Steam mop FAQs
Can I use a steam mop on a wood floor?
“We recommend never using a steam mop on any real wood floor,” said Brett Miller, vice president of Technical Standards, Training, and Certification for the National Wood Flooring Association.
He said steam can travel between the cracks and into the cells of the wood itself. “This can permanently damage the wood and the floor’s finish,” he said. Even a traditional mop and bucket may introduce too much water. Instead, Miller suggests using a broom or microfiber mop daily, a vacuum weekly, and cleaning with a professional wood floor cleaning product monthly.
Can I use a steam mop on other types of floors?
As a general rule, “avoid using steam mops on any flooring that is unsealed,” said Leanne Stapf, COO of The Cleaning Authority. Engineered wood and bamboo can suffer from the same issues as hardwood. Laminate flooring is also susceptible to warping from steam, and excessive heat can damage vinyl.
Bissell also warns that the use of a steam mop could reduce a floor’s glossiness.
While manufacturers generally say tile and linoleum flooring are safe for steam mops, keep in mind that excessive heat or water could still cause problems. Don’t leave the steam mop in one place for too long, and it’s a good idea to test the mop in a hidden area before cleaning your whole floor. You may also want to limit the frequency of your steam mopping.
Will a steam mop sanitize a floor?
Technically, yes but not without some effort. Temperatures of between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit are often enough to kill bacteria and viruses, though it’s not instantaneous. Water boils and produces steam and 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and some steam mops get even hotter.
While that’s technically hot enough to kill germs, the manuals for the Bissell machines instruct you to slowly pass the mop back and forth over a spot three times, while the Shark Steam & Scrub S7001 requires 15 passes on the highest setting. Keep in mind that sanitizing reduces the number of bacteria while disinifecting kills most of them. There are less intensive ways to disinfect surfaces.
How do you use a steam mop?
Stapf recommends sweeping or vacuuming first to get rid of dust, dirt, crumbs, and other debris on the floor. You’ll need to fill the reservoir with water and attach a mop cloth.
Start with a clean cloth, Stapf said. “You may need to replace the cloth as you mop, depending on the size of the room you’re cleaning,” she said. You’ll also want to wait until the mop is producing steam before you start cleaning, usually between 30 seconds and a minute.
“It’s helpful to work your way from one side of the room to the other, to make sure you clean the entire floor and avoid missing any areas as you go,” said Stapf.
What should I look for in a steam mop?
“Hot water is pivotal for an effective steam mop,” said Stapf. She recommended steam mops that can reach water’s boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stapf also said it’s a good idea to consider the size and weight of the mop so you can ensure it’s comfortable to use.
Can you put vinegar in a steam mop?
“When it comes to steam mops, it’s best to stick to the basics,” said Stapf. “Regular warm water should do the trick.” Most manufacturers warn against putting anything other than water in the machines’ tanks.
Do I need to use distilled water in my steam mop?
Many manufacturers suggest using distilled or demineralized water, especially if you have hard water, to avoid mineral buildup and prolong the life of your steam mop.
Why does my steam mop leave my floors streaky or cloudy?
First, check the mop pad you’re cleaning with. If it’s dirty, you may be redepositing grime back onto your floor. If the cloth is clean, you may be trying to clean a waxed or oiled floor.
Steam mops can decrease the glossiness of polishes and waxes, leaving floors looking streaked or cloudy.