Does your home need a deep clean? While cleaning every part of your home is important, cleaning your floors is perhaps the most vital. Shoes track in so much dirt and debris, not to mention germs, from outside. Steam mops are a great way to quickly and hygienically clean your floors, but they’re not suited to all floor types. Here we’ll take a look at the question, “Are steam mops safe for laminate floors?”
What are Laminate Floors?
Laminate floors look like natural hardwood, but it is made of different materials pressed together in layers. Laminate floors consist of layers of HDF, high-resolution photographic image as well as the clear wear layer which is the laminate. They are bonded together by heat. The topcoat consists of sealing that protects the flooring; the bottom consists of moisture barriers and there are also structure layers for support.
As the top coat is glossy and consists of natural material it needs to be cleaned with caution. It is sensitive to both heat as well as moisture and should any water seep in between the pieces there are chances of the flooring warping, loosening or peeling much before the estimated lifetime of the floor.
Manufacturers in the care manual often instruct that the warranty is voided if the flooring is subjected to extreme heat or to moisture. Some go so far as to mention that the warranty stands cancelled in case steam mopping is used. The same goes for chemical cleaners. This is because steam weakens the durability of the laminate floors over time, and the top coat gets worn away due to the heat exposure. Fissures are formed between the pieces; this allows moisture to seep underneath, and the material gets warmed and warped as well.
Why steam and laminate don’t mix
As the top coat is glossy and consists of natural material, it needs to be cleaned with caution. It is sensitive to both heat as well as moisture. If water or steam seeps between the pieces, the floor could warp, loosen or peel. (Similarly, you should also be careful using a steam mop on hardwood floors due to the warping concerns.) Besides severely shortening the life span of the floor, it could also void the warranty on your flooring.
Laminate manufacturers often specify that the warranty is voided if the flooring is subjected to extreme heat or moisture. Some go so far as to mention that the warranty is voided in case of steam mopping. This is because steam weakens the durability of the laminate floors over time, and the top coat gets worn away due to the heat exposure. Fissures are formed between the pieces; this allows moisture to seep underneath, and the material gets warped. (For the same reason, steam mops aren’t great for vinyl floors either.)
How to use steam mops the right way?
However, if you do want to use a steam mop for chemical-free cleaning, use one with a head covered by a terry cloth pad. With these mops, the steam is produced and applied via the pad by pressing a trigger on the handle. This puts out a lesser amount of moisture that’s absorbed by the pads, along with the dirt. The residual moisture quickly air-dries. If steam mopping your laminate floors, be sure to mop quickly and don’t leave it in one place for very long. This way you’ll prevent moisture and steam from seeping between the seams.
Better ways to clean laminate flooring
- Dry electrostatic mops: These mops attract dust and are specially designed for laminates.
- Vacuuming: Effective for dirt and debris, but not for a deep clean.
- A soft broom: Like vacuuming, this may not be very effective for very dirty floors.
- A damp mop or alcohol-based mop cloths: For a deeper clean that won’t damage the floor.
Now that we’ve examined the question “Are steam mops safe for laminate floors?”, you can see there are other cleaning methods better suited to this type of floor. However, if you insist on steam mopping, you need to ensure the proper precautions. Alternatively, just use a different method to clean your laminate floor. It will be safer and you can have peace of mind knowing you’re not voiding your warranty.