Steam Mops and Disinfection: What You Need To Know

True or false: Steam mops are good for disinfection. Not sure what’s the answer? In this post, we will discuss if a steam mop is good in keeping harmful elements at bay, or if it’s just another marketing ploy.

Can You Use Steam Mops to Disinfect Floors?

Maybe you heard it from the grapevine that steam mops are good for disinfection. As early as now, we tell you this: steam cleaners can clean, dry, sanitize surfaces quickly. Many studies confirm that steam mops are useful in disinfecting and sterilizing the surfaces they are used on. However, it’s important to point out that the disinfection only lasts for a short time.

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting: What’s the Difference?

Cleaning takes out the debris and dust from the surface, but it doesn’t  kill the germs. Disinfection does.

For instance, washing your hands in running water can make it clean, but if you’re not sure if it’s already germ-free. If you apply hand sanitizer after washing, it can kill more than 90% of germs.

Cleaning and sanitizing come hand in hand. It will help if you clean first before you sanitize. To clean a surface, use a disposable item that you can throw away after use. If you use washable clothes, make sure that they are properly cleaned, sanitized, and dried after every use.

Bleach is one of the most common disinfectants that you can buy almost anywhere. It can kill the most common germs. But the challenge when using bleach is that it doesn’t work well on things that cannot be laundered like furniture and mattresses. In this case, steam cleaning can come in handy.

steam mop disinfectant

Steam As An Effective Disinfectant Agent

A steam mop doesn’t need detergents or any other cleaning agents to act as a disinfectant. The steam is used for disinfection of floors.

There are many cases when steam is used to decontaminate an area. For instance, after the norovirus outbreaks during the 1960s, the UK government created a cleaning guide for cruise ships. Stated in the guide is the standard for cleaning carpets and upholstery using steam at 70C and above. Although the guide only mentioned carpets and upholstery, it is safe to assume that steam can also be used on other types of surfaces.

In a steam mop, the steam is directly pointing to the surface. The surface absorbs the heat and allows it to go inside its pores. The heat loosens the bind of the germs to their host surface. The microfiber cloth can pick up the dirt and the germs. However, take note that not all steam mops use microfiber to get rid of the germs.

Avoiding the transmission

Liquid chemicals are the most commonly used disinfectants to kill pathogens on the surface. However, this cannot be used in all cases since the qualities of the pathogens change in no time. There is still a possibility that one can acquire pathogens and dust particles from the same surface that has already been disinfected.

The typical compositions of liquid chemical disinfectants include quaternary ammonium compounds, phenols, and sodium hypochlorite. The problem with these compounds is that it takes some time before they become useful in disinfecting. Another downside to liquid disinfectants is they don’t penetrate through porous surfaces. Thus, it’s not advisable to use chemical disinfectants in some situations where their application is not practical.

Killing Germs Through Heat

Steam cleaners use hot water to produce the steam. The steam can release its heat energy upon contact with a surface. When it does, the harmful elements that cling to the surface are being disrupted and killed. Hot water is efficient for transferring heat energy to the surface.

Steam goes deep into the pores of a material, a quality that the other cleaning agents cannot achieve. This action is the reason why it is very effective against microbial proteins of bacteria and fungi. It is so potent in destroying most of the germs that come in contact with it. According to various sources, a steam mop can remove up to 99.999% of enveloped viruses and bacteria.

Steam is not just useful in getting rid of germs; it is also safer to use than a common chemical disinfectant that contains corrosive or allergenic compounds. This allows steam mop users to clean the house properly without being exposed to harmful elements.


You can easily buy a steam mop either online or in a physical store. Aside from availability, another strength of a steam cleaner is its flexibility in use. It works well on many surfaces like metal, hardwood, cement, steel, textile, and other materials. The best part is it doesn’t destroy the surface by forming scratch or abrasion. This is the reason why steam cleaners are used to disinfect any surface regularly.

A steam destroys the bonds of the physical and chemical structure of pathogens on any surface. It is also useful in decreasing and removing dust, pollen, and any other minute elements. The water changes to steam at 110°C, when it reaches 120°C, it can be used as a disinfectant to destroy bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. By adding the soap you’ll have maximum penetration to all types of surfaces.

Safety First

While it is true that steam mops can work on different surfaces without a problem, be careful when you’re using it as some materials are sensitive to heat and water. For instance, a painted surface, silk, and porous materials don’t go well with a steam mop. Do not use a steam mop on an oiled wooden floor as it can damage the protective shield and allows the water to sip through the wood.

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