’re neglected for too long, they cover up the floor and make it look terrible. Furthermore, as we explained earlier, debris can be tracked across the floor when people walk by, causing the floor to be scratched up.

    So, sweep everything up nicely at least once a week.

    Second, mop the floor twice a week with the right kind of cleaner. In this case, it is a vinegar-based cleaner. If you decide to go with a commercial, off-the-shelf cleaner, make sure the brand you choose is compatible with laminate floors.

    Third and lastly, buff your floor with a dry mop or a microfiber cloth after you have mopped it. Buffing will keep your floor shiny and free of cleaner residues and streaks.

    One extremely important thing that you have to keep in mind: never use floor polish or wax on laminate floors. They do more harm than good. When you apply them onto a laminate floor, they will cause the lamination layer to become hazy and dull instead of glossy. Steer as far away from them as you can.

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