Can You Steam Clean Hardwood Floors?

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October 14, 2023 by Marjorie R. Rogers, MA (English), Certified Consultant

Yes, you can steam clean hardwood floors. Steam cleaning is safe for sealed hardwood floors, as long as the floors are in good condition and not overly saturated.

Steam cleaning your hardwood floors provides a deeper clean and eliminates the need for harsh chemicals, making it a more eco-friendly option. Hardwood floors provide a warm and elegant touch to any home. However, with everyday use, your floors are exposed to dirt, dust, and spills, which can make it challenging to keep them looking clean.

Traditional cleaning solutions may leave streaks or a dull finish, and can even damage the floor’s finish with long-term use. Steam cleaning your hardwood floors not only brings back their shine, but also eliminates germs and allergens that traditional cleaning methods may not have removed. In this article, we’ll discuss why steam cleaning is safe for hardwood floors and how to properly steam clean your floors to get the best results.

Can You Steam Clean Hardwood Floors?


The Pros And Cons Of Steam Cleaning

Can You Steam Clean Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood floors not only add aesthetic value, but they also increase the resale value of homes. However, cleaning hardwood floors require extra maintenance and care compared to other types of flooring. Many people wonder if steam cleaning is a safe option for hardwood floors.

In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of using steam cleaning for hardwood floors.


What Is Steam Cleaning And How Does It Work On Hardwood Floors?

Steam cleaning is a cleaning method that uses hot steam to sanitize surfaces and lift dirt and grime from the floor. It is an effective and natural way of cleaning your hardwood floors without using chemicals. You can purchase or rent steam cleaners that work similarly to vacuum cleaners.

Advantages Of Steam Cleaning For Hardwood Floors

Using steam cleaning for hardwood floors has the following advantages:

  • Effectiveness in removing tough stains and dirt: The heat generated from the steam helps to dissolve dirt that clings to the surface of the floor, making it easier to remove without the need for harsh chemicals.
  • No need for harsh chemicals: Using only water and heat to clean your hardwood floors eliminates the need for harsh chemicals that can be harmful to your health and the environment.
  • Kills bacteria and germs on the surface: High temperature steam kills germs and bacteria that may reside on your hardwood floors.

Disadvantages Of Steam Cleaning For Hardwood Floors

Using steam cleaning for hardwood floors has the following disadvantages:

  • Can damage certain types of hardwood floors: Excessive exposure to moisture from steam can damage hardwood floors. Also, floors with gaps or cracks in the finish or sealant may absorb moisture and warp.
  • May not be effective against deep stains and ingrained dirt: Steam cleaning can remove dirt on the surface of the floor. However, it may not be effective against stains that have penetrated deep into the floor’s surface.
  • Potential for water damage: If not used properly, the steam cleaning machine may produce too much water, leaving the floor too wet, which can damage your hardwood floors.

Steam cleaning is a safe and effective way to clean your hardwood floors if used correctly. Beware of the potential risks mentioned above before attempting to steam clean your hardwood floors. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and test the machine on a small inconspicuous area before using it on your entire floor.

The Dos And Don’Ts Of Steam Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Preparing The Hardwood Floors For Steam Cleaning

Before steam cleaning your hardwood floors, it’s important to properly prepare them. Here are some dos and don’ts to follow:

  • Sweep and vacuum the area to remove any loose dirt and debris.
  • Check for any loose or damaged boards. If you find any, fix them before steam cleaning.
  • Make sure the floor is sealed and finished. If it’s unsealed, or the finish is damaged, it’s not suitable for steam cleaning.

Choosing The Right Steam Cleaner For Hardwood Floors

Not all steam cleaners are created equal. When it comes to hardwood floors, you need to choose the right one to avoid damaging the wood. Here’s what to consider:

  • Opt for a low-pressure and low-moisture steam cleaner. High-pressure or high-moisture steam can penetrate the wood, causing damage over time.
  • Avoid steam mops or handheld steam cleaners. These can also damage the wood by releasing too much moisture.
  • Look for steam cleaners that come with attachments and settings specifically for hardwood floors.

Using The Steam Cleaner Properly

Using a steam cleaner properly is crucial to avoid damaging your hardwood floors. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Ensure the steam cleaner is at the right temperature. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper temperature range.
  • Use the attachments and settings that are safe for hardwood floors. Don’t use any attachments or settings that are meant for other surfaces.
  • Move the steam cleaner in the direction of the wood grain. This will help avoid damaging the wood.
  • Don’t overuse the steam or leave the steam cleaner in one spot for too long. This can cause damage to the wood.

Avoiding Common Mistakes In Steam Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Even if you follow all the dos and don’ts, there are still some common mistakes to avoid when steam cleaning your hardwood floors. Here are some to watch out for:

  • Overusing steam or leaving the steam cleaner in one spot for too long. This can cause damage to the wood.
  • Using steam on unsealed or unfinished hardwood floors. This can cause the wood to warp or buckle.
  • Neglecting to wipe up excess water or moisture after steam cleaning. This can cause the wood to swell or be damaged by water.

By following the dos and don’ts of steam cleaning hardwood floors, choosing the right steam cleaner, using it properly, and avoiding common mistakes, you can keep your hardwood floors looking great for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions For Can You Steam Clean Hardwood Floors?

Can Steam Cleaning Ruin Hardwood Floors?

Steam cleaning hardwood floors can cause moisture damage resulting in permanent warping & cupping.

Is It Safe To Steam Clean Hardwood Floors?

Steam cleaning hardwood floors is not recommended as the moisture can damage the wood.

How Should I Clean My Hardwood Floors?

Use a microfiber mop with a damp cloth or hardwood floor cleaner specifically designed for hardwood floors.

Is A Steam Mop Good For Cleaning Hardwood Floors?

No, it is not recommended to use a steam mop on hardwood floors as it can cause damage to the wood.

What Is The Best Way To Maintain Hardwood Floors?

Sweep or vacuum regularly, remove spills immediately, use area rugs in high traffic areas, and use a hardwood floor cleaner.



Based on our discussion, it is safe to say that steam cleaning hardwood floors can be a tricky decision to make. While it definitely helps to get rid of stubborn dirt and grime, the process itself can cause more harm than good.

Excessive steam and water can penetrate through the gaps between floorboards, resulting in warping, swelling, and discoloration. Moreover, if the floor is not adequately sealed, the steam can cause the finish to fade away, which can look unsightly. Therefore, it is always advisable to take extra care and caution while cleaning hardwood floors and to use the right products that are specifically designed for such flooring.

Although steam cleaning is an effective way to clean and sanitize wooden floors, it is essential to understand the risks involved and take precautions to avoid damaging your hardwood floors.

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About Author (Marjorie R. Rogers)

The inspiring mum of 6 who dedicates her time to supporting others. While battling with her own demons she continues to be the voice for others unable to speak out. Mental illness almost destroyed her, yet here she is fighting back and teaching you all the things she has learned along the way. Get Started To Read …