Do Steam Cleaners Damage Laminate Floors?

Written by melissa lewis
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Do Steam Cleaners Damage Laminate Floors?
Laminate wood floors are easily damaged by moisture. (clean laminate image by costarico from Fotolia.com)

Steam has become a popular means of cleaning just about any hard surface in the home. Steam mops and hand-held steam cleaners are capable of lifting dirt as effectively as chemical-based cleaning products, but they offer a few additional advantages. Steam quickly sanitises surfaces and leaves no toxic residue. Even though the makers of most steam mops indicate that their products are suitable for laminates, steam cleaners can damage laminate flooring.

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Different Types of Steam Cleaners

Steam cleaners that are meant for use on carpeting should never be used on hard surfaces such as vinyl, hardwood or laminate flooring, as these types of machines release large quantities of water that can damage flooring. Steam mops work differently. While moisture is inherent to steam, a steam mop doesn't actually release water. Some people say they steam clean their laminate floors with good results. But laminate flooring manufacturers advise against it.

Laminate Floors and Moisture

Humidity can wreak havoc on laminate floors. Because laminate floorboards are not sealed, moisture can easily make its way through the seams. Once it reaches the unsealed edge of a board, it can cause the fibre core of the board to swell, resulting in a warping. Lifting, curling and crackling of the top layer of the laminate often occur once a board is warped.

Recommended Laminate Floor Cleaning

Cleaning laminate floors is relatively simple, but these types of floors do require some special care. Sweep or vacuum your floor, then clean with a damp mop and a specialised laminate floor cleaner. Avoid traditional floor cleaners, as these require dilution with a substantial amount of water and may leave a soapy residue. Do not wax or polish laminate flooring.

Using Steam on Laminate Flooring

Steam mops and hand-held steam cleaners can make quick work of cleaning many surfaces in your home, but when it comes to laminate floors, it's best not to risk it. If your laminate flooring is damaged, your manufacturer and installation warranties will likely be void. Because water damage to laminate can't be repaired, you will end up paying for an expensive replacement. If you decide to steam mop laminate flooring, it's wise to test a small inconspicuous area first.

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