Below I have listed some cautionary information on using steam mops and cleaners. This is a mixture of safety advice and how not to use your steam mop. Quite a lot of people complain that their steam mop has broken, sometimes this is a manufacturers fault. Other times it is because the customer is not using the steam mop correctly. Steam mop do need a little care when using them.
Do not plug into the mains until you are ready
Always remember to plug in the steam mop last of all. Make sure that the the electric cord is fully unwound before use. Only when you are ready to use the steam mop switch the power on. First make sure you fill the water reservoir. If the water reservoir needs refilling when in use make sure you unplug it first. Remember the steam mop head will heat up quickly and it will be too hot to handle once the electricity is switched on. So make sure the pad or cloth is first well attached to the mop head. Also if you hand the wet steam mops head when you are using electricity there is a possible risk of electric shock. Some steam mops have an indicator light which tells you when it is ready for use.
Do not leave your steam mop steaming in one spot
If you have to stop in the middle of steam mop cleaning your floors. Always make sure that you switch off the steam mop. In addition remove the mop head from contact with the floor. Some steam mops come with a tray to stand the mop in. Also when you first switch on the steam mop be careful as the steam can heat up fast, within seconds, damaging which ever floor surface you are about to clean. Always unplug the steamer if you are moving from room to room and are needing to prepare the floor first.
A steam mop is not a vacuum
Do not use your steam mop in the same way as you use a vacuum. Steam mops are not designed to remove dust and debris from the floor. They are designed to clean and sanitize your floors. You do need to prepare the floor before using them. Always vacuum your floor first before steam cleaning. Alternatively you can just sweep your floor if you prefer. But hoovering is better as the suction it will get up dust and debris. If you don’t remove the the debris can block your steam mop. It will also not steam clean your floors properly as it will just drag the dirt across the floor.
If you don’t want to be bothered to vacuum up before you steam. There like there are a couple of steam mops which also operate as a sweeper as well. These work reasonably well but not as good as using a separate vacuum and steamer.
Steam mops are not to be used on unsealed surfaces, only use them on sealed floors
Always follow the manufacturers instructions as to how to steam clean the surfaces you are using it on. Customers have complained that steam mops have caused damage to certain surfaces. Do not use your mop on unsealed floors. Using hot steam on an unsealed floor can lead to swelling and damage to the floor. This is especially true of unsealed wooden floors and laminates. But steam mops work well with sealed surfaces including woods, laminates, vinyl, vinyl tiles and ceramic tiles.
Some customers refuse to use steam on any hardwood floor regardless if it is sealed or not. Other users use steam on hardwood and get great results. Whether a steam mop is suitable to use steam on hardwood floors depends on a number of factors. This includes wood type, age of floor and condition of the floor. If you have a sealed hardwood floor in good condition it is great to use steam mops. Problems arise when a floor has lost its finish due to wear and tear and the floor is damaged and exposed. As the steam mop creates moisture this can mean the wood swells up and warps.
In addition do not use a steam mop on newly waxed floors. The heat from the steam can melt the wax and leave your previously shiny looking floor dull. It is always best to try out your steam mop on a small bit of floor first if you are in doubt.
Using steam mops on walls
Do not use your steam mop on your walls. Although it may seem a good idea after cleaning your floors to also clean your walls with steam mop. Do not attempt to do this as it may cause the paint to bubble and peel off the wall.
Only put water in the water tank
Most steam mops are designed to be used only with water. There is no need for expensive and environmentally unfriendly detergents. The steam by itself will kill most bacteria, germs and dust mites. Generally you need to hover the steam mop over the area you wish to sanitize for the amount of time in the manufacturer’s instructions. Never leave the steam mop over the same spot for more than 20 seconds as this can damage the floor surface. Generally you need to hold the steam mop over the same spot for about 10 to 15 seconds. But there is no need to sanitize the floor on each steam clean of the floor. if you want the extra cleaning power of detergent there are several steam mops on the market which use both water and detergent.
Never keep cleaning with a dirty mop head
If you are cleaning a large area and the mop cloth starts to become dirty you need to stop and change the cloth head and then continue. Otherwise you are just spreading the dirt around. It is always best to purchase some spare mop clothes so you can change them when necessary during cleaning. After cleaning floor you should remove the steam mop pad and wash it in the washing machine. When finished washing you can leave it to dry flat. Never leave a dirty, damp cloth on the mop head.