9 Things You Should Absolutely Never Steam Clean

Steam Clean Cover

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Steam Clean Cover
Cheapism / Nickbeer/jchizhe/KatarzynaBialasiewicz/istockphoto

Step Away from the Steamer!

Steam cleaners are all the rage. The latest trendy home appliance uses high heat and pressure to remove dirt, grease, residue, mold, bacteria, and more from nearly any surface. There's no need for any cleaning products, and it's an oddly satisfying experience to take steam to something and watch it become cleaner before your eyes. Touted as an eco-friendly way to quickly and deeply clean your home, many steam cleaners are also fairly inexpensive, ranging from the budget-friendly PurSteam Therma Pro ($80 on Amazon) to the highly rated Bissell Power Steamer ($175 on Amazon).

Just keep in mind that these machines aren't universal, and there are some surfaces you shouldn't clean with a steam cleaner, especially the nine we've highlighted below.

Related: 32 Ways You’re Ruining Your Home and Don't Even Know It

Cold room interior looking out onto water condensation formed on interior windows during early winter.

1. Cold Window Glass

Feel free to clean your windows with a steam cleaner — mirrors and glass surfaces, too. Just check the temperature before you start steaming. If it's see-your-breath cold outside, step away from your windows and holster your steamer. This is sort of like how you shouldn't dump hot water on your windshield if it's covered in ice, folks. That drastic temperature change can crack or shatter the glass.

Related: 20 Cleaning Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Eclectic living room interior with comfortable velvet corner sofa with pillows

2. Velour or Velvet Upholstery

If you're rockin' things retro with a velour or velvet couch, make sure you're honoring the delicacy of those fabrics. And by honoring them, we mean don't take steam to them. You might ruin the material or cause discoloration. 

Related: 11 Things From the 1960s That Are Now Worth a Ton of Money

Spacious rambler home interior with vaulted ceiling

3. Certain Types of Flooring

Some floors are steam-friendly and others are any and everything but. Generally speaking, any unsealed floor should not be steam cleaned. When it comes to carpet, small spaces are fine, but you shouldn't go crazy with steam on carpet because it will add moisture to the carpet and could create mold or mildew. Unsealed hardwood floors, laminate flooring, and unglazed tile are also off limits.

Related: Cleaning Myths That Will Ruin Your Things

Viva magenta wall background mockup with two armchair furniture and decor accessories.
Vanit Janthra/istockphoto

4. Water-Based Painted Walls

Any wall or surface in your home that has been painted with a water-based paint should be avoided with the steam cleaner. The heat could cause the paint to separate or dry out which will make it peel and crack. Not a look you're after, we're sure.

Related: 14 Things in Your Bedroom You Should Get Rid of Immediately

Modern kitchen house interior

5. Various Types of Countertops

There are quite a few countertops that shouldn't be steam cleaned. As a rule of thumb, you should never steam clean porous surfaces. Avoid using steam to clean marble, granite, natural stone, or laminate countertops to maintain the integrity of the materials.

Related: 8 Things You Should Never Keep on Kitchen Countertops (and Why)

Wiping the remains of the polishing paste on the oak and epoxy resin table
Stipe Perkovic/istockphoto

6. Polished Wood Furniture or Cabinets

Any wood furniture that is finished with a varnish shouldn't be steam cleaned, otherwise that glossy shine might be stripped away and you'll be left with a dull and drab surface with a cloudy appearance.

Empty loft apartment, industrial style

7. Stucco or Brick

As we said earlier, porous surfaces shouldn't be steam cleaned, so don't try and clean any brick or stucco walls with your steamer. These surfaces will absorb the moisture and create mold and mildew over time.

Related: 31 Ways to Spring Clean With Everyday Household Items

Plastic containers for storing and transporting food.
Iuri Gagarin/istockphoto

8. Thin Plastic Products

Use your noggin, everyone. Thick plastics like your kids' toys should hold up fine to the heat of a steam cleaner, but thinner plastics are going to do the obvious when exposed to high levels of heat. Anyone have a guess? Melt! They'll melt. Don't do this.

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Wicker chair concept, blanket and lamp decoration, vase of plant and frame.

9. Wallpaper

One of the most effective ways to get wallpaper off of a wall is to apply heat to it. So, if that's your goal, by all means, try using your steam cleaner to make your job easier. But if you're just trying to clean a mess of the wall, steer clear of steam for this one.

Related: 12 Things You Should Never Clean With Vinegar