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Shopping Guide for Best Steam Mops

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.

Steam Mop 101

Steam mop 101

How Does a Steam Mop Work?

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
EXPERT CONSULTANT

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.


Allen  |  Indoor Cleaning Expert
Steam mop 101

What are the Benefits of a Steam Mop?

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.

Staff
BestReviews
Steam mop 101

How Long Does a Steam Mop Last?

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.

The first steam mop was designed in South Korea in 1998. Steam mops first hit the mass market in 2004.

What to Look for When Buying a Steam Mop

Considerations

Size and Weight

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

Features

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.

Considerations

Water Tank

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

The heat steam from a steam mop can kill up to 99% of the bacteria and germs on your floor.

Considerations

Steam Settings

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.

EXPERT TIP

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.


Allen  | Indoor Cleaning Expert
Considerations

Accessories

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.

Testing Results
Bissell Powerfresh Steam Mop
  • Product
    Came with 2 scrub heads and had an easy-to-fill tank. We liked that the scrub heads can be machine-washed, as they get dirty. Also came with a carpet refresher, but we didn't find that to work well.
  • Performance
    The mopping action worked well – we spilled jelly on the floor and it wiped it up in one pass. We liked the attached scrubber but it was not easy to use. The steam mop got to 183 degrees Fahrenheit, so wear socks when you clean.
Considerations

Cord

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

A steam mop can disinfect your floor, boost shine, remove stains, and kill dust mites.

Considerations

Controls

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.

Considerations

Heat-Up Time

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.

EXPERT TIP

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.


Allen  | Indoor Cleaning Expert
Considerations

Head Shape

The shape and size of a steam mop’s head determines how easily it will clean your home.

There are three basic head shapes:

  • Rectangular

A large rectangular head works best if you have large areas of open floor you need to clean.

  • Triangular

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.

  • Swivel

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

Performance

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.

Tips and Tricks for Using a Steam Mop

  • Before using your steam mop, vacuum the floor to remove any surface dirt and debris.
  • If there’s a particularly dirty spot on your floor, allow the steam mop to sit on the area for eight to ten seconds so the steam has time to loosen the dirt.
  • For the best results, use distilled water in your steam mop if you live in an area with hard water.
  • Empty the water tank after each cleaning session before you store the mop. Remove the cleaning pad as well to prevent mildew.
A steam mop is an eco-friendly cleaning option because it doesn’t use any chemicals and you can reuse the cleaning pads.

FAQ

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.

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