Just Say No to Steam Mops on Wood Floors

Steam mops have become quite popular, and for good reason.  Many steam mops do a great job cleaning and sanitizing ceramic and vinyl tile floors.  The idea of getting floors squeaky clean and sanitized with no scrubbing, no soap, no chemicals, and no detergents is very attractive.  However, we CANNOT recommend steam mops for any type of wood floors, even though many steam mops say they are safe for sealed floors. So steam cleaners can damage wood floors and here is why:

How do Steam Mops Work?

Steam mops heat water from 120 degrees to over 200 degrees on some models. There is a cloth on the end of the mop to trap dirt and the mop forces the steam through a cloth on to your floor.  Steam mops essentially clean with water and heat.  Why can’t we recommend steam mops for wood floors?

Water is the Enemy of Wood Floors

When water soaks into wood, it causes permanent damage.  The water soaks into the wood grain and causes it the wood to expand, discolor, and warp. Even a newly sealed wood floor should not be cleaned with much water because there might be missed spots in the sealant, especially in-between boards. A single scratch can allow the steamed water to enter your wood floor and cause swelling, patching, and warping.

Using water to clean wood floors is even more perilous on floors with older finishes.  Typically the dirtiest areas of your floor are the most heavily trafficked. These are the areas where the finish is most likely to be warn down and most at danger for water damage. Unfortunately, these are likely the areas that you are most looking to clean.  The gleaming finish on wood floors is more then just cosmetic, it protects wood floors from dirt and damage. When the finish gets worn away, your floor is harder to keep clean and more likely to soak up water and stains.

How to clean Wood Floors?

Sweep, vacuum, and dust mop regularly, at least once a week or more often if you have pets or a busy household.  Do not use vinegar, or all purpose cleaner on floors, they will both dull the finish.  Use your manufactures’ recommended cleaner and the minimum amount of water.  Any mopping should be done with a barely damp mop, never wet or soaking wet. Clean up any liquid spills immediately to avoid water damage.  We have a floor cleaning guide to help you keep all of the flooring types in your home clean .

What if My Floor Still Looks Dirty?

While being proactive about cleaning is the best policy, we all know that life happens.  If you floor is old or still looks dirty after cleaning, you’ll either need to get it refinished or professionally cleaned.  Need more information on professional wood floor cleaning.  Visit our wood floor page to see how COIT’s professional team can revitalize even the grungiest floors.

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