Are Steam Mops Safe for Hardwood Floors? (Video)

Steam mops are some of the best cleaning tools for floors. They create less mess than the alternatives, use less chemicals, and can remove some of the toughest stains from your floor.

As I learned after inquiring from steam mop manufacturers, current steam mop users, and using one myself, they can also damage your floor if not used correctly. The steam and moisture from a steam mop can easily enter the wood grains and damage the floor.

It’s not all gloomy, however. Through my inquiries and tests, I found ways of using your steam mop on hardwood floors though I don’t encourage regular steam mopping. Use it occasionally, as explained in the sections below.

A steam mop on a floor

Can I use a steam mop on hardwood floors?

There are many reasons for and against using a steam mop to clean your hardwood floors, and they include the following:

Why you can use steam mops on hardwood floors

Steam mops are among the best floor cleaners because they are effective in cleaning and use fewer chemicals than alternatives. Some of the reasons why you can use them on hardwood floors include the following:

  1. Effective cleaning: a steam mop helps loosen the dirt and grime on hardwood floors, making it easier to clean it away. This is useful for hardwood floors which require gentle but thorough cleaning.
  2. Reduced chemical use: since steam mops rely mainly on heat and moisture in cleaning, they reduce the amount of chemicals in your house. This benefits your health and the environment since you introduce fewer pollutants.

However, it’s not all rosy since I have seen cases of hardwood floors damaged by steam mops.

Why you shouldn’t use steam mops on hardwood floors

Steam mops, however, can be unsuitable for hardwood floors for the following reasons:

  1. Water can damage wood: since wood is a porous material, the steam from steam mops can damage it, leading to swelling, warping, and even permanent damage.
  2. Heat can also damage wood: just like water, the heat from a steam mop can affect the wood by causing rapid expansion and contraction, resulting in permanent damage such as cracking.
  3. Steam cleaning can damage the finish and seal on wood floors: some hardwood floors have finishes and sealing, which can be easily damaged by heat and water from steam mops. They can be discolored, dulled, or peeled off the floor, allowing for further damage.

All these mean that you need to be careful when using a steam mop on your hardwood floor to avoid damage.

Precautions for steam mopping hardwood floors

If you choose to steam mop your hardwood floors, keep the following precautions in mind:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: read and follow the instructions given by the steam mop and hardwood manufacturers to avoid problems.
  2. Keep moving when cleaning: always be on the move to avoid keeping the steam mop on the floor for too long at a given spot.
  3. Test the steam mop on the floor: always test the steam mop on an area of the floor that is small and inconspicuous before using it on the rest of the floor.
  4. Use low heat and moisture: protect the hardwood floor using the least heat and moisture on the steam mop.
  5. Regularly maintain the floor: avoid damage by the steam mop by sealing and maintaining the floor regularly.
  6. Use the steam mop less often: only use the steam mop on the floor for deep cleaning and not frequent maintenance.
  7. Wipe dry after steam mopping: after steam mopping the floor, wipe it dry with a clean cloth to remove any excessive moisture from it.

With these steps and precautions, you can safely clean your hardwood floors with a steam mop.

What floors should not be steam mopped?

Steam mops are unsuitable for floors sensitive to heat and moisture since they can be easily damaged and compromised. Some of the floors that shouldn’t be steam-mopped include the following:

1. Unsealed hardwood floors

If your hardwood floor is unsealed or unfinished, it lacks the protective layer that would keep the heat and steam out of the wood grains. Steam mopping such a floor leads to warping, swelling, and cracking of the floor.

2. Engineered wood flooring

Some types of engineered wood flooring are more water-resistant than traditional hardwood. However, moisture and heat can still damage the wood veneer and layers beneath. The heat from the steam mop can also damage the adhesive between the wood planks leading to further damage.

3. Vinyl plank flooring

Most types of vinyl plank flooring are sensitive to heat and moisture. If the adhesive used in installing the floor isn’t heat resistant, steam will loosen and damage the flooring when cleaning them. Harsh chemicals can also damage vinyl plank flooring.

4. Wood-look tile

Wood-look tiles are made of porcelain or ceramic and while more heat-resistant than hardwood, they are still sensitive to heat. The steam can also damage the grout lines between the tiles and can absorb moisture during steam mopping.

Wood-look tiles, however, are safer than other types of flooring where steam mopping is concerned.

5. Bamboo flooring

Like most types of wood flooring, bamboo flooring can absorb moisture and swell, leading to irreparable damage. It’s also affected by heat.

6. Laminate flooring

Laminate flooring is made of layers of wood composite materials which can be damaged by excessive heat and moisture. It can thus swell, warp, and even separate when steam mopped.

7. Cork flooring

Cork, being a porous material, can absorb moisture from a steam mop. This leads to damage from swelling and warping.

8. Some types of tile flooring

Most types of tile flooring, such as porcelain and ceramic, are resistant to heat and moisture and can be safely steam mopped. However, tiles made from granite, slate, and marble can be damaged by excessive heat and moisture.

9. Some carpets

Carpets can be steam mopped without much damage. However, some fibers used to make carpets cannot withstand high levels of steam and moisture, especially if they’re not allowed to dry properly. Excessive moisture can lead to the growth of mold and mildew and even damage to the floor underneath the carpet.

In all these types of flooring, always read the instructions of the manufacturer to avoid damaging them and voiding their warranties.


The conclusion I drew from my time steam mopping hardwood floors and asking others about the same is that you can steam mop a wooden floor. However, ensure it’s properly sealed, do it only occasionally, and use the lowest steam and heat settings for this.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *