Tiles have a reputation for being sturdy, while steam is often seen as one of the harsher cleaning methods. Steam mops are taking the world by storm, and tiles, thanks to their resistance to water damage, are a favorite to use them on.
If you have tiles at home, it’s vital to know how you can take advantage of this satisfying combination.
Still, as powerful as steam may be, if you don’t use it properly, you could cause irreparable damage to your home. So, there are many factors to consider and precautions you should take. That’s why we’re also recommending the best steam mops for tiles and grout so you can clean perfectly, with no risk of ruining your floors.
Check out these five steam mops to transform your tile.
What Is a Steam Mop?
Steam mops are a relatively recent invention, but their history is so fascinating that we can’t resist sharing it.
Back in 1999, Romi Haan, a Korean entrepreneur, grew tired of scrubbing hard floors. So much so that she set out to free homemakers everywhere of this labor by innovating a new way to clean.
As the story goes, she wondered if a mop that could harness the power of steam would make her life easier. Sorely overestimating how quickly her new invention would take form, she mortgaged her home to fund her idea. In 2004 — five years later — she had a product to show for it (1).
Once she perfected the technology, it didn’t take long for it to rise in popularity. Romi’s simple idea grew into a staple device that eliminates hard work and saves homemakers immense time and energy. But how exactly do steam mops do this for you?
How Do Steam Mops Work?
Steam mops are built with reservoirs that can heat water up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit (2). To reach your floor, produced steam travels through the mop and is emitted from a cloth (often microfiber) pad.
These soaked pads absorb dirt better than standard mops will, while the steam sanitizes your floor as you go.
The heat kills the germs in your home. Steam is a powerful disinfectant because it alters the structure of bacteria. This process, called denaturation, incapacitates and obliterates pathogens (3).
Another huge benefit of steam mopping is its ability to cut through grease and caked-on dirt.
You’ll also find that using a standard mop just doesn’t cut it in this area. It won’t release as much heat or do so as efficiently.
Will Steam Not Ruin Your Tiles?
Tiles, rigid as they may be, aren’t indestructible. Water stains, warping, cracking, and heat damage are all still possible and will ruin your tiled floor if given a chance. The difference is that compared to wood floors or carpets, tiles have a much higher tolerance for destruction.
Still, regardless of your type of tile, none are 100 percent water-resistant. Porcelain tiles shine in this regard as an insignificant amount of water will make it through. But even then, water can still loosen tile grout, and excessive water could destroy your floor’s layout (4).
With heat, it’s much the same. Tiles are not entirely heat-proof, but they are considered heat resistant.
Porcelain tiles can withstand heat up to 4352 degrees Fahrenheit — well beyond what a steam mop emits (5). Likewise, ceramics can bear temperatures up to 3725 degrees Fahrenheit (6).
It’s all about timing, though. If you were to completely soak tiles in hot water for extended periods, you’d ruin them. On the other hand, steam evaporates quickly so that it won’t be absorbed into your floor.
FYI: Steam Mop Precautions
Steam is not intended to soak tiled floors but rather to skim their surface. That said, there are a few instances where it’ll be no good. As a precaution, keep the following in mind:
- Steam and wax don’t mix: Wax isn’t oil, but it behaves like it, meaning heat breaks it down. Tile wax isn’t extremely common, but if you use it, steam mopping could be problematic. If you don’t know whether or not your floor is waxed, rub the edge of a coin alongside it, and see if it picks up waxy residue.
- Don’t consider them multi-floor machines: Even if your steam mop is designed for all hard floors, do your research before using it on other surfaces. Your tiles may be super-resistant to heat, but others like wood, linoleum, or bamboo may not be.
- Beware of grout: While you don’t have to worry about wrecking your tiles with steam, grout is a different story. Steam is effective at cleaning grout, but excessive moisture can deteriorate its form and function. So focus on the tiles themselves rather than what’s in between them.
- Best for glazed tiles: Tiles’ strength and heat resistance only applies if they’re glazed. Therefore, raw, natural tiles are vulnerable to water and heat damage. In this case, it’s better to use a standard or dry mop.
Tips for Steam Mopping Tiles
There are practices you can put in place to reduce the risk of damage even more. We’ve got some words of wisdom for you to consider before you apply steam to your floor.
1. Never Leave Water to Stand
Remember this even when you’re not steam cleaning. If water puddles on tiles, it could slowly penetrate the grout. The effect of water puddles is worse on unglazed hardware, as the tiles will absorb it, resulting in unsightly stains.
So if you ever spill any liquid on your tiles, clean it up immediately. Use a dry mop, absorbent towel, or soft microfiber cloth to soak it up.
2. Sweep or Vacuum First
Before you go in with a steam mop, remove as much dirt from your floor as possible. If you’re sweeping, use a soft-bristled broom or a microfiber head to prevent scratches. When vacuuming, make sure you use a multi-floor machine or hard floor attachments.
This is so that you won’t push the dirt around your floor when mopping. Not only will this create a bigger (and wet) mess, but wet dirt could eventually cake on your floor.
Vacuuming is best for picking up large debris, as sweeping it around might have an abrasive effect.
3. Don’t Overdo Your Steam Cleaning
Once you witness its powerful effect, you may be inclined to steam your tiles often. In reality, this isn’t necessary, and it’s best not to because of the risks (small as they are). Tiles will do fine with frequent sweeping, vacuuming, or running with a tile cleaning solution and a standard mop.
Steam should be reserved for deep cleaning. So if you don’t have built-up grease, or caked on dirt, save time and energy by skipping the steam mop. In doing so, you’ll protect your floors from over-exposure to heat and moisture.
Keep your steam cleaning down to once a week at most for the best effect and reduced risk.
4. Check Your Warranty
It’s most common with wood, but hard floor manufacturers may bar steam cleaning. So before you buy a steam mop, revisit your paperwork to see if it’s allowed.
This is not to say that steam mopping is ill-advised — just that floor manufacturers are aware of the risks of accidents. Whether or not you take that risk is up to you.
5. Manufacturers Know Best
If your floor manufacturer explicitly advises against steaming your tiles or grout, listen to them. The same applies to the manufacturers of the mops. Follow the instructions strictly to prevent unnecessary damage, accidents, or even burns.
We know it sounds tedious but read through your product’s manual thoroughly. You’ll know how to operate it to its best effect, and you’ll keep both you and your floors safe.
Benefits of Steam Mopping Tiles
Steam mopping tiles is one of the best ways to keep them in tip-top shape. Beyond the excellent results you’ll get from this method, there are a few bonus benefits you can look forward to.
- Chemical-free: Steam mops require water only. So you can save money on tile cleaning solutions, and you’ll reduce your exposure to potentially toxic chemicals. This is better for the environment, too, as you won’t have to worry about VOCs being released into the air.
- Faster: Standard mops require a fair amount of effort and elbow grease to operate. Steam mops, thanks to the heat used, cut through dirt, grime, and grease while eliminating the need to scrub. This saves time and prevents strain on your part.
- More thorough: Steam can penetrate all sorts of nooks, crannies, and crevices. You’ll get seamless cleaning along your walls, under furniture, and in corners. This compliments the time-saving perk.
- Healthier homes: Remember that steam cleaning destroys pathogens. This is especially beneficial in areas that are likely to be tiled, like bathrooms and kitchens. You’ll have a cleaner, safer living space if you use one.
Melt Dirt Away
Tiles aren’t difficult to clean, and that’s why they work so well with steam mops. So long as your tiles are glazed, you don’t have to worry about heat or water damage as you do with other types of floors.
A steam mop can cut an immense amount of time and energy from your cleaning. It can also leave your floors — grout included — sanitized and shining.
There’s something for everyone in our recommendations of the best steam mops for tiles. They’re affordable, versatile, and simple tools to improve your quality of life. We hope you see one you like.
For more information please see the list of Best tile steamer