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Cleaning & Maintenance of Laminate Countertops E-mail
Laminate countertops are cheaper than stone, and for their price, are relatively durable. Damage to laminate countertops is usually caused by misuse or inadequate maintenance. Here is a quick list of what to do, and what not to do, when cleaning a laminate countertop.

Basic cleaning tips

Usually, cleaning a laminate countertop is as simple as wiping it down with a wet cloth or rag, spraying it with a little disinfectant or household cleanser, and wiping it off with a dry cloth.

Both rags should be made of a nonabrasive material to keep from scratching your laminate countertop. Scratches can ruin the countertop's finish and allow moisture to penetrate, opening it to mold and mildew growth, bacteria, and discoloration.

Cleansers should be free of harsh chemicals such as alkalines or acids. Both have an unstable pH, which can wear off a fiberglass laminate. Stronger varieties can even melt it away completely. When selecting cleaning chemicals for your laminate countertop, choose one with a pH of 7, or something close. This is the basic pH of pure water, and is completely neutral.

Some owners like to rinse their countertops. While this causes no direct damage, it is best to keep the moisture at a minimum. Make sure the water does not get into the seams, which is where bacteria tend to grow and where damage usually starts. Moisture can also seep into the backsplash, causing it to rot. Use a spray rather than a wet cloth, so you can easily control the amount and direction of the water.

Cleaning tips for special surface finishes

Laminate countertops come in a wide variety of finishes and coating designs, each with specific needs and maintenance requirements. Laminate countertops with sculpted or irregular surfaces should be cleaned with a brush to remove bits of dirt and small particles from the depressed or elongated areas. Laminate countertops finished with extra gloss require a regular wipe with a mild glass cleaner to keep their finish intact.

What not to do

Never use your laminate countertop as a work table or cutting board. While laminate is water and shock resistant, it is not scratchproof. Use a separate chopping board, and avoid pounding or hammering too hard on a laminate surface.

Never place hot objects, such as hot pans, sizzling dishes, hair driers, and curling irons, directly on your laminate countertop. Place hot pans and dishes on trivets or insulated heating pads to protect your countertop's finish. Hot hair driers and curling irons also should be kept away from laminate countertops in bathrooms. Get a rack or holder to hang on your wall instead.

Never use abrasive cleaning tools, such as pumice stone or steel wool, to scrub off stains on your laminate countertop. These will scrape off your countertop's finish and leave ugly marks. Also, avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals to clean your countertop. Hydrochloric acid (commonly used to clean bathroom and swimming pool tiles) can melt the countertop very quickly.

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