Steam mops appear to be the ideal deep-cleaning equipment since they don’t require you to wring out the dirty water like a mop and because the heat helps loosen stubborn messes that would otherwise need to be scrubbed vigorously. However, Larry Ciufo, the test engineer for Consumer Reports who assesses steam mops, has one word of warning:
Since steam cleaners don’t employ harsh chemicals, they are a fantastic way to thoroughly clean a variety of surfaces. Countertops, bathroom & kitchen fixtures, some types of flooring, and other impervious surfaces are examples of hard surfaces that can be easily cleaned with a steam cleaner.
But not all surfaces are suitable for this cleaning technique. It is wise to always check with the manufacturer of the object or surface you wish to clean to see if a steam cleaner can be used safely.
You might think that a lumbuy electric mop can be used on various surfaces because it only uses hot water. But if you’re not careful, the truth is that they can hurt you.
Wood Should Not Be Cleaned With A Steam Mop:
Avoid using a steam mop to thoroughly clean your hardwood floors, despite possible temptation. Steve Stocki, Lumber Liquidators’ manager of marketing and merchandising, warns that moisture and drastic temperature changes may cause the wood to warp.
That holds whether your flooring is made of solid or engineered wood, as well as bamboo. Stocki advises against using a steam mop on a sealed hardwood floor despite the claims of several brands, including Shark and Bissell, because it’s still possible for moisture to enter the spaces between the boards, seep inside the wood, and cause warping.
Surface-sealed wood should be cleaned with a brush, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner before being mopped with a damp—not dripping wet—mop, according to CR. Use a moist towel rather than a mop if your wood flooring has a surface-penetrating floor sealant.
Use a Steam Mop Carefully on Other Types of Flooring:
You must use caution even with non-wood flooring. Using a steam mop on laminate, which is constructed of fiberboard, is best avoided, according to Stocki, as the heat could harm the plastic surface. The fact that linoleum is constructed of wood scraps and linseed oil makes it similar to wood in that it is porous and prone to moisture problems. It is recommended to avoid using steam and instead clean with a moist mop or cloth.
Even though they are nonporous, ceramic and porcelain tiles can be challenging to install. Although the tiles can withstand the heat and moisture of a steam mop, the grout may be damaged because hot water may cause it to become loose or alter its chemical composition. Therefore, you should avoid using a steam mop too frequently on your tiled kitchen or entry floor.
Use a sponge mop with warm water and a pH-neutral cleaner to maintain ceramic and porcelain tile (check the label of the cleaner to see whether it is pH-neutral). Chemicals like petroleum or ammonia can harm your tile and grout and void the flooring warranty. CR advises using a grout brush dipped in a solution of a half-cup of bleach to a gallon of water to remove grout stains. (See our most recent ratings and buying guide for more information on all types of flooring.)
Consider vinyl flooring. The majority of vinyl can be cleaned with steam mops, according to Stocki. Nevertheless, vinyl is a plastic material with a backing of wood particles, so it can still be vulnerable to heat damage. Check the manual of your steam mop to see whether it is advised to use it on vinyl.
Take Care When Filling a Steam Mop:
Cleaner chemicals have the potential to harm the steam mop or render it dangerous to use. According to Trisha Rasch, an associate brand manager at Bissell, “there is a risk that chemicals will build up on a steam mop’s flash heater or boiler, reducing the transfer of heat and subsequently stopping the steam.” Rasch warns that adding chemicals might make the steam mop’s warranty null and void.
You might also be surprised to learn that you shouldn’t use tap water in your steam mop. According to Ciufo, mineral deposits from tap water can accumulate on a steam mop’s heating coil and harm the steam mop. Just like with some irons, distilled water is required.