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Updated October 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best steam mops

If you have hard floors, using a steam mop provides a faster, deeper cleaning than other methods. The steam loosens the dirt without employing chemicals, effectively doing the hard part for you. All you have to do is glide the mop across the surface of your floor and know that you've eradicated germs, bacteria, and dirt all in one efficient swipe.

A good steam mop should heat up to between 140°F and 180°F and have a long cord so you don't have to keep swapping outlets as you work. An assortment of attachments and mop heads makes the unit more enticing.

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.

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.

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.

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.

EXPERT Tip
Washing your steam pad in between uses is very important so that you're actually cleaning and not just moving the dirt around.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

What to look for when buying a steam mop

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.

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 to allow 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.

"Steam-mopped floors dry so quickly because most steam mops use dry steam, which doesn’t contain any water particles in suspension."
STAFF
BestReviews

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 several minutes to heat up.

Head shape

The shape and size of a steam mop’s head determine 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.

Content Image
Expert Tip
Take the steam pad off after each use. Also, you'll want to use up all of the water in the tank so that water doesn't sit inside the water tank in between each use. 
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Tips and tricks for using a steam mop

  • Before using your steam mop, vacuum the floor to remove any surface dirt and debris.
  • Being sure that you are washing your steam pad in between uses is very important when it comes to using a steam mop.
  • 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 buildup, 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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