Formica is a brand of laminate often used on home counter tops. It is a plastic-based laminate that is commonly preferred as a counter top material because it is fairly scratch- and burn-resistant and relatively easy to clean using regular household materials and processes.
Even though Formica is a scratch-resistant material, it is not completely impervious to abrasions. Just as you would use a cutting board when operating a knife on Formica, you should take the same care with how you clean it. Never use an extremely abrasive pad or cloth when wiping down the counter top, as this can eventually cause irreparable and unsightly scratch marks in the finish. Instead use a damp soft cloth when cleaning the Formica. The choice of cleaner is far more open-ended. Most people prefer a common chemical-based household cleaner that can be purchased at any grocery store in a variety of brands and styles. Most widely available all-purpose cleaners will not contain chemicals that can harm the Formica, but take caution to be sure. Don’t use any cleaners on the counter top that contain acid or alkaline. Cleaners containing these chemicals will harm the finish of the Formica and should be avoided. Normally you’ll find those chemicals in more powerful cleaners such as metal or oven cleaners. If you prefer to avoid cleaners as a whole you can also successfully clean Formica with a mild liquid detergent. Common dish detergent will work well and can be applied with a soft-bristled cleaning brush to help form a lather and work the cleaning solution into the counter top. Then use a damp towel to wash away the soap and another towel to dry.
Formica is especially nice for counter tops because it has a reflective shine to the finish that gives it an elegant look. Over time this shine can fade or become dirty and damaged, much like that of a car’s paint job. But like a car, the Formica can have its shine restored with a little wax. Regular car paste wax or silicon wax can be applied to the counter top and buffed to both restore the shine to the finish and help give it a protective coat. You can purchase the wax at any auto shop and then apply it the same way you would to a car, using short circular motions with a towel to work it into the finish. Then let it sit for a short time to dry and use a second clean towel to buff the excess away and restore the shiny look the Formica had when new.