Is It A Good Idea to Steam Clean Hardwood Floors?

White Oak Hardwood FloorLike so many people nowadays, I pride myself on the simple yet elegant hardwood floors I have in my home. While hardwood floors are remarkably expensive, attractive and add abundant style, class and elegance to the home, they are incredibly delicate and require very specific maintenance and care in order to retain their luster and value.

We all know that water is one of the biggest enemies of hardwood floors since the wood is very absorbent and the water can cause the wood to warp or buckle over time.

Today, there are a number of companies that believe it is a good idea to steam clean hardwood floors with the use of their manufactured steam cleaners. The indication is that the water, when heated to an extremely hot vapor, will not cause damage to the hardwood floors as long as they are properly sealed.

However, despite the claims made by these varied companies, all of the flooring companies and associations, including the National Wood Floor Association (NWFA) strongly disagree with the use of any steam cleaners on any style of hardwood floors. The consensus is that water in any form whatsoever will only cause damage to types of wood flooring, over a period of time, and reduce its life expectancy.

The Harm Caused by Steam Cleaning

Regardless of how much you heat the water to its vapor state, there still exists a high level of moisture that, when steam cleaning, comes directly in contact with the wood. If the seal on your floor has been compromised at all, any amount of water or moisture on the floor is going to cause significant damage to the wood over time, including severe warping and buckling. For this reason, you should avoid all these so-called “safe” hardwood floor steam cleaners.

Properly Cleaning Hardwood Floors Without Damaging it

There are really only a few acceptable and very safe ways of cleaning your hardwood floors without damaging them. They are as follows:

  • Sweeping: You can sweep floors as often as you like but just be certain to only use soft, fine bristle brooms.
  • Vacuuming: Vacuuming is safe once or twice per week, but again, be certain that you are utilizing a good hardwood floor vacuum with all the proper attachments;
  • Dust Mopping: Dust mopping is incredibly safe and can be performed as often as you wish with a soft cloth dust mop. Dust mopping daily will also remove any allergens that may be present on the floors.

In addition to these typical safe cleaning techniques, you should also install special floor mats at door entrances that lead to your hardwood floor. These floor mats will serve to remove dirt, winter salt or any other debris from shoes to keep from tracking these materials onto the hardwood floor and causing damage/scratching.


Although there are several new products on the market today that profess to be safe for cleaning hardwood floors, it is in your best interest to steer clear of these steam cleaning products if you care about the long term health of your floors. Following this one simple rule will not only keep your floors looking great over the long haul, but it is also ensures that your cherished investment is well protected.

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