Steam mops are incredibly effective at cleaning tiles and stubborn dirt on grout but it’s only natural to be concerned about possible damage to the grouting or the tiles themselves.
Does steam cleaning tiles damage grout? No, steam cleaning doesn’t damage tiles or grout that has been properly sealed. If not fully sealed, the grout may crumble slightly from the steam and moisture thus needing to be resealed, although this should be done anyway.
Important: There are rare exceptions like Terracotta and stone tiles which need special care before you can use steam on them.
Otherwise, a good steam mop will get the job done without any damage. Here’s a list of the Best Steam Mops for Tiles and Grout.
How It Works
The hot steam lifts and removes dirt, grease, mildew, hard water build-up, and soapy deposits impressively fast while also replacing the need for chemical detergents that might damage your tiles.
But what if the grout isn’t sealed properly?
Actually, there’s no serious damage when using steam on partially exposed grout either (if it’s already quite worn out and dirty already).
A thin layer of the old grout may be washed away slightly, but that may be your only hope to remove stubborn grime that’s built up over the years.
When you’re done steam-cleaning the tiles and grout, allow enough time to let it dry out completely, then seal it properly for future clean-ups.
(If this isn’t working, consider removing the old grout and starting over.)
Thankfully re-grouting and sealing your tiles and grout is one of the simplest DIY jobs you can do all by yourself!
How to Know if Your Tiles and Grout Have Been Sealed?
A simple test to check if your grout needs sealing is to drop a few drops of water onto it.
If the water droplets pool on the surface, and can even glide across the surface if you blow on it, it’s been very well sealed.
If the water droplets absorb into the grouting, they need to be re-sealed.
Can You Use a Steam Mop on New or Unsealed Grout?
Cleaning newly laid and unsealed grout is not advisable. As grout is porous, it will absorb the water from the steam cleaner. This can cause watermarks and small amounts of trapped moisture could attract mildew. First seal the grout before cleaning your surface with the steamer.
Can You Steam Clean Unsealed Tiles?
No, unsealed tiles like terracotta or stone are an exception and need special care. Using a steam mop on unglazed or unsealed tiles is definitely not recommend.
The moisture released by the steam mop is absorbed into unsealed tiles and can cause water stains. Moisture trapped in porous tiles can also create mold or mildew if it doesn’t dry fast enough.
Sealing terracotta or stone flooring is advisable as they become infinity easier to maintain and clean.
The recommended way to clean porous tiles regularly is with a lightly damp sponge, use only water. When the surface has been wiped down, uses a dry cloth to remove any excess moisture.
For deep cleaning, a solution of 4 cups water, a 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 squirt of dish soap (dye-free) can be used. After cleaning with the solution, wipe down with a lightly damp sponge and then again with a dry cloth.
Tiles should be glazed or sealed if you want to enjoy the convenience of regularly steam cleaning your floors.
Why Use a Steam Mop Instead of a Traditional Mop?
Steam mops are designed to blast grime off tiled surfaces and at the same time, effectively clean the grout in the space between the tiles.
Traditional mops tend to clean the tile surface, but they only brush over the grouting gaps where grime builds. This not only causes the grout to discolor after repeated “cleaning”, but it creates a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
This problem worsens over time and requires hard work to remove.
What are the Benefits of Steam Cleaning Tiles and Grout?
Steam cleaning is one of the fastest ways to deep clean tiles and grout. Cooking grease and bathroom mold are easily eliminated when exposed to the hot steam generated by the machine.
Hot steam vapor is a natural sanitizer, effectively killing 99.9% of germs and bacteria.
Multi-purpose steam machines are becoming increasingly popular and are not designed only for floor and wall tiles. They can be used to clean kitchen appliances as well as bathroom surfaces and fixtures. Even hard-water buildup doesn’t stand up to steam power.
Allergy sufferers will also benefit greatly. Some steam machines can even be used on upholstery. This will eliminate mold and dust mites in mattresses, carpets, and curtains.
Pet owners will love the odor removing strength of steam. Pet beds can be freshened up by simply applying the steam to the animal’s bedding.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What is Grout Exactly?
Grout is a mixture of water, cement, and sand. Its purpose is to fill the gaps between your tiles and create a finished look on newly tiled walls and floors.
Does Grout Have to be Sealed?
Not all types of grout need to be sealed. There are two main types of grout, Cement Grout and Epoxy Grout. Epoxy grout does not need to be sealed as it is water-resistant.
Cement grout has to be sealed to make it waterproof. Because grout is porous, it absorbs water, stains and bacteria. Unsealed grouting in kitchens will stain and discolor. In damp environments like bathrooms, it will also attract mold and mildew.
Unsealed grout is not only unhygienic, but it gets increasingly worse over time as layers of stains and dirt make it look old and unattractive.
With repeated washing, it can even erode, creating an uneven surface that can also crack.
What is Epoxy Grout?
Epoxy grout is made of epoxy resins (like a plastic adhesive) and a filler powder. It is best suited for glass and non-porous tiles.
Epoxy grout is water resistant, therefore does not need to be sealed. It is a durable product that is best suited for showers because it resists mildew and mold growth, and it doesn’t stain easily.
Regular cement grout is not waterproof, so unlike epoxy grout, it absorbs water and stains easily.
How Do You Seal Cement Grout?
Here’s a quick video, or read the steps below.
- If you’re working with a new tiled surface, allow the grout to dry thoroughly for 2 to 3 days before applying the grout sealant.
- For old grout that has not been sealed before or needs resealing, ensure it is clean before applying the sealant. Clean the grouting thoroughly with a grout tool attachment on a steam mop to remove any stains and dirt.
- Apply the grout sealer to the grout lines. This is an easy, yet time-consuming process, depending on the area you need to seal. Avoiding applying the sealant to the tiles as this can dull the shine of the tiles and is difficult to remove when dry.
- The best way to apply sealant is with a thin brush or toothbrush. Avoid spray applicators as they can be a bit messy. Allow the sealant liquid to absorb into the grout. Give it time to dry after applying the first layer.
- Apply a second coat if the grout is still absorbing liquid. Excess product can be wiped away.
To sum it up, it’s a misconception that steam cleaning is the cause of damaged grout or tiles. Steam cleaning is the fastest way to clean your floors and the most effective way to create a hygienic, germ-free environment.
Once you use a steam cleaner to clean your home, it will be near impossible to imagine cleaning any other way.