Steam cleaners have become very popular. Are steam cleaners safe to use on a wood floor? What about rugs on your wood floors? When can you use a steam mop to clean your wood floors? Let’s look at each of these questions in depth.
Using steam cleaners on wooden flooring?
In general, steam is the enemy of wood floors. You don’t want wood floors to be exposed to water for an extended period of time or exposed to temperatures over 95?F. And steam is both well above this temperature threshold and injects water vapor in and around the area you are cleaning.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use some steam cleaners to clean your wood floor. For example, canister style steam cleaners with a floor attachment on which you can put a Swifter-type head can be used to clean the floor. But cleaning with these cloths is like cleaning with a dry cleaning cloth on the cleaner head.
Steam cleaners that let you turn off the steam entirely and use it only as a vacuum cleaner on the wood flooring can be used on all types of wood floors as long as the head is totally dry. If the machine still issues wisps of steam as you vacuum up the crumbs, don’t use it on your wood floors.
Don’t use the steam cleaner with the steam engaged on most types of wood floors. Steam breaks down the adhesive in laminate flooring. Hardwood floors are more likely to suffer swelling and warping over time. One pass won’t destroy the floor, but repeated passes will. Do not use a steam cleaner on a bamboo floor.
One possible time you can use a steam cleaner with steam generation on a hardwood floor is if it has been sealed or finished to protect the floor from moisture. However, you need to check with the manufacturer before assuming the seal to make the occasional spilled water easy to clean up makes it safe to use a steam cleaner on the wooden flooring.
Can you use a steam mop on wood flooring?
For most types of wood floors, using a steam mop on it voids the warranty. And with steam mops, the moisture that damages the wood floors is sprayed directly onto it in a form readily absorbed by the wood.
The caveat to this rule is that thick wood floors can be cleaned with a steam mop as long as you don’t spray them with the steam and only use the mop head. In that case, you’re using the steam mop as a mop, and it can be used to clean the floor as long as water isn’t left on the surface to seep into the wood. But even this method is a bad idea if your floor is comprised of wood laminate.
When you’re mopping the floor with a steam mop, you can save the wood flooring by lifting the mop head at least several inches off the floor before spraying the steam to re-moisten the mop head. You can use a steam mop kept only a little damp on bamboo floors as well. And don’t use non-alkaline cleaners on bamboo floors.
But in all of these cases, the mop should only be a little damp.
What types of floors can be used with steam cleaners?
Vinyl flooring isn’t intended to be exposed to the high temperatures generated by steam mops. Ceramic floors aren’t affected by steam mops, as long as the grout can handle the steam. Those with plastic in the grout are more likely to crack on repeated exposure to steam cleaners. Steam cleaners with vacuum heads are an excellent choice for carpeted floors and concrete floors. If you have throw carpets on your wood floors, it is safer to move the carpets to a safe surface and then clean them with the steam cleaner than try to clean them in place and put the wood floors at risk.