You may have recently installed a laminate floor, or own a steam mop machine (or both) — and you’re wondering, can I use a steam mop on a laminate floor?
Well, we have a comprehensive answer right here. But, let’s start by understanding more about the laminate floor before delving into more about steam mops and answering the underlying question appropriately.
What Is A Laminate Floor?
Also known as floating wood tiles, the laminate floor is a meld of two major materials; a fiberboard and melamine resin. The two are brought together by the process of lamination, and they form the core of the flooring material.
A photographic layer that looks like wood then Kies on the core layer. The wood-like layer is then topped by a transparent sealant that protects the other layers from damages by water, heat, and other troublemakers.
The floor is always less costly and more beautiful but not as durable as natural wood. Installing it is also seamless.
It’s installed as a floating floor, which means that no advanced tools or skills are required to put them in place; you can do it yourself.
While some do, a few do not have a waterproof layer to completely keep water away.
Can You Use A Steam Mop On Laminate Floors?
No, it’s not safe. Laminate manufacturers are against using the steam mop on it. In fact, most of the manufacturers do not offer a warranty cover for the destruction of the flooring material by steam and or excess heat.
So using steam on the floor despite such a warning is likely to void its warranty. But that’s not the only reason to avoid using your steam mop on the floor. I’ll explain a few more in the next section.
You already know that the gurus do not recommend the use of steam mops on laminate; you’re only itching to learn about the reasons.
Read about them below.
It Weakens The Sealant
The steam mop heats water in its reservoir to 212°F to produce steam, which is used to sanitize your floor. This temperature is sufficient for weakening and later destroying the sealant of your beautiful floor.
You may not easily realize the effects in the short term, but prolonged usage makes the effects quite conspicuous.
At the same time, the hot steam will destroy the adhesives that join your laminate planks, paving the way for water and moisture into the inside part to make the planks separate. Bulging and warping are some of the signs that indicate broken joints.
It Can Void The Warranty
Most laminate floor warranties have exceptions for excessive use of heat and moisture on them. This means that you’ll have to bear the repair/replacement costs alone upon destruction by the two attributes.
Simultaneously, the steam mop’s warranty often only covers damages that arise from within the machine, not the damages that it causes elsewhere.
So if you don’t cease to use the steam mop, you need to be prepared to meet the costs that come with such a decision.
The Fiberboard Will Develop A Smell
When wood gets damp, it develops a musty smell that may extend all the way to your compound. The base laminate floor materials mostly consist of wood particles compacted under pressure.
So when steam breaks the sealant (or adhesives) of your laminate floor, water and moisture easily seep into where the wood particles lie.
The moisture/water causes spores on the wood particles to grow, causing the smell. The water can also trigger mold growth that damages the good looks of the floor’s photographic layer.
The Shiny Top Surface Will Wear Away
The top-most layer of your laminate floor usually has a very glossy and shiny finish when new. However, you’ll notice that the finish wears away after a long time using the steam mop on it.
The result is a dull floor without the attractiveness it had before. If you’re fond of using your steam mop alongside cleaning chemicals, however, the effects will even be more conspicuous.
Another effect when the top-most surface wears away is the exposure of your floor’s photographic layer to damage. Remember that the top-most layer is also a protective layer.
Using It Anyway: The Precautionary Measures
The steam mop doesn’t usually destroy laminate floors immediately. It takes some time — and you have to use it continuously, too.
That means you can always use it in a few instances, like when you need your floor sparkling within a short period. If you have to use it (due to your unique reasons), you need to take care to avoid extreme damages.
Here are some gem tips to keep in mind.
Use It Only On Sealed Floors
It’s safer to use your mop on sealed floors with an extra protective, waterproof layer than on the unsealed types. The outer layer will provide more protection from moisture and heat for the inner layers.
However, the layer is also prone to damage. Using your mop on low settings (explained later in this article) will go the extra mile to protect it further.
Also, ensure that you wipe off any water on this waterproof layer’s surface to avoid any other unprecedented damages.
How To Tell If The Floor Is Sealed
Distinguishing between sealed and unsealed laminate floors may prove hard, but there’s a way out. So how will you immediately know that the laminate floor you purchased is sealed?
Check if the finish is quite glossy and shiny. You can also scratch the top to see if a colorless coating comes off. If both are present, it’s sealed.
If not, you know what you have, and you shouldn’t use the mop on it.
Use It On The Lowest Settings
Whether dealing with sealed or unsealed floors, it helps to use your mop after setting the lowest heat. Excess heat easily weakens the adhesives to allow steam into the inner layers to cause such damages as the ones explained above.
Likewise, be quick with the strokes. Moving the mop faster will alleviate the time of contact between steam and the delicate floor, and this can reduce damages.
Don’t use too much steam, too — only a little, and you move to the next section of your floor.
Check The Microfiber Cloth Regularly
The steam mop has a microfiber cloth beneath it. The cloth is responsible for cleaning particles and other debris on your floor as the mop is at work.
If you have a dirty floor, the mop may collect dirt from some areas and redistribute them to other areas without your knowledge.
So keep changing the cloth regularly to avoid such situations and others.
Vacuum The Floor Prior To Steam Cleaning
Steam mops are only best at picking the smallest of particles and debris on your floor. If the debris is quite large-sized, the mop can only grind it against the floor to cause even more damage.
Use a vacuum cleaner to pick up the large particles before switching on your steam mop to do its work. Alternatively, you can sweep off the large particles.
Always ensure that you remove all your furniture from the house before vacuuming and sweeping.
Don’t Use The Steam Mop Regularly
You know that steam is destructive to laminate floors in the long run, but only if you use it once in a while. Using it in a regular pattern will reduce the lifetime of your floor exponentially.
I endorse using the mop only when you need quick cleaning; that is, once in a while. Still, you need to comply with the other precautionary measures, even if the use rate is once a month.
Cleaning The Laminate Floor: The Recommended Ways
Make use of a damp mop to clean all the spills, dirt, dust, and other debris. You’re free to use the mop alongside a cleaning product only made for the laminate floor.
Never let your mop drip wet, because we both understand that water and wood are great enemies. Also, don’t use soap, detergent, plus other unrecommended cleaning products.
They easily lead to warping and joint separation, which further causes additional problems.
Sweep And Vacuum Regularly
Regular maintenance of the floor involves sweeping and vacuuming. The two processes help you remove loose particles to prevent scratching and further staining on the floor.
Kindly avoid the beater bar as it can damage your beautiful floor. Using acetone for stains helps. After acetone, wipe off the mess with a damp cloth.
Can I Use A Steam Mop On Laminate Floor?
It’s not recommended, but a few people often do it. It causes wearing of the floor’s sealant, courtesy of heat and moisture. It also causes foul-smelling and weakens the joints to give it an unpleasant look.
However, it’s wise to use the mop while regarding precautionary measures that reduce the time to damage. We’ve listed all the measures to take in this article. Otherwise, enjoy your time, pals.