Mopping is among the top seven most dreaded cleaning tasks in a typical American home. According to a survey conducted by the American Cleaning Institute, 20 percent of Americans would rather forgo mopping. However, since the floor is the biggest surface to clean in most homes, it’s hard to ignore that cleaning chore.
The good news is that modern technological advancements in home appliances have made keeping your floors clean much less of a chore with a steam mop. The handy home appliance removes dirt and grime from floors and kills bacteria with its hot, powerful steam. The best part is that using a steam vacuum cleaner eliminates the need to deal with buckets or cleaning solutions.
When it comes to choosing a steam mop, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. Continue reading to learn how to navigate the features and factors when choosing the best steam mop—and don’t miss the roundup of some of the best picks on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: BISSELL Power Fresh Steam Mop
- RUNNER UP: Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop
- BEST FOR TILE: BISSELL Powerfresh Slim Steam Mop
- BEST FOR HARDWOOD: PurSteam Steam Mop Cleaner 10-in-1
- BEST FOR PET OWNERS: BISSELL PowerFresh Lift-Off Pet Steam Mop
- BEST WITH HANDHELD STEAMER: BISSELL Power Steamer Heavy Duty 3-in-1 Steam Mop
- MOST VERSATILE: LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Multi-Functional steam mop
Before You Buy a Steam Mop
Steam mops generally are safe for use on ceramic tile, grout, sealed wood floors, linoleum, or laminate floors, and some can be used on carpet. However, always check the care instructions from your flooring manufacturer to avoid accidentally voiding a warranty.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Steam Mop
When searching for the best steam mop for a home, there are a variety of factors that can make one mop better than another. Some of these features can include the size of the rooms, the types of floors, and the steam settings desired. Below are details about these and more factors to consider.
Corded vs. Cordless
Corded steam mops usually come with a 20- to 25-foot cord, but some have longer cords in the 30-foot range. Cleaning the floors in a home without needing to frequently unplug a mop and then plug it into another outlet is often an ideal scenario. So, a long cord is helpful for those who have large spaces to clean.
Another option is a cordless steam mop that relies on batteries. The best cordless steam mops have a battery life of at least 1 hour. However, depending on the size of the home, an hour may or may not be enough time. For this reason, looking at battery charge time is a good idea. Some steam mops need up to 2 hours or more to charge. If the job needs to be done in one pass with a cordless mop, having extra batteries can help avoid the need to stop mopping and waiting up to 2 hours for a charge.
Some steam mops come with different steam settings that make them suitable for various floors. These settings control the amount of steam coming out of the mop so that it can be adjusted based on floor type to avoid possibly damaging flooring.
The different settings also are great for tough stains. If floors can take the heat at any temperature, cranking up the steam for mud, crayon, and other stains can save time and scrubbing. For a deep clean, look for a steam mop that reaches between 140 and 179.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some hardwood flooring companies advise against using steam mops on hardwood or engineered floors. If the floor manufacturer says it’s OK 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 (NWFA), using steam or excessive water might damage a wood floor over time.
Water Tank Capacity
Steam mops have a built-in reservoir that holds water, so there is no need to lug a bucket around. Tank size varies, but a bigger tank allows a longer cleaning session. The average water reservoir holds about 11 to 13 ounces. For most models, that means it will take between 20 and 30 seconds to heat up before it will produce steam.
Having a larger tank also makes the mop heavier, and a smaller reservoir is lighter but it has 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 one that has an attached reservoir.
Most steam mops come with washable, reusable pads made from terry cloth or microfiber. The cloths are typically machine washable (on the delicate cycle and with minimal detergent) and can last for a couple dozen cleanings.
The mop might come with only one or two extra reusable pads, but extra pads or even third-party mop covers that will fit your mop can be purchased separately. It’s 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 and make 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.
- Empty-tank indicator will show when the tank is empty.
- Ready light indicator signals when the mop is ready to go.
Almost every home has odd nooks and crannies that are almost 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.
Our Top Picks
It can be tough to wade through the options to find the best steam mop. To make it easier, below is a collection of the best steam mops that meet the needs of a range of budgets, work on multiple surfaces, help clean up after messy pets, and offer quality performance and convenience. One of these steam mops may be the perfect tool to help make mopping easier at your home.
The power fresh steam mop from BISSELL kills 99 percent of germs and bacteria. The flip-down scrubber makes it easy to clean the tough stains, as it reaches the grout and crevices.
The steam mop boasts three steam settings of high, medium, and low so that the user can choose the best setting for the type of flooring or stain. In addition, the 23-foot power cord and swivel steering make it easy to reach around the room and in all the nooks and crannies.
The steam mop comes with a microfiber soft pad, a microfiber scrubby pad, two spring breeze fragrance discs, and a carpet glider.
One of the worst parts of steam mopping can be handling removable pads after mopping. The Shark Genius can help. It features unique double-sided pads to take cleaning further and a touch-free release so there’s no need to handle the damp, dirty cleaning pads.
This mop has three steam settings, including 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. The only downside to Shark Genius is that the tank isn’t removable.
This O-Cedar Steam Mop weighs in at only 5 pounds. That light weight might not seem super impressive, but if mopping an entire home, arms won’t tire out as easily with a low weight. It heats water in less than 20 seconds, so cleaning can begin immediately. It also has a cleaning attachment that will help freshen a carpet.
This model comes with only one extra mop pad, and the water reservoir is opaque, which makes it difficult to keep an eye on the water level. However, it’s a good starter steam mop, especially in a small home.
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 two options. It features a unique dual-mode configuration so it can be used as a traditional steam mop and as a handheld tool that will clean smaller and harder-to-reach areas such as the tile in the shower.
The BISSELL mop features a variety of accessories: grout tool, angle tool, flat scraper tool, and bristle scrub brush. An onboard storage kit can carry the tools while steam-cleaning. This mop can clean any tile surface in a home with ease.
Different flooring requires varying steam levels. That’s why the three adjustable modes of steam on this steam mop from PurSteam make it an ideal choice for hardwood floors or tile. The different settings also help to clean tough stuck-on stains. The steam mop also boasts a sizable 340-millimeter reservoir that allows for 20 to 25 minutes of cleaning on the lowest setting.
Apart from cleaning floors, users 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 makes all these jobs simpler, and the supplied accessories can be used for different tasks.
This pet steam mop from BISSELL cleans and sanitizes various areas throughout the house. Not only does it eliminate 99 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 can clean grime on grout, countertops, stovetops, inside a microwave, and 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. It has an extension cord for hard-to-reach places.
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 from the mop. In addition, it comes with 29 accessories for tackling indoor and outdoor messes, and it can be conveniently stored with a wall mount for easy and convenient access.
The LIGHT ‘N’ EASY is a truly versatile steam mop. Along with the main upright mop, the water reservoir detaches easily, transforming this into a multipurpose handheld steamer with several interchangeable attachments to tackle multiple surfaces in a home. The Light ’N’ Easy and its attachments can clean any surface in the house, including floors, vinyl, glass, and upholstery, and it can even remove wrinkles from shirts.
This mop is compact and can produce steam in less than 30 seconds at temperatures of up to 175 degrees. It has an adjustable steam output with three flow levels. With this flexibility, the flow can be tailored to better tackle a multitude of surfaces and stuck-on grime. It also features a collapsible handle for easy storage. For an all-in-one cleaning tool, the LIGHT ‘N’ EASY is a good pick.
FAQs About Steam Mops
Now that you know more about steam mops, there may be new unanswered questions popping up. For more information about the best steam mops, check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If additional concerns arise, contact the manufacturer.
Q. What can you use a steam mop on?
Steam mops generally are safe for use on ceramic tile, grout, sealed wood floors, linoleum, or laminate floors, but always check the care instructions from your flooring manufacturer to avoid accidentally voiding the warranty.
Q. What is the best steam mop for hardwood floors?
One of the best options for hardwood floors is the PurSteam Steam Mop Cleaner. With the three adjustable modes of steam, it is a safe option for hardwood floors.
Q. How do you use a steam mop?
- Vacuum or sweep the floor.
- Fill the water tank with distilled water.
- Plug in or turn on the steam mop, and then let it heat up.
- Choose the steam level output (if this is an option).
- Have extra clean pads on hand, in case you need to switch them out while cleaning.
- Wash your floors.
Q. How often can you steam mop?
Clean 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 do you clean a steam mophead?
Most steam mop manufacturers provide detachable heads that you can throw directly into the washing machine. You can wash them with dirty rags and other cleaning materials. You can usually use bleach if you like.
Traditional mops with sopping wet mopheads, buckets, harsh chemicals from cleaning solutions, and soaking wet floors can be eliminated when using a steam mop that kills 99 percent of germs and bacteria.
Steam cleaners make the job of washing floors easier and a touch more enjoyable. After you’re finished mopping, all you need to do is throw the mop pad in the washer and put the mop away. You no longer need to empty water buckets, put the cleaning solutions away, and strain the water from the mophead.
Using the mop that best suits your steam cleaning needs ultimately translates into needing to use less effort to keep your floors cleaner than ever before.