You love the idea of faster, easier cleaning with a steam mop but wonder if you can use one on your beautiful laminate floors, right?
The answer is no in the majority of cases and I’ll explain why.
Don’t worry, though, I’ve got a couple of solutions for you! I wouldn’t leave you high and dry. I know you want to get the job done more quickly and easily.
What is Laminate?
Laminate is manufactured flooring that most often resembles the look of natural hardwood but is made from layers of material pressed together. Those layers include a top coat (the seal coat that protects the flooring), a picture of the texture (yes, do you believe that? It’s a PICTURE of wood!), a wood composite layer, maybe a structure layer for support, and finally a moisture barrier on the bottom.
It comes in squares or planks that click together and is meant to be installed without the use of glues or adhesives.
Because there’s some natural material in the mix and a glossy topcoat built in you do have to be careful about how you clean laminate. It’s sensitive to heat and moisture. You certainly don’t want any standing water that might seep in between the pieces and cause them to warp, loosen or peel sooner than they might otherwise.
Most Laminate Manufacturers Strongly Recommend Against Using a Steam Mop
The first reason for not using steam on laminate is that the manufacturer has probably outlined you shouldn’t do so in the care manual for your flooring. This means that doing so could void any warranty.
The warranty on some Armstrong laminates, for example, states that damage resulting from “exposure to extremes of temperature or relative humidity” is not covered. In a live chat with an Armstrong customer service representative today I directly asked if I could use a steam mop on their laminate flooring and she said no, it is not recommended. She said any damage caused by the steam mop would not be covered under the warranty.
She did have one suggestion and that would be to check with the manufacturer of the steam mop to see if they’d supply you a letter confirming they’d cover any damage caused by their product. (Yeah, I can’t see that happening but I’m throwing it out there.)
When I contacted Dupont, I received the same answer. In fact they said you can’t use a steam mop AND they suggest no chemical cleaners be used, either.
Pergo says right on their website that you should never use a “wet or jet mop” on their laminate floors.
So exactly why do they tell you not to use a steam mop? Think about laminate as being made of layers of wallpaper. The top layers – the shine and the photo – are very thin material. Steam is both hot and moist and how do you loosen wallpaper when you want to replace it? You use steam.
Applying steam to laminate weakens the material over time. The top coat that is doing all the heavy work in protecting the look and finish of your floor could be worn away or loosened by regular exposure to heat. In addition, you risk warping the material or introducing fissures in between the pieces that would allow moisture to seep underneath.
You may not see any negative impact at all when using a steam mop but that’s because it’s hard to tell with the naked eye that the top coat is being damaged. It might be a few years down the road before you notice you’re not seeing that pretty shine you had when the floor was installed. You can’t undo that damage.
So Why Do the Steam Mop Manufacturers Say It’s Safe?
I’m not going to say they’re motivated to make more sales but…
See, the thing is that you, as a free individual with the right to make your own choices, always have the option to use one despite what the flooring company says. The mop WILL glide over your floors, produce steam, and clean up messes. However, the mop’s warranty probably only covers defects in the mop itself and may include language that excludes your flooring.
They’re going to put the responsibility back on your for not having followed the care instructions from whomever made the laminate.
Don’t despair! There is still a way for you to save time cleaning and drying your laminate floors.
Here’s one woman’s method of using one of the disposable pad mops that doesn’t require batteries. This is much more in line with what manufacturers recommend for this kind of flooring.
I can’t find the Clorox ReadyMop that she was using anywhere but the Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop is very close and also doesn’t use batteries.
Is it EVER Okay to Use a Steam Mop on Laminate?
I can think of only a couple of situations where you might do so:
- You don’t have a warranty and don’t care that you might have to replace the floors sooner as a result of using the mop; you just want to spend less time cleaning
- You’re going to be selling your home before any damage might be done to the floors and you’re going to let the new owner deal with any issues
Even if one of those things is true AND you fully understand the potential harm to the material, you STILL need to make sure you’re only using it on a sealed laminate.
How to Tell if Your Laminate Floor is Sealed
Maybe you acquired the flooring when you bought the house and have no idea if it’s a sealed product or not. In those cases, how do you tell?
Look for a shiny, glossy finish. This is one clue that the laminate has the built in top coat.
If you have a leftover scrap you could also scrape at the surface to see if there’s some clear coating that comes off.
The Best Steam Mop for the Job
If, despite all the reasons mentioned above for not using one you still want to go ahead, you’ll want to find the one that delivers the lowest temperature AND leaves behind the least amount of water. Check out the Black & Decker 2 in 1 because it has adjustable steam control and doesn’t seem to get as hot as other models.
Most steam mop product descriptions don’t tell you the maximum temperature achieved but you can use the amount of time suggested for sanitizing as a gauge. The longer the mop needs to sit in one place in order to sanitize, the less heat it produces.
You also don’t want to use one that has any kind of rough scrubber on it. Only use soft pads in order to prevent any damage to the coating surface.
If you have a mix of flooring types in your home, an alternative is to settle for cleaning the laminate flooring the way your manufacturer recommends and then get the best steam mop for use only on your other hard flooring surfaces. That’s a reasonable compromise. You can still reduce your overall mopping time (and who doesn’t want that?!) AND maintain the look of your laminate floors for longer.