Hardwood flooring is aesthetically striking but can be a pain to maintain. Cleaning them the old-fashioned way with a standard mop may not be getting you the results you want.
If you’re here, you may be enthusiastic about harnessing the grime-fighting powers of steam. At the same time, you’re likely wary about risking harm to your flooring.
Your concern is warranted. Picking an incompatible steam mop could have disastrous consequences for your floors. Here’s everything you need to know to find the best steam mop for your hardwood floors.
You’re right to arm yourself with information before buying a steam mop. There are so many types of mops on the market that shopping might momentarily overwhelm you. Let’s now answer some pressing questions people commonly have about steam cleaning this flooring type.
Can I Use a Steam Mop on Wooden Floors?
It’s only natural to have this question. After all, saving yourself the trouble of using a standard mop isn’t worth permanent damage to your floors.
Hardwood flooring has been around for decades. The term refers to any wood harvested from broad-leaved, deciduous trees such as oak or maple (1).
Your floors will likely fall into one of two broad categories. They’ll either be solid (all-wood) or engineered (wood and composite materials) (2).
You can theoretically use a steam mop on both — as long as they’re sealed. By that, we mean that your hardwood floors must be varnished or otherwise coated.
Varnish protects and preserves the underlying wood. This liquid dries to form a transparent film that’s durable and usually gloss-enhancing.
An alternative to varnish is polyurethane coatings. These high-performance compounds are manufactured to shield wood as well as other materials from daily wear and tear.
Wood is sturdy with aesthetic appeal, but you should be aware of its weaknesses. A major flaw is its tendency to absorb moisture, which can alter its appearance.
As steam is vaporized water, you can’t expose unsealed wood to it. Residual moisture from the steam may distort the boards over time.
Don’t Overdo It
Are Steam Mops Worth It?
If you despise mopping and scrubbing floors, a steam mop is worth your while. Harsh detergents may speed up cleaning, but can also eat away at your floors. Steam, on the other hand, may be hot but it’s biodegradable and non-toxic.
Check Your Warranty
Choosing the Best Steam Mop for Hardwood Floors
We’ll start by warning you that hardwood flooring can be costly to refinish. If you skimp on cost, you risk a job completed poorly and potentially unsafely (6).
You don’t want to hazard exorbitant repairs on choosing the wrong steam mop. So bear in mind that not all models that claim to be compatible with hardwood flooring are equal.
These are all the product specifications you should look out for:
Available Settings and Control
Will you have any options over how the steam emerges? If you’re determined to steam mop your floors frequently, you may want a model with a lower setting.
It’s critical that you’re able to stop steam production whenever you want. If turning the machine off is a fiddly process, you risk harming your hardwood or injuring yourself.
Mop Pad Construction
Popular species of wood used for flooring such as oak and maple are known for their strength. Maple, in particular, is recognized for being resistant to abrasion (7).
However, that doesn’t mean you want to test these capabilities out. Mop pads need to be soft and non-abrasive to avoid scuffing, scratching or otherwise marking your floors.
Ideally, they shouldn’t wear out after several uses. You don’t want to dedicate too much of your cleaning budget to buying replacement pads for your mop.
You should also note the dimensions and shape of the pad. Is it wide or narrow? Triangular for corners, or rectangular? These facets will impact how you can use it.
Steam mops can significantly outweigh their traditional counterparts. Does your house have stairs? Will you need to carry your steam mop to and fro?
If you get tuckered out dragging a regular mop, weight should be first on your list of priorities. There’s no purpose in buying a model you won’t be able to handle.
Tank capacity is linked to how much steam mopping you can do before having to refill. Still, before you buy a model with an enormous tank, remember that the additional ounces could weigh you down.
Don’t forget the tank capacity when you see the time it takes the mop to warm up. A 30-second warm-up time is ideal for a moderately sized tank. But if the tank is tiny and takes minutes to get hot, it could become frustrating to use.
Power and Effectiveness
The power of any electrical device is measurable in watts. In quality products, a higher wattage generally (but not always) corresponds to steam emitted at a greater pressure and temperature.
So you want to know what temperature the device you’re looking at is rated for. Water vaporizes, turning from a liquid into steam at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite that, steam can easily reach higher temperatures (8).
Now, even the most heat-resistant bacteria will surrender to death at over 176 degrees Fahrenheit. But why should you take an interest in high-heat models?
Simple: there’s less work in it for you. Hotter steam means fewer swipes over the same area to get it spotless.
Ease of Use and Maneuverability
There’s plenty to look at in terms of these features. Is the steam mop head flexible, or stiff? A head that can shift is handy if you have furniture and other obstacles to get around.
What about user-friendliness? Do you have to press down a switch non-stop while you’re steaming?
Is the cord long, or so short that you’ll have to replug it every few steps? Are there any futuristic features like a smart switch to make your life easier?
The Best Steam Mops for Hardwood Floors of 2020
We immersed ourselves in the steam mop market on your behalf. We’ve meticulously investigated, reviewed and assessed each model for you. So we’re happy to say that all of our in-depth sleuthing paid off. We’ve come up with five potential candidates for the best steam mop for hardwood floors.
1. Light ‘N Easy S3101 Steam Mop
Homeowners with multiple flooring types will want to consider the Light N’ Easy S3101 Steam Mop. With different floorings in one home, cleaning can be daunting.
You need to use separate products and maybe even different devices (e.g., vacuum and carpet cleaner). But we love that the S3101 is rated for hard surfaces (wood, laminate, tile and stone) as well as carpet.
This versatile mop can be of use in nearly any residence. You probably don’t have hardwood bathrooms, and many homes have at least one carpeted room.
True to the name, the Light N’ Easy won’t break your back. It weighs 4 pounds; toting it up and down stairs shouldn’t be too taxing.
Why We Love It
There’s nothing complex about setting up or using this mop. For one, you don’t have to remove the tank to refill it, which saves you time.
Its controls are straightforward. You pump the handle and move the mop around to produce steam: the faster you go, the more steam you’ll generate.
Suitable for Soft and Hard Flooring
Users with carpet will appreciate the duality of this mop. You may be able to retire your old carpet cleaner, or save yourself the cost of a new one.
Easily Carried and Stored
There are handheld steam cleaners that weigh more than this compact steam mop. It shouldn’t be cumbersome to move around from room to room.
The last thing we need is another big appliance to cram into a closet. The slim build and light weight are practical for those of you with limited space.
Ideal for Speedy Cleaning
The way steam is generated will metaphorically put the heat on you to pick up the pace. Moving the mop vigorously forces more steam out.
The 7.4-ounce tank heats up in less than a minute. Those of you who don’t like to waste time will appreciate how rapidly this model gets ready for action.
Keep In Mind
Carpet Attachment Sold Separately
Although the Light N’ Easy comes with one mop pad, the carpet glider is sold separately. If you want to profit from the full flooring package, you’ll have to purchase it by itself.
This doesn’t impact the functionality of the machine, but it is somewhat irksome. The way it’s advertised, you’d expect it to be inclusive.
|Tank Capacity and Warm-Up Time||7.4 ounces, ready in 30 seconds|
|Mop Pad||Washable microfiber pad, 10.5 by 6 inches|
|Settings||Automatic shutoff when you release the handle|
|Cord Length||20 feet|
2. Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop
Are your hardwood floors subject to a host of affronts on a regular basis? Little ones, pets and careless spouses can dirty up your glossy floors in the blink of an eye.
In this case, the Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe might be an appealing choice. It comes with a built-in brush for tackling the likes of dried mud, forgotten sticky spills and caked-on grime.
Once the bulk of the mess is dealt with, you can reattach the mop head. At 12 inches wide, it can cover wide swathes at once to shorten your cleaning time.
Why We Love It
Prompt Heat-Up and Preparation
Cleaning enthusiasts with messy housemates know better than to let things go. That applesauce your toddler spilled will solidify into sticky gunk. The soda spill your cat caused is going to turn tacky sooner rather than later.
This machine can be ready to jump into action as quickly as you are. The Bissell heats up in 30 seconds.
So by the time you perform a preliminary wipe-down, it’ll be ready to finish the job with a sanitizing burst of steam.
Two Settings for Different Surfaces
If you’re obliged to steam your hardwood often, it’s best to do it on a low setting. This model can be switched between low and high, depending on what you’re steaming.
Mop pads made for scrubbing can be handy, but they can also be resistant when you push them across the floor.
In contrast, the microfiber of this widely-built mop pad is cushiony and thick. Aside from protecting your floors from scratches, it should glide over them without a hitch.
Option to Include Scent Disk
Steam has many advantages, but it doesn’t leave a fragrance behind. So after transitioning to steam, you may miss your favorite scented cleaning products.
Thankfully, the mop attachment has a tray built to hold Bissell scent disks. The spring-fresh aroma should satisfy your desire to enjoy aromatic evidence of your hard work.
Keep In Mind
Might Have a Shorter Lifespan
A handful of users report that their Bissells didn’t last as long as they’d hoped. Several customers experienced their steam mops giving up within one year of purchase.
Your product is under the umbrella of a two-year limited warranty, but it’s still disappointing. Although this happened to a minority of buyers, it’s understandable if you don’t want to risk it.
|Tank Capacity and Warm-Up Time||19 ounces, ready in 30 seconds|
|Mop Pad||Microfiber pad, 12 inches wide|
|Settings||Low and high|
|Cord Length||25 feet|
3. Shark Genius Hard Floor Steam Mop
Users who are fond of appliances with ingenious features might be tempted by the Shark Genius.
If you’re the germaphobic type, you’ll likely adore this mop. With the touch of a button, detach and reattach the pad from the device — no hands needed.
It also has a targeted steam blaster for stubborn stains. So if you suddenly come across a resilient stain, you can blast it into submission and return to steam mopping.
Why We Love It
Three Settings for Almost All Surfaces
The Shark Genius gives you total control over steam generation. You’ll be able to steam mop surfaces ranging from delicate to hardy with settings from low to medium and high.
All three settings are rated for use on hardwood flooring. Of course, it’s up to you to determine which setting is most appropriate for your wood.
Drop Pads Straight Into Your Hamper
This gadget’s touch-free mop pad will appeal to users who are queasy about touching grimy mop pads. We sympathize: sometimes the oddest textures can gross us out.
You can have your hamper nearby to hold the Genius over to drop the pad straight in. Dump it in your washing machine without touching it once.
Steam Blaster for Interruption-Free Mopping
When you come across a tacky or grimy spot with a traditional mop, you usually have to stop. Typically, you’re obligated to get down on your knees and scrub to loosen it up.
The chances of such aggravating delays are minimized with this machine. It has a built-in steam blaster to send a concentrated jet of steam at whatever is in your way.
Longer-Lasting Mop Pads
As you may have noticed from the description, the mop pads are dual-sided. Once you’ve worn out one side, you can switch to the second one.
Shark states that the pads can last for up to four months with normal use. Since replacement pads are an ongoing cost, this should save you a little money.
Keep In Mind
Swiveling Mop Head Might Hinder You
Several customers report that the mop head is extremely pliable. The swiveling mop head may prove too flexible for some of you.
If you have a lot of wide-open spaces to steam, struggling to keep the mop straight could get irritating. Users who have become accustomed to stiff mop heads for years may also have trouble adjusting.
|Tank Capacity and Warm-Up Time||11.8 ounces, ready in 30 seconds|
|Mop Pad||Two double-sided dirt-grip washable pads,
4.71 by 13.8 by 7 inches
|Settings||Low, medium, high. Steam blaster available|
|Cord Length||22.4 feet|
4. Light ‘N Easy S7338 Automatic Control Steam Mop
Our furnishings and decorations are what make our homes unique. Unfortunately, they can also be troublesome to navigate with bulky appliances.
Users with crowded hardwood floors could find the S7338 by Light N’ Easy steam mop alluring. The 8.6 by 8.6-inch square head can swivel to slide under couches and tables. The flexibility of the mechanism enables you to navigate obstacles with ease.
The smaller head is petite enough not to get jammed under smaller-sized furniture. It also has the advantage of fitting neatly into most standard-sized corners. And you won’t have to pass over the same area repeatedly, as with a narrower, rectangular mop.
Why We Love It
You’re able to regulate steam generation through your movements. If you push the mop head back and forth swiftly, you’ll get a greater quantity of steam.
So if you run into a tough stain in the midst of mopping, you can break it down with a few brisk movements. Then just slow it down to cut off steam production.
When you position the mop handle upright, steam will stop instantly. This is practical if you have curious pets or children who wander out while you’re cleaning.
Long Cord for Extra Reach
Having a lot of items in a room can shorten the cord length of appliances like this. For instance, 10-foot cord can turn into a 5-foot one if your outlet is behind an enormous couch.
We’re glad that this device has a cord that’s 20 feet long. It’ll likely be enough to work with, even if you have to wind it around various pieces of furniture.
Simple to Maneuver
A head that swivels 360 degrees won’t limit you in a crowded space. You may not have to bend over or move furnishings around as you would with a stiff-head model.
Adding to that, the whole mop weighs less than 5 pounds. The majority of steam moppers shouldn’t feel worn down after manipulating it for a while.
Keep In Mind
A few customers have found that the pads are thin, meaning they wear out faster. This means you need to keep an eye on your mop pads; check them regularly.
Otherwise, you hazard scuffing or scratching your hardwood floors. If you’re the forgetful sort and this sounds too dangerous for you to chance, pick a model with thicker pads.
|Tank Capacity and Warm-Up Time||Tank capacity N/A, ready in 30 seconds|
|Mop Pad||8.6 by 8.6 inches|
|Settings||Smart sensor, automatic shutoff when positioned upright|
|Cord Length||20 feet|
5. Shark S1000A Steam Mop With Removable Tank
Do you live in a smaller residence with fewer square feet to steam? This product may work for you. The power cord is 18 feet long, which won’t be too restrictive in humbler domiciles.
The pads are reusable and will keep you as long as you aren’t steaming vast expanses of flooring. This lightweight model won’t eat up space you don’t have. It’s slim and unbulky, so it shouldn’t give you much trouble to store.
You can control how much steam you’ll expose your hardwood floors to. Steam is generated by pumping the mop handle as little or as often as you need.
Why We Love It
When your living space is modest, economizing on space is a priority. A bigger appliance might not fit in your designated storage areas.
Most people agree that leaving cleaning tools out and about is an aesthetic downer. But worse yet, we don’t need to be reminded of cleaning when we aren’t doing it.
The Shark should fit conveniently into the smallest of closets. One buyer managed to rig up a hook for it, which could work as the handle is rounded.
Straightforward to Use
This simply-built machine is controlled manually through a pump. You squeeze the handle to push out steam as you manipulate the mop.
There are no electronic settings to switch between, and it’s easy to set up. Attaching pads to the mop is as easy as pressing the head down on the pad while it’s on the floor.
Refilling the removable tank is a breeze. You pour water into it (straight from the tap), screw the cap back on and reattach it to the mop.
Lightweight and Low-Effort
Manipulating the S1000A shouldn’t overpower uses of all levels of physical ability. The total weight of this mop is 4.6 pounds.
Hoisting it over your carpets or out of storage likely won’t be too exhausting. It also has a long handle, meaning most of you won’t have to hunch over while steaming.
Keep In Mind
Less Durable Pads
One of the reasons why we suggest this product for smaller-scale residents is the pads. Several buyers have reported that the pads collect dirt fast, requiring frequent replacement.
This machine might not be optimal for regularly steaming big areas. The pads will last for longer if you use them less.
Pump Could Tire Your Hands Out
A few users have complained that handling the pump is tiring after a while. If you have limitations (e.g., arthritis), the repetitive motion might grow painful.
Those of you in this category might prefer a model with hands-free controls. A few examples are the Light N’ Easy S7338 or the Shark Genius.
|Tank Capacity and Warm-Up Time||12.6 ounces, ready in 30 seconds|
|Settings||Pump to generate steam|
|Cord Length||18 feet|
Detailed Comparison Chart
|Product||Best||Tank Capacity, Warm-Up Time||Mop Pad||Settings||Weight||Cord Length|
|Light ‘N Easy S3101||All Floors||7.4 oz, 30 sec||Microfiber pad, 10.5″ x 6″||Automatic shutoff when you release the handle||4 lbs||20 ft|
|Bissell PowerFresh||Stubborn Messes||19 oz, 30 sec||Microfiber pad, 12″||Low and high||5.7 lbs||25 ft|
|Shark Genius Hard Floor||Innovative Features||11.8 oz, 30 sec||Double-sided dirt-grip pads, 4.71″ x 13.8″ x 7″||Low, medium, high. Steam blaster available||6 lbs||22.4 ft|
|Light ‘N Easy S7338 Auto||Heavily Furnished Homes||N/A, 30 sec||8.6″ x 8.6″||Smart sensor, automatic shutoff when positioned upright||4.9 lbs||20 ft|
|Shark S1000A Steam Mop||Smaller Abodes||12.6 oz, 30 sec||N/A||Pump – generate steam||4.6 lbs||18 ft|
Tips for Steam Mopping Hardwood Floors
We provide a few steam mopping tips for users who are curious, hesitant, or both. Using common sense and being reasonably careful is all there is to it:
- Don’t idle: We know it’s hard not to drift into your thoughts while cleaning. That’s not a problem so long as you keep moving or cut the power to your steam mop. Allowing the steam to blast into one area of your flooring for a long moment can damage it.
- Work speedily: On that note, keep up a quick pace as you steam. Don’t slowly drag it over your flooring: a brief pass should be sufficiently cleansing.
- Let it warm up: Don’t try to forcefully use your steam mop before it’s ready. You could cause harm to the internal mechanisms, or spew hot water instead of steam.
- Keep pads clean: A buildup of filth will render your steam mop ineffective. You risk scuffing your floors by pushing a mop covered in solid grime across them. Clean them as needed, or replace them if they’re past washing.
- Let the mop cool off safely: The pad of the mop will be scalding hot after you use it. Don’t prop it up on your hardwood floors to dry. Instead, position the mop so the pad isn’t touching anything.
Before You Start Steaming
Before you leave us, we want to call attention to a couple of things. If you aren’t sure whether or not your hardwood floors are sealed, check with a professional. Don’t venture a guess and hope for the best.
Double-check that steaming won’t void your warranty if your hardwood floors are new. If another accident happens that requires repair, you want to be covered.
Finally, use caution when you’re steaming hardwood. Remember not to overdo it, and monitor how your hardwood responds to steaming. If you notice the floors have begun to deteriorate, stop using your steam mop on them.