HELOISE Preserve laminate floors with proper cleaning

Dear Readers: With the rising popularity of laminate flooring, a frequently asked question is how to clean this ultradurable product.
First, of course, check the manufacturer's recommended cleaning method, or go to its Web site to print out directions for specific cleaning instructions -- these might vary by brand, so check first.
We spoke with several laminate-floor manufacturers, and here are a few general hints on how to keep these types of floors clean and lasting longer.
UBe sure to vacuum (make sure the vacuum does not have a beater bar or that you can set the height adjustment on "high") or dust-mop regularly to remove dirt and grit.
UGet into the habit of checking the bottoms of your shoes. Dirt on the soles of shoes can cause scratches -- think of it as sandpaper walking across your floor.
UKeep indoor pets' nails clipped to help prevent scratching.
UWhen moving anything heavy across this flooring, pick it up -- never slide.
UDo not use polishes or waxes, abrasive scouring powder or steel wool on this type of flooring.
UWhen needed, put the manufacturer's recommended cleaner in a spray bottle, then lightly mist a section of the floor at a time and follow with a dry, soft cloth or soft-string mop.
Laminate flooring is dense, durable and beautiful, so with the proper care it should last for many years to come. Heloise
P.S. You are probably asking yourself, "Why didn't she mention vinegar and water?" The reason: Only one manufacturer suggested 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water, and other manufacturers said no. So, it's your call.
Dear Heloise: When I am anticipating an upcoming painting task, I start saving yogurt and cottage-cheese containers -- with their lids (the pint and quart sizes). I pour paint into these convenient-sized containers for trim work with a paintbrush where a roller cannot be used. When taking a break, I just snap on the lid to keep the paint from drying out. At the end of the job, toss them, or, if the containers can be thoroughly washed, they can be recycled. Wendy McIntire, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Dear Heloise: I have several window screens that appear to be about the same size, so I marked each screen along one edge (which fits into the screen track) with the window it fits (such as "master bath"). That way, when I get ready to install them each spring, I save time trying to determine which screen fits which window. Mark the screen edge with a waterproof permanent marker. Marcheta Scott, Bath
King Features Syndicate

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