Everything You Need To Know About Steam Cleaning Hardwood Floors

The background of the graphic is an image of a woman steam cleaning her hardwood floors. There's a slightly transparent, dark overlay over the entire picture and in the middle is the title of the blog, which reads, "Everything You Need To Know About Steam Cleaning Hardwood Floors".

As Colorado’s top flooring company, G3 Hardwood Flooring wants to make sure you have all of the tools and resources you need to properly take care of your hardwood floors. There are different types of hardwood flooring, including luxury vinyl plank flooring and engineered hardwood flooring, and there are different techniques that should be used when taking care of these floors. Depending on what type of flooring you have, steam cleaning your hardwood floors may be a great way to help keep them shiny. To help you figure out if you should implement steam cleaning into your hardwood floor cleaning routine, our team of flooring experts is going to thoroughly explain the process.

Can You Steam Clean A Hardwood Floor?

Steam cleaning hardwood floors can be somewhat of a controversial topic. Some people love to steam clean their hardwood flooring while others believe that the process will cause permanent damage. It’s important to know that there are many types of hardwood flooring, such as sealed hardwood, unsealed hardwood, and laminate flooring, and each type of flooring will react differently to the steam cleaning process.

If you don’t have unsealed hardwood flooring, then steam cleaning with a dry steam vapor is probably a great option for your floors! When hardwood floors are steam cleaned properly, there should be no signs of damage whatsoever. However, if your hardwood floors are sealed with a penetrating oil sealer, then it’s possible that over time, cleaning your floors with steam vapor can cause slight damages and require periodic touch-ups. Some wood flooring finishes that shouldn’t be damaged with steam vapor cleaning include oil-based polyurethane, moisture-cured urethane, and water-based polyurethane. Before steam cleaning for the first time, make sure to test your hardwood floors in an inconspicuous area.

Ways To Clean Hardwood Floors

Depending on the type and finish of your hardwood floors, you have a few cleaning options available. It’s important to research your cleaning options thoroughly because if you clean your hardwood floors incorrectly, you’ll most likely cause irreparable and costly damage. Some ways to clean your hardwood floors include:

  1. Cleaning Solution
    • This isn’t a very popular method to clean floors because it takes a long time and can be an exhausting process. But, if you’re interested, certain flooring companies will offer a cleaning solution that you can apply to your wood floors by hand, scrub, and then buff off.
  2. Dry Mopping
    • Another way you can clean your hardwood floors is by dry mopping with a damp mop. All you need to do is use your normal wet mop but don’t add any liquid or washing solution to it.
  3. Wet Steam
    • Some markets offer steam cleaners that don’t use a dry steam vapor system. This can include anything from a steam mop to a wet vac system. It’s best to stay away from these because they create too much moisture and will most likely damage your wood floors.
  4. Boiler Steam Vapor Systems
    • Another type of steam cleaner available is one that uses a boiler to create steam. While these do attempt to create dry steam, it’s usually low quality and won’t complete the job to your liking. 
  5. High-Quality Steam Vapor
    • When it comes to cleaning your hardwood floors, one of the best options is to use a high-quality steam vapor system. You want to use a higher wattage system that’s specifically designed to create high-quality dry steam vapor. This type of steam will thoroughly clean your wood floors without getting them overly wet. 

Is It Safe To Steam Clean Hardwood Floors?

If your hardwood floors are sealed and you’re using a high-quality dry steam vapor system, it’s safe to steam clean your hardwood floors. However, whenever you’re using a new flooring method, regardless of the type of floors you have in your home, it’s a good idea to do a spot test on a hidden area. It’s also always a good idea to check with your manufacturer’s warranty. 

Before steam cleaning your hardwood floors, it’s also important to double-check that there aren’t any loose boards or cracks where water could seep in and cause damage. The obvious reason why you want to be careful when steam cleaning your hardwood floors is because you don’t want to use a cleaning method that creates excess moisture. That’s why it’s important to choose a high-quality dry steam vapor system, which causes a minimal amount of moisture. 

Are My Hardwood Floors Sealed?

One of the most important factors to safely steam cleaning your hardwood floors is to make sure that they’re sealed properly. If you’re not sure if your hardwood floors are sealed, there’s a very easy way to check. All you need to do is put a couple of drops of water on your wood floors. If the droplets bead up, then your floor is sealed. If the water absorbs into the wood or spreads out, then your wood floors aren’t sealed

How Does A Steam Vapor System Work?

If you’re going to clean your hardwood floors with a steam vapor system, make sure to follow the steps below to do so correctly.

Step 1: Warm Up Your System

  • You want to use your system for a while and let it run before using it on your hardwood floors, that way you know it’s properly heated and successfully creating dry steam. Consider using it on your tile floors or walls beforehand to warm it up. 

Step 2: Set The Volume

  • If your steam vapor system has volume control, you want to keep it on the lowest setting for your wood flooring. If you have a numbered volume control, don’t turn it up past 2. 

Step 3: Check Accessories

  • Steam vapor systems come with various accessories, and using the right accessories will help you clean your wood floors properly. For hardwood floors, it’s usually best to use a large rectangular floor brush. You should also use a filler pad between the nylon bristles, which helps to spread the heat and steam evenly across your floors. The filler pad will also trap any excess condensation that forms.

Step 4: Wrap It Up

  • Your floor brush should be fully wrapped with a terry cloth towel. This forces the steam to travel down to your wood floor instead of escaping from the ends of your steam cleaning tool. If you’re using a microfiber towel, make sure the steam is able to pass through the towel. If the steam isn’t able to pass through and gets trapped inside the microfiber towel, it will quickly become wet.

Step 5: Spot Check Your Floors

  • Do a spot check on an area of your floors that’s easily hidden. Make sure there’s no damage to your wood flooring or its finish.

Step 6: Brush Your Wood Floors

  • Next, you want to move the brush back and forth in the direction of the wood grain. Make sure you’re constantly moving your floor cleaning tool at a speed just lower than a vacuum. 

Step 7: Return To Tough Spots

  • Finally, if there are any areas of your wood floor that weren’t properly cleaned during your original pass, make sure to go back over them and try again. Now your floor is clean and shining!

Learn How To Make Your Floors Last With G3 Hardwood Flooring

If your hardwood floors are sealed, then a great option to thoroughly clean them is to use a steam vapor system. These systems allow you to clean your floors in a way that makes them look like they were professionally buffed. For over 70 years, the floor experts at G3 Hardwood Flooring have been making sure that the homes and businesses of southern Colorado have the best wood flooring available. If you’d like to learn more ways to take care of your hardwood floors, make sure to contact us today!