What Happens When You Use a Steam Mop On Vinyl Plank Flooring

By Paige Cerulli Created: September, 2022

Vinyl plank flooring makes a beautiful addition to your home. Available in many luxury finishes, this flooring is favored for its tough, durable construction. Properly cleaning your vinyl plank flooring can help to prolong its lifestyle, but don’t reach for your steam mop just yet.

Can You Use a Steam Mop on Vinyl Plank Flooring?

In short, no. A steam mop is not the best choice for use on your vinyl plank flooring, and it could even damage the flooring. Here’s why.

How Vinyl Plank Flooring is Engineered

Vinyl plank flooring consists of multiple layers that create a semi-rigid plank. The wear layer is a top coating that helps to protect the plank from scratches and fading.

vinyl plank flooring layers

Underneath that layer is a printed layer that features the plank’s pattern and finish. That layer is placed on top of a vinyl core layer, and a final backing layer finishes the plank.

These layers are all pressed together tightly, creating a plank that is water-resistant, but not waterproof. You can install the planks in multiple ways.

Click together planks can be installed in a floating design, allowing you to remove them again if needed. Alternatively, you can glue down the planks for a permanent installation, a method that is often preferred by professional installers.

What a Steam Mop Does to Vinyl Plank Flooring

No matter which installation type you chose, a steam mop can cause significant damage to your flooring. Since vinyl plank flooring isn’t waterproof, the moisture and heat of a steam mop can work its way down between the seams.

That can result in warping and swelling of the planks. You may de-laminate and damage the protective layer, and the vinyl surface may start to separate from the rest of the plank.

If you have a floating installation, the steam from the mop can work its way into the gaps between the planks, causing the planks to warp and swell upward. This can lead to an uneven floor and can even prompt the planks to separate from each other.

Glue down installations can also be damaged. The heat from the mop can melt the glue that is holding the planks down to the subfloor.

Vinyl plank flooring isn’t designed to be cleaned with a steam mop, and if you use a steam mop on the flooring, you will often void the manufacturer’s warranty on the product. You could be left repairing or even replacing your entire floor.

How to Clean Your Vinyl Plank Flooring

The best way to safely clean your vinyl plank flooring is to refer to the cleaning and maintenance instructions provided by the product’s manufacturer. Frequently cleaning your flooring with a safe product or tool can help to keep the flooring looking its best and prolong its lifespan.

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It’s important to sweep your flooring regularly, and to ideally sweep it daily. This frequent sweeping removes dirt and debris, helping to prevent it from scratching your floors.

If accidents and spills occur, quickly clean them up. Your flooring is durable and water-resistant, but don’t let spills sit on the planks for too long.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can mop the floors with a gentle cleanser, like a neutral pH household cleanser, each week. Choose a mop that you can wring out, and use minimal water when mopping the floor.

There are several other ways to prevent damage to your floor, too. Make sure that you always use soft felt pads underneath your furniture, and if you’re moving furniture, pick it up, rather than dragging it across the floor.

If possible, have all guests come into your home through a mud room. Ask everyone to leave their shoes in the mud room.

This practice can reduce the amount of dirt that is tracked into your home, so your flooring is less likely to gradually get worn down or damaged. Consider keeping soft slippers in the mud room for guests to use.

If you have pets, keep their nails trimmed appropriately to prevent them from scratching the flooring. It’s a great idea to get into the habit of wiping your dog’s paws off with a dry cloth when he comes into the house, reducing the amount of dirt that he tracks inside.

Repairing Vinyl Plank Flooring

While vinyl plank flooring is a very durable choice, it can be damaged through improper care. Prevention can go a long way in preserving your flooring, but sometimes accidents happen.

vinyl plank flooring

If you’ve installed the flooring with a floating installation, then you can change out a damaged plank for a new one without having to replace your entire floor. It’s a good idea to always order and keep some extra planks just for this type of scenario.

If you have installed your flooring with the glue-down method, then it’s best to consult a professional installer for advice on how to make that repair.

For more on this topic please review our LVP Flooring - Luxury Vinyl Planks product page.