A steam mop works wonders on hardwood and tiled floors, leaving them squeaky clean and germ-free without the use of harsh chemicals. The best steam mops can wipe out 99% of germs very quickly. Some include attachments for steaming other surfaces like drapes and upholstery. We tested a variety of steam mops to see how easy each mop was to use, including any attachments, and how effectively it cleaned to help you find the steam mop that’s just right for you.
Bissell PowerFresh steam mop (opens in new tab)
Clean without chemicals
The Bissell PowerFresh steam mop doesn’t use any harsh chemicals to clean and sanitize your floors, but it does have a place for scent discs to give off a nice aroma while you clean. It is safe to use on hardwood but also works on tile, linoleum, and laminate floors.
- Heats up quickly
- Easy to maneuver
- Few accessories
- No indicator light
This mop features digital controls with three steam settings to help loosen and clean up spills and sticky stuff. The top of the mop head is a scrub brush to get out tough spots and loosen dirt and the mop pads can be washed and reused. This steam mop doesn't come with many extra accessories.
In our test, we learned that the Bissell PowerFresh steam mop releases enough steam to power through dried spills without leaving behind pools of water. It also heats up pretty quickly, though there isn't an indicator light to let you know when it is ready to go. We just had to keep trying until we could visually see it was working. The Swivel Steer function makes cleaning in corners and underneath furniture a little easier.
Shark Genius steam mop (opens in new tab)
Dual-sided mop head
The Shark Genius steam mop is a very basic and slim design known as a pocket mop. It is better at directing steam at dirt and grime and doesn't take up much room when stored. This comes with a cleaning pad that wraps around both the bottom and the top of the mop head. This lets you flip the mop head over when the underside gets dirty and continue cleaning your floors without stopping.
- No-touch mop pad removal
- Double-sided mop head
- Small tank
- No attachments
This mop can be used for both wet and dry messes with on-demand steam that is hot and ready within a few seconds of turning it on. When the mop pad gets dirty, the Shark Genius has a release mechanism to remove the dirty pad without touching it.
Because it is such a basic steam mop, it doesn't hold a lot of water in its reservoir, on 220 milliliters (about 7 ounces). This doesn't give you a lot of cleaning time. Also, there aren't any attachments that work with this steam mop, so it's only good for cleaning floors. However, it works on all kinds of hard flooring including wood, laminate, and linoleum.
PurSteam steam mop (opens in new tab)
The PurSteam steam mop uses no chemicals to clean and sanitize flooring. In addition to the mop pad, this mop also comes with a special cleaning pad that works to clean carpeting, furniture, and other softer surfaces.
- Detachable hand unit
- Multiple attachments
- Fabric cleaning mop pad
- Velcro on pads wear quickly
The center part of the mop detaches from the base to become a convenient handheld steamer. This also makes it easier to refill the water tank, which holds enough water to keep cleaning for 20 minutes before having to refill it again.
Seven attachments come with the PurSteam so you can steam clean windows, clothing, grout, and so much more. It also comes with a reusable mop pad. When you're done cleaning simply toss the mop pad into the washing machine to clean it before its next use. We've found that the Velcro that attaches the pad to the mop head does wear down rather quickly, so you'll need to purchase more pads sooner rather than later. However, having several on hand can potentially extend the life of the pads since you have several to clean and cycle through.
H20 Mop X5 Elite basic mop (opens in new tab)
This steam mop has a lot of cleaning power that starts with flooring. It has amazing maneuverability, getting into corners with its swivel, triangular head. The H2O Mop X5 Elite Basic mop comes with 11 different accessories that let you steam clean windows, clothing, carpets, and other surfaces. It is ready to use in seconds and is safe to use on all floor types including ceramic tile, hardwood, and stone.
- Lots of attachments
- Great for corners
- Quick heat-up time
- Lots of moisture
- Water tank isn't removable
The H2O Mop X5 Elite Basic was the most versatile steam mop we tested. In addition to having the shortest heat-up time, it was very efficient in getting rid of dried-on messes.
One problem we noticed with this mop is that it leaves surfaces a little too wet, especially compared to the other mops we tested. You will have to keep people off floors for a while after using this steam mop. It also has an almost unmanageable cord that is thick and stiff. It doesn't wind easily around the cord keepers. One other drawback is the H20 Mop's relatively small water tank is not removable. You will have to use a pitcher or head to the sink to refill often.
Things to look for in a steam mop
The best mops make cleaning as easy as possible by offering hot, potent steam power with the ability to get around obstacles, under furniture, and into corners. Top-quality steam mops are powerful enough to clear away stuck-on liquids and household debris with very few passes, rather than a lot of scrubbing.
You should find a mop that heats the water to a very hot temperature. In fact, the hotter the water, the better, because you want to kill as much bacteria as possible.
It's great to have a long electrical cord, especially if you clean large rooms because you don't have to keep pausing to change outlets, or use an extension cord, which can be unsafe. Finally, a large water reservoir makes cleaning for long periods of time possible.
All of the steam mops on the market have the same basic design, but we like the ones with features that make cleaning quick and easy – but also thorough. Some units have conveniences like adjustable steam levels for cleaning especially tough messes, and for getting the right amount of steam for specific surfaces. It's good to look for a steam mop with a removable tank since that is the simplest way to fill the reservoir. Otherwise, you'll need to hold the entire device over a sink to fill the reservoir or pour water into it using a pitcher. Steam mops that stand on their own are quite convenient when you need to step away from your cleaning project temporarily, and they give you more options for storage.
We focused heavily on each steam mop’s ability to clean floors, but we also considered the extra tools and accessories that came with each model. These helpful extras can assist you with other household chores, making housework easier. Steam mops with accessories such as brushes, squeegees, and carpet glides for freshening carpets let you use your appliance in many places in your house. It’s also useful to have a steam mop that you can pull apart, so you can use the water reservoir section as a hand steamer for a variety of jobs.
How we tested steam mops
Since 2015, we have spent hundreds of hours testing and researching steam mops. We regularly examine the category, looking for new and important brands, models, and characteristics in the realm of steam mops. We acquire the most important mops on the market and test them. After our testing, we narrow the field by scoring them using a proprietary system that helps determine which products to include in our comparison. Along the way, we talk to experts and research online to better understand what goes into making a good steam mop. The answer can be a complicated one. The usefulness of these mops is sometimes debated. You need temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria, and many of these mops do not even get close to that range. Some would argue that trying to sterilize floors is a losing battle anyway. Even if you do manage to sanitize them, that lasts a very short time, unless you plan to never set foot on your flooring again.
In our most recent testing of steam mops, we poured individual patches of soda, orange juice, spaghetti sauce, and mustard in different spots on the tile floor of our lab’s kitchen, and let the messes dry overnight. The next day, we noted how quickly each steam mop heated up, what the average temperature of each cleaning pad was, and then started cleaning. We noted how many passes each mop needed to clean the floor.
We also observed whether you could adjust the amount of steam emitted from each machine, and checked to see whether each model left a reasonable amount of moisture on the floor.
In addition, we used a somewhat subjective approach to calculate the maneuverability of each steam mop by operating it and determining how the machine felt and moved as we used it to clean. We also noted how easily each one moved into tight corners or other hard-to-reach spots to get the room's entire floor clean.
What the experts have to say
"Disinfection should be called 'temporary disinfection' because germs start to grow on disinfected and sanitized surfaces as soon as you touch them again," according to the EPA's electronic pamphlet Green Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting: A curriculum for Early Care and Education.
The level of cleaning also varies a lot, depending on the mop and the way you use it. The concept of a chemical-free clean is very appealing nonetheless, especially since so many cleaning chemicals are used incorrectly, making them ineffective or even dangerous. And that same pamphlet recommends steam cleaners for sanitizing.
"They can be used on many surfaces, including bathroom fixtures, floors, and countertops, carpeting, and upholstery."
Caitlin Wagner, Product Manager for upright vacuums at Shark, works to develop vacuum cleaners all day long, but she swears by her steam mop when it is time to clean her kitchen. Filling it up with just water, not chemicals, is something she values.
"I don't know how I lived without my steam mop before," Wagner said.
Can steam mops be used on wooden floors?
Wooden flooring is beautiful, but it’s also costly. The last thing you want to do is ruin your gorgeous investment, and you’ll need to keep it clean if you want to protect it. So the big question is, can you use a steam mop on a wooden floor? The quick answer is no.
Exposure to heated water will cause wood cupping and long-term damage to your wood flooring. The steam may also remove any polish or finish you've applied to your floors, making them look uneven and dull. And be careful what you use to clean the floors; vinegar will eat away at your finish, and soap will leave streaks.
However, sealed wood floors are generally okay to use with a steam cleaner. Some of the models we’ve included in this guide, such as the PowerFresh Deluxe, can be used on sealed hardwood.
The best way to clean your hardwood floors and stay on the safe side is by using plain, room-temperature water on a rag or mop. Just make sure the cleaning instrument isn't sopping wet, as too much water can damage the floor. Get rid of any standing water as soon as you can, and further protect your floors by placing mats in entryways and rugs in high-traffic areas.
Can you use steam mops on upholstery and curtains?
In short, the answer is yes. Steam is not only a great way of getting rid of germs and dirt from hard surfaces, but attachments on steam cleaners also offer a way to clean upholstery and curtains whilst they're in situ.
There's no need to take down your curtains either, providing you can reach the top of them. The best way to clean your curtains and upholstery is by using the steam cleaner in quite brief, but gentle movements, so that the fabric doesn't become too soggy. If you can, turn the steam setting down so that it's not too high either.
Why trust us?
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