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Yes, a vacuum or broom can quickly clean surface debris from the hard flooring in your home. But if you want to make sure your floors are truly spotless, you’ll need a mop. Manual mopping, however, requires both elbow grease and patience. Steam mops are popular for a reason. Not only do they mop faster, they also provide a deeper clean. Best of all, your floors dry quickly, so you don’t have to worry about keeping kids and pets off of them for hours.
Picking out the perfect steam mop for your home isn’t so easy. With the wide variety of options on the market, you need to know what to look for. How large should the reservoir be? Should steam settings be adjustable? Which extras make a difference and which are unnecessary? Overwhelmed already?
Don’t worry. Here at BestReviews, we make shopping simple!
We do the research, ask the experts, and interview real-life customers. And we never accept free samples or perks from manufacturers, so you can trust what we have to say. Our reviews are always impartial, unbiased, and honest. If you’reready to choose a steam mop, check out the matrix above for our top five picks.
But if you need to know more before you shop, just keep reading.
A steam mop has an internal water boiler. When you add water to the mop’s reservoir, it’s turned into steam. The steam is pumped to the mop’s cleaning head as you move it across the floor.
The steam loosens any dirt or residue on the floor, and the mop’s cloth cleaning pad removes it without any scrubbing necessary.
Allen Rathey is a cleaning expert who promotes healthier indoor spaces. He is past-president of the Housekeeping Channel and the Healthy House Institute, and principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) culminating more than 30 years of experience in making indoor places cleaner. He has been tapped as an expert by the New York Times, Real Simple, U.S. News & World Report, and other national media.
A steam mop does the hard work for you. You don’t have to get down on your hands and knees to scrub. You don’t have to lug around or empty heavy buckets of dirty water, either, making it a good option if you have joint issues or pain.
Because a steam mop utilizes hot steam to remove dirt and grime, you don’t need to use harsh chemicals to clean your floors, which is ideal if you have children and/or pets.
In fact, cleaning expert Allen, a past president of the Housekeeping Channel and the Healthy House Institute, says, “The biggest benefit to steam mops is in achieving some level of cleaning and microbial control without using chemicals.”
You can also get your floors cleaner than with traditional mopping. Steam kills bacteria and germs on your floor’s surface. And even with the deeper clean, floors dry more quickly when you’re done.
Steam-mopped floors dry so quickly because most steam mops utilize dry steam, which doesn’t contain any water particles in suspension.
The lifespan of a steam mop depends on the model that you buy and how often you use it.
Higher-end steam mops can last for five years or more. Budget-friendly models sometimes wear out after a year.
Keep in mind that the more often you use the mop, the sooner it will break down. If you use your steam mop once a week or less, it will last longer. If you use it daily, it may start to show signs of wear and tear at the one-year mark.
It’s important to choose a steam mop that’s comfortable to handle. Some models weigh as much as 15 pounds without any water in them, while others weigh as little as five pounds with water inside.
If possible, test out the weight and feel of a steam mop before you purchase it. If not, check online reviews to see what others think of the mop’s ergonomics.
In terms of storage, a model that has a fold-down or telescoping handle is easier to tuck into a closet or cabinet. If you have low-lying furniture, choose a mop with a low profile to easily fit underneath items with low clearance.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
BISSELL Powerfresh Steam Mop
The Bissell Powerfresh Steam Mop's most outstanding feature is its flip-down scrubber, designed for tough spots. There's no need for a funnel or filler because the tank is detachable. It comes with two pads: one is smooth and one is ribbed for use on dirtier areas. At nine pounds, the Bissell Powerfresh Steam Mop is a little heavier than other models, and it doesn't have the adjustable handle that many customers prefer. However, the grip is designed to be ergonomic and, in use, it doesn't feel heavy or cumbersome.
The water tank, or reservoir, is one of the most important components of a steam mop. Consider the size of the tank first. The more water the tank holds, the less often you’ll have to stop to refill the mop while you’re cleaning. Keep in mind, however, that the more water your mop holds, the heavier it will be.
It’s a good idea to choose a model with a tank you can refill without having to turn the mop off and allowing it to cool down.
A removable water tank is also a convenient feature. It allows you to bring the tank to the sink and fill it with water. If the tank doesn’t detach, you’ll have to fill the mop with jugs or a funnel.
The heat steam from a steam mop can kill up to 99% of the bacteria and germs on your floor.
The most effective, versatile steam mops have adjustable steam settings.
With adjustable settings, you can control the steam output to best match the type of flooring or how dirty it is. Look for a mop that has at least three settings for the most control.
You should also pay attention to the mop’s maximum steam temperature. For the deepest cleaning, you want a model that reaches at least 140°F to 180°F.
A better way to use steam mops is as a two-step process: clean first using a microfiber flat mop, then steam the floor for its sanitizing effect.
Many steam mops come with additional accessories or attachments that make cleaning easier, like brushes for scrubbing grout or a squeegee for cleaning mirrors and windows.
Some steam mops come with a carpet glider to freshen up your carpet. Other mops include tools for cleaning blinds, drapes, car interiors, and countertops.
A mop that comes with a tray or landing pad is great for catching any drips during or after use.
It may seem like a small detail, but a steam mop’s cord is important.
You want to choose a model with a long cord. That way it’s easy to move around a large room without having to unplug and risk cooling down the appliance.
Look for a steam mop with a cord that’s at least 20 feet long. If you have very large spaces to clean, choose a model with a cord that’s around 30 feet long.
A steam mop can disinfect your floor, boost shine, remove stains, and kill dust mites.
A steam mop with easy-to-push digital controls is the easiest to use. Those with trigger-style controls can cause fatigue fairly quickly and are a poor option if you have arthritis in your hands.
After you plug in and turn on a steam mop, you must wait for the appliance to heat up and start producing steam. For the most efficient cleaning, choose a mop with a short heat-up time. A steam mop can take anywhere from 30 seconds to four or five minutes to heat up.
Steam mops are a good idea when executed well, but check for desired temperature at the tool surface (usually, the higher the better), and change or clean applicator pads regularly. Dirt must go somewhere, and if your steam pad becomes saturated, it then begins to release and spread soil.
The shape and size of a steam mop’s head determines how easily it will clean your home.
There are three basic head shapes:
A large rectangular head works best if you have large areas of open floor you need to clean.
Small triangular heads are an ideal option if you have nooks and crannies you need to clean, such as around a toilet. Keep in mind that it will take longer to clean a large area with a mop that has a smaller head.
A mop head that swivels comes in handy when you need to maneuver around furniture and other items. Look for one that rotates 180 degrees for the most maneuverability.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop
The O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop is not just designed for smaller cleaning tasks and spot cleaning. It is an affordable alternative to high-end steam mops with little sacrifice in performance. The O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop produces usable steam in as little as 20 seconds, and the tank holds enough water to handle two medium-sized rooms without a refill. The microfiber pad is smooth enough to glide over sealed hardwood, tile, or linoleum flooring, but it is still aggressive enough to remove heavy dirt and grime.
Q. What type of flooring can I use a steam mop on?
A. Always consult the owner’s manual to ensure that the mop is safe for use on your flooring. However, most steam mops can be used on marble, ceramic, stone, linoleum, vinyl, laminate, and sealed wood flooring.
Q. Are the steam mop’s cloth cleaning pads reusable?
A. Most steam mops use reusable pads. However, you must clean them regularly. Most can be machine-washed on the delicate cycle with a mild detergent, but consult your owner’s manual for the proper washing procedure.
Q. How much do steam mops cost?
A. In general, steam mops range from as little as $35 to as much as $200. For a durable, effective mop, expect to pay $60 to $115.
Q. What maintenance does my steam mop need?
A. The water tank of a steam mop can experience limescale build-up, particularly if you fill it with hard tap water. Be sure to empty and wipe down the tank after each use. It’s also a good idea to periodically clean the steam nozzle with a pin to remove any deposits that may have collected there.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.