Due to its relatively low cost and a wide variety of beautiful styles, laminate flooring is becoming a very trendy option for home construction and renovation. However, laminate flooring comes with its own set of care guidelines. One of which is that owners should avoid using steam mops to clean their floors.
Keeping laminate flooring looking good, especially if you have pets or children, can be tough. However, if you’ve installed a waterproof laminate from high-quality brands such as Audacity and Prego, then steam mops could be an option if you adhere to the following instructions carefully.
In the article below, we will discuss about:
Why steam mops on conventional laminate wood flooring are a big mistake;
How to use a steam mop on waterproof laminate flooring while avoiding any damage to the protective finish;
How to use your steam mop without causing your laminate floor to curl or fade.
Why is Using a Steam Mop on Laminate Floor That Big of a Deal?
There are several reasons why steam mops are usually better options than traditional mops, but we will only cover the top two reasons:
#1. Steam mop produces less moisture than traditional wet mops
A steam mop exposes your floors to considerably lower levels of moisture than a normal mop. Naturally, a soaking wet mop left on the floor will leave behind a lot of water. It is can be difficult to wring out the extra water, resulting in standing puddles of water that can take a while to dry. These puddles of water can cause serious damage to laminate flooring if they are not dried off quickly.
Since steam mops turn water into steam, they require a lot less water. The steam distributes the moisture more evenly, which helps speed up the drying process.
#2. Steam mops deep clean and sanitizes floors at the same time
Steam mops both clean and sanitize surfaces at the same time. The high temperature required to turn water into steam also kills most, if not all, germs and sanitizes your floors. Less cleaning solution is needed also since the heat does most of this work.
How Does a Steam Mop Work?
Steam mops operate by heating water to its boiling point. At this temperature, the heat eliminates most germs and dissolves any deposits that accumulate in small fissures in the flooring. Below is the basic process:
Operators pour water into a small reservoir which is then heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the water reaches this temperature and turns to steam, its volume expands to 1600 times its original volume.
This steam contains roughly three to five percent moisture. As long as the temperature is maintained above 212 degrees, the water remains in vapor form. However, once the temperature drops below this point, the steam condenses back into liquid.
Can You Use This Steam to Sanitize Laminate Floors?
You can if the laminate is rated as waterproof and if the manufacturer’s instructions state that it is safe. If you do not see steam mops mentioned in the instructions, assume that you cannot use a steam mop and contact the manufacturer directly to confirm this.
Steam is much more efficient at killing germs and other microorganisms. However, to be effective, a steam mop usually needs to remain in a spot for about 10 seconds. If you are trying to go for a quick clean, this may not be especially practical.
Even if you’re willing to wait for that amount of time, holding a steam mop over a single spot on any laminated surface for 10-15 seconds is not recommended. Even if the laminate is waterproof, prolonged exposure to heat will eventually break down any protective coating on your flooring surface. This will lead to a dull appearance and white spots.
Even though most manufacturers of steam mops claim that it is safe to use steam mops on laminate floors, you need to be very careful. While steam mopping may seem like an effective way to sanitize and clean, doing so improperly can severely and irreversibly damage a floor.
Don’t Steam Mops Use Less Water Than Conventional Mops?
Yes, as noted above, the steam produced from a steam mop contains only three to five percent moisture.
While steam exposes your laminate flooring to less water, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safer than traditional mopping. All it takes is a small amount of moisture to penetrate laminates’ protective coating to cause visible damage.
One of the aspects of steam that makes it a great cleaner is also one of the reasons that make it harmful for laminate flooring. Steam allows water to enter small, hard-to-reach cracks and crevices to dissolve dirt. Once the steam condenses into water, it will cause damage to the material. If too much water enters the fiberboard, it could cause the board to warp and buckle.
The worst part is that you won’t see the damage a steam mop causes until the damage is already done. With a traditional mop, you can easily notice standing water and dry it up quickly. But with a steam mop, moisture builds up gradually inside out of your sight.
So while it may be tempting to use a steam mop, we recommend using a slightly damped mop made of microfiber. Add the right cleaning solution and you will be cleaning and sanitizing your laminate floor at the same level as a steam mop.
If you want to use a steam mop, then you should first check your laminate flooring manufacturer’s user manual or care instructions. This should give you an idea of the warranty they provide and what cleaning methods they recommend keeping your floor looking new.
Even if your laminate flooring manufacturer says that the floor is ‘waterproof’, it is not completely protected from moisture. Steam is a combination of water and heat, which will eventually find a way into the material, causing irreparable damage.
How to Use a Steam Mop on Waterproof Laminate Floors?
If you are still confident about using a steam mop on your waterproof laminate flooring, do not use wax or soap. First, vacuum the floor to remove as much surface dirt as possible.
Next, switch the steam mop to the lowest possible steam setting.
Do not apply the steam directly to the floor. Instead, place a microfiber pad between the steamer and the flooring.
Keep moving the mop. Do not allow it to sit in one spot for a prolonged period.
While using a steam mop is possible on laminate floors, we feel it just isn’t worth the risk. There are plenty of other, safer options out there to sanitize and clean your floor. A little research can point you in the right direction.