Should you steam clean your wood floors?

There are a variety of steam cleaners available for use on raised floor, and although some are marketed as specifically designed for hardwood, these claims should be viewed with great caution.

Hardwood is naturally a very absorbent material and exposure to water can cause it to warp, warp, warp and mold. By its very nature, a steam cleaner uses water heated to very hot steam to clean and disinfect the floor surface. This steam can get down into the cracks and crevices to kill germs and bacteria, but when used on hardwood floor, moisture can stay down in the cracks and crevices, leading to problems in the future.

Steam cleaners “Designed” for hardwood

Several companies sell steam cleaners that are said to be able to clean hardwood floors safely. The reason behind these claims is that these cleaners have a feature that wipes away excess moisture as it moves across the floor, absorbing water and supposedly leaving the floor dry. However, the product literature for these machines carefully notes that the floors must be properly sealed to keep the tools safe.

But despite the existence of these machines and the claims made by their manufacturers, all major wood flooring associations agree that steam cleaners should not be used on any hardwood floor surface.1 There are no major hardwood suppliers who recommend the use of these products. on their materials.

The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) states that using steam or excessive water can damage wood flooring.1

The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has a similar warning against using excessive amounts of water when cleaning wooden floors.2

Use a steam cleaner

All steam cleaners come with a warning that you must ensure the floor seal is intact before using their machines on the hardwood.

To test the thickness and durability of the seal protecting your wood floor, drop a small amount of water onto its surface. If water forms immediately, then the seal is intact and the floor cannot penetrate. But if the water spreads or soaks into the wood, then the seal has been broken and needs to be reapplied. The stronger and more durable the sealed surface, the more resistant it will be to steam damage.

Potential problems

There are many reasons to avoid steam cleaning hardwood, including:


Wood seams: Even if the wood itself is perfectly sealed against moisture penetration, the seams between the boards can be vulnerable. Even if the seams are initially sealed during the application of topcoats, as the wood creaks, shifts, or shrinks with use and weather, the seal will inevitably crack, allowing moisture to seep down and attack the floor below.3

Effect of steam: Steam itself presents a unique problem with hardwood. Water is a relatively dense substance. Steam, on the other hand, is very light and thin and can easily penetrate even hairline cracks on the surface. This allows him to move up the side of the hardwood boards or slide underneath and attack the floor from all vulnerable angles. As the steam cools and condenses back to liquid water, you are left with moisture that can damage the wood fibers.

Using steam can void the floor’s warranty: Most hardwood floors come with a manufacturer’s or dealer’s warranty. This outlines how long the floor should last under regular use and guarantees replacement if the material fails due to structural issues. These warranties often contain express terms about which actions void their protection – read carefully to see if steam cleaning is a covered activity under your floor’s express warranty.