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How to Use a Hardwood Floor Steam Cleaner Safely and Efficiently

Steam cleaning is one of the most efficient methods for naturally sanitizing your floors. By using steam from heated water for cleaning, you can potentially kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs.

Knowing this, you may be interested in using a steam cleaner for your own home. So you might ask: Can steam cleaners be used on hardwood?

As a homeowner, it’s important to have an understanding of the cleaning methods you’re using, especially if you want to properly maintain your home for years to come.

You may be hesitant to use a steam cleaner on your hardwood. Different wood flooring associations like the World Floor Covering Association and National Wood Floor Association have cautioned against using a hardwood floors steam cleaner.

Why? The reason is simple. Wood is a natural material that can absorb, warp, moisture plump, mold, and twist when exposed to water. Natural cracks and crevices in the wood can also allow the steam vapor to penetrate through and cause more trouble.

These professional associations are right to be wary of water damage tarnishing the original shape and appearance of hardwood.

Despite this, there are various steam mops available on the market that can be used safely on hardwood flooring. If you’re inclined towards using the steam cleaning method to keep your house clean and safe, this guide has you covered!

It’s important to have correct information on your hardwood steam cleaner to avoid damage to your hardwood floor. This informative guide will discuss the basics of steam cleaning, user tips, and the process of using a hardwood floors steam cleaner efficiently and safely.

Let’s get started!

How Does Steam Cleaning Work?

hardwood floors steam cleaner

The way steam cleaning works is pretty straightforward. The water in the cleaner is heated to a high temperature until it gets converted to steam. This steam helps in naturally cleaning and sanitizing a surface.

Unlike conventional mops, a steam cleaner is strong enough to absorb stubborn dirt, and its heat tends to kill the bacteria and dust mites scattered on the floor surface. Additionally, as steam cleaners only use water, it’s considered to be the best alternative to using chemical-based cleaners.

However, if you’re planning to use the cleaner on a hardwood floor, extra care should be taken. Be sure that the process followed is in accordance with both your wood flooring as well as the safety and protection guidelines of the steamer manufacturer.

The easiest way to see if your floor is fit for steam cleaning is to check its seal. If your flooring has poor laminates or a worn-out seal, steam cleaning is not advisable. It’s best to conduct a simple test to ensure how intact your flooring is sealed.

Do this by dripping a small quantity of water on the surface. Now, observe. If you see water beading up instantly, it means your hardwood floor seal is intact and water will not penetrate. But, if water gets absorbed into the wood, it means that your finish is damaged and your flooring is not properly sealed.

It’s best not to consider steam cleaning if the latter is the case. If the flooring is intact and properly sealed, you may consider using steam cleaning.

Most modern steam cleaners today come with an added advantage: they have advanced features like the ability to adjust the steam pressure level. This leaves you with the flexibility of setting it according to your cleaning needs—low, medium, and high.

It’s best to choose a low or medium level to avoid contact of moisture with your hardwood floor.

A Few Useful Tips on Using a Hardwood Floors Steam Cleaner

hardwood floor in a room

There are different steam cleaner models available on the market, each having different features, sizes, styles, and working systems. But, regardless of what model or features you choose; it’s best to stick to the following best practices:

Prepare the Floor

Remember that your steam cleaner will work best if you have removed all the loose grit and dirt. It’s recommended to vacuum or sweep the floor entirely before steam cleaning.

Know Your Floor Type

Is your floor heavily soiled? If yes, there are high chances of spreading dirt all over the floor with the hot steam. It’s best to choose traditional cleaning methods here, especially if you want a deep cleaning.

Consider Using Multiple Mop Pads

Avoid repeatedly using a single mop several times. Instead, keep several mop pads handy and make sure to discard the ones that have turned dirty.

Use Steam Cleaners Only on Sealed Floors

As stated earlier, you need to ensure that your flooring is suitable for steam cleaning. If not, there’s a good chance of the flooring materials getting damaged by steam cleaning.


How Frequently Should You Consider Steam Cleaning Your Floor?

Steam cleaning should be incorporated into your usual routine house maintenance. This means if you’re already routinely cleaning your home once a week, use your steam cleaner with the same frequency.

There’s no limit on how often you can steam clean. In fact, steam cleaning needs may change for big or active families, homes during high traffic occasions, or gatherings where there’s a high chance of outdoor grime settling in.

Whatever is the case for you, it’s best to steam clean and do a deep floor scrubbing at least once a month.


The Process of Washing a Floor with a Steam Cleaner

Follow the process below to make sure you’re not only making your home dirt-free but doing it in a way that ensures your floors are cleaned safely and efficiently without causing any damage.

1. Vacuum or Sweep Your Floor

It’s best to start with a good vacuum or sweep of your floor, to remove the dirt, lint, dust, or any other surface debris before you steam clean. This will prevent the suction power from pulling these while making your mop pad dirty, leading to better disinfection.

Your floor is ready to be steam cleaned once you’re done with the sweeping or vacuuming.

These days you can get advanced steam cleaners that function both as a sweeper and a steamer. This works best in those small areas of your home where you can’t vacuum.

However, it’s still recommended to vacuum clean your entire house before using the steam cleaner as the latter will get a lot more dirt off the floor. Just remember, the less dirt on the mop pad, the cleaner the steaming process!

2. Arrange Mop Pads

If you don’t change your mop pads as soon as they get dirty, there are chances of dirt smearing or trailing around while you steam your floors. You should aim at having several mop pads handy at such times.

Before you start steaming, make sure you have your extra mop pads ready. You can easily get extra steam mop pads online or in most stores.

Once the steam cleaning is done, wash them in the washer and leave them to air dry. However, for best care, make sure you read the care instructions as mentioned in the manual that came along with your steam mop. You can ensure a clean steam mopping if your mop pad is changed regularly.

3. Evaluate the Floor Area

Before you start steaming, take a look at your floor. Since excess moisture tends to damage some surfaces, it’s best to use steam cleaners on floors that are properly sealed.

Additionally, never leave your mop plugged in while not in use. This can accumulate moisture in the pad and can ruin the floor surface while your steamer is resting.

Using steam cleaning is safe for linoleum or vinyl flooring, porcelain, or ceramic tile, as well as some laminate and hardwood flooring. If you’re doubtful, it’s best to consult your floor manufacturer to get a thorough understanding of care as well as cautions to take.

Some laminate floorings on the market come with a water-resistant feature. You may consider steam cleaning in this case, as they’re typically made with waterproof resins that accept steam cleaning without causing any damage to their core layer.

According to some manufacturers, it’s safe to steam clean their hardwood floors. However, this is debatable as others claim that relying on water or steam for cleaning the floor may discolor or warp the wood.

Decide on using the steam cleaning process by doing that water test mentioned earlier. As a whole, if your wooden flooring is properly sealed, it should be good. However, it’s best to resort to light steam cleaning to avoid potential damage.

4. Steam Clean Your Floor

After evaluating the area and coming to the conclusion that it’s safe to proceed with steam cleaning, it’s time to wash your floor with your steam cleaner.

Begin by attaching the mop pad to the base of the cleaner. Then, fill the tank with the required quantity of water and turn it on according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Then, you may have to wait for it to heat up. Be careful to not leave it unattended while it’s plugged in while doing this.

Once ready, it’s time to clean. Keep the steam mop moving constantly while you wash the floor. Keep an eye on the mop pad while cleaning, and consider replacing it if it gets too dirty.

Consider taking multiple passes over the whole floor area to ensure thorough cleaning.

 5. Wash the Mop Pads Thoroughly

Once you think you’re done with steam cleaning your entire floor, the final step is to clean your mop pads.

You may have received some recommendations on laundering them with the steam cleaner, but it’s usually OK to simply machine-wash them. Once washed, hang them to dry.

This process works best for microfiber pads. If you want to steam clean more frequently, ensure you have enough clean pads on reserve so that you’re ready for your next floor cleaning routine.



Our Top 4 Recommended Steam Cleaning Mops for Hardwood Floors

Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning Steam Mop

Thanks to touch-free technology you can attach or release pads with the press of a button. It features a steam blaster for the hard, stuck-on messes and dual-sided pads that are super-absorbent.

Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning Steam Mop

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Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum Cleaner

This all-in-one vacuum and steam mop makes cleaning pet hair easier, as you can capture the hair and at the same time sanitize your floor with steam. It features drop-it tanks so you won’t get your hands dirty while emptying it.

Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum Cleaner

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O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop

With a head designed like a triangle, you can easily clean corners and hard-to-reach areas. This microfiber steam mop cleans any hard floor surfaces without chemicals and it takes only about 20 seconds to heat up. 

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Power Fresh Steam Mop and Hardwood Floor Cleaner

With this steam mop, you can choose from 3 levels of steam, based on the types of messes and your cleaning needs. In addition, you get a flip-down easy scrubber brush to break up tough, dried-on stains.

Power Fresh Steam Mop and Hardwood Floor Cleaner

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In Conclusion

Steam cleaning is undoubtedly one of the best cleaning methods when it comes to floor cleaning, including a wooden floor. As long as you use it appropriately while taking all the care necessary, you can reap the benefits of steam cleaning while ensuring that your floor is not getting damaged.

Adding steam cleaning to your routine can keep your home clean and free from bacteria as well as other types of dirt. With a hardwood floors steam cleaner, your home will stay clean and stay healthy.