Uh, Oh! Is Your Steam Mop Doing More Harm Than Good?
Did you know, according to the HAAN Corporation, “steam cleaning kills 99.9 percent of bacteria, germs, and dust mites” including E. coli, Staph bacteria, Salmonella, and other micro-organisms, surface molds, bacteria, and viruses?
Indeed, steam-mopping is one of the simplest ways to make your floors not only look dazzling but also serve as safe spaces disinfected of bacteria.
The wrong steam mop, however, can actually damage your floor.
Too often, stores and salespeople sell steam mops and advertise them as perfect for all floors, but that’s hardly the case.
Each type of floor requires different attention and treatment, and I’m here to help you decide whether or not your floor is steam mop-friendly or not.
Let’s get started.
Long answer: engineered hardwoods’ surfaces are durable, but are put together with adhesives.
If moisture gets into those adhesives, it can affect their quality and bond and therefore damage the floors, which is something we definitely want to avoid.
Consumer Reports explains that the best way to clean engineered hardwood floors is “with a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner.”
If your floor is sealed, steam mops can be your best friend, leaving your floors with a streak-free finish we all see in steam mop commercials.
But if your floor is unsealed, be cautious, as too much moisture can penetrate the vulnerable wood and damage the foundation!
In my years in the business, I’ve seen too many beautiful floors get water damage from excess moisture and it’s really difficult to fix— so, it’s best to either dust mop the floor or vacuum to avoid any risk.
Read also our article about How To Clean Your Hardwood Floors.
Staying away from steam mopping wooden floors is a good idea.
Steve Stocki, the manager of marketing and merchandising at Lumber Liquidators, says, “Drastic temperature changes and moisture may warp the wood.”
Moisture can get into the joins between your floorboards and hurt your flooring.
Laminated floors are made of compressed fiber or particleboard layers, and they can easily become damaged by getting swollen or warped due to the heat of a steam mop.
While some steam mops can market themselves as safe for painted floors, my advice is to avoid it.
I’ve had clients in the past who used steam mops on their painted floors and found that the paint began to chip… and I have an inkling why.
The heat that steam mops give off can cause the paint to bubble and peel, leaving your floor damaged.
These floors are the last type of floor you’d want to use steam mops on, as using steam and water can mess with their mold and structure and even loosen the tiles themselves.
Often, inexpensive/quick remodeled floors use this type of adhesive, so heed caution if your floor is in that category.
A rare steam mopping day won’t hurt these tiles, but regular use can damage the tiles.
Although ceramic and porcelain tiles are nonporous, steam and water can mix with the chemicals within the tiles’ grout and change its composition.
These tiles are somewhat of a different story.
Steam mopping marble tiles— keeping moisture low and using smaller steam mops instead of high heat steam mops or commercial-strength floor cleaners— is one the most effective ways to clean marble,
According to Architectural Digest, “marble is more porous than other common countertop materials like engineered stone”, causing the tiles to easily stain or etch.
Using a floor sanitizing tool like a steam mop is truly a great way to beat those pesky stains.
Steam mops and concrete are like magic together.
These porous-surface floors help the steam mop extract any grime or dirt with absolute ease, and the steam mops leave them looking clean and shiny— as if never used.
But, to be on the safe side, check with the product manufacturer of the particular steam mop to be extra sure!
Grout tiles get the green light.
With grout tiles, the best way to approach steam mopping is directing the steam directly at the lines between the tiles so any loose dirt or grime can easily be collected.
Some More Advice
Be sure to not use any cleaners that hold harmful chemicals that can hurt the mop, reducing its transfer of heat and putting a stop to the steam.
Reading up on your mop’s manual is your best bet there.
Read Next: The 8 Best Mops For Hardwood Floors of 2021
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