A steam mop damaged my floors – don’t let that happen to you

We all want to make our household chores quick and less tedious. As a Homes writer, I’ve probably tried every cleaning gadget, DIY product, or “miracle” hack imaginable to see if they can really cut down the time it takes to clean every room in your home.

Having laminate flooring throughout my house meant I cleaned it often to keep it dust and stain free. The steam mop (in theory) offered the convenience and power that my floor care routine lacked. First, using one of these meant that I didn’t have to always fill a bucket with hot, soapy water, or continually wring out a damp mop. The fact that it heats up the water tank in seconds would make it quick to use, and storage would also be a breeze. No more emptying dirty water or worrying about harsh chemicals on my floor (you don’t have to use any).

And it wasn’t just the time savings that appealed to me. Steam cleaning also has advantages. Steam cleaning is known to be a natural and effective way to eliminate household bacteria. Once the water reaches 175 degrees F, it effectively sanitizes surfaces, and most steam mops can reach up to 250 degrees F. far superior to mop and bucket. I was convinced it would be a worthwhile investment. But, I soon discovered that when it comes to laminate floors, a steam mop isn’t always the best choice.

After a year of use I noticed that some areas of the floor had lifted, warped or lost its original grain color

The steamer I purchased said it was suitable for carpets and various floor types including hardwood, laminate and tile. At first I liked the convenience and ease of use of the supplied steam mop. He was able to clean my dining room floor well, leaving it spotless and sanitized in no time.

But after a year of use, I noticed that some areas of the floor had lifted, warped, or lost its original grain color. Despite reducing the steam temperature to the lowest setting, it didn’t make a difference. Much to my dismay, the moisture from the steam had done irreparable damage to my floor over time. So much so that we had to replace the entire floor with luxury vinyl tiles, which are much more resistant to extreme temperatures.

Steam mop on laminate floor

Steam mop on laminate floor (Image credit: Shutterstock)

While some manufacturers claim that sealed floors will not be damaged if the steam cleaner in question is used at low or medium pressure, I would say not advise using one on wooden or laminate flooring. Laminate is usually made from compressed fibre/particleboard which may not handle steam well.

Likewise, a hardwood floor may have small cracks that you cannot see, which will only get worse if steam is forced into them. If you are not careful, steam cleaning can cause swelling, warping and seam separation on these surfaces. Depending on the model you buy, a steam mop is best suited for sealed surfaces such as vinyl or linoleum flooring, or ceramic, marble, or porcelain tile.

In the meantime, I’m sticking to the good old days, mop and bucket. It may take longer than a steam mop, but at least it won’t cost me a new floor. So before you buy a steam mop, do your research, check the manufacturer’s advice to see if it’s suitable, and don’t let that happen to you!

If you want more tips on cleaning floors, check out how to clean a wooden floor without damaging it or you may want one of best vacuum cleaners.

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