Ever since steam mops made their entry onto the cleaning scene, just about everyone has been raving about them. But, do they really work, or are they just a waste of money?
Steam mops are much better than traditional mops. They are more efficient because they use hot steam to clean your floors, which helps to loosen and remove dirt and grime. Additionally, you can use them on various floor types, including sealed hardwood floors, laminate floors, and tile floors.
However, not all steam mops are created equal. Some steam mops work better than others. In this blog post, we will look at the different types of steam mops and see how well they work. We will also discuss the pros and cons of using a steam mop to clean your floors.
In this guide, I will answer these questions and more. We will also cover:
- Is a steam cleaner better than a mop?
- Best steam mops in 2022
- And more…
Is a Steam Cleaner Better than a Mop?
Steam cleaners have become the cleaning tool of choice in many households and medical establishments. They work by forcing steam at a pressure that helps you deep clean inside cracks, crevices, and tight areas that traditional mops miss.
Some experts believe that traditional mopping only removes 50% of the germs. Worse, they even end up spreading the bacteria around.
According to Consumer Reports, steam cleaning can kill almost 99.9% of household germs. These even include microbes like salmonella, e.coli, and even the dreaded coronaviruses.
However, according to Philip M. Tierno, Ph.D., a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University, for steam mopping to be ‘really effective’ in killing the aforementioned surface pathogens, the temperature has to reach at least 212 deg F.
Additionally, you have to hold the steam mop in place for a long time to actually kill these pathogens. Such high temperatures for prolonged periods can be detrimental to the floor’s health.
It could cause wooden floors to warp, and vinyl tiles could even pop out if subjected to such heat. Many floors are unsealed and contain resins that can get damaged due to prolonged steaming.
Having said that, steam mops work exceptionally well on most floors. Manufacturers of steam mops even assure that steam mops are entirely safe for use on surfaces like sealed hardwood, laminates, linoleum, marble, ceramic, porcelain, and tiles commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens.
Steam mops definitely cut out a lot of elbow grease, especially when cleaning sticky messes on floors and couches. They also deodorize – which is a blessing for pet owners.
In short: steam mops, when used correctly, can offer several benefits, such as
- Elimination of germs and bacteria – Steam mops are capable of reaching temperatures of 245 F which can kill most disease-causing pathogens.
- Quick removal of stains and odors without too much effort
- Reduced exposure to chemicals- steam mops only require distilled water. This helps limit our exposure to hazardous chemicals and also prevents them from entering our waterways.
Best Steam Mops – Top 5 Picks
Steam mops can make cleaning easy and revolutionize how you have been mopping all along.
Here are 5 of the top-rated steam mops that have received rave reviews from users.
#1. Winner: Shark S3501 Steam Pocket Mop Hardwood Cleaner
Shark S3501 is one of the best-rated steam mops today. It is proven (by several studies under a controlled environment) to eliminate 99.9% of germs from sealed hardwood floors, vinyl, linoleum, marble, and ceramic tiles.
It superheats distilled water into steam to remove stains, odors, grease, and grime quickly. The super-fast steamer heats water within just 30 seconds, leaving your floors clean and dry within seconds. No more worrying about slipping on wet floors!
The Shark S3501 also comes with a long power cord of 18-feet, so you don’t have to stop often from room to room. It is also lightweight so that you can maneuver it easily, even over the staircase. No more backaches from trudging heavy vacuum cleaners!
Shark S3501 is entirely safe for use on most kinds of tiles. It comes with two microfiber mop pads that lift and trap in the dirt to give you clean and tidy floors. After you’re done, simply toss the pads into a washing machine for easy cleaning. Replacement mops are also available easily.
I especially like that I can remove the steamer and use it as a hand-held device to get hard-to-reach spots, and I find this feature very effective in cleaning grout.
Here are some more features of the S3501.
- Weighs less than 5 lb.
- 1200 W
- Sanitization studies showed that the mop removed 99.9% of germs
- 2 washable microfiber mops for rectangular mop head
- Quick-release swivel cord of 18-ft
- Effective on hardwood, tile, marble, stone, laminate.
- Easy to assemble
- Deep cleans
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver-easy to use even for elderly/arthritic people
- Versatile – cleans multiple surfaces safely
- A long cord allows you to clean faster
- Requires distilled water – will not work with hard water.
- Steam is not automatic – you have to pump it to make it steam.
- The window showing water level is unclear – you will not know how much water is left.
- Add some vinegar to your water to ‘soften’ it.
How it compares
The Shark S3501 will be a gamechanger in the way you clean. If you’ve tried several steam mops in the past and been dissatisfied, then this is the one to buy. It cleans better than a regular mop and also disinfects your floors and walls.
If you have kids or pets, this is a must-have. On the downside, if you live in an area with hard water, the mop may get clogged. The price under $75 is reasonable.
#2. Best Overall: PurSteam 10-in-1 Steam Mop
Cleaning can be a chore, but with the 10-in-1 PurSteam steam mop, you can quickly get the mopping tackled.
It has several features that make it a winner in our books:
First of all, you get to clean without chemicals – so you and your family are safe from unnecessary exposure. It is multifunctional and versatile and cleans various household surfaces. You can even have squeaky clean, streak-free windows and walls thanks to the PurSteam 10-in-1. It is entirely safe for use around kids and pets.
Secondly, it comes with many accessories that let you clean all kinds of surfaces other than floors – including glass!
Thirdly, you also get a garment steamer for wrinkle-free disinfected clothing. The best part is that it works with ordinary tap water and does not need special distilled water.
- Starts steaming in 30 seconds
- Comes with multiple accessories – microfiber steam mop pads, carpet glider, brushes, glass cleaning tool, etc. A handheld accessory lets you steam couches and garments.
- Has 3 adjustable steaming modes
- Uses ordinary tap water
- Has a large reservoir of 340 ml which steams continuously for up to 25 minutes.
- Cleans multiple surfaces: stone, vinyl, tile, garment, sofas, window, carpets, hardwood floors
- Easy assembly
- Easy to fill up once the water runs out.
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Steam control knob
- Customer service is excellent – prompt exchanges/returns.
- The cord is not too long and it does not have a cord-holder notch like other units.
- Pads get soaked through within minutes.
- It is loud – especially when you use it in small spaces like bathrooms.
- Replacement brushes are not available easily.
Use the carpet gliders when cleaning carpets – it will make the mop roll smoothly on them.
How it compares
PurSteam steam mop is great for cleaning various surfaces. It is a well-designed steam mop with 10-in-1 functions to clean the entire house. The steam intensity adjustment control is an excellent feature. It is reasonably priced too.
#3. Best Lightweight Steam Mop: Light ‘N’ Easy Ultra Lightweight Steam Mop
Not only is the Light N’ Easy steam mop extremely light (it weighs less than four lb.!), but it is also affordable. The mop also achieves a temperature of 212 F within 30 seconds, so you can quickly disinfect the entire house.
Here are some of its great features:
- 3.5 lb. (without water)
- Manual steam pumping
- 220 ml reservoir tank
- Steams in 30 seconds – reaches 212 F which is the optimum temperature for killing pathogens.
- 20-ft long power cord
- Versatile – cleans hardwood, laminates, tiles
- Safe to use around pets and kids
- Easy to refill
- Does not need distilled water
- Ultra-lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Long cord length
- Needs carpet glider attachment (sold separately) to clean carpets
- The tank/reservoir is smaller than those in most steam mops
- The mop head does not swivel.
- Do not push the mop too hard. If it gets stuck, check the reason why – sometimes the pad may not be moist enough or it may be caught up on a corner. Pushing too hard could break the delicate mop.
How it compares
Light N Easy steam mop does the job of steam cleaning and mopping various surfaces. It is efficient, extremely light, and easy to maneuver. It is also easy to assemble, and the pads clean up nicely. The price is also reasonable, and it does not need distilled water.
#4. Best Steam Mop for Households with Pets: Hoover Complete Pet Steam Mop
You need a powerful mop that can eliminate drool, saliva, urine, stains, and odors when you have pets. With the Hoover Complete Pet Steam Mop, you can get the satisfaction of deep cleaning without requiring professionals.
This 10-in-1 mop cleans windows, tiles, hardwood floors, glass, ovens, stoves, rugs and carpets, and even moldy bathroom surfaces.
The powerful steaming action also deodorizes the home to leave it fresh and clean. It comes with dual tanks, which make cleaning fast and easy.
- Weighs 11 lb.
- Includes 10 tools to clean upholstery, tiles, carpets, and more
- Water tank capacity 18 oz: 12.8oz plus a secondary tank that holds 5.2 oz more
- Eliminates baked-on mess
- Easy to assemble
- Long cord
- Versatile – streak-free cleaning even on glass windows
- Pads are nice and thick – glide easily on the carpet with carpet glider attachments
- Steam cleans and deodorizes pet areas
- Excellent customer service
- You have to hold the lever down with the handle for the unit to steam.
- The hand-held unit is cumbersome and heavy.
- Tool attachment on the unit is useless.
- There is a stiff brush at the bottom – you have to remove the bottom part.
- Add the plastic shield to sanitize the carpet.
How it compares
Hoover is a big name in vacuum cleaners, and you cannot go wrong with this one. Easy to assemble, use, and store, this will soon become your favorite mop – more so if you have pets. Its multiple accessories and dual water tanks also make cleaning a breeze. The price is on the higher side.
#5. Best Scent: Bissell Steam Mop Sapphire Powerfresh Deluxe
The Bissell steam mop will leave a refreshing spring breeze while you clean, thanks to its built-in scent disc tray. It also comes with digital steam control, which lets you control the steam level based on how grimy a surface is.
Bissell steam mop works on granite, hardwood, marble, linoleum, and ceramic tiles. Its swiveling steaming head has a width of 12 inches which covers a vast area in a short time.
- Steams within 30 seconds – requires distilled water only.
- Lightweight – 6.4 lb.
- SpotBoost™brush to remove stains and sticky messes
- Eliminates 99.9% of germs
- Accessories include two kinds of mops – soft and scrubby, fabric steamer, clothing steamer, grout tool, etc.
- Choose from three different scented demineralized water to make your house smell fresh. Additional freshening discs sold separately
- Includes water cup to fill the reservoir tank – tank capacity of 12 ounces
- Deep cleans
- Easy to assemble – no tools needed.
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- Great customer service
- Mop pads are a pain to get on. They also cause friction and make it difficult for the user to push and pull the mop.
- The button sequence for powering on, heating up, and steaming is not intuitive to use.
- Be careful when using it on wood floors especially if the floor has not been sealed. The steam could damage it.
How it compares
Easy to set up and start, this is a great steam mop from Bissell – a brand well-known for its vacuum cleaners. The scent discs leave your home smelling great, and that can be a boon if you have pets. Price-wise, it is on the higher side.
What Floors Can You Use a Steam Mop On?
You can use most steam mops safely on hardwood, tile, ceramic, porcelain, laminate, marble, and linoleum floors. You can also use some models on vinyl floors.
A word of caution: do not use steam mops on unsealed floors as they can damage them. Here are some guidelines to follow when using a steam mop for the first time:
Always sweep the area you plan to mop. You can also vacuum the rugs and carpets before cleaning them. This will remove fine hairs and dust and prepare your floor for steam cleaning. Sweeping/vacuuming will also keep your steam mop pads cleaner.
Evaluate the floor surface
If you’re unsure whether your floor can handle the high temperature of the steam, contact the floor manufacturer.
Never leave the mop running while you answer a call or attend to an emergency. It can damage the floor or carpet.
Remember: particular laminated floors are not sealed and can get damaged by water dripping through them. Even wood floor manufacturers caution against prolonged steaming. If needed, test a small area first. If the wood does not absorb water, it is safe to be steam cleaned.
Keep several mops ready
Depending on the area you’re cleaning, you’d need several mop pads. Buy replacement pads and keep them handy so you will always have clean ones ready for use. By keeping mop pads with you while steaming, you will save yourself the hassle of stopping to replace them.
Change the pads and wash them often
Avoid reusing dirty pads as they will spread dirt around. Wash them as per the manufacturer’s instruction.
What Can You Put In a Steam Mop to Make It Smell Nice?
You can always buy the Bissell mop above as it has special scent tanks to add scent pads. They also have scented distilled water to add to the tank. You can use the following products to make your home smell nice while steam mopping:
A few drops of essential oils
Add about five drops of essential oil to the reservoir (about 340 ml capacity). You can also soak the pad in a solution of essential oil and water and wring out the excess water.
A few drops of Febreze fabric spray are also safe to use in steam mops’ reservoir along with water. It is recommended that you dilute the Febreze at least 10 times with water when using it in the steam mop. It will leave your home smelling fresh and clean, especially while mopping upholstered surfaces, couches, rugs, and carpets. Do not use any other cleaner with it.
Clorox Scentiva will give your carpets and rugs a boost of freshness, and its scent lasts long. I definitely recommend this one if you have pets. Use the same instructions as above when diluting Clorox Scentiva to use in steam mop reservoir.
FAQs – Do Steam Mops Work?
Are steam mops better than Swiffer?
Steam mops and Swiffer are both great at cleaning. The difference is in the price. Swiffer is a cheaper option. Also, steam mops can damage some surfaces, whereas you can safely use a Swiffer on just about any type of floor.
Why is my floor sticky after steam mopping?
The chances are that your mop pads need replacing or further washing. Also, if there is something sticky on the floor, you may need to mop 3-4 times in the area to get it cleaned. Avoid using soap or chemicals in the reservoir tank of the mop. It is best to use distilled water only as hard water can leave streaks on the floor.
Conclusion – Do Steam Mops Work?
Steam mops work well, provided you use them properly. The steam kills most pathogens, and the mop pads trap and lock in the dirt. Unlike traditional mopping, steam mops do not spread the dirt around.
We recommend Shark S3501 Steam Mop because it’s lightweight and easy to use, even for arthritic people. It is also affordable and works on multiple surfaces.
Do check out our other recommendations as well.