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The 5 Best Steam Mops (2021 Review)

The This Old House Reviews team evaluated the best steam mops on the market to help you make a smart purchase. The products included in this article are available at various home improvement stores, local home centers, and online retailers like Amazon.

Clean wood flooring that shines. Alex Hayden

Are you looking for a steam mop to add to your household cleaning arsenal? We’ve reviewed five of the best steam mops on the market based on their benefits versus costs, how they’ll fare in the long run, ease of use, and if they can do the job on various floor types as advertised. Find the best steam mop for your cleaning needs using our product comparison and buying guide below.

Best Overall: BISSELL PowerFresh Steam Mop

Bissell Steam Mop

Specs

  • Weight: 6.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.6 inches x 7.1 inches x 28.6 inches
  • Heat time: 30 seconds
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Three steam levels handle a variety of cleaning needs
  • Swivel head provides easy maneuverability
  • Heats up quickly (30 seconds)
  • Scented discs infuses a fresh fragrance
  • Water tank can be easily removed and refilled

Cons

  • Hissing sound of the steam can be loud
  • Water tank cap could crack easily
  • May leave streaks on the floor

Best Value: O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop

O-Cedar Steam Mop

Specs

  • Dimensions: 53 inches x 12 inches x 8.8 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Heat time: 20 seconds
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Short heat time (20 seconds)
  • Triangular-shaped head with microfiber pad cleans corners
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Can get clogged from mineral build up
  • A couple of passes required to thoroughly clean an area
  • Water tank isn’t transparent so can be difficult to check water level

Best Multi-Purpose: LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Multifunctional Steam Mop

Light N Easy Steam Mop

Specs

  • Dimensions: 46.4 inches x 11.8 inches x 6.8 inches
  • Weight: 6.3 pounds
  • Heat time: 30 seconds
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Provides 20-25 minutes of steam time
  • Lightweight, at only 6 pounds
  • 2-in-1 steamer transforms from a steam mop to a handheld
  • Three steam levels, all of which are quiet
  • 30-second heat-up time

Cons

  • The steam is sometimes inconsistent
  • Many customers found the instructions to be confusing

Best For Large Spaces: Shark Genius Hard Floor Steam Mop

Shark Genius Steam Mop

Specs

  • Dimensions: 47.1 inches x 13.8 inches x 7 inches
  • Weight: 5.78 pounds
  • Heat time: 30 seconds
  • Warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Flip-over mop head allows you to deep-clean more spaces without switching pads
  • Used pads can be easily discarded with a release button
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Doesn’t stand on its own
  • Can be difficult to push around

Best Heavy Duty: McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

McCulloch Steam Mop

Specs

  • Dimensions: 20.1 inches x 13 inches x 12.6 inches
  • Weight: 12 pounds
  • Heat time: 8 minutes
  • Warranty: 2 years

Pros

  • 48-ounce tank delivers 45 minutes of steam time
  • 18 accessories, including a floor mop, mop pads, nylon brushes, and scrub pad
  • 15.7-foot cord and 9-foot steam hose
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • At 12 pounds, heavier than other products reviewed
  • Takes about 10 minutes to heat up
  • Can’t adjust the steam level
Steam Mopping Floor Adobe

Steam Mop Buying Guide

How a Steam Mop Works

Steam mops are effective in removing tough stains by turning water into gas through the application of heat. When water is boiled and pressurized inside a sealed space, it releases forceful steam that loosens stains.

Steam mops also sanitize the space being cleaned because the increased temperature and pressure enters the bacteria, making them more vulnerable and easier to kill. Sanitation means that the number of disease-causing germs is reduced, but not completely eliminated. That’s why you see claims like “steam mops kill 99.9% of germs.”

Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Steam Mop

Ability to clean multiple flooring types

Some steam mops specialize in a specific type of floor finish. This can be an expensive purchase if you have different types of floor finishes in your home, so look for a product that can clean multiple types of floors. Learn more about the types of floors where steam mops can be used safely in our FAQ section below.

Usability

  • Maneuverability: Look for a steam mop with a flexible swivel head that can reach corners. Additional accessories like hoses, brushes, and cleaning pads also help clean hard-to-reach spots.
  • Heat time: The time it takes for the water to boil inside the machine to create steam will depend on the size of the water tank and the power behind your steam mop. With the exception of the heavy-duty McCulloch steam cleaner, the steam mops we reviewed heat up in 20-30 seconds.
  • Weight: A lightweight steam mop will be easier to push around and carry from room to room. The steam mops we reviewed range from 6 to 12 pounds.

Different steam strengths

The ability to customize the steam’s power based on the type of cleaning needed is a plus. Flow rate is the measurement of a steam’s strength. The higher the flow rate (i.e. 110g/min), the more powerful the steam, which is useful for cleaning tough stains. If you’re removing dust, however, a low level of steam should be sufficient. If the steam level is always set on high, the mop pad will be soaked and your floor may show streaks.

Water tank

The water tank capacity of your steam mop should be big enough to get the job done without the need for constant refilling. Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop’s 16-ounce water tank, for example, has a cleaning cycle of 20 minutes or more, depending on how many passes are done and how dirty the area is. A transparent water tank that easily shows the water level is also helpful.

Useful extras

Some steam mops come with useful extras like scrubbers to lift off tough stains, scented discs that emit an aroma, self-release mop pads to prevent the risk of burns, and cooling trays to prevent damage to your floors. Those that have an array of attachments to use in different areas of your home are also useful.

How to Effectively Use a Steam Mop

It’s important to follow some basic guidelines to make steam mopping floors easy and efficient.

Check for proper assembly

Before you begin cleaning, make sure that everything on your steam mop is working properly— no loose screws, wiggly parts, or an unfilled water tank.

Use the right type of water

It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding the type of water to use in your steam mop. Distilled water is often recommended because it’s free of minerals that can clog the mop’s reservoir.

Wait for the mop to heat up

Heating time varies by steam mop and can range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Unless the mop is sitting on a cooling tray, don’t let it stay in one spot for too long once it’s heated which may damage the area.

Prep your floor

You should sweep or vacuum your floor prior to mopping; otherwise, you’ll just move the dust around.

Do a spot test

This is especially helpful if you have floors that are sensitive to moisture and heat, like wooden floors. Set the steam control on the lowest level, then lightly press the mop down onto a concealed area first before mopping the entire area.

Mopping

Slowly push the mop forward while it releases steam, then slowly pull it back so that the pad can thoroughly pick up any leftover dirt. Use the appropriate pad for general clean-ups or for stubborn stains.

Change the mop pad

Don’t let the pad get soaked to avoid streaks. Change it as often as needed.

Post-mopping

To extend the lifespan of your steam mop:

  • Remove and drain the water tank once it’s been unplugged and has cooled down.
  • Remove the pads, then check if there is any debris that has been dislodged in the vents.
  • Wipe the steam mop with a dry cloth.
  • Store in a cool, dry space inside your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of a steam mop?

  • Cleans bacteria and dirt off floors without the use of harmful cleaning products or chemicals
  • Neutralizes different allergens like animal dander and dust
  • Environment-friendly and safe
  • Reduces cleaning time and effort

Will steam mops damage hardwood floors?

No, as long as they’re used on sealed hardwood floors. Unsealed hardwood floors have crawl spots where moisture can easily seep through thereby causing damage (e.g. buckling, crowning, or cupping). Hardwood floors that are in constant contact with direct sunlight are susceptible to damage as well, so it’s best to do a spot test first before thoroughly cleaning these areas.

What types of floors do steam mops work best on?

  • Sealed hardwood
  • Vinyl
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Marble
  • Porcelain tiles

What types of materials are not safe to clean with steam?

You shouldn’t use a steam mop on polished floors and waxed floors, which may reduce their finish. Steam is also not safe to use on leather, velvet, silk, and synthetic materials.