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Floor Cleaning: How to Use Steam Cleaners & Steam Mops

Floor cleaning doesn't have to be a pain! Read this easy how to guide about using steam cleaners and mops to make the job easy.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Floor Cleaning How to Use Steam Cleaners & Steam Mops

Steam Mops, Carpet Steam Cleaners: What’s the Difference?

While they may seem similar, these tools are actually quite different. Carpet steam cleaners don’t in fact use steam, but hot water, and they are not suitable for hard surfaces. Steam mops, on the other hand, do use steam and are suitable for hard surfaces and sometimes carpets, too (though dedicated cleaners are often more effective on these). A steam vacuum cleaner is suitable for both carpets and hard floors.

When steam cleaning carpet, place squares of something non-absorbent – e.g. aluminium foil, wax paper, or cling film – around the feet of any furniture you can’t remove. This will stop them absorbing water during the drying time.

Steam Cleaning Carpets

­­­­The first step is to choose your carpet cleaner. Look at online reviews – ideally, you want high ratings on both soil and water removal. And, of course, always check whether steam cleaning is suitable for your carpets. Delicate materials such as jute or expensive rugs may need professional care.

using steam mops

Delivering Quality Solutions: Choosing the Right Detergent

In general, it’s a good idea to avoid detergents that are too alkaline (pH of 10 or more). Otherwise, you may end up damaging the dyes and fibres in your carpet. For delicate natural materials, such as wool, it may even be worth neutralising afterwards with a weak vinegar solution.

How to Clean with Steam Mops

Again, pairing surface and cleaner is critical. While steam mops work perfectly on tiling and stone and vinyl flooring, more care is needed for wood, laminates, and carpets. This is especially true for carpets since, as mentioned, steam mops use actual steam, which can damage synthetic fibres and cause natural ones to shrink. Be sure to test on an inconspicuous area first.

  1. As before, give your floor a good vacuum to start. This will reduce the work the steam mop has to do and the risk of scratching.

  2. If the floor is wood, turn the temperature setting of the mop down low. (Steam cleaning can damage waxed wood, so it’s best to find an alternate method for this just to be safe.)

  3. Make sure the pad is clean to start, and wash it afterwards to ensure its longevity.

  4. Finally, if a spot is particularly dirty, leave the mop on it for a few seconds.

  5. Enjoy your fresh, stain free carpets!

  • Remove as much furniture from the room as you can. (Follow the Top Tip for furniture you can’t remove.)

  • Vacuum first, making sure to vacuum skirting boards as well so that dust is not knocked onto your freshly clean carpet.

  • Treat any stains beforehand. The heat of steam cleaning the carpet may set existing stains.

  • Make sure to do a test clean on an inconspicuous area first. Inside a cupboard is one good place; carpet that’s usually covered by furniture is another.

  • Following the manufacturer’s instructions, begin the clean, working from the outside towards the door so you don’t clean yourself into a corner.

  • Go over the same piece of carpet several times. This will extract more detergent, which, if left, can speed up re-soiling.

  • Rinse thoroughly.

  • Turn down the air conditioning and ensure adequate ventilation to dry the carpet quickly. This should take no more than 12 hours. If left for longer, water can damage the carpet and promote fungal growth.

Originally published