How to Efficiently Clean Your Floors with a Steam Mop

Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a professional housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated October 27, 2023

Revive your floors with the dream steam

How to Efficiently Clean Your Floors with a Steam Mop

Coming home to clean laminate floors after a long day is a great feeling. But it’s hard to know how best to look after certain types of flooring.

Should you use a classic floor mop, or is it safe to use a steam mop? Well, steam cleaners are a great cleaning tool for looking after sealed floors.

Even if you’ve never used one before, we’ll talk you through all the steps you need to get to grips with steam mops. So sit back, relax, and learn how to use a steam mop for easier cleaning.

How to Clean Your Floors with a Steam Mop

How Do Steam Mops Work?

Before you learn how to use a steam mop, let’s run through a few basics on how they work.

Steam mops boil water in a sealed unit to create the steam you need for cleaning. Then, there’s a pressured steam gun to apply the steam through the mop pad.

How long this takes and how much pressure there is varies with different models.

The damp mop pad removes dirt from the ground without using any harsh chemicals or leaving a residue. The heat from the steam is enough to kill around 99% of bacteria and dust mites while sanitizing your floors at the same time.

The hot steam also removes stains and leaves floors looking shiny. So it’s a super useful bit of kit!

How Often Should You Clean Your Floors With a Steam Mop?

This depends on how busy your home is, so it’s best to clean them as needed. As a general rule, you should wet clean your floors with a steam floor mop once a week.

But busier homes with pets and children will need steam cleaning more often than homes with less foot traffic. Less-used rooms can get away with a monthly clean.

If you’re using your steam mop in addition to another wet cleaning process, once a month should be enough.

Can You Use a Steam Cleaner on All Types of Floors?

No, you can’t. Some surfaces aren’t suited to steam mopping, despite what steam mop manufacturers say.

Take Note

Many floor associations and manufacturers advise that only tile floors are safe with steam mops. Laminate flooring, wood floors, and vinyl are all at risk of damage if you steam mop them.

But why?

The steam penetrates into the layers of these surface types, which can damage the core. It can cause warping and cracks, which doesn’t look good!

You need to avoid excess moisture to prevent any damage to the likes of, hardwood, vinyl, or laminate floors. It’s hard to do this when steam mopping, as the pressure from the mop forces the moisture down through the joints.

Some steam mops claim to dry as they go, so these are a safer option. But if you really want to use steam cleaners on your floor, check the manufacturer’s guidance to ensure it won’t void your warranty.

Tips Before You Start

To get clean floors in a flash, do a bit of prep first. These tips will make steaming your floors a breeze:

  • Most importantly, check it’s safe to use a steam mop on your wood floor first
  • Run the vacuum round or use a dry mop/broom to get rid of any loose dirt and debris on the floor
  • You only need to use water with your steam mop. Don’t add floor cleaner or any other harsh chemicals. Check the instructions to see if you can add fragrance, like the scented demineralized waters you get for Bissell steam mops.
  • Avoid using vinegar with your steam mop. It can damage the grout if you have a porcelain tile floor.
  • If your floor is flooded or super thick with grime, run round with a traditional mop and bucket first.
  • Don’t fill the water tank to the brim on your steam mop. It works best when the tank has a bit of wiggle room.
  • Your steam mop will heat up quicker if you fill it with warm water rather than cold tap water!
  • Attach a clean microfiber mop cloth or mop head onto the base. Use this to wipe away any excess dirt and then allow the surface to dry.

How to Clean Your Floors With a Steam Mop: Step-by-Step

First of all, gather everything you need. We suggest the following items:

Now follow these steps on how to use a steam mop on any floor.

1. Vacuum or Sweep Your Floor

Vacuuming floors

Don’t underestimate the importance of this step! You need to get rid of dirt and debris from the surface before doing any steam mop work.

A vacuum is the best to use for this, as it pulls in fine dirt from the floor and any cracks. So there’s less chance of it dirtying your mop pads.

If you don’t have a vacuum, you can sweep or dust mop instead. Or use a dry steam mop.

Once you’ve done this step, your floor is prepped and ready for steam cleaning.

2. Attach the Mop Pad, Fill the Water Tank, and Power It Up

Different steam mop models come with different mop pads, but there’s often a normal one and a scrubby pad.

For everyday use, stick with the standard pad. The scrubby one is better for removing stubborn dirt, or if there’s heavy soiling.

How to attach the pad to the mop head is different for each model, so check the instructions that came with your steam mop. As a general rule, you need to attach the pad to the bottom of the steam mop or slide it into a pocket.

Once you’ve done this, fill the tank with water and plug it in. Turn it on and wait for as long as the manufacturer’s guidance states.

If you’re using a brand new steam mop, it will take a little longer to heat up. When it’s up to temperature, you’re ready to begin!

3. Test Your Floors

Test Steam Mop on a part of your floor

If this is your first time using a steam mop, it’s a good idea to test a small section of your floor first. You need to make sure a steam mop isn’t going to cause any damage.

As mentioned earlier, always check with your flooring manufacturer that it’s safe to use a steam mop. If there’s any doubt, then it’s best to not use one at all, as you don’t want it to void your warranty.

If it’s all ok, crack on with testing a small section of your laminate floors, wood surface, or whatever else you’re cleaning.

Make sure the damp steam mop pads aren’t ever left on the floor, though. You want as little moisture coming into contact with the floor as possible.

4. Start Steam Cleaning Your Floors

Cleaning a floor with a steam mop

If your steam mop model requires it, select the steam clean setting you want to use. Then move your steam mop in a back and forth motion in straight lines over the floor.

To remove stains and ensure the floor is fully sanitized, it’s best to go over the area at least three times. Use continuous steam the whole time you’re cleaning to get rid of all the grime.

Keep an eye on the mop cloth, as you need to change it when it’s dirty. On some models, you can flip the pad over and use the other side for a quick swap.

But for some steam mops, you’ll have to remove the pad altogether and replace it with a clean one. Again, make sure you’re using the right type of mop pad for the steam cleaning you’re doing.

If your steam mop stops giving out any steam, check to see if the water tank is empty. You can refill it at any point, but make sure you unplug your steam cleaner first.

5. Maintain After Use and Store

Dirt mop pad

When your wood floors are looking clean and shiny, unplug the steam mop and pop it in the upright position. You might want to stand it on something, so the damp head isn’t making contact with the floor.

You need to wait a few minutes for the steam cleaner to cool before you can remove the microfiber cloth. When the unit has cooled down, take the pad off as per the instructions.

You can wash your mop pads in a washing machine and reuse them. It’s best to wash them on their own, so they don’t pick up bits of lint from other fabrics.

Stick to liquid detergent rather than powder detergent and don’t use any fabric softeners or bleach. Otherwise, you could damage the pads in the wash.

To dry them, put them on the line or use a low setting on your dryer.

Next, you need to empty the water tank. To do this, take the cap off and empty the water into the sink before replacing the cap.

Finally, decide where you’re going to store your steam mop. Steam mops are best stored in a dry, protected area.

You can hang some steam cleaners up, so they take up less floor space. Just remove the mop head first and then pop it on the hook.

Now your steam mop is prepped and ready to go for the next time you want to steam clean your wood floors.

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