Using steam mops on laminate flooring? Turns out it’s not such a hot idea

Steam mops vanish unsightly dirt and grime on laminate flooring, but there are unintended consequences for homeowners who arm themselves with the power of steam.

There’s no denying it – steam works. A dirty laminate floor will come up clean with the use of a steam mop, but flooring experts are quick to warn homeowners the quick-fix can cause lasting damage and hit you in the hip pocket.

Intense heat and moisture produced by the steam attack the adhesive on laminate floors, and as this adhesive breaks down, the laminate is prone to bubbling and even has the potential to come loose. In short, it’s a recipe for disaster and a hefty price to pay for a sparkling clean floor.

I HAVE A FLOATING FLOOR. IS THAT OK?

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It’s true floating laminate floors require no glue, instead of relying on click and lock technology for installation. While there is no adhesive for the steam to attack, the use of a steam mop on floating laminate floors can still be problematic. The moisture and heat can cause warping and has been reported to cause swollen and peaked edges. These possible outcomes can affect the appearance of your laminate flooring and, worse still, interfere with the flooring’s click and lock function. Ultimately, the homeowner will either need to replace some or all of the flooring.

WEBSITES SAY STEAM CLEANERS ARE OK. WHO DO I TRUST?

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The internet is host to plenty of conflicting advice, and the topic of steam mops on laminate flooring is no different. Some websites argue steam mops use minimal moisture and dry within 30 seconds, making it harmless. It’s a persuasive argument but a line of thinking ignoring the long-term impact of steam cleaning. The first few cleans may have no adverse effects, but incremental changes over time set the stage for future damage and frustration. This can be a costly learning curve as the warrant will not cover floors damaged by improper cleaning and care.

MY STEAM CLEANER SAYS IT’S OK FOR LAMINATE FLOORS

This can be a grey area defined by the difference in making an iron-clad guarantee and a claim. Will, your steam cleaning mop manufacturer, cover your flooring warranty should they ever need replacing? Many companies state users should not use excessive moisture, while a few will explicitly state not to use steam cleaners. 

HOW THEN SHOULD I CLEAN MY LAMINATE FLOORING?

The golden rule is less water is best. An easy way to keep laminate flooring clean is to use a microfibre mop. These mops use minimal water and easily glide across the surface, picking up pieces of dirt and grime. A recommended cleaning solution is either the manufacturer’s cleaning solution or a self-made and cost-effective solution comprising three parts water to one-part vinegar and a squirt of liquid dishwasher detergent in a spray bottle.

Handy hints to remember:

  • Steer clear of string mops and sponge mops that hold too much water
  • Do not soak your microfibre cloth – dampen it
  • Blot up large spills with a sponge, dry cloth or paper towel and refrain from allowing puddles to remain on the laminate floor for extended periods of times due to the risk of warping
  • A laminate floor is not real wood, so waxing and polishing is not an option
  • Avoid bleach and abrasive cleaners
  • Never use steel wool or scouring pads due to their ability to cause scratches

Ultimately, homeowners should shy away from using steam cleaners on laminate flooring. The risk of damage, both immediate and longer-term, and the cost of repair and replacing floors is simply too great when homeowners can use other methods to keep their laminate flooring sparkling clean minus the trouble.

We’re listening from you. ..

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