Picture this: you’ve invested in your home, putting in magnificent laminate floors that don’t just shine; they practically sparkle. You’re loving every minute of it, reveling in the fresh look. Then, the worst starts to happen. That shine begins to dull, leaving you scrambling to figure out how to make your laminate floors shine again.
When it comes to how to make laminate floors shine, start with cleaning. Removing dust and dirt by sweeping and vacuuming help, along with the right homemade vinegar cleaner to remove buildup. For stubborn spots, buffing with a microfiber cloth is also an option.
However, more steps might be necessary if you’re dealing with scratches or scrapes.
Why Does My Laminate Floor Look Cloudy?
In many cases, laminate floors are naturally shiny, thanks to a transparent wear layer on the surface. While not all laminate flooring is high-gloss, most of them have a noticeable amount of shine. However, over time, that shine often diminishes, leaving the floors looking cloudy.
Before you worry about how to shine laminate floors, it’s essential to understand why they look dull in the first place. There are several potential reasons you’ll need to consider. By knowing which ones are reducing the shine of your floor, you can address the core cause more effectively. Additionally, you can choose the right approach for correcting the issue.
The most common reason laminate floors look cloudy is dirt and dust accumulation. Even small particles prevent light from bouncing off the flooring, making it seem dull. Oil and grime buildup can also reduce shine.
Light scratches can similarly make your laminate floors look less than their best. This is primarily because they alter how light bounces off the floor, creating a dull or cloudy appearance.
Using the wrong floor cleaner may also result in a duller finish. Some cleaners leave coatings on the floor’s surface, which also impacts how light reflects off the surface. The same is true of using the incorrect floor polish for your laminate flooring and applying wax.
Finally, long-term exposure to sunlight alters the look of your laminate. Like many types of flooring, laminate can fade in the sun. Depending on the original hue and where the light hits, this may cause some areas to look cloudy compared to areas that aren’t as impacted by the sun.
How to Make Laminate Floors Shine
Sweep and Vacuum the Surface
If you want to restore the shine on your laminate floors, the first step you need to take is sweeping and mopping. This removes surface dust, dirt, and debris. Along with improving the look of your floors, it prevents you from spreading dirt in subsequent steps.
Ideally, you want to sweep first, allowing you to remove as much debris as possible. Then, use a hard floor setting or attachment on a vacuum cleaner to get what the broom couldn’t tackle.
Usually, you’ll want to sweep and vacuum along the length of each board, and dirt will get pushed into the crevice between the boards. That improves cleaning efficiency and leads to better overall results.
Prepare the Floor Cleaner
In many cases, a homemade laminate floor cleaner is an incredibly effective option. Start by finding a clean, empty spray bottle. That allows you to make the cleaner in the bottle you’ll ultimately use for application.
Next, create a mixture that’s equal parts distilled white vinegar, distilled water, and rubbing alcohol. Vinegar is effective at breaking down dirt and grime, while the rubbing alcohol speeds drying and reduce streaking.
You can also choose to add a few drops of essential oil, though that isn’t a requirement. Once everything is in the bottle, put the lid on securely and shake to combine.
Clean Your Laminate Floors
With your spray bottle in hand, grab a microfiber mop. Lightly spray the cleaner across one section of your laminate flooring, ensuring the floor is damp but not wet.
Use the microfiber mop to go over the spritzed area. Go with the grain on your laminate as you work. Once you have that section mopped, move on to the next until your entire floor is clean.
Ideally, you want to stand on sections of your floor you’ve yet to clean as you tackle the job. That ensures footprints don’t appear in the recently mopped areas. It’s also wise to put on a clean pair of socks, as those may prevent spots even if you accidentally step on a portion of the floor you’ve already cleaned.
Let the Floor Air Dry
After applying the cleaner and giving your laminate floors a good once over, let the room air dry. Open doors and windows or turn on exhaust fans to improve circulation if necessary. You can also point a floor fan into the room to speed up the process.
Generally, your floors should dry in about 30 minutes, though it may take longer if you’re in a humid environment. Make sure to avoid walking on the floors until they’re dry. That way, you aren’t tracking in dirt and debris.
Buff Out Dull Spots
Once the floor finishes drying, the shine is usually restored. However, if you’re still seeing dull spots, you can typically buff them out. Take a dry, clean microfiber cloth and rub the spot using a circular pattern until the dull area is gone.
If you have a floor buffer, you might be tempted to use that instead. However, that’s typically not the best idea, as it may scuff or scratch your floor.
Apply a Laminate Floor Polish [Optional]
If buffing dull spots doesn’t make your laminate floor shine, then you can apply a floor polish. Choose a version that’s designed specifically for laminate floors. Other polishes might not give the best results and could leave a film that traps dirt, dust, and debris.
As with most commercial products, you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s directions with laminate floor polish. That way, you get the best outcome possible.
Does Murphy Oil Soap Make Floors Shine?
If dirt and dust accumulation is your main problem, Murphy Oil Soap can potentially restore the shine on your flooring. It’s a natural cleaner that does a solid job of breaking down grime. However, it can leave a residue if you use too much, which would dull your flooring.
If you want to give this approach a try, you can either use a bucket or spray bottle. Combine the Murphy Oil Soap with hot water, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Then, work in small sections using a microfiber mop.
For anyone who uses the bucket method, make sure you remove as much water from your floor as possible with the mop. Additionally, pour out the mixture and replace it once it looks dirty. Otherwise, you may transfer dirt back onto your floors, resulting in a duller look.
How to Remove Scratches and Scrapes on Laminate Flooring
Clean the Flooring
Before you try to remove any scratches or scrapes, you need to clean the laminate flooring. In most cases, the vinegar cleaner described above is a solid choice, as it will break down grime and leave you with a clean, workable surface.
Use a Touchup Marker or Pencil
If you have just a few minor scratches, a touchup marker or pencil could be a simple want to remove them. You can get them in a wide array of classic wood flooring colors, allowing you to choose one that’s the best match.
In most cases, these are available at hardware stores. Once you have a good match, simply follow the manufacturer’s directions. Usually, that involves little more than running it along the scratch and lightly buffing the spot with a microfiber cloth once it’s applied.
Additionally, use gentle pressure. Typically, the fillers in the marker or pencil get darker the thicker it is applied. By keeping the pressure light, you can use only as much as necessary, helping it blend.
Move on to Repair Putty
If you’re dealing with more significant scratches, you’ll want to get a laminate repair kit that includes putty that matches your flooring. Typically, the kit has a few blendable dyes, allowing you to get the closest match to your flooring color. However, there’s also pre-tinted putty, which can work if your floor color is common.
With this, you’ll want to remove the manufacturer’s directions regarding the application process. In most cases, you’ll start by mixing in color – if you don’t get a pre-tinted version – to get the correct hue. Use a plastic putty knife to apply the putty, keeping it at about a 45-degree angle and the tip slightly up.
Rub the putty knife over the putty several times, adding more putty if the scratch isn’t fully filled. Once done, run the knife across it a few more times to smooth it and remove excess with a paper towel before letting the putty harden.
Try Wax Filler Sticks
For particularly deep scratches, you might need to use wax filler sticks. These work similar to filler pencils, though they require more effort.
As with most repair processes, following the manufacturer’s directions is essential. Typically, you’ll choose a wax that best matches the color of your flooring and then heat it using the manufacturer’s suggested method. Then, you’ll use a burn-in knife to apply the wax.
Once the wax is in, use a plastic putty knife or another straight-edge tool to level the wax. If you bought a kit, it would typically come with a tool for this step that won’t scratch your floor.
After that, you can buff the spot to blend it into your flooring. Usually, a microfiber cloth is a solid choice for that job.
How to Keep Laminate Floors Shiny
Once you go through the effort of restoring the shine to your laminate floors, keeping them looking great is usually a priority. Here are some tips and tricks that can make that easier.
Have Floor Mats Near Entrances
A floor mat near the entrance of your home allows you to wipe off dirt and dust that accumulates on your shoes. This reduces the likelihood that you’ll track it inside, keeping it off of your flooring. Make sure to clean your floor mat weekly, allowing it to remain cleaner and ensure it can do the best job possible.
Remove Shoes Before Entering the House
Shoes you wear outside pick up all kinds of dirt and debris. If you then wear the shoes inside, it will carry that dirt onto your floor, which can leave them looking dull.
Additionally, rocks or other small objects trapped in shoe treads can scratch your laminate. Since that’s the case, removing your shoes before entering the house is best if you want to keep your laminate floor shining.
Use the Hard Floor Attachment When Vacuuming
Since vacuuming is usually more time-efficient than sweeping, it can be a fast way to keep your laminate floors clean. Just make sure to use a hard floor attachment or setting when you do. That gives you better contact with the floor, allowing the suction to pick up dirt, dust, and debris more readily.
Vacuum and Sweep Regularly to Avoid Dirt and Dust Accumulation
One reason why laminate floors look dull is accumulated dirt and dust. Vacuuming and sweeping regularly can pick up that debris as soon as possible, keeping your floors shiny longer.
In many cases, a synthetic bristle broom is a solid choice. You can also opt for microfiber sweeping pads if you prefer.
Make sure you choose a model with a hard floor setting or attachment for vacuums. That gives you the best contact with the floor, making it more effective.
Handle Spills Immediately
Spills dull laminate flooring in a few ways:
- Depending on the liquid, it can leave dull spots as it dries.
- Sticky liquids will capture dirt and dust, diminishing the look of your floor.
- While rare, certain spills may damage the laminate.
If you spot a spill, clean it up immediately. Usually, you’ll want to start with a clean, dry cloth or mop, as those can soak up the spill. If there’s still residue, try a damp cloth to get the rest.
Use Protective Pads on Furniture
Dragging furniture across the floor can leave subtle scratches on the surface of your laminate flooring, making it look dull. The easiest way to avoid that is with protective pads.
You can find protective pads in a range of sizes and materials. Look for a product that’s designed for laminate, hardwood, or similar floors. Then, attach them to your furniture according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Avoid Abrasive Cleaning Pads
Scrubbing sponges, scrub pads, steel wool, and other abrasive cleaning tools aren’t ideal for laminate flooring. They can scratch the surface, which diminishes the shine.
Instead, stick to softer materials. Microfiber cloths and mops are usually ideal, as they won’t scuff the laminate.
Can You Wax Laminate Flooring?
While you can use wax on laminate flooring, it isn’t typically a good idea. Instead of shining your laminate floors, wax can make the surface duller. Plus, it can be slightly sticky, increasing the likelihood that dust, dirt, and debris will hamper the look of the floor.
Can You Use Mop and Glo on Laminate Floors?
Mop and Glo is safe on most laminate flooring. However, as it builds up on your floors with repeated use, it can dull the shine. Mainly, this is because Mop and Glo leaves a residue behind, which isn’t ideal if your laminate flooring is naturally high gloss.
As a result, you’re usually better off with an alternative cleaner. If you’ve used Mop and Glo previously and believe it is dulling your floors, you can remove the buildup using the vinegar cleaner described earlier. That will break down the buildup, allowing you to return to a shiny floor.
What’s the Best Way to Shine Laminate Floors?
Since laminate typically has a shiny finish, the best way to keep them shining is with regular cleanings to avoid dirt and dust accumulation. If they’re dull, the vinegar cleaning method is a great choice, as it won’t leave a residue. Additionally, make sure to address scratches using the above process, as that allows light to reflect off the flooring more easily, making them look shinier.