Can You Use Steam Mop on Unsealed Wood Floors?

Before cleaning unsealed hardwood floors, make sure that you know how to properly take care of them. Unsealed floors, if maintained properly, can have a long lifespan.

Proper maintenance may include ensuring that water and other liquids do not stand on the surface of unsealed floors for long.

Also, things like spills should be removed immediately by the use of natural cleaners or non-water-based cleaning products.

Using a steam mop on hardwood floors is a contentious to point to begin with. While some support steam mops for hardwood floors, others oppose it.

However, the decision one must make in this regard should depend on the following factors:

  • Age of the floor
  • Condition of the wood
  • Sealed or unsealed wood floor
  • Type of wood

If your house hardwood flooring is properly sealed, there are many steam mops for hardwood floors in the market such as BISSELL Spinwave Powered Hardwood mop and cleaner that has been designed specifically for use on such floors.

However, when your hardwood floor is old and has lost its finish due to wear and tear or your floor is unsealed, improperly sealed, or the floor is exposed and worn out, steam mopping should be avoided at all costs.

Let us repeat: If your floor is unsealed or you even suspect your floor is improperly sealed, do not steam mop it.

Steam mopping creates moisture and may leave the surfaces they clean wet, a factor that can cause wood to swell and warp.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Using a Steam Mop on Floors

There are many simple but costly mistake people make while using a steam mop.

For example:

Do not plug in a steam mop before attaching a mop cloth

A steam mop heats up very quickly and you probably encounter risks such as electric shock when you try to attach the mop cloth while it’s heating up.

Before plugging in, take time to attach the mop cloth, fill the water reservoir and unwind the cord.

Avoid leaving a hot steam mop Idle  

After a steam mop has been plugged in, heat builds up in a few seconds and, if left idling for too long, too much heat may build up and may damage your wooden floor.

Always vacuum the floor before using a steam mop

Always endeavor to vacuum the floor before using a steam mop.

Vacuuming the floor helps to remove surface dirt, sand, dust, crumbs, and hair from the floor and eventually enhances the effectiveness of the steam mop.

Also, steam mops can collect all that debris and eventually malfunction. Steam mops such as O-cedar Microfiber Steam mop easily malfunction after accumulating dirt.

Avoid using a steam mop on laminate floors

Laminate flooring is usually made up of pre-finished planks, and the seams between the planks are unsealed.

Therefore, the seams can allow steam to reach the underlying part of the floor that is quite vulnerable to moisture, leading to floor damage.

Never store the steam mop with a dirty or wet cloth

After steam mopping your floors, avoid leaving a wet or dirty mop cloth, as this can damage your steam mop.

Always remove the cloth after the mop has cooled and immediately begin laundering the dirty cloth to remove stains.

Do not use a steam mop on recently waxed floors

Avoid using a steam mop on recently waxed floors because the heat from the steam mop can melt the wax and destroy that shiny finish.

Avoid holding your steam mop over one spot for more than 30 seconds

If you feel that a certain spot on the floor is extremely dirty, it should not take more than 20 seconds for a steam mop to clear the floor.

Holding a steam mop within the spot for over 30 seconds has a high chance of damaging your wooden floor due to heat and moisture collection.

Best Ways of Cleaning Unsealed Hardwood Floors

Cleaning an unsealed wooden floor can be a daunting task. They require extra effort and attention in tasks other than regular sweeping because water cannot be used. Similarly, cleaning ingredients have to be safe for use on the floor. Here are the top 5 tips from WFC Wood Floor Cleaner.

1. Sweep the floor regularly

Sweep the floor with brooms like Swiffer Sweeper and vacuum the floors regularly with a hardwood floor vacuum.

Vacuuming the floor helps remove surface dirt, sand, dust, crumbs, and hair from the grooves and crevices. This also helps to avoid scuff marks.

2. Use cloth, sponge or a well-wrung mop

Before using a sponge, cloth, or mop on the unsealed floor, make sure it is very dry because unsealed floors are very good at absorbing water.

In case the floor gets too wet, use a dry sponge or a dry cloth to absorb water. Ensure that the floor is completely dry.

3. Use natural cleaners

Natural cleaners such as lemon or white vinegar can be ideal in cleaning dirt from your unsealed hardwood floors.

These natural cleaners do not have harsh ingredients that can cause abrasions and scuff marks on floors.

Avoid commercial cleaning products, especially if you are planning to wax or refinish your floor.

Mix the natural cleaners with water in a cleaning bucket:

  • 3 squeezed lemon fruits
  • 10 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 6 teaspoons of tea tree oil
  • 10 teaspoons of white vinegar

4. Use white spirits or mineral spirit

Mineral spirits or white spirits are solvents that are normally used as an alternative to turpentine to thin paints; examples include cyclo-propane, varsol, and naphtha.

When used on cleaning hardwood floors, they help to bring out the shine of hardwood.

Though some of these mineral spirits have a strong odor, they are very effective in removing scuff marks and spots.

When using these mineral spirits always, use a dry sponge or cloth to remove any excess liquid on the floor.

5. Use black tea

To create a shine on your unsealed hardwood floor, black tea can be effective.

Boil a pot of water and steep 6 bags of tea for 10 minutes. With a clean soft rag, gently wipe the floors.

Make sure the rag is damp and not entirely soaked. Leave your floor to dry for a few minutes and once it is dry, you will see your floor shining brilliantly.


Prevention and maintenance is always the best way to handle unsealed floors.

Simply ensure that your floors are kept clean year round and the lifespan of your unsealed floors will be assured.

Constant maintenance and cleaning will keep the finish looking like new.

These preventative measures will eventually save you time and money in the long run.

Leave a Comment