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Best steam mops: Find the ideal standalone steam cleaner for you

We spent more than 30 hours testing steam mops to find the best models on the market, and our top pick was the strong and lightweight Bissell PowerFresh 1940. It heats water in 27 seconds, features a removable tank for easy filling and adjustable steam levels.  It even cleaned dried mustard on a tile floor, which was a struggle for some models we tested. The cleaning power of this steam mop is unmatched.

Best Overall

Bissell PowerFresh

Bissell PowerFresh

This machine heats up quickly.
This steam mop produced some of the hottest cleaning pads compared to others.
It is easy to maneuver.
You get very few accessories.
There is no on/off switch.
It lacks an indicator light to prompt a refill.

The Bissell PowerFresh 1940 gives you three different steam levels you can adjust to get the correct amount of cleansing steam for each messy job. This strong steam mop weighs just 6 pounds, but offers a wide 13-inch cleaning pad that swipes under the edges of counters, into tight corners and other awkward-to-reach spots.

We poured separate patches of soda, orange juice, spaghetti sauce and mustard onto the kitchen floor of our test lab, then let them dry overnight. The Bissell steam mop had to work a bit to lift away the spaghetti sauce, as did every steam mop we tested, but the Bissell easily plowed through the soda and orange juice messes. It also did a great job with the dried-on mustard, which presented the biggest challenge to all models we tested.

This mop released enough steam to get every cleaning job done, but did not overdo it, so we were never left with a sloppy, wet floor. On average, our tests showed the Bissell PowerFresh 1940 emitted steam at 175 degrees Fahrenheit, which was some of the hottest steam compared to other models. The water tank is relatively small, holding just 12 ounces, but the good news is the removable tank is easy to fill. This steam mop heats up in 27 seconds after it’s plugged in, so there’s no wasted time when you want to get those floor chores finished.

Best Value

Light 'N' Easy

Light 'N' Easy

The price is quite low, especially considering what you get.
We measured very high temperatures on this mop head, which can boost cleaning power.
This mop stands on its own, which makes for more storage options.
You have to hand-pump this mop to get steam to emerge.
It doesn’t come with many accessories.
The lack of a swiveling head cuts down on maneuverability.

The Light 'N' Easy Lightweight Steam Mop was light, but not easy to use. It is priced to be very friendly to any budget, and it completed the primary job of all steam mops – chemical-free cleaning.

The Light 'N' Easy Lightweight Steam Mop did not clean all that quickly in our tests. Other mops cleared dried-on messes in fewer passes, but it did clean all spills eventually. It is annoying that you must hand pump the Light 'N' Easy to generate steam, but as long as the steam is emerging and cleaning – that's what matters. A bit more physical effort might be worth the savings you get with this mop.

One standout feature on the Light 'N' Easy is the relatively high temperatures. That gives it a better chance of sanitizing and cleaning than mops that run cooler. This mop does not have many accessories, so it is designed only for flooring, though it can also help sanitize carpets with its included glides. It also lacks a swiveling head, which makes it harder to maneuver around obstacles. At least it is self-standing. That makes it a little more user friendly for storage and for when you need to pause a cleaning job part-way through.

Most Versatile

H20 Mop X5

H20 Mop X5

Lots of attachments mean you can clean more than just floors.
A triangular swiveling head gets this mop in and out of tight spots.
This one heats up fast so you can start using it without waiting.
This mop uses a lot of moisture so floors don't dry very quickly.
Unusual cord design makes it hard to wrap for storage.
Small water tank will need refilling often and it is not removable.

The H20 Mop X5 offers a lot of cleaning power that starts with flooring. It is an absolute marvel for maneuverability, getting into corners with its swiveling, triangular head that other steam mops could not access. It was very efficient in our testing. It took the second fewest passes overall to clean our dried-on test messes.

The H20 Mop X5 was the most versatile product we tested. You can add several different attachments so that it can steam windows, clothing, carpets and other surfaces. It's nice to have the option of cleaning without chemicals on more than just flooring. The H20 X5 is ready to use in seconds. It had the shortest heat-up time of any one we tested, adding to its convenience.

One problem with this mop is that it leaves surfaces a little too wet. Most of the mops we tested left behind less water. You will have to keep people off the floors for a while after using the H20 X5. It also has an almost-unmanageable cord that is thick and stiff. It does not wind easily around the cord keepers on the back of the unit. One other drawback is the H20 X5's relatively small water tank is not removable. You will have to use a pitcher or head to the sink to refill often due to the small tank.

Longest Run Time

Oreck Steam-It

Oreck Steam-It

Large water tank

The Oreck Steam-It performed well in our spill tests and has a large water tank that leads to an exceptionally long run time. We kept it running continuously for 46 minutes before filling the water tank.

The large water tank makes it a bit heavier than most the models we tested, but we didn’t notice any impact in maneuverability while we ran it through our obstacle course. The Steam-It is also extremely versatile. It has small brush attachments for cleaning grout, shower walls and stovetops. There are also attachments for steam cleaning upholstery and clothing.

The tank isn’t removeable, it’s best to fill it with a pitcher or take it over to the sink. It is the most expensive steam mop we tested, but if you have plans for its wide range of attachments, the extra cost is well worth it.

Why Trust Us?  

Since 2015, we have spent over 180 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.

"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.

How We Tested  

After conducting initial research to find models we wanted to try, we spent more than 30 hours testing steam mops so we could prepare and rank a list of the best products on the market. To conduct our tests, 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.

How Much is a Steam Mop? 

We recommend a steam mop in the $70 to $90 range for the best combination of performance and versatility. The most expensive mop we tested is around $120, because it has a large tank that requires less trips to the sink. The more modestly priced mops we reviewed are between $40 and $60, however they produced below-average results in our spill tests.

Can I Use a Steam Mop on Wood Floors?

Wood 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.

The best way to clean your hardwood floors 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.

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.

ProductPriceOverall RatingPerformancePriceDesignAccessoriesWarranty & SupportPerformance ScoreManeuverability ScoreEase of UseAverage Steam Temperature (degrees)Continuous Steam (minutes) Heat Up Time (seconds)Cleaning Path Width (inches)Reservoir Capacity (ounces) Cord Length (feet)PriceWeight (pounds)Self-StandingSteam Output ControlReady LightScent FeatureRemovable TankAdd Water IndicatorAdjustable HandleHand ToolBrushesSqueegeeCarpet GlidesClothing ToolWarrantyPhoneEmailChat
BISSELL PowerFresh 1940View Deal4.5/510$891028100%100%100%1751727131523$896------2 Years-
H2O MopView Deal4/59$89.995107.380%100%95%1631210101219$89.995.1-----1 Year-
Steamfast SF-295View Deal4/57$90.117107.395%55%55%95182910.51519$90.113.93--------1 Year--
Light 'N' EasyView Deal3.5/57$51.99527.355%75%65%180193610719$51.994.7---------1 Year-
Oreck Steam-It STEAM100LRHView Deal3.5/58.8$1615.3101085%100%60%153464911.54025$16110----1 Year
Shark Steam Pocket S3501View Deal3.5/56.5$69.99521060%90%65%1591375121520$69.994.9---------1 Year
Hoover Floormate SteamScrub WH20420PCView Deal3/54.3$119.979.841040%30%25%904439112326$119.977.2-----1 Year
Shark Steam Mop S3101View Deal3/55.5$54.991.81040%75%65%144232511.57.520$54.993.6------------1 Year