Can You Put Vinegar in a Steam Mop?

can i put vinegar in my steam mop

As a long-time user and advocate of steam cleaners, I have seen my fair share of misguided advice online.

One of the most common misconceptions I’ve come across is the use of vinegar in steam mops.

When using steam mops or steam cleaners, vinegar is often recommended by manufacturers as a descaling agent. But, can you put vinegar in a steam mop while it is running and use the steamed vinegar solution to clean your floors? No.

I have personally reached out to manufacturers and studied their user manuals to ensure that I provide the most accurate and reliable information to you, my readers.

Today, I want to share my findings with you, as well as my own experiences and insights on this topic.

Can You Put Vinegar in a Steam Mop?

First and foremost, let me reiterate that you should not put vinegar in your steam mop. Doing so can cause damage to the internal components of your steam mop, ultimately shortening its lifespan.

As someone who has used steam mops for years, I can assure you that using only distilled or demineralized water is the best way to maintain your steam mop’s performance and longevity.

Can You Put Vinegar in a Shark Steam Mop? 

Rather than talk about how great vinegar is as a natural cleaning agent and how it has been used for centuries, I decided to go straight to the steam mop manufacturers.

Here’s what Shark Clean has to say about using vinegar in their steam mops:

To prolong the life of your Steam Mop, we recommend using distilled water. Make sure you add only water to the tank. Chemicals or cleaning solutions (including vinegar) may damage the Steam Mop and could be unsafe for you and your family.

Shark S5003D User Manual

In contrast, here is some of the advice being given online from other blogs:

steam mop vinegar
Incorrect advice found online about using vinegar in a steam mop

It get’s better – here is another blogger talking about using bicarbonate soda (also known as baking soda) and vinegar together in a Shark steam mop – what a way to ruin your steamer!

vinegar in steam mop advice
Never use vinegar in your Shark steam mop – and definitely don’t use bicarb soda!

Anyone who has ever used bicarb soda knows full well it causes a chemical reaction when combined with vinegar.

Unless you want a mini volcano in your steam mop’s water tank and a clogged steamer from the soda, please follow our advice and don’t use vinegar or bicarbonate (baking) soda in your steam mop.

Shark also advise in two separate areas of their user manual not to use vinegar in their steam mops:

Can I put something other than water in the water tank of the Steam Mop?

DO NOT add cleaning solutions, scented perfumes, oils, or any other chemicals to the water used in this appliance, as this may damage the unit or make it unsafe for use. We recommend using distilled water in your Steam Mop.

Shark Clean Troubleshooting Guide

Can You Put Vinegar in a Bissell Steam Mop?

I’m certain Bissell will say the same thing as Shark Clean, but for the purpose of providing accurate information, here is the formal advice from Bissell:

Do not use vinegar or any other solution as it could damage the water tank. Never put descaling, aromatic, alcoholic or detergent products into the steam cleaner, as this may damage it or make it unsafe for use.


Here is yet another so called expert talking about using vinegar in a Bissell steam mop:

Incorrect information found online about using vinegar in a Bissell steam mop

They’re not wrong, vinegar can damage the hardwood. According to Bissell, it can also damage your steam mop water tank.

So, take the advice of Bissell and don’t use vinegar in your steam mop.

Can You Put Vinegar in a Steam Cleaner?

steam cleaner vinegar

Canister style steam cleaners heat the entire boiler of water. It is often suggested by steam mop manufacturers to use vinegar to descale canister steam cleaners.

But this happens when the steamer has cooled down – the vinegar soaks for anywhere from 40 minutes to a few hours, or sometimes overnight, before being rinsed out and flushed with clean water.

In my years of steam cleaning, I have never heated the boiler tank with vinegar inside.

But in the interest of continuing to provide accurate information to my readers, I consulted with Kaercher, Dupray, McCulloch and Warner for the official advice.

Here’s what they had to say:

Kaercher Steam Cleaners

Kaercher advised not to use vinegar in their steam cleaners, specifically:

Do not fill with any cleaning agents or other supplements. Do not use vinegar or similar agents.

Kaercher Steam Cleaners

Dupray Steam Cleaners

Dupray advise to only use vinegar in their steam cleaners during the maintenance and descaling process.

During this time the cap on the boiler tank should remain open and the steam cleaner switched off.

With regards to filling the boiler tank of the steamer, Dupray advise that adding anything other than water to the boiler tank will void the warranty. The official wording is of the warranty is:

THE WARRANTY IS VOID: …if the product was used with other substances besides water in the water chamber;


I think it’s safe to say you should not put vinegar in a Dupray steam cleaner.

McCulloch Steam Cleaners

McCulloch are another popular brand of steam cleaners, who recommend those who use tap water should do a monthly descale of their canister steam cleaners using vinegar.

Like Dupray, the vinegar should be added to a cooled steamer, and the steamer must always remain off. The boiler tank should be rinsed several times to remove any vinegar residue before operating the steamer.

The official advice from McCulloch regarding adding vinegar to the boiler tank when steam mopping is:

When filling, only water should be used in unit – other cleaning agents could damage unit or cause injury. Distilled or de-mineralized water is highly recommended, in order to minimize potential build-up of mineral deposits.

McCulloch Steam Cleaners

Wagner Steam Cleaners

Wagner make a versatile steamer with an included wallpaper attachment, that’s affordable to buy.

Their advice on putting vinegar into their steam cleaning machines was pretty simple:

Only use distilled water, mineral build-up from tap water can shorten the life of the steamer.


Whilst they don’t make mention of not using vinegar in the water tank, their warranty for both the steam cleaner and wallpaper steamer states:

“This Warranty Does Not Cover Damage Resulting From Improper Use, Accidents, User’s Negligence Or Normal Wear”

Given Wagner recommend using only distilled water in the steam cleaner, using vinegar may be considered improper use.

How to Use Vinegar With Steam Mopping

I understand that some people love the cleaning power of vinegar and may be disappointed by the advice not to put vinegar in your steam mop or steam cleaner.

There are alternative ways to incorporate vinegar into your cleaning routine without jeopardizing your steam mop.

For instance, you can create a simple cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle.

Spray this solution onto your floors, then use your steam mop to go over the area. This way, you are combining the cleaning power of both vinegar and steam, without damaging your machine.

Avoid Vinegar on These Flooring Types

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Vinegar in a Steam Mop

steam mop with vinegar

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

Can I Put Vinegar in My Shark Steam Mop?

Vinegar should never be used in a Shark steam mop. Shark Clean specifically state chemicals or cleaning solutions (including vinegar) may damage the steam mop and could be unsafe for you and your family.

Can I Use Vinegar in My Bissell Steam Mop?

Do not use vinegar in your Bissell steam mop. Bissell state that vinegar could damage the water tank.

How Much Vinegar Should I Put in My Steam Mop?

You should not put any vinegar in your steam mop. Only fill the tank with water, preferably distilled or demineralized water.

What Should I Put in My Steam Mop?

Distilled or demineralized water are the two best choices for your steam mop. If you prefer a fragrance while cleaning, choose a scented demineralized water such as Bissell Spring Breeze.

Can I Add Bleach to My Steam Mop? 

 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. 

Can You Put Vinegar in a Steam Mop? The Final Verdict

While vinegar is a fantastic natural cleaning agent, it is not suitable for use in steam mops.

By following the recommendations of steam mop manufacturers and using distilled or demineralized water in your steam mop, you can enjoy a clean and fresh home without risking damage to your cleaning equipment.

Save vinegar for descaling your steamer and just use distilled water in your steam mop instead. You’ll enjoy the fresh smell of clean steam, and your home won’t stink like vinegar either.


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