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How To Clean Engineered Wood Floors?

Engineered Wood Floor

Engineered Wood Floor

Engineered wood floors, laminate wood floors, snap-in wood floors, whatever name the manufacturer chooses to use, these floors have exploded in popularity. The boards are comprised of a type of press board, covered with a thin veneer of real wood. This two-ply construction allows the boards to breathe a bit, expanding and contracting with minimal exposure to humidity. They are easy to install, requiring few tools. The laminates come in a variety of woods, tones, and shapes. Once installed, they are a durable, beautiful, affordable addition to any home.

With proper cleaning and maintenance, engineered wood floors will last many years. Follow these easy steps to keep the floor looking and functioning well.

Spills

Clean spills as soon as they occur. Just like hardwood floors, engineered wood floors are not designed for prolonged exposure to moisture. Additionally, some liquids can stain the laminate floor if they are left in place too long as they can work their way in between the layers of particleboard and veneer. Once this occurs, it is necessary to replace the stained boards, rather than to try to clean the stain.

Area Rugs

Area rugs are an excellent way to protect the high-traffic areas of the floor from hazards such as high heels and damaging scuffmarks. However, they can also trap fine dirt and dust onto the floor. Lift areas rugs and clean under them regularly. This dirt can scratch the floor every time someone steps on the area rug if it is not removed regularly. For floors that lead to an outside exit, consider placing mats, both inside and outside the door. This will help to remove excess dirt from shoes, prior to entering the house and stepping on the laminate floor.

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Sweep Regularly

Use a soft bristled broom or a dust mop to sweep the floor two or three times per week. This activity will prevent larger dirt particles from begin ground into and scratching the surface of the floor. It will also remove finer dirt that can act as sandpaper to the floor’s finish if subjected to heavy foot traffic. If there are pets in the house, this is especially beneficial to keep the dust bunnies at bay.

Vacuum

Use a soft brush vacuum cleaner to vacuum the floor once a week. This activity will remove the finer particles of dirt and dust that can accumulate in the cracks and floor joints. If left unattended, dirt and dust could compromise the floor’s seal, causing the boards to shift or buckle.

Light Mop

Periodically, the floor will appear soiled even with regular sweeping and vacuuming. When the floor’s shine begins to dull use a damp mop and a small amount of cleaner. It will help to restore the floor to its original luster. The key to this deeper cleaning is that the mop must be damp, not soaking wet. The goal is to remove the thin layer of film, not to soak the wood thoroughly. The floor should be slightly damp while mopping and thoroughly dry within minutes.

Heavy Mop

Periodically, kids, pets, spouses, and other acts of God and Nature leave the floor heavily soiled. Use a straightforward cleaning solution consisting of one part white vinegar and three parts hot water, damp mop the floor. Be sure to wring the mop thoroughly before applying to the floor, as excessive moisture is the enemy of wood. The hot water will loosen the soil, and the white vinegar is an excellent cleansing agent. Because the solution is so diluted, the vinegar will not leave an odor. Because white vinegar is such a strong cleaner, the floor will dry to bright, streak free shine.

Kelly

Kelly Sperber has been a professional writer for 5 years. She joined TheHousingForum Team in January, 2011. Kelly enjoys skydiving, attending fashion shows, and gardening in her spare time.



  • Alan

    Can you put acrilyc over the fake wood so that you can mop it?

  • Holly1263

    What can be done for dog siliva spots on engineered wood flooring?  I’ve tried Murphys, Windex, Water & White Vinegar…nothing works.  HELP! 

  • PennyV

    Alan, most engineered wood flooring comes with several coatings that make it possible to damp mop the floor.  But as for putting an acrylic coating over fake wood, it would most likely depend on the type of fake wood and the manufacturer’s own recommendations.  Not all fake wood or engineered wood is made the same way, so it may be alright to use an acrylic coating on some floors while not being good to use on others.  But it should also be remembered that wood floors and engineered wood floors do naturally expand and contract when there’s any climate changes occurring, and an acrylic coating may prevent this expansion and contraction from occurring.

  • PennyV

    Holly, it seems like the methods you’ve tried already are the most frequently recommended methods.  However, I did come across a person in another forum that mentioned using a rag soaked with a Woolite solution worked wonders on the dog saliva stains on her hardwood floors.  So you might try that.  Or you might try contacting the manufacturer of your specific type of flooring and ask them for advice.  Not all engineered flooring is made the same way, so what works well on one brand may not work so well on another brand.

  • Jan

    We recently moved into a condo with dark engineered hardwood floors. I have been very careful and have purchased a hardwood floor mop and special hardwood floor cleaner. When I clean the floors and the sun then hits them, it appears as if a milky and streaky film remains. What am I doing wrong ? How can I get rid of the film.

  • Penny V

    an, you didn’t mention which type of hardwood floor mop and hardwood floor cleaner you were using. However, several hardwood floor cleaning experts suggest that you never use: any wax or cleaner that has to be mixed with water; any cleaner, soap, oil, or paste wax that contains ammonia, lemon oil, or tung oil.

    The best way to remove the film depends on what type of floor finish you have and what type of cleaner has caused the film. But a mixture of Windex Concentrate and water, as a ratio of 1:3 is recommended by some hardwood floor experts. This should be followed with a clear water rinse, using a minimal amount of water. Any excess moisture should be wiped up immediately, as moisture can damage hardwood floors.

  • Penny V

    Sorry about that, Jan! Somehow the J didn’t make it into your name on my reply.

  • Lizzo76

    The beginning of this article is misleading and perpetuates the confusion people have over various flooring options. “Engineered” flooring and “laminate” flooring are not interchangeable terms. Engineered wood flooring, which is what this article is really discussing, has a veneer of real wood on top of a composite material, while laminate flooring has a photo of wood laminated in vinyl. Engineered wood floors are not generally considered “fake wood” – the wear layer of wood may be as thick as the wear layer on “real wood” floors. (In tongue and groove wood floors you can only refinish so many times, anyway, before you get to the tongue/groove and ruin the floor.) The composite may be all plywood. Engineered wood floors should be as wet “moppable” as all-wood flooring – neither one should have standing water on it. Some engineered flooring is impregnated with wax which makes it even more resistant to any water which may get between the boards.

    Damp mopping engineered floors with just clean water is quite effective if you use a microfiber mop. Microfiber material, even dry, is extremely effective in removing dirt. White vinegar is a great cleaning agent, but always test an area first. And, if somehow the finish on the flooring is worn away and the vinegar touches raw wood, it can seriously discolor it permanently.

  • TheHousingForum

    Thanks for the tips Lizzo

  • PennyV

    Thanks for clarifying the distinction between engineered and laminated flooring, Lizzo76! It sounds like you are well-versed in the various types of flooring and how to properly care for them.

  • FRE000

    I have not found a satisfactory way to clean my “engineered” floors. Perhaps I should have specified wood grain vinyl so that the floors could be properly cleaned.

    I’ve used Bruce Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner, but cannot get the floors perfectly clean. I’ve sprayed the cleaner onto the floors and used a micro-fiber mop, but the floors are not clean. If I moisten a tissue and rub it over the “cleaned” floor for a few feet, the tissue does not remain clean. (I have radiant floor heat.)

    My ceramic tile floors are a different matter. I spray detergent onto them, rub with a sponge mop, then rinse using the spray and suction attachment for my Aqua-Air central vacuum cleaner. It sprays water just ahead of the suction so that, with care, standing water is not left on the floors. Those floors are totally clean; I can rub a moist tissue over them, and the tissue shows no signs of dirt.

    Is there any way to do a really good job of cleaning “engineered” wood floors without risking damage?

  • PennyV

    Fre000, you didn’t mention the brand of flooring you have, but I would suggest that you contact the manufacturer and ask their advice. Most vinyl flooring is fairly easy to keep clean by frequently sweeping and vacuuming, with occasional damp mopping, as well as wiping up spills immediately. I have seen several sites recommend that you remove your shoes while indoors if you have vinyl or hardwood flooring, since shoes carry lots of sand, grit and other types of harmful elements that can damage the flooring. Some experts recommend using a mild detergent and rinsing well, while others say detergent harms the floor. So it’s best to ask the manufacturer directly what is best to use on your specific flooring.

  • FRE000

    Penny,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Rarely are shoes worn in my house. Fortunately it is no longer socially unacceptable to ask people to remove their shoes. Most people will automatically do so if they see shoes near the door. Also, by each door leading outside, are both an inside mat and an outside mat. The a / c air handlers have good filters. Everything possible has been done to prevent the floors from becoming dirty, but of course that cannot be 100% effective.

    Sweeping seems to make little sense because it is just as easy to use the central vacuum cleaner and it is more effective. Almost never are there any spills on the hardwood floors; the kitchen, entry ways, laundry, and bathrooms all have ceramic tile floors and they can be cleaned by any method with no possibility of damage.

    The floors cannot be rinsed since the only protective coating is on each individual strip of “engineered” wood and water could get between the strips, especially on the ends of the strips. The manufacturer recommends against applying polyurathane varnish over the entire floor to endure that it is completely sealed.

    Damp mopping would probably work, but not so well as I would like. A damp mop cannot stay clean and after a portion of the floor is cleaned, it can no longer continue cleaning the floor. A mop could be frequently cleaned while cleaning the floor, but then getting the water out so that it would be no more than damp would be a problem. Perhaps it could be rinsed out with the washing machine and spun, but with my washing machine, that would require at least 10 minutes each time. So, if that were done 10 times, it would add 100 minutes to the time required to clean the floors.

    If I had it to do over again, I would not have hardwood floors. I would use vinyl that looks like wood since it is impervious to water.

    The best test to determine whether a floor is REALLY clean is to moisten a tissue and slide it over the floor for about four feet. If the tissue remains perfectly clean, then the floor is clean. Most cleaning methods would fail that test.

  • PennyV

    I agree with you, Fre000, that it would be better to have an easier to maintain type of flooring. Perhaps you can just use a micro-fiber type of mop, and hand-rinse the mop cover several times while you’re damp mopping. That is what I do when I’m damp mopping my floors. I leave the cover on the mop while I’m rinsing it off, then just run my hands over it a few times to press the excess water out. But you can take the cover off, rinse it out thoroughly, and then squeeze the excess water out before placing the cover back on the mop.

    I live in a very rural area of SE OK, and our floors are never clean for long. It’s practically impossible to keep any surface in the house clean due to the winds we have here and keeping our windows opened most of the time. We’re also always tracking dirt and other debris in from outside. So I don’t expect to be able to keep my floors as clean as you are describing. I would have to spend my entire day just vacuuming and mopping the floors. I can literally sweep up an inch-thick layer of dirt and 2-3 hours later will be able to sweep up another inch of dirt. For all the good it does, I might as well merely have dirt-packed floors. The ceramic tiles are the easiest to clean, but also show the dirt the most. So we’re thinking of putting in laminated wood flooring or vinyl flooring that looks like stones.

  • PennyV

    Thanks for sharing this information about central vacuuming systems, Freo! I can see how they can have many advantages over standard vacuums. That’s way too fancy of a cleaning system for our little cabin.

    As for us, we prefer to have opened windows with fresh air carrying nature’s scents in rather than have the air conditioner on. Although we have been using the a/c in the afternoon and evening hours lately due to the heat and humidity.

  • Stephanie Wardle

    Can a steam mop be used on engineered wood flooring?