Nothing cleans dirty, grimy floors faster and better than a high-quality steam mop. The steam penetrates and loosens the dirt with incredible ease, leaving your floor perfectly clean and sanitized. In fact, here’s a full list of floors you can use a steam mop on.
But is it safe to use a steam mop on hardwood floors? Almost every wood floor manufacturer along with the National Wood Flooring Association says NO, but almost every steam mop maker says YES.
So which is it?
We decided to test it ourselves and we found that you definitely can use a steam mop on hardwood floors… but there are two very important considerations!
- The floor has to be extremely well sealed.
- The steam mop must have a super low pressure steam option.
Even then, you will most likely void the manufacturer’s warranty on the floor, so attempt this at your own risk and only if you’ve exhausted all other options.
How to Check if Your Wood Floor is Properly Sealed
We need to ensure that the coating or “seal” protecting your floor is sufficient to stop any moisture from penetrating the wood. If water gets into the seams between the planks or even the tiny cracks in the natural wood grain, you will most likely experience either discoloration, fading, edge-warping, swelling, or even mold. Here’s how to check the seal:
- Drop a small amount of boiling water on an inconspicuous part of your wood floor.
- Observe whether it beads into droplets on the surface of the seal.
- Further aggravate the droplets and try to “rub” them into the wood.
- Continue to make sure no moisture is penetrating the seal.
If you can’t see any of the hot water getting through, you have a pretty good chance that a good steam mop will be safe to use. Bear in mind that there might be parts of the floor where the seal has been scratched or worn away, exposing the raw wood.
Using a Low Pressure Steam Mop
Most steam mops will produce a fixed amount of steam, with the possibility of steam bursts. Unfortunately, this will be much too risky and should definitely be avoided.
The best steam mop for hardwood floors is the Dupray NEAT™ Steam Cleaner which can be set to much lower steam pressure. This results in a very gentle amount of minimal steam being produced. Just enough to do an excellent job at steam cleaning your wood flooring without the extreme risk of permanent damage.
How to Steam Mop Hardwood Floors
Once you’ve established that the floor is really well-sealed and you have a high-quality steam mop to work with, you can start the process of steam cleaning your hardwood floor.
This will work for engineered hardwood floors as well as solid wood, as long as you keep exercising the caution we’re suggesting.
1. Vacuum the floor
By removing any loose dirt first, you’re avoiding any gunk “melting” further onto the floor as the steam mop passes. It also helps avoid any scratches from grit or sand occurring.
2. Use a Wide Mop Attachment
The width of the attachment is important. The wider it is, the more evenly the heat and steam are distributed, resulting in a much safer cleaning experience. A good steam mop will have a broad floor attachment that can sweep a large area at once while still being able to swivel in-and-out of tight corners.
Definitely avoid using a spray nozzle attachment. This will focus too much steam and heat on a single area and create areas of uneven temperature.
3. Cover it with Microfiber Cloth
The microfiber cloth will act as an insulator for the steam, keeping it mostly inside and away from the wood. It acts as a magnet, pulling the dirt and grime off the floor and into the cloth.
The fact that most of the moisture stays inside the cloth is actually a key reason why (if done correctly) it’s safe to use a steam mop on hardwood floors.
4. Steam Clean the Floor
With everything in place, it’s time to start. With your steam mop set to the absolute lowest steam pressure, sweep the floor with smooth even strokes. Do not spend too much time in one area and definitely don’t allow the mop to stand still in one spot.
Although it may require a couple of strokes over a certain area, the removal of stubborn, sticky dirt should be pretty instant. You can add a little bit of pressure but, for the most part, allow the steam and the mop to do the real work.
Even with the safety precautions, it’s advisable to clean a “test area” first and allow enough time to see if there’s any visible damage.
Also, don’t use any kind of soaps or chemicals! The steam IS the cleaning agent.
5. Replace the Microfiber When Needed
As the microfiber cloth becomes saturated with the dirt it collects, you can choose to rise it out or replace it with a clean one. Thankfully, the Dupray NEAT™ has the ability to simply clamp any towel to the floor attachment. So you can keep replacing it with clean swatches of microfiber whenever needed.
Benefits of Steam Cleaning Hardwood Floors
Here are some of the main reasons why you’d want to steam clean your hardwood floors.
It Doesn’t Require Cleaning Chemicals
Usually, you would need some sort of soap or cleaning agent to loosen stubborn grime from your floor. Water alone will not dislodge the gunk, holding it all together.
Unfortunately, using chemicals on your wooden floor can be very dangerous to the floor as well as to your entire family. Think of the size of your floor and how much chemical will be needed. This can be harmful in such large volumes, especially for people with allergies to cleaning chemicals.
Steam, on the other hand, cuts through the dirt and does the job perfectly.
It Cleans Very Effectively
Steam is essentially water at boiling temperature. This has the ability to penetrate the layer of grime that traps dust particles and keeps them stuck to the floor.
Thanks to its effectiveness, cleaning with a steam mop requires far less “scrubbing” and cleaning. Simply sweep along the dirt while the steam does the work, releasing the muck and collecting it in the microfiber bonnet or towel.
There’s also no need for drying up, as the steam is caught in the towel, leaving the floor dry and ready to walk on.
It Kills 99% of all Bacteria
Steam penetrates the cell walls of bacteria and literally kills them by dismantling their structure. It’s the safest way to remove any bacteria from your floor.
It Eliminates Dust Mites 100%
Another creature that doesn’t survive steam is dut mites. Any allergies will be quickly remedied with the use of a steam cleaner.