I can’t believe I’m writing a post about cleaning. I hate housework and I hate doing the floors most of all. I mean, I hate it with a white-hot passion. I hate it enough that I rarely clean my floors. Ugh, even thinking about it makes me unhappy. I am not going to give you one of those patronizing posts that pretends keeping things clean is simple and imply that I have it together and tidy and if you just follow what I do, you’ll be together and tidy too.
My house is always a mess and I don’t even care. I am solidly in the camp that my time is limited and housework falls really low on the priority list. As long as my home isn’t gross, it’s good enough and I’m happy.
But I have these new floors and I’ve had some inquiries about how I like them and how they are holding up. They are holding up far beyond my expectations (this was inexpensive flooring) but keeping them (somewhat) clean has been a bit of a challenge.
It’s kind of hard to clean laminate floors. I mean, there are tips out there but they overwhelmingly say to use vinegar or just soap and water.
While I appreciate the non-toxicity of vinegar as a cleaner and I’m sure it will work, I just wasn’t crazy about my whole house smelling like vinegar. I’m a little sensitive about how my house smells. Not because of standards (as I’ve said, mine are pretty low) but because a smelly house is gross and gross is where I draw the line.
I tried soap and water for a while but it wasn’t great. I felt like I was having to scrub kind of hard just to clean up simple spots on the floor (Greyhounds’ noses drip. It looks kinda gross when you walk down the hall and there are spots all over the floor).
The only other recommendation I found for cleaning laminate floors was Dr. Bronner’s pure castille soap. I have some hanging around so when we had some heavy rains this weekend, I had too many muddy footprints to ignore and I figured I’d test it out once and for all. I didn’t have high hopes for it because it just seemed like another version of soap and water.
You can’t use a lot of water on a laminate floor so I don’t use a sponge mop. I just use a dishcloth and a Swiffer. I admit, I use a hand-knit cotton dishcloth but that makes me sound so very Martha. I apologize. I like to knit dishcloths because they are mindless, easy knitting and I think they work a lot better for cleaning than microfiber clothes or sponges (anything that works better and makes it easier and means I spend less time doing it is good). If you don’t knit, find a knitterly friend and buy them lunch. They’ll knit you up a few dishclothes. I’ve also seen them in boutiques and farmers’ markets.
One small squirt in a container of hot water does it (a little less than a gallon, I just use an old tupperware container I lost the lid to). More is not better here. It will just leave a soap residue on the floor. I used maybe a tablespoon of Bronner’s. The floor in front of the sliding glass door is the worst. It’s where the dogs come in from the backyard so their paws are always dirty. I keep rugs on the floor so what you see here is under the rugs and it’s after vacuuming. Even with the rugs, you can see it is a high traffic area.
I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. It was quick and easy, looked really good, and smelled awesome. If a chore is easy to do and if I can still fit in games of solitaire, I’m sold. But seriously, Bronners cleaned the mud easily (those Swiffers have spindly handles so you can’t scrub with them) and left the floor with a nice “glow.”
I tried to show a comparison but I think the dim light in here and the floor pattern make it very un-climactic. You’ll just have to trust me that this is an easy solution. The best person to get tips like this is not a Martha, who wouldn’t take it easy if she could, but a lazy procrasinater like me. We truly know how to keep things simple and easy.
UPDATE (Feb. 2, 2016): Checking back in about this process. It is still the go-to process for my floors and works great. I did forget to mention a few important points in this post…
- Dr. Bronner’s has a nummy peppermint smell so it really makes the house smell nice. I have found it in my local grocery store and boutique grocery stores like Trader Joe’s.
- I don’t always use the handknit dishcloth. I also use a smallish hand towel or washcloth for this. They work great because the nubs in the knitting do a little scrub but this works great with just a washcloth or small towel too. They are a nice option for the Swiffer in general. Anything too big will fall off but a washcloth is generally long enough to tuck into the holes that hold cloths.
- When you wash laminate floors like this, your will wring as much water from the washcloth as possible. These are inexpensive laminate floors which means it is paper glued to press board. You don’t want those suckers to have any standing water on them at all. So I swish the cloth well in the water and Dr. Bronner’s and then wring it as much as possible. It isn’t dry but it doesn’t drip at all. This works well for cleaning and 2 years later the floor is holding up nicely.