With the excessive amount of steam applied directly to the flooring surface, it’s easy to assume that a steam mop might damage it. In this article, we’ll discover on which floors it’s safe to use your steam mop and which should be avoided.
Do Steam Mops Ruin Floors? It depends on the type of floor as well as the steam mop’s ability to adjust its steam output. Tiles and carpet flooring can handle the moisture and temperature of steam mops while hardwood and laminate floors are more likely to be ruined. Vinyl floors are sometimes OK but still require caution.
What Floors Can You Use a Steam Mop On?
Here are the types of floors you can use a steam mop on. However, you should click on the links to learn their risks* and recommendations.
- Solid Hardwood – Extreme Caution
- Engineered Hardwood – Extreme Caution
- Laminate Floors – Not Recommended
- Vinyl Floors – Extreme Caution
- Tiles – Perfect
- Carpet – Good
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Hardwood Floors?
It’s not recommended and you could lose your warranty or cause permanent damage, but it might be possible if the floor is properly sealed and you use the Dupray NEAT™ Steam Cleaner which can be set to very delicate steam pressure.
Solid Hardwood Floors (Planks)
Hardwood planks are typically made from trees like Oak, Maple, Hickory, Walnut, Chery, Beech, or Ash which grow slower and therefore denser than others. The practice of using solid wood planks is not as common today and you’ll be more likely to find them in older homes. The planks can be very durable and luxurious but also tend to creak and may even buckle over time.
Engineered hardwood is a veneer of aesthetic wood over a cheaper wood panel. They usually slot together with a groove joint to mimic the look of solid hardwood floors. It’s the most luxurious option available but also most at risk of damage.
Using a Steam Mop on Hardwood Floors
First the bad news… according to the National Wood Flooring Association, “using steam or excessive water may damage a wood floor.” The primary concern with using a steam mop on hardwood floors is that moisture might penetrate the cracks and crevices of the wood, causing it to stain, swell, buckle and even rot.
This is a bit of a blanket statement though. Some steam mop manufacturers agree that you can in fact use a steam mop on hardwood floors, as long as it’s been properly sealed. Here’s even more proof.
How do you know if it’s properly sealed? One way to test the seal is to put a small amount of water on an inconspicuous section of the wood and see if it penetrates the surface. You should leave it on for an hour or so, to be 100% sure. If the moisture is still resting on the surface with no visible signs that the wood has gotten wet, you can safely use a steam mop. If however, you see any discoloration whatsoever, you should assume that the water is getting into the wood and the steam will do the same and damage it.
According to Dupray, you should set the steamer or steam mop to its lowest heat and pressure setting. Lower steam pressure results in “dryer” steam.
Read the full article: Can You Use a Steam Mop on Hardwood Floors?
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Laminate Floors?
You really shouldn’t. Laminate floors consist of a plain wood base layer with a decorative wood pattern printed over it, sealed by a plastic coating.
The word “laminate” points to the protective coating which aims to protect the printed wood grain image from scratches and moisture. Unfortunately, the protective layer only covers the upper layer.
The seams between the planks are usually tight enough to stop liquid spills from entering but steam is much finer and could penetrate the unprotected layers.
The heat and steam can buckle the wood and even damage the glue and cause the laminated layers to separate or peel apart. For this reason, most manufacturers state that any use of steam mops will immediately void the warranty of the flooring.
If you’re certain that you want to go ahead, see our Best Steam Mop for Laminate Floors review.
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Vinyl Floors?
Preferably not, but it is possible… Vinyl flooring comes in planks, tiles and even sheets.
Vinyl Planks are similar to laminate floor panels but made from plastic rather than wood. This increases its resistance to scratches and makes it much more waterproof.
Unfortunately, it might not be waterproof enough to withstand the heat and steam of a regular steam mop. The heat can cause the layers to separate and the coating to melt off. This is one of the main reasons people sometimes find their vinyl floor is sticky after using a steam mop!
Vinyl tiles or sheets are easier to steam but you still have to consider the excessive heat and moisture damage.
There is a solution!
The Dupray NEAT™ Steam Cleaner has adjustable settings that allow very low steam pressure to be applied. Lower steam pressure means less moisture.
This is really effective at cleaning laminate floors and has a much lower risk of damaging the laminate boards.
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Tile Floors?
Absolutely. The only issue is with unsealed grout or tiles like terracotta. Otherwise, it’s ideal! Here’s our Best Steam Mop for Tiles and Grout review.
Steam cleaning tiles and grout is the absolute best way to remove dirt and grime that has built up over time without the need for harsh chemicals. The steam penetrates the oily layer of muck that’s holding the dirt together and it washed away in seconds.
If you want to be sure that your grout and tiles are sealed correctly, place a few drops of water on an inconspicuous area and see if it gets absorbed. Then wipe it down and allow it a few minutes to dry. There should be no real discoloration of the tile or the grout.
In some extreme cases, it might even be worth steaming unsealed grout, if it’s that dirty or damaged. You’re not going to clean it better another way.
Once cleaned and dried, you can reapply new grout for a perfectly clean surface.
Read the full article: Does steam cleaning damage grout or tiles?
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Carpet?
Yes. Steam mops are excellent at cleaning carpets and don’t risk any damage.
Even though a steam cleaner with a vacuum function is the best choice as a carpet cleaner, it’s still very possible to use the steam from a steam mop to loosen and rub away most carpet dirt.
Simply vacuum the carpet beforehand to make sure any dirt which could be “melted” into the carpet is removed. You’ll need to consider which microfiber bonnet or cloth will be most effective. This will be what actually picks up the dirt, rather than just steaming it deeper into the carpet pile.
Some mops even allow you to attach your own cloth or towel to the front of the mop attachment, which helps a lot if you need to switch out dirty ones for new, clean covers.
Dupray describes here, how it’s possible to safely clean all the surfaces mentioned above.
Here’s a great resource on the Types of Flooring and their respective characteristics.
Always consider whether the flooring product’s warranty will be canceled by steam cleaning the floor. If so, rather avoid it altogether.