Photo: Katie Barton
Many steam mop manufacturers promise their products will get floors squeaky clean, so we put them to the test. We spent 5 weeks using seven of the top-rated steam mops. We mopped up everyday messes, tried out any included attachments, and put each steam mop through a more rigorous dried-on-food challenge.
To our surprise, the most expensive steam mops didn’t always come out on top. While we ultimately looked at cleaning power and ease of use, other factors, like cord length and mophead thickness, came into play. After thorough testing, here are our top picks of the best steam mops.
- BEST OVERALL: Bissell PowerFresh Scrubbing & Sanitizing Steam Mop
- RUNNER-UP: PurSteam 10-in-1 Steam Mop Cleaner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: OApier S8 Lightweight Steam Mop
- BEST FOR TOUGH MESSES: Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System
- BEST FOR TILE: Bissell PowerFresh Slim 3-in-1 Steam Mop
- BEST FOR PET OWNERS: Bissell PowerFresh Pet Lift-Off 2-in-1 Steam Mop
- BEST WITH HANDHELD STEAMER: Bissell PowerSteamer Heavy Duty 3-in-1 Steam Mop
Before You Buy a Steam Mop
Most steam mops are safe for use on ceramic tile, grout, sealed wood floors, linoleum, or laminate floors, and some can even be used on carpet. However, shoppers will want to check the flooring manufacturer’s care instructions before using a steam mop to ensure it can clean specific floor types.
If flooring is fragile, heavy-duty cleaning from steam mops may do more harm than good. The extreme temperature and moisture from steam cleaners could warp the wood, including hardwood floors and engineered wood flooring.
Here’s a tip: Before cleaning, test a small corner of the floor to see how it reacts to the steam. Many steam mops are suitable for most flooring types, but always test them first just to make extra sure. If there is a noticeable change to the wood after a steam clean, consider an alternative cleaning method, such as a vacuum cleaner-mop combo.
How We Tested the Best Steam Mops
Before testing steam cleaners, we spent hours researching the best models. We narrowed our list to highly rated steam mops that can clean a variety of surfaces, including hardwood floors, laminate, linoleum, and tile. We also chose models that include attachments for grout cleaning, carpet steaming, and scraping. We have previous experience testing dozens of cleaning products and tried each mop multiple times to give it a fair assessment.
We used each steam mop on several hard floor surfaces, noting how easy it was to use, how well it maneuvered, how thoroughly it cleaned, and the effectiveness of any attachments.
For more rigorous testing, we placed ¼ tablespoon of pasta sauce and ½ tablespoon of apple juice on a hardwood floor in seven spots and allowed each to dry for several hours. We then tested to see which steam mops best removed the messes. After testing, we rated the steam mops and assigned the winners based on their performance.
Our Top Picks
The best steam mops meet the needs of a range of budgets, work on multiple surfaces, help clean up after messy pets, and offer quality performance and convenience. We rigorously tested each model to determine both the standout features and the areas that need improvement for each steam mop.
This mop boasts three steam settings—high, medium, and low—so users can choose the best one for the type of flooring or stain. In addition, the 23-foot power cord and swivel steering make it easy to move around the room, cleaning all the nooks and crannies.
The Bissell PowerFresh steam mop comes with a microfiber soft pad, a microfiber scrubby pad, two spring-breeze fragrance discs, and a carpet glider.
We rated the Bissell PowerFresh steam mop best overall because of how well it maneuvered and cleaned. The three steam settings made it easy to switch from light steam for everyday messes to higher steam for powering through stuck-on dirt and grime.
The low-profile mophead maneuvered under the edge of cabinets and furniture, while the attached scrub brush proved useful for grout. The swiveling head worked well to clean along vertical surfaces and around toilets. This mop also came with two scent discs that left the room smelling fresh.
Even though this mop doesn’t have extra attachments like some others, it’s the one we wanted to grab over and over again. Its ease of use makes it a clear winner.
Read our full review: Bissell PowerFresh Scrubbing & Sanitizing Steam Mop
- Cord length: 23 feet
- Number of steam settings: 3
- Tank size: 16 ounces
- Kills 99.9 percent of germs; great for households with kids and pets
- The low-profile head fits under the edge of cabinets and dressers
- 3 steam levels allow users to switch settings quickly based on floor and mess type
- Swivel steering makes it easy to maneuver around obstacles such as toilets and furniture
- Its 6.2 lb weight makes it a little cumbersome to carry up the stairs
Get the Bissell scrubbing steam mop at Amazon, Wayfair, or Bissell.
Different flooring requires varying steam levels. That’s why the three adjustable steam modes on this mop from PurSteam make it an ideal choice for hardwood floors or tile. The different settings also help to clean tough, stuck-on stains. This steam mop also boasts a sizable 11.5-ounce reservoir that allows for 20 to 25 minutes of cleaning on the lowest setting.
Apart from floors, buyers can use this steam mop to clean carpets; steam garments; and wash windows, mirrors, glass, and other areas throughout the house. The handheld detachable steamer simplifies all these jobs, and the supplied accessories can be used for different tasks.
After testing, we found the PurSteam 10-in-1 Steam Mop Cleaner powered through stuck-on messes better than any other model. This mop preheats in 30 seconds, delivering large amounts of steam even on the lowest setting. The lightweight design makes it easy to carry up and down stairs and allows for effortless maneuvering.
The PurSteam was the easiest mop to use and also cleaned the quickest. Its design allows users to detach the handheld steamer with the push of a button. It also features a folding handle for compact storage.
The biggest con to this model, and the reason it didn’t earn “Best Overall,” is its short power cord. At only 15.9 feet, the cord isn’t long enough for users to clean a large room. Instead, it’s necessary to stop and switch outlets or use an extension cord.
- Cord length: 15.9 feet
- Number of steam settings: 3
- Tank size: 11.5 ounces
- Contains attachments for cleaning hardwood, tiles, carpets, clothing, and windows
- Heats in 30 seconds, producing large amounts of steam even on the lowest setting
- Powered through dried-on apple juice and pasta sauce without a problem
- The slim design and foldable handle make it compact for storage
- Because of its short 15.9-foot power cable, users must switch outlets or use an extension cord in larger spaces
- There are no markings on the steam nozzle to indicate current steam level
Get the PurSteam steam mop at Amazon or PurSteam.
This OApier steam mop weighs in at 5.74 pounds. That might not seem particularly consequential, but for users who are cleaning an entire home, the light weight won’t tire arms out as easily.
This model comes with only one mop pad, but it’s reusable and washes easily. It heats water in less than 20 seconds and is suitable for a variety of floor surfaces, including hardwood, ceramic, marble, and linoleum.
When we tested this mop, it cleaned well despite its limited settings. It’s lightweight and has a 360-degree swivel, making it easy to push. The square head butts up against walls and furniture, allowing users to mop edges and corners with ease.
While the OApier S8 was simple to use, it did have one major pitfall: The thin pad catches if there’s any roughness or unevenness in the floor. For example, mopping linoleum and tile went smoothly, but when tested on slightly uneven hardwood floors, the mop pad kept rolling up in one corner. Also, the thickness of the square design wouldn’t fit under some cabinet overhangs.
Overall, it’s a good starter steam mop, especially in a small home. But for users with uneven floors, there are better options.
- Cord length: 20 feet
- Number of steam settings: 1
- Tank size: 8.8 ounces
- Heats in 20 seconds; almost no wait time before cleaning
- The 360-degree swivel makes the mop easy to maneuver around obstacles
- Square mophead cleans flush against baseboards and in sharp corners
- Single mop pad will eventually deteriorate, requiring new pad purchase
- Thin mop pad catches on floor’s rough or uneven spots
- Thick mophead won’t fit under some cabinet overhangs and low furniture
Get the OApier steam mop at Amazon or Sears.
One of the least appealing parts of steam mopping might be handling removable pads after mopping. The Shark Genius addresses this with double-sided pads and a touch-free release feature that eliminates handling damp, dirty cleaning pads.
This mop has three steam settings plus an option for blasting stuck-on dirt. The steam can be controlled based on the floor surface or grime level. It comes with two dual-sided pads and a flask to fill the tank. This model is easy to use right out of the box.
We appreciated the absorbency of the Shark Genius’s mop pad. In our cleaning test, this mop picked up bits of dried pasta sauce that other mops left behind. In addition, the steam blast feature was ideal for all types of stuck-on messes—from globs of toothpaste that fell on the floor to dried-on food.
We also like the three steam settings. The low steam is enough for everyday mopping, while the high steam setting works well on grout. Users who often find themselves scrubbing messes off the floor will appreciate this mop.
Our biggest complaint is that the mophead is on the thicker side and doesn’t fit under the edge of cabinets or dressers. Another minor pitfall is that the mop doesn’t stand upright on its own, so it has to lean against a wall when not in use.
- Cord length: 22 feet
- Number of steam settings: 3
- Tank size: 11.8 ounces
- Users avoid touching dirty pads with touch-free release and double-sided pads
- The mop pads were the most absorbent of any mop we tested
- Easily steam-blast stuck-on messes without having to switch the settings
- The mop can feel hard to maneuver until the pad dampens from the steam
- It doesn’t sit upright on its own, so users will need to lean it against a wall for storage
- Because the mophead is thick, it doesn’t fit under the edge of some cabinetry
Get the Shark steam mop at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Kohl’s.
Tile floors have bumps and crevices that can be hard to clean. Although a standard upright steam mop may be just what’s needed for most tile floors, the Bissell PowerFresh Slim Steam Mop gives users another option. It features a unique dual-mode configuration, so it can be used as a traditional steam mop as well as a handheld tool that will clean smaller and harder-to-reach areas, such as the tile in the shower.
This Bissell steam mop features a variety of accessories: grout tool, angle tool, flat scraper tool, and bristle scrub brush. An onboard storage kit houses the tools, so users are prepared to clean any messes they encounter.
During testing, we liked the convenience of easily switching from regular mopping to using the handheld steam cleaner. The top of the mop removes with the press of a button, and users can add whichever attachment they need.
While we were impressed with the handheld steamer, maneuvering the unit as a standard mop was somewhat uncomfortable. The water tank is high on the handle, which made the mop feel heavy while cleaning a large room. Dispensing steam on demand is a nice idea, but holding down the trigger became hard on the hand after only a few minutes.
Overall, the Bissell PowerFresh Slim 3-in-1 is best suited for tile, grout, and users looking for a quality handheld steam cleaner.
- Cord length: 25 feet
- Number of steam settings: 100 percent adjustable
- Tank size: 11.8 ounces
- 3-in-1 capability; it’s easy to switch between the mop, power steamer, and handheld cleaner
- Comes with attachments that make it ideal for cleaning shower grout, window tracks, and more
- The slim mophead allows users to clean under furniture and cabinets with ease
- The water tank placement makes it top heavy and harder to maneuver than other options
- No cord storage; users must wrap the cord by hand and secure with a strap
- Must use wall mount or lean against a wall when not using; doesn’t stand upright
Get the Bissell slim steam mop at Amazon, Target, Wayfair, Bissell, or Macy’s.
This pet steam mop from Bissell cleans and sanitizes various areas throughout the house. Not only does it eliminate 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria on floors, but the detachable, handheld steam cleaner can also clean a variety of pet accessories, like beds, bowls, toys, and carriers.
The handheld mop also cleans grime on grout, countertops, and stovetops; inside a microwave; and in kitchen and bathroom sinks. The steam mop comes with 13 versatile tools, a microfiber soft pad and scrubby pad, odor-removing discs, an attachable water cup, and a microfiber towel.
The Bissell PowerFresh Pet Lift-Off 2-in-1 steam mop did an excellent job cleaning hardwood and tile floors. It was easy to assemble and intuitive to use. It has an extension cord, and the lift-off handheld steamer comes with an attachable hose, allowing access to hard-to-reach areas.
During our testing, we noted one big design downside: The mophead doesn’t swivel. Instead, users must pick up and manually turn the mop to navigate around obstacles like corners and furniture.
While the other features, like the odor-eliminating discs and attachments, help redeem the Bissell PowerFresh Pet Lift-Off, it’s not the best choice for users who mop their floors frequently.
- Cord length: 25 feet
- Number of steam settings: 2
- Tank size: 13.5 ounces
- Eliminates 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria without use of harsh chemicals, making it ideal for cleaning after pets
- Detachable handheld cleaner; comes with 13 tools to cover most household cleaning chores
- Users can choose from 2 levels of continuous steam depending on the surface
- The mophead doesn’t swivel, making it hard to navigate around toilets and furniture
- Heavy weight of 10.6 lbs is not great for tackling homes with stairs
Get the Bissell pet steam mop at Amazon, Target, Wayfair, or Bissell.
This versatile Bissell steam mop allows users to clean floors, high-up and hard-to-reach places, and so many other areas. It has a steam mop and two steam cleaners: extended reach and handheld. Users can clean the house, garage, workshop areas, boats, ATVs, patio furniture, and more.
The steam mop comes with varying steam modes and an on-demand trigger to control the intensity and amount of steam released. In addition, it comes with 29 accessories for tackling indoor and outdoor messes, and it stores conveniently with a wall mount for easy access.
When we unpacked this steam mop, we were impressed with its many attachments. It feels well constructed, living up to its “heavy-duty” title. We used it for cleaning hardwood and tile floors and tested the many attachments.
Because the water tank is on top near the steam trigger, this mop is more challenging to maneuver than mops with a lower water tank. Despite its heavy feel, the Bissell PowerSteamer steam mop cleaned hardwood and tile wonderfully. The attachments proved useful in cleaning grout and blasting dried-on toothpaste out of the sink.
While this mop isn’t the best option for those who mop their floors frequently, it’s a great choice for those wanting a handheld steam cleaner they can use on indoor and outdoor projects.
- Cord length: 25 feet
- Number of steam settings: 2
- Tank size: 12 ounces
- Built-in on-demand trigger makes the steam level easier to control
- 29 accessories included; can tackle almost any cleaning tasks, indoor and outdoor
- Must pull a trigger to release steam; uncomfortable when mopping a large area
- Heavy on top; not suitable for extended use or those with weaker wrists
- Doesn’t stand up on its own, must use wall mount or lean against a wall
- No cord storage; users must wrap cord in their hand
Get the Bissell heavy-duty steam mop at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Steam Mop
Anyone searching for the best steam mop to clean their home’s flooring will want to know that a variety of factors can make one mop better than another. Room size, floor types, and steam settings are just a few considerations to keep in mind ahead of buying a steam mop. Here’s a closer look at several of these factors.
Corded vs. Cordless
Corded steam mops usually include a 20- to 25-foot cord, but some have longer ones in the 30-foot range. Cleaning floors without the need to unplug and replug the steam mop frequently while moving through rooms makes those with a long cord beneficial to anyone with large spaces to clean.
Because steam mops draw a large amount of electricity (around 1500 watts), there are no truly cordless options. While some steam-cleaning mops use battery power to spray cleaning solution for quick cleanups, there are no entirely cordless options available that heat water to steaming. A fully battery-powered steam mop would be impractical, likely dying after only a few minutes.
Steam mops typically have different settings that make them suitable for various floors. These settings control the amount of steam dispensed from the mop, which can be adjusted by floor type to avoid possible damage.
Cranking up the steam can release mud, crayon, and other stains, saving time and effort. For a deep clean, a steam mop must reach a temperature between 140 and 179.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some hardwood flooring companies advise against using steam mops on hardwood or engineered wood floors. If the floor manufacturer says it’s okay to use steam, the best steam mop for wood flooring is one with an adjustable steam control and an absorbent mop pad that leaves minimal moisture on the floor’s surface. According to the National Wood Floor Association, using steam or excessive water might damage a wood floor over time.
Steam mops have a built-in reservoir that holds water, so there’s no need to lug a bucket around. Tank size varies, but a bigger tank allows for a longer cleaning session. The average water reservoir holds about 11 to 13 ounces. For most models, it will take between 20 and 30 seconds to heat up before it produces steam.
Having a larger tank also makes the mop heavier, and while smaller reservoirs are lighter, they have to be refilled more often. The best water-reservoir capacity depends on these weight and time considerations, especially on how much square footage is typically cleaned at a time.
A removable water tank makes filling and emptying the reservoir easier. Mops with an attached tank require using a cup to fill the reservoir. Plus, the mop will have to be turned upside down to empty an attached reservoir.
Mop Pads and Cloths
Most steam mops come with washable, reusable pads made from terry cloth or microfiber. These cloths are typically machine washable (on the delicate cycle and with minimal detergent). With proper care, they can last for a couple dozen cleanings.
It’s pretty common for a steam mop to include only one or two extra reusable pads. A larger quantity of extra pads and cloths are usually sold separately. Sometimes, third-party mop covers may also do the trick—these need to be bought separately, too. It’s always a good idea to have extras on hand to avoid running out during a mopping session.
Ease of Use
Several features affect the usability of a steam mop, making it easier to control, carry around, and operate.
- Weight affects how easy or difficult it is to carry the steam mop around a room and a house. The lighter the steam mop, the easier it is to use.
- Swivel heads will get around corners and furniture, eliminating struggles while cleaning around items in a room.
- Detachable steam generators allow steam cleaning other areas of the house, like appliances, windows, and countertops.
- The empty-tank indicator displays when the tank is empty.
- The ready-light indicator signals when the mop is ready to go.
Almost every home has odd nooks and crannies that are nearly impossible to clean. Like traditional mops, steam mops have different features depending on the model purchased. Some of these options include swivel mopheads and detachable components for cleaning those hard-to-reach areas in a home. Some steam mops include a detachable handheld steamer for cleaning curtains, appliances, and other surfaces.
Many steam mops come with several attachments that serve a different purpose. Some options include attachments for deep cleaning, scrubbers, extra cleaning pads, upholstery tools, ironing attachments for curtains, and squeegees for windows and glass. Though these bells and whistles can make the mop more expensive, they also make it a more versatile cleaning tool for the entire house.
While this guide attempts to address every detail shoppers need to know before buying a steam mop, many may still have unanswered questions about using and maintaining one, especially if they’re looking to buy the best type for their home. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about using a steam mop.
Q. What can you use a steam mop on?
Steam mops are generally safe for use on ceramic tile, grout, sealed wood floors, linoleum, or laminate floors, but always check the care instructions from the manufacturer to be sure.
Q. Why aren’t steam mops safe for vinyl floors?
A steam mop’s high heat and moisture can damage vinyl floors if seams or adhesives are breached.
Q. What is the best steam mop for hardwood floors?
One of the best options for hardwood floors is the PurSteam steam mop. With three adjustable modes of steam, it’s a safe option for hardwood floors.
Q. How do you use a steam mop?
- Vacuum or sweep the floor.
- Fill water tank with distilled water.
- Plug in or turn on the steam mop, letting it heat up.
- Choose the steam level.
- Clean floors.
Q. How often can you steam mop?
As often as needed. Once a week is fine, but you might want to clean more often if you have a busy household with kids and pets.
Q. How often should I clean my steam-mop pads?
Typically every 2 to 3 months. A mop pad should be replaced sooner if it collects stains or picks up a lingering smell.
Q. How do you clean a steam mophead?
Most steam-mop manufacturers provide detachable heads that can be thrown directly into the washing machine. They can also be washed with dirty rags and other cleaning materials.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been delivering trusted home improvement advice since 1979 as the host of popular shows like “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again.” His team of product testers, fact-checkers, and writers aims to bring the same trusted advice.
This article was written and revised by three writers, including Debbie Wolfe, Tiffany Lewis, and Katie Barton. Our product tester was Katie Barton, who has over 10 years of experience in product writing.