Laminate floors are an attractive, economical way to provide the look of wood without the major operation of installing a hardwood floor. Maintaining that look, however, requires some care, and if you're tempted to use a handy steam cleaner on your laminate floor, you may want to think twice.
Steam cleaners are great on tile and other hard-surface floors. Though they often look like vacuum cleaners, they clean with hot water vapour that not only dissolves grease and dried-on stains, but can also kill mould and dust mites. Pet owners also may find that steam cleaning is more thorough in dissolving and removing "accidents" and their odours than other methods. And because you're cleaning with hot steam, there's no need for soap or chemicals, a great advantage for those with allergies.
Laminate Hates Moisture
The steam that is so helpful in maintaining tile and stone floors can seriously damage laminate flooring. The attractive design of a laminate floor is actually a picture of wood printed on paper and placed between a clear, moisture-resistant cover and a base made of wood particles held together with glue. That moisture-resistant layer is not enough to keep steam from penetrating and soaking the paper layer, damaging the picture and possibly causing permanent wrinkles in the floor. It can get worse if the steam goes deeper and soaks into the glue and particles that make up the base of your laminate floor.
Bottom Line: Don't
A laminate floor can give you years of attractive service, but you do have to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning, which include using only a damp--not wet--mop. A steam cleaner is very likely to cause serious and permanent damage to your laminate floor.