can i put vinegar in my steam mop

Can You Put Vinegar in a Steam Mop?

Steam mops are the most effective appliances for cleaning floors. However, they are susceptible to scale buildup throughout the heating components, so you cannot add just any cleaning detergent to their water tank. 

Most companies only recommend using distilled or demineralized water in their steam mops without cleaning agents. This is because most of their parts are made of plastic, and most cleaning agents may cause damage to the internal components.  

Apart from that, some floors are very delicate and can easily be damaged by some cleaning agents, including vinegar. 

So, when it comes to vinegar, you’re no doubt asking… can you put vinegar in a steam mop?

This is one of the questions most people cannot answer due to vinegar’s different myths as a cleaning agent. In this comprehensive guide, we shall answer whether you should add vinegar to your steam mop or not. 

Can You Put Vinegar in a Steam Mop? 

Vinegar is considered one of the best natural cleaners to give you great results when cleaning various surfaces. However, it has some acidic properties, which can cause destruction. Due to this, most people wonder if it can be added to a steam mop or not. 

The truth is that you can add it in a steam mop but only in the appropriate measurements. Adding too much vinegar could cause damage to the steam mop and the surface you are cleaning.

Vinegar can cause damage to different types of floors. Some of the flooring types you should never clean with vinegar include:

  • Hardwood floors – vinegar will cause dulling of the timber
  • Marble or stone – vinegar can cause pitting within the flooring
  • Waxed or unsealed flooring – the vinegar will strip away the wax dulling the floor.

How to Use Vinegar in Steam Mops 

Vinegar is generally used as a descaling agent in steam mops and steam cleaners to remove mineral buildup from tap water use. It is not uncommon to find instructions in the user manual for steam mops and steam cleaners discussing soaking vinegar in the boiler tank for several hours or overnight to remove the scale. 

But, can you clean and operate a steam mop with vinegar? You can. It should not harm any internal components of your steam mop. If you have been using tap water in your steam mop, it should also help to descale it simultaneously. 

Since we have concluded that it is safe to add vinegar in steam mops when cleaning specific types of floors, you need to know how it is done. Below are the steps you should follow:

  1. Put 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket or container, then add 1 cup of vinegar. Warm water helps activate the acidic properties of vinegar required to kill microorganisms. 
  2.  Before you start mopping, sweep the floor with a broom or use a vacuum cleaner to remove large pieces of debris. 
  3.  After sweeping, add the warm water and vinegar solution into the steam mop and use it to clean the floor.  

What are the Benefits of Adding Vinegar to a Steam Mop? 

vinegar in steam mop

 Below are some of the benefits of cleaning your floor with vinegar. 


One of the reasons people love to use vinegar when cleaning the floor is its ability to kill viruses and bacteria. It has some acidic content that is highly effective in destroying microorganisms such as bacillus and salmonella. As a result, it is very reliable in cleaning and sanitizing dirty surfaces. 

Stain Remover 

Most steam mops are only able to remove light stains from the floor. If your floor has some tough stains, you may wish to add vinegar since it is very effective on stains and floor buildups. You could also pre-treat any stuck-on stains on the floor using the vinegar mix.

The good thing about vinegar is that it does not leave soap scum or adhesives on the floor. You don’t need to scrub the floor too hard when using it. Besides removing stains, vinegar is also effective in eliminating foul odors from any surface. 

Enhances Performance 

Vinegar enhances the strength of the cleaning element which you have put in the steam mop. As a result, you will get better cleaning results than when just using water. 

Natural Descaling Agent

White vinegar is used to descale mineral buildup from tap water. Using vinegar in your steam mop will help to descale any previous buildup and protect from further build up, particularly if you are using tap water and are in a hard water area.

Environmentally Friendly

Another great thing about vinegar is that it is very friendly to the environment since it doesn’t have any harsh chemicals. Besides that, vinegar is more affordable than most cleaning agents and readily available in most shops. 

What are the Disadvantages of Using Vinegar?

Even though vinegar effectively removes odors, the smell it produces can be overwhelming to some people. It doesn’t leave a refreshing scent like most commercial cleaners. 

It also isn’t really needed when using a steam mop. Steam alone is hot enough and powerful enough to clean surfaces, so if you choose to use vinegar as well, it is money spent that doesn’t necessarily need to be.

What are Alternatives to Vinegar For Cleaning Floors?

Since vinegar is not suitable for all types of floors, you can use these alternatives instead.

 It is essential to note you should not use these homemade cleaners in your steam mop.

Essential Oils 

If you want to use a natural cleaning agent that leaves a pleasant scent on the floor, essential oils are the best solution. They are highly effective in removing stubborn dirt from the floor. They are also safe for human beings and pets. You can even use essential oils to make a homemade floor cleaner for your ceramic, hardwood, laminate, and linoleum floors.

Here are the steps: 

  •  Add 1 tablespoon of castile soap to a bucket 
  • Add 1 cup of white lemon juice 
  • Put 15 drops of essential oil 
  • Add some water and then stir the mixture  
  • Use this solution to mop your floors 

Baking Soda 

If you don’t want to use vinegar, you can mix baking soda with your homemade cleaning solution. Since sodium bicarbonate has mild alkaline properties, it can easily dissolve grease or other forms of dirt. It is highly effective in removing odors from various surfaces.

Baking soda and vinegar are fantastic natural toilet cleaners safe for septic systems.

  • Create a paste using warm water and 2-3 cups of baking soda 
  • Add 1 cup of liquid dishwashing soap 
  •  Apply the paste to the floor with your hands. 
  •  Let it remain on the floor for about 10 minutes, and then scrub it with a sponge to remove the stains 
  •  Soak a cloth in a lemon juice solution, then use it to wipe the floor 
  • After that, rinse the floor with warm water and then leave it to dry.  

Lemon Juice 

Since lemon juice is highly concentrated with citric acid, it effectively sanitizes floors. It also has excellent antibacterial, antiseptic, and natural bleaching properties. It leaves a pleasant citrus smell on the floor after cleaning.

However, it doesn’t have great disinfection properties. Homemade cleaners with lemon juice may bleach the floor if exposed to UV light.  

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is concentrated with acetic acid. Due to its acidic properties, it can dissolve dirt and disinfect various surfaces. One of its advantages is that it is non-toxic and biodegradable. Below is how it works: 

  • Put about 1 gallon of water in a bucket 
  •  Add 1 cup diluted solution of apple cider 
  •  Use the solution to mop the floor and then rinse using warm water 

Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Steam Mop 

can you put vinegar in a steam cleaner

Steam mops are very easy to use for everyone. However, there are some common mistakes you should avoid when using them, such as:

Avoid Adding Any Other Cleaning Agents to Your Steam Mop 

Most of the steam mops in the market are only compatible with water. This means that other cleaning agents may easily damage the internal components of your steam mop or cause clogging due to buildup. 

If you are not sure what to add or what not to add, you should read the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Most manufacturers recommend the use of distilled or demineralized water only. 

Vacuum Before Steam Mopping

Vacuuming or sweeping helps to remove large pieces of dirt from the floor. If you don’t do this before starting, the steam mop will pick up the dirt, making it difficult to clean. You should also ensure that you have attached the right accessories for the job before you start cleaning. 

Attach the Microfiber Cloth or Steamer Pad Before Switching on Your Steam Mop

 A steam mop takes a short amount of time to heat up. If you had not already connected the mop cloth before plugging the machine, you could easily burn your hands when trying to attach the mop cloth. 

Always Use a Clean Mop Cloth 

Using a dirty mop cloth will only make your work difficult. Instead of cleaning, you will be making your floor streaky and smeary from the buildup on the microfiber. 

To avoid this, you should change the mop head or microfiber cloth immediately when it becomes dirty. 

Be Careful Using Steam on Hardwood, Laminate, or Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Most steam mops on the market are likely to damage luxury vinyl flooring and laminate. Using high heat and steam pressure can also damage hardwood flooring. When cleaning such floors, you need to ensure that the steam mop you are using has variable steam settings and you are using the lowest. 

Be Careful Using Steam on Drywall and Water Based Paint

can you put vinegar in a steam mop

The heat generated by steam mops may cause the paint to peel off or bubble. Drywall is also quite thin and can be easily damaged by excess moisture. This can cause dampness and mold to occur.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Vinegar in a Steam Mop

Here are the most asked questions regarding using vinegar in a steam mop, and their answers.

Can I use Vinegar in My Shark Steam Mop? 

You can add specific amounts of vinegar into your Shark steam mop when cleaning linoleum, stone, and vinyl floors. However, you should never use it to clean hardwood floors. 

Can I Put Vinegar in My Bissell Steam Mop? 

Vinegar is regarded as a descaling agent. According to Bissell, you should not add anything else to the steam mop apart from distilled or demineralized water. This is because it may cause damage to the internal components of your Bissell steam mop.  

How Much Vinegar Should I Put in My Steam Mop? 

Never use more than 50% white vinegar combined with 50% water in your steam mop. You can err on the side of caution and use one-third a cup of white vinegar to every two-thirds of water, particularly if you are cleaning delicate surfaces.

What Should I Put in My Steam Mop? 

Most manufacturers recommend using distilled water only because some cleaning agents have harmful chemicals which might cause damage to the machine or the floor. 

To be safe, you should only use the cleaning agents recommended by the steam mop manufacturer. You can check this from the user manual. If you prefer scents during cleaning, you can purchase scented demineralized water from Bissell in various fragrances. Fragrance discs that sit between the steam mop head and floor pad are also available.

What Kind of Water Should I Add to My Steam Mop? 

You should only add distilled or demineralized water. Tap water contains mineral deposits which may cause clogging due to the buildup of mineral deposits. 

Can I Add Bleach to My Steam Mop? 

 No, bleach is a hazardous chemical and will destroy the plastic components of your steam mop. It will leave fumes in your house which are potentially toxic, particularly when combined with the heat of steam.

Can I Add a Cleaning Solution to a Steam Mop? 

Steam mops are not designed to work with cleaning solutions. They generate high-temperature steam to naturally eliminate bacteria and clean surfaces. You should not add any cleaning solutions to your steam mop unless specifically designed for steam cleaners. 


Most people are not sure about steam mops and whether to add vinegar or not. The truth is that vinegar has acidic properties, which can cause severe damage to the floor. 

Vinegar is typically used in household cleaning to remove tough stains or odors from different surfaces. It is also used in steam mops and steam cleaners as a descaling agent due to its ability to eat away at tap water’s mineral buildup. 

Most steam mops allow you to add vinegar, but you need to be careful about the type of floors you will be cleaning. Hardwood, laminate, and LVP flooring are among the most sensitive. You should avoid cleaning these types of flooring using a high heat steam mop or vinegar. 

It is also important you read the instructions that come with the unit if you are not sure about whether it is safe to add vinegar or not.  

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