Yes. You can use a steam mop on laminate floors.
If you are among so many people looking for a definitive answer to this question, there you have it.
However, this answer doesn’t apply to all laminate floors.
In fact, it doesn’t even apply to laminate floors in general. Not yet anyway.
Currently, the answer only applies to waterproof laminate floors. As this type is expected to sell as well as the water-sensitive type that’s more familiar to most consumers, the water-sensitive kind will in all likelihood be phased out. So, ultimately the answer might apply to all laminate flooring.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know for a better understanding of how the answer applies to your circumstances.
The Purpose of A Steam Mop
It’s reasonable to assume that because steam is a safe, chemical-free way to sanitize surfaces, it’s safe for all surfaces.
“Dust mops are used to dust floors. So steam mops must be intended for floors or they wouldn’t be called steam mops”.
This is true. Steam mops are indeed intended for use on floors.
“If it wasn’t for steam mops, people would still be on their hands and knees to scrape up crud and goop.”
“If a steam mop can do this, how bad can it be?”
Good arguments, but unless they’re used judiciously, steam mops can do more harm than good.
Can A Steam Mop Be Bad For Laminate Floors?
The short answer is, yes.
If your laminate floors aren’t waterproof, water can seep through the seams and be absorbed by the floorboards’ substrate. The substrate is made of medium or high-density fiberboard.
While it may be moisture resistant, fiberboard isn’t necessarily waterproof. It can swell when it’s exposed to water.
Even after the fiberboard has dried, the swelling remains.
Can Water-Damaged Laminate Floors Be Repaired?
A solid wood floor that’s swollen can be sanded back down to level.
Although the number of times is limited, engineered wood floors can also be sanded.
Laminate floors are another story.
Just below the wear layer of a laminate floor, is the pattern layer. The pattern is an image of tile, stone, or wood. This image is printed on paper or resin.
Attempting to sand the pattern layer to get to the swollen substrate would result in the removal of the pattern itself. This would also leave the substrate exposed.
The only way to repair a water-damaged laminate floor is by replacing the damaged floorboards.
Laminate Floors That Can Be Steam Mopped
Because laminate flooring is considered to be a relatively new concept, the year 2018 marks a line between new and “newer”.
In 2018, the first line of water-resistant laminate floors was launched. This was a game-changer.
More improvements have since followed.
Today, laminate floors are available with water-tight seams between the floorboards. This makes them virtually waterproof.
Where consumers were once advised against installing laminate floors in kitchens and bathrooms, they’re encouraged to install the waterproof type throughout the entire home.
As with most things, you get what you pay for. Waterproof laminate floors are priced at the high end (about $8/sq ft). But even the most expensive laminate is less costly than wood, engineered wood, or even carpeted floors.
- By the time carpets are a couple of years old, they begin to look that way. Sometimes, it isn’t until after paying for a few rounds of professional cleaning, that consumers realize that laminate floors would have cost less than carpet.
- Unlike wood and engineered wood floors, laminate floors don’t need to be refinished every few years
- Wood and engineered floors can be sanded in the event of water damage, but with waterproof laminate floors, there’s no water damage to speak of.
- The more robust wear layer makes laminate floors more resistant to scratches, dents, and stains than wood, engineered wood, and carpet.
How To Know For Sure If Your Laminate Floors Can Be Steam Mopped
It’s important to understand that if your floors were manufactured after 2018, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the waterproof kind.
The best way to know how to care for your particular floor is by referring to the manufacturer’s care and maintenance guidelines. These come with the purchase of every box of flooring.
Of all the manufacturers’ guidelines for care and maintenance that we were able to find, none specified the use of a steam mop as the primary cleaning method.
However, they did specifically call for dusting followed by damp mopping if necessary to clean laminate floors.
if your floors’ manufacturer’s guidelines call for a specific method, then this is the method to use. Deviating from it could void the warranty.
Unless they’re somehow defective, how well your laminate floors hold up and how long they last are up to you. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines offers the best chance of having floors that last as long and look as good as they should.
Here’s How To Use a Steam Mop on Waterproof Laminate Floors
- Be sure to set your steam mop to the lowest setting.
- To avoid spots and streaks, dry your floors with a microfiber cloth or dry microfiber mop pad.
- The rest of the rules for floor cleaning still apply:
- Be stingy with water
- Don’t allow puddling or ponding
- Clean spills right away
- Also, damp mopping should still be considered first.
What Type Of Steam Mop Can Be Used On Waterproof Laminate Floors?
Because manufacturers recommend setting your steam mop to the lowest setting, it’s important to use one with a steam control feature. Many steam mops don’t have this.
Of those that do, here are a few that we like:
- LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Steam Mop Cleaner 8-in-1: Comes with a detachable handheld unit.
- DOKER Steam Mop for deep cleaning: Three Auto-Steam modes and a removable 12-ounce water tank
- MOOLAN 12-in-1 Carpet and Hardwood Floor Steamer (with variable steam control)
- Bissell Powerfresh Deluxe with SpotBoostᴿ brush and two steam settings
Steam Mops and Laminate Floors: The Bottom Line
As for waterproof laminate, if you long for the good ol’ days, you might also be pleased to know that you can occasionally break out your old mop and bucket.
For most people, however, this option is not a selling point. If you ask around, you’re sure to find that of all household chores, floor cleaning is the least popular.
If your laminate floors aren’t waterproof, steam mopping is risky and unnecessary.
Yet, if they are waterproof, steam mopping is acceptable, but it’s still unnecessary.
Either way, dusting, and occasional damp mopping are all that’s required to keep any type of laminate floors looking their best.
After all, easy care is one of the biggest reasons for their popularity.
If you think about it, house cleaning is tough enough and there will always be plenty of it to last a lifetime. So when a break like this comes along, instead of adding to the load unnecessarily, why not simply enjoy it?