As a hardwood floor owner, you’ve probably noticed advertisements for steam cleaners designed for hardwood floors.  However, also as a hardwood floor owner, you’re probably well aware that hardwood is very susceptible to damage in the presence of moisture.  So can you steam clean hardwood floors?  In this post, we’ll look at this question more carefully.

Can You Steam Clean Hardwood Floors?

While you very well can steam clean hardwood floors – it’s not like you’ll be sent to jail for doing so – the question should probably read, “SHOULD you steam clean hardwood floors?”  In that case, probably not.  No matter how powerful a vacuum the hardwood floor steam cleaner has, it will invariably be exposing your floor to heated water vapour.  The initial contact between the hardwood and the vapour as well as any leftover moisture can do serious damage to the floor.  

Can You Steam Clean Engineered Hardwood Floors?

Some may argue that the composition of engineered hardwood floors which include a clear wear layer are more able to withstand the deleterious effects of a steam cleaner.  And while this may sound good in theory, there is still a distinct possibility that moisture will get in between the seams of the individual planks and work its way into the fiberboard beneath the hardwood layer.  This could spell disaster for the integrity of the affected planks.  So while you won’t suffer life-changing consequences by steam cleaning an engineered hardwood floor, it’s probably not a good idea.

What Do The Hardwood Floor Manufacturers Say?

Virtually all hardwood floor manufacturers, whether solid or engineered, agree that steam or excessive moisture will damage the floorboards and that steam cleaners should not be used on them.  Several manufacturers stipulate that their warranty would be voided if the flooring is steam cleaned, so read the provided documents carefully.

What Do The Hardwood Steam Cleaner Manufacturers Say?

If you carefully read the instructions for hardwood floor steam cleaners, you’ll notice the suggestion that they should only be used on properly sealed floors.  However, even if your floor has been sealed, the likelihood of small imperfections or cracks in the sealant is very high.  Hardwood expands and contracts with temperature changes and will move slightly when walked on.  For a sealant to withstand this kind of movement would require a very thick coating.  In our estimation, you should probably not steam clean hardwood floors.