The growing popularity of vinyl flooring has made it a staple in many modern homes. It looks deceptively like wood flooring but is not. Because it is different, you need to keep the specific rules of vinyl flooring in mind when you clean it. Like vinyl flooring, steam mops are also growing in popularity due to their ease of use and satisfying ability to clean beyond a traditional mop and bucket. However, can you use a steam mop on vinyl plank flooring?
The short answer is no. Some steam mops are designed to be safe for vinyl plank flooring, but most are not. You cannot use a traditional steam mop on your vinyl plank flooring without causing heavy damage.
I will discuss the risks and exceptions to this rule.
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Regular Vinyl Plank Flooring?
While a steam mop is convenient for stone and tile flooring, it is a no go for vinyl plank flooring because of the temperature and the pressure. Steam mops work by shooting jets of hot steam into the surface, which will warp the planks and disturb the glue that holds them together.
This is particularly hard on regular vinyl plank flooring, which is not waterproof. I would advise against using even those steam mops designed for vinyl flooring on this type of flooring, because those mops often assume the flooring is of the waterproof variety. Most older vinyl plank flooring is not waterproof unfortunately and is thus difficult to clean.
Can You Use a Steam Mop on Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Newer vinyl plank flooring is often waterproof and more durable. If yours is waterproof, the manufacturer will have advertised it on the packaging. For waterproof vinyl plank flooring, the answer is a little more complicated. You should still not use a traditional steam mop on waterproof vinyl plank, but you can use steam mops designed for vinyl flooring.
These typically are of the pricier professional variety. They have adjustable settings for the temperature and the pressure, which should always be at half or lower power for vinyl flooring. The planks themselves are impervious to water on the faces, which helps to prevent warping.
Additionally, the joints tend to be tighter to keep water away from the glue and porous sides. However, the pressure and heat can still push water down into the joints between the planks if it is too high, thus damaging your floor.
Can You Use a Swiffer on Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Swiffer products are safe to use on vinyl flooring because they put out little water. Mop products such as the Swiffer Wet Jet should not leave the floor wet for longer than ten minutes after use. However, you will need something to use along with the Swiffer on your vinyl plank floor, as it tends to push around anything larger than dust instead of removing it.
Can You Use a Traditional Mop on Vinyl Plank?
A traditional mop is not a nearly as high pressure or high heat as a steam mop. Therefore, it is safe to use on your waterproof vinyl plank flooring. Try not to leave the floor too wet after mopping – the ideal is for it to dry within a few minutes of being mopped – you can accomplish this by squeezing excess water out of the mop before use.
For your non-waterproof vinyl flooring, you should be more careful. Ideally, you should avoid mopping unless there is dirt that a vacuum cannot take care of. When you do need to mop, avoid excess water, and only use lukewarm water with a bit of vinegar in it. Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that will break up oils and dirt without staining the flooring.
If you have already used a steam mop on your vinyl plank flooring, you may have gotten lucky, and it looks fine. However, damage beneath the surface has occurred. The planks will have shifted slightly, which can make them more vulnerable to damage later. The water pushed into the floor can also grow mold over time which is frankly gross and may cause hay fever symptoms in some people.
More severe damage will be readily apparent, with the flooring coming unglued entirely, disintegrating, or so heavily warped that the pieces no longer fit together.
How Can You Fix Steam Mop Damages on Vinyl Plank?
We have already talked about how steam mops can cause mold growth, warping, and disintegration of your vinyl plank flooring. If you have already used a Steam Mop on your vinyl floor, however, what should you do? This depends on how bad and how widespread the damage is. If you are primarily worried about mold, but the flooring looks undamaged on the surface, then you may be able to salvage the floor with some time and hard work.
If there is a small section with obvious warping, then you will need to remove the affected section of the floor and replace it. If the damage is severe and widespread you should plan to redo the entire floor.
To prevent mold from growing in the grooves and under the vinyl plank flooring, you will need to ensure that all the moisture has been removed from inside the plank flooring. This may be easier or more difficult depending on what kind of flooring you have. There are three main kinds of vinyl plank: interlocking, loose lay, and glue down. Uninstalling all three is possible, but you can only reuse the first two (removing glue down usually damages the planks).
If you have interlocking or loose lay, and there has been exposure to significant water but no warping then you can uninstall the floor, dry, and clean it, and put it back down again. If you have glue down flooring, you may unfortunately be out of luck on this front.
What is the Recommended Way to Clean Vinyl Plank Flooring?
The ideal way to clean vinyl plank flooring is to sweep and vacuum it daily. This prevents stains and damage to the flooring, and typically is enough to keep it clean. However, more stubborn things like spills, mud, and stains can call for something else. In this case you should use lukewarm water and vinegar. Dish soap can be added to the mixture for added stain fighting power.
It can be applied with a cloth or traditional mop and should be dry within a few minutes of getting cleaned. If it will not be dry that quickly on its own, you may need to use a towel to soak up excess moisture.
How Do You Make Vinyl Plank Flooring Shine?
Vinyl plank flooring should be shiny and beautiful from install until the end of its lifetime. If your flooring is looking dim, then it could be a layer of dust that has stuck to the top of it. This is quite common near busy streets and will naturally occur over time. Often, a sweep or vacuum can be enough to dislodge grim from vinyl floors, but sometimes you need to use a gentle, vinyl safe cleansing solution. Vinegar, a sponge mop and water, or Swiffer are all good options.
If there are scuffs or damage dimming your floor’s shine, you can saturate a towel in W-40 and rub it over the area. If the damage is widespread enough it may be in your best interest to rewax the floor. All vinyl flooring comes with a layer of wax on the top to make it shine and protect the finish, but this can be removed and reapplied to reverse scuffs, scrapes, and scratches.
Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring is popular for a variety of reasons, but the biggest is the lower maintenance associated with vinyl flooring over traditional wood flooring, and lower costs. Vinyl Plank Flooring has a lower entry cost compared to hardwood, as well as lower maintenance costs over time. It is easy to install, some models simply clip together like assembling a jigsaw.
There are many styles available, and if you keep your vinyl clean, it will last you many years without losing its beauty. In contrast, hardwood floors need frequent conditioning and refinishing to remain in good condition.
After reading this article, I hope we can agree that steam mops, while useful for many things, should be kept far from vinyl flooring. Instead, there are many other cleaning solutions you can use ranging from traditional all natural to modern high convenience. My personal favorite combination is a vacuum and Swiffer WetJet, which will take care of almost anything that may get on your vinyl plank flooring.
There are things you can do to repair minor damage, like rewaxing or replacing sections of the floor, but sadly water damage is a death sentence for vinyl flooring. If you want the best chance of having a salvageable vinyl floor post disaster, then you should go with interlocking or loose lay planks, which are easier to swap out in case of damage as well as being removable and reusable in case of cleaning up some sort of spill that may reach the subfloor.
Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.