How to Use a Steam Mop

Many steam mop packages tout claims of being able to eliminate 99.9% of germs and bacteria. These promises are a compelling reason why many people opt for steam mops over traditional cleaning methods. Pressurised steam at least 100°C can be used to eliminate viruses and bacteria from surfaces. However, it’s not just a case of simply wiping away germs and bacteria with a steam mop. Understanding how to use a steam mop is the key to eliminating germs and bacteria.

If you’ve ever wondered how to use a steam mop efficiently then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll not only answer that question but also provide you with step-by-step instructions and valuable tips on how to use a steam mop to ensure that your cleaning efforts yield impeccable results every time.

How to use a steam mop

Steam Mops vs. Traditional Mops: Which is Better?

If you’ve found the traditional mop and bucket routine to be a challenge, steam mops might seem like an appealing alternative. Steam mops are relatively low-maintenance, with machine-washable microfiber pads and no dirty water to deal with. Essentially, they are designed for quick and hassle-free cleaning. Conversely, traditional mops can be more time-consuming and physically demanding, as you need to manually wring out the mop and apply more pressure to clean effectively.

Unlike conventional mops, steam mops utilise the power of high-temperature steam to clean and sanitise various surfaces. The steam not only dissolves dirt and grime but also kills bacteria and germs, leaving your floors not just clean but also hygienic.

But just how true are these claims? Paula Cannon, professor of microbiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles asserts that “Because heat and steam will kill viruses, such mops will certainly be able to kill viruses.”  

Traditional mops rely on cleaning solutions to kill germs, which can leave behind residue and may not be suitable for individuals with allergies or sensitivities. On the other hand, steam mops are typically designed to be used with water, making them ideal for households with kids and pets.  

However, a steam mop can cause damage to specific types of flooring if not used correctly, making it necessary to know how to use a steam mop the right way. 

How to use the steam mop

The Dos and Don’ts of Steam Mop Cleaning

Steam mops are excellent for getting rid of most pathogens, bacteria, and germs. But, how high does the temperature need to be to accomplish this? 

Philip M. Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University, states that most pathogens will die at 100°C. However, while steam mops can operate at that temperature, they have to be held in place for at least 10 minutes at a time to be effective. This could result in damage to your flooring. 

The impact of a steam mop on your flooring depends on the material and its susceptibility to moisture and heat. Steam mops are most effective for cleaning hard, sealed surfaces. Here are some common types of flooring and how they can be affected by steam mops:

  • Hardwood floors are susceptible to swelling, warping, and mildew due to excessive moisture and heat from steam mops, so it’s best to use them sparingly and with caution.
  • Laminate flooring can warp or bubble if exposed to excessive steam, as the moisture can penetrate seams and damage the wear layer, leading manufacturers to advise against steam mop use.
  • Vinyl flooring, being plastic-based, can lose its shape and damage the top layer when subjected to high temperatures, making it incompatible with steam mops.
  • Ceramic and porcelain tiles generally tolerate steam mops well, but it’s important to ensure the tiles are not made of different materials to prevent potential damage.
  • Natural stone flooring, such as marble, granite, or limestone, is sensitive to heat and steam, which can strip away sealers, cause discolouration, and lead to expansion and contraction, resulting in cracks and pits. Therefore, caution is required when using steam mops on these surfaces.
Tips for using steam mops

Avoid Using Steam Mops for Large Spills

Steam mops, while convenient for routine cleaning, aren’t designed for heavy-duty liquid absorption. In such situations, the traditional mop and bucket method is a better fit.

To avoid damage when using a steam mop, it’s crucial to:

  • Check the flooring manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning methods.
  • Test a small, inconspicuous area before using a steam mop on the entire floor.
  • Ensure that the steam mop is used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, including the appropriate heat and moisture settings.
  • Avoid excessive steam application and prolonged contact with the floor.

Now that we know what type of flooring is compatible with steam mop cleaning, you’re probably wondering how to use a steam mop on your floor to get the best results. 

How to Use a Steam Mop Efficiently

Learning how to use a steam mop effectively can make your cleaning routine more efficient and help maintain the cleanliness of your floors. Follow these steps to maximise the benefits of your steam mop:

1. Preparing Your Floors

Steam mops work best on surfaces free from large debris. Remove any obstacles and debris from the area you intend to clean. Before using the steam mop, vacuum or sweep the floor to eliminate loose dirt and dust. This ensures a smooth and uninterrupted cleaning process.

2. Filling the Water Tank

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding water filling. Adhering to these guidelines ensures optimal performance. Tap water, with its minerals, can clog the mop’s internal mechanisms over time. To prolong the life of your steam mop and prevent mineral buildup, always use distilled water. 

Using a steam mop

3. Adjusting Steam Settings

Most steam mops come with adjustable steam settings. Depending on your flooring type, adjust the steam level accordingly. Lower settings are suitable for delicate surfaces, while higher settings are ideal for tougher stains and durable floors. Plug in the steam mop and allow it to heat up to the appropriate temperature. Typically, the mop is ready to use within a few minutes.

4. Attaching the Cleaning Pad

Secure the appropriate cleaning pad onto the mop head. These pads are usually made of microfiber and are designed to trap dirt and debris effectively.

5. How to Use A Steam Mop

Begin by pressing the mop’s trigger or activating the steam flow mechanism. Unlike traditional mops, steam mops work best when moved slowly across the surface. Keep the mop in constant motion to prevent over-saturation of any one area. This continuous motion ensures that the steam effectively loosens dirt and grime without causing excessive moisture buildup. Glide the mop slowly and steadily over the floor, moving in straight lines or a back-and-forth motion. Be sure to overlap your passes slightly for thorough coverage. 

For tougher stains or sticky spots, you can pause briefly over the affected area to apply more steam and pressure. This should help loosen and dissolve the stain. 

After cleaning, give the freshly steam-mopped area some time to dry completely. Proper ventilation can expedite the drying process.

6. Post-Cleaning Care

After use, turn off the steam mop and unplug it. Empty and clean the water tank, and remove and wash the cleaning pad according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

To ensure the longevity of your steam mop, perform regular maintenance such as descaling the mop (if recommended by the manufacturer) and replacing cleaning pads as needed.

Following these steps on how to use a steam mop efficiently, will ensure that you have cleaner floors – so less effort and better results. Steam mops are a valuable tool for maintaining the cleanliness of various flooring types, but it’s essential to use them correctly and regularly maintain them for optimal performance.


Steam mops offer numerous benefits, ranging from their eco-friendly nature to their ability to save both time and effort by combining cleaning and sanitising into a single step. Moreover, steam mops aren’t limited solely to floor cleaning. Using the appropriate attachments, you can extend their utility to various surfaces, including kitchen countertops and bathroom tiles.

However, the real power lies in knowing how to use a steam mop efficiently to get the best results and avoid damaging your flooring. 

Incorporating a steam mop into your cleaning routine isn’t just an option; it’s a smart investment in efficiency, hygiene, and the environment. 

However, if you’re feeling unsure about how to use a steam mop and want to safeguard your home’s flooring, consider entrusting the task to the experts at SimplySpotless. You can easily book a home cleaning service online today and enjoy a hassle-free cleaning experience.

Book a home cleaning service or end of lease cleaner online instantly!

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