Cleaning wood and laminate floors

Whether in the living room or bedroom, in the dining room or hallway: Wooden floors made of parquet or laminate create a homely atmosphere and, when compared to textile floors, are very easy to clean. What should you pay attention to during cleaning and how can you get rid of unsightly marks without damaging your expensive floors? Read on for an overview of our top tips for a beautiful wooden floor.

Kärcher tips: Cleaning parquet and laminate

Wood, laminate and similar: what should you pay attention to when cleaning these?

When it comes to wooden floors, a distinction is made between hardwood and laminate. Hardwood floors are made solely of wood, while laminate, in contrast, is made up of a mixture of materials with fiberboard. These covering types look quite similar, but have very specific properties:

Parquet

Hardwood

Hardwood is available in different variations, for instance strip parquet, mosaic parquet or herringbone parquet. How the surface is treated is crucial: they are either waxed, oiled or varnished.

Waxed parquet is treated with wax, whereby the wood is given a matt to high-gloss finish. Oiled parquet is treated with oil, so that wide joints are better protected against moisture. Varnished parquet reduces the penetration of moisture and dirt, though this does not prevent water from getting into the joints and deep scratches. It is therefore sensitive to moisture.

It is important to ensure that as little moisture as possible remains on wood floors after cleaning. This is known as damp cleaning. Furthermore, wooden floors may swell or shrink, depending on the humidity.

Laminate

Laminate

Laminate is usually laid with a wood effect, but is also available with a tile or stone effect. It consists of fiberboard as a base layer, a decorative layer and a clear melamine resin layer on top, referred to as the overlay.

The surface of laminate flooring is scratch-resistant and easy to clean. However, the edges can be sensitive to moisture – especially if the laminate has been laid incorrectly. You should therefore only damp clean this type of floor covering, as is also the case with hardwood, with minimum moisture.

Cleaning parquet and laminate with the Kärcher vacuum cleaner

Dry cleaning with a vacuum cleaner

Before wet cleaning, dust and loose items, such as pet hair, should be removed from hardwood and laminate using a vacuum cleaner, a broom or a feather duster. Otherwise, the cleaning water is mixed with the dirt, which causes streaks or even fine scratches on the floor when you wipe it.

When vacuuming wooden floors, it is important to use the right nozzle. Many vacuum cleaners have a special hard floor nozzle or an additional parquet nozzle. These are usually equipped with a small brush crown made from natural hair, which protects delicate wooden floors against scratches.

You can then start the wet cleaning – whether the traditional way with the mop, a microfibre cloth or using a hard floor cleaner.

When working with a mop or microfiber cloth, it is important to wring it out thoroughly before moping the floor, so that only a little moisture is left on the wooden floor that can dry up within a few minutes. When choosing a material, it is preferable to use microfiber – these fibers have a reinforced mechanical action and bind the dirt, even when no detergent is used. With oiled or waxed wood, a chamois leather or cloths made of viscose or cotton can be used in order to protect the mopped surfaces.

Mopping with hard floor cleaners

Since hardwood and laminate are sensitive to moisture, it is important to use as little water as possible when cleaning them. Otherwise, the floor covering may swell and be permanently damaged.

Special floor cleaners are suitable for gentle, damp cleaning. They leave behind minimal residual moisture, which dries fully in just a few minutes. And the annoying task of rinsing and wringing the mop is a thing of the past.

Before mopping with a hard floor cleaner, you should remove dust and coarse dirt from the wooden floors (see above). For models that also have a suction function, there is no need to pre-clean the floors with the vacuum cleaner.

You can then start the wet cleaning. The best way to clean is to add a detergent for wooden floors to the fresh water. While mopping, the floor cleaner should be slowly moved back and forth in overlapping strokes. This ensures that the floor is cleaned evenly and that there are no streaks.

The wooden surface usually dries within two minutes. If, after this time, you can still see wet areas, we recommend drying those areas manually with a soft cloth.

Cleaning parquet and laminate with a floor cleaner

Tips for working with hard floor cleaners

  • It is best to work backwards towards the door. This prevents you from stepping on areas that have already been cleaned before they have had a chance to dry.
  • If there are residues of old detergent, this may affect the result. When using the floor cleaner for the first time, it may be necessary to treat the floor more intensively. You should therefore mop the floor without any detergent first so that any existing residues can be loosened completely.
  • When changing to other surfaces, for example from laminate or wood to tiles, you should first thoroughly rinse the rollers or even replace them with a second pair of rollers.
  • Do not spend too long cleaning one area so that the floor does not get too wet. 
  • In the case of oiled or waxed wooden floors, you should also avoid spending too long on one area as doing so could remove the oil or wax from the wood.
  • Delicate floors, such as untreated cork floors, should first be tested for water resistance in an inconspicuous area.

Cleaning hardwood and laminate floors with a steam cleaner

Hardwood and laminate floors can also be cleaned with a steam cleaner.

Use the floor nozzle with microfiber cleaning cloth for this and quickly move back and forth with short blasts of steam. In doing so, it is important to only use as much steam as is required to loosen the dirt.

Furthermore, the nozzle should not be held over one area for too long so that no puddles are left on the wooden floor. If the steam flow can be regulated on the device, you should select the lowest steam setting.

In general, wooden floors should only be cleaned with steam if they have been laid correctly and no moisture can penetrate the joints and unprotected edges. Otherwise there is a risk that the floor will swell.

Cleaning parquet and laminate with a steam cleaner

It all comes down to the cleaning solution

To ensure that wooden floors are not just clean, but also well maintained, a cleaning solution that contains a maintenance component in addition to the cleaning component should be used. The right equipment for a specific wooden floor depends on how the surface of the wooden floor has been treated:

Kärcher detergents for wooden floors

Sealed/varnished wooden floors: A cleaner with moisture protection is ideal for thorough and gentle cleaning, refreshing and care of sealed/varnished wood floors (parquet, cork and laminate). It has an impregnating effect, whereby the floor covering absorbs less moisture. The wood is therefore not only protected against swelling, but also against new dirt.

Oiled/waxed wooden floors: A cleaner with a special maintenance component that leaves behind a streak-free, semi-matt gloss and also protects the floor against moisture, is perfect for the cleaning and care of oiled or waxed wooden floors. However, in this case, you should also observe the dosing instructions since, with frequent use, a sticky coating forms on the wood, which binds dust. You should not use alkaline detergents, such as multi-purpose cleaners, for oiled or waxed wooden floors, since they remove too much care agent from the wood.

If there are still streaks on the floor after you wipe it, you may have used too much detergent. Areas that are used less often turn grey first because an excessively thick protective coating binds with the dust here. These areas should be mopped first using only water. Then use the cleaning solution to clean areas that are used more frequently.

Tip: If you are unsure which cleaning solution is suitable for your floor, we recommend testing it first in an inconspicuous area. Please always consult the cleaning and care instructions from the manufacturer of your floor covering before beginning any kind of wet or dry cleaning.

Kärcher tip: Liquid is removed from laminate

SOS: Removing stains from wood and laminate floors

Stains on wooden floors can be divided into two categories: Stains on the surface and stains that have already permeated the wood.

As soon as liquids such as red wine or juice have been spilled on the floor covering, they should be promptly removed using an absorbent cloth. Surface stains, such as food residue or scoring from shoe soles can usually be removed very easily using a slightly damp microfiber cloth.

For stubborn stains, the affected area can be treated with a universal cleaner. Alternatively, in addition to universal cleaners, household remedies can be used, such as water with dish liquid, a neutral soap, a little fabric softener, a dirt eraser or even some methylated spirits to remove dyes. Dirty areas should always be cleaned in the direction of the wood structure and wiped away afterwards with only water.

Stains that have permeated the wood are difficult to remove because the wax, oil or varnish often has to be removed first in order to reach the stain. In this case, often the only remedy is to have the floor cleaned by a specialist.

Suitable products for hardwood and laminate floor

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