Understanding What Laminate Floor Is
Laminate flooring is comprised of hard fiberboard core and an image layer that gives the laminate the look of a real wood floor. Above this, a protective coat or sealant protects the material. When the laminate is installed, the planks or squares generally click together snugly, but this does not create an impervious surface. If moisture remains on the floor, it can seep into the crevices and be absorbed by the fiberboard. Keep in mind that the fiberboard is comprised of tiny air pockets that can absorb moisture. They can also expand when they are exposed to high humidity situations.
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Laminate Flooring?
The direct answer to this question is no. Any liquid spills on laminate flooring should be dried thoroughly and as soon as possible to prevent warping. You may think that the minimal amount of moisture that is released from a steam mop would not impact laminate floor, but this is not the case. The humidity and the possibility of moisture seeping into the crevices can be problematic. In addition, the matter of heat from a steam mop is a cause for concern. Keep in mind that the protective top coat or sealant on laminate floors could be damaged by high heat. The heat from a steam mop may reach or exceed 250 degrees Fahrenheit, which may be hot enough to break down the top coat on laminate. This type of damage may not be immediately visible. However, as the top coat breaks down with repetitive use of a steam mop, the longevity of your laminate floor may be diminished.
The Manufacturer’s Instructions and Warranty Terms
Many steam mop manufacturers tout their products as being safe for use on laminate floors. Steam mops will generally remove dirt and grime from any hard floor surface, and the smooth texture of the mop pad will not scratch the surface. However, the ultimate authority regarding how to clean your laminate flooring is the floor’s manufacturer. After all, care instructions, manufacturing processes, warranty terms and other factors vary dramatically. The reality is that most laminate floor manufacturers advise against using steam mops or even cleaning devices that use extreme heat, high levels of humidity or direct moisture. Many floor warranties are specifically negated if these types of cleaning processes are used, or the warranties will not cover associated damages. Likewise, many manufacturers expressly advise against the use of chemical cleaning products even if they are marketed as being safe for use on laminate.
How to Clean Laminate Flooring Safely and Effectively
If you cannot use steam, moisture or chemical cleaning products to safely clean laminate floor, you may be wondering what steps you can take. After all, this hard floor surface can become filthy over time. Sweeping the flooring regularly is an essential step. If you live in a home with a lot of foot traffic, you may need to sweep the floor every day or two. As soon as you notice any spills or stains, immediately wipe up the mess. Avoid letting the mess sit on the floor because liquids could seep between crevices and may cause permanent damage. In addition, some messes are more difficult to remove when they harden. They may require scraping or other efforts that could damage the floor. If you must use moisture to remove a spill or spot, always immediately follow up with a dry cloth to remove moisture.
The Need to Seal Laminate Floor
Laminate floor planks and tiles have a protective cover or sealant layer on them, but this does not prevent moisture from working its way between the tiles and planks. Applying a sealant on laminate flooring periodically is recommended by many manufacturers. In many cases, specific products and application instructions are recommended. The sealant provides a uniform protective layer over the entire floor. While using moisture-based cleaning solutions or harsh chemical cleaning products is not recommended even with a sealant covering the entire floor, the sealant may reduce the likelihood of related damages and extend its life.
You can see that the specific care instructions for your new laminate floor may vary based on the type of floor that you have selected. At the time of purchase or installation, inquire about the cleaning and care instructions for your new floor so that you can maximize its life.