University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County Home and Community Resources


Your Home and Community
updated August 1, 2002


Cleaning Laminated Surfaces
submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator

Laminated surfaces for countertops in the kitchen and bathroom are very popular because they are durable, stain-resistant, scuff-resistant and easy-to-clean. Even so, many times accidents happen and spills or stains occur.

Some tips for care and cleaning of your laminated surfaces include:

* A quick wipe with a damp cloth will take care of most spills. Flooding a laminated surface or immersing it in water may damage the glue lines and cause the support material to swell and warp.

* To remove grease, spray the surface with a glass cleaner or all-purpose cleaner and wipe with a soft cloth.

* Regardless of the type of stain, try the easiest method first. That is, cleaning the surface with a solution of warm water and hand dishwashing detergent, using a sponge or soft dish cloth. Rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

* If the spot or stain remains - use an all-purpose or multi-purpose cleaner, or tub/tile/sink cleaner. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Rinse and dry.

* If the stain still shows no sign of fading, treat it with a paste made from baking soda and water. Apply the paste with a soft bristle brush and rub gently using a light, circular motion to avoid damaging the surface. Rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

Stubborn spots and stains can be treated with undiluted liquid household bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Follow label directions for proper use. It's a good idea to wear rubber gloves when using bleach. Apply the bleach full strength to the spot and let it stand for no more than one and one-half minutes; then rinse several times, using plenty of warm water. Certain dried stains -- such as coffee, mustard, chocolate and some liquid medicines (including some children's vitamins) -- may require bleaching. If newsprint ink stains the surface, apply bleach and scrub lightly with a soft bristle brush.

Thorough rinsing is an important part of the cleaning process. If a dish left on the surface is wet or if the room's humidity causes condensation to form on the dish, the moisture around the bottom of the dish can reactivate even a small residue of cleaning solution. The result could be a permanent ring mark.

If your laminated surface is worn, some dark, wax-based marks such as crayons and candle wax may stain. If this is the case, clean them with all-purpose cleaner and a soft bristle brush. Clean up nail polish spills with a remover that is the same brand as the polish. The two products will have compatible formulas, which reduces the risk of permanent damage. Follow up with hand dishwashing detergent and rinse with warm water.

Substances such as drain openers, oven cleaners, rust removers and toilet bowl cleaners can permanently damage the surface. Hair dyes, textile dyes, food colorings and mascaras with permanent dye can also be a problem. Take special care when using these items. If spilling occurs, wipe immediately, then rinse the surface several times with clean water. Work quickly and carefully.

Avoid using abrasive tools such as knives, paint scrapers, sand paper or steel wool pads to remove dry stains. Also, avoid strong cleaners or abrasives.

With proper care, laminated surfaces will stay beautiful and last a long time.


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