Hot Stuff! The Best Steam Mops For Cleaning Floors

The best steam mops are the ones you can kill bacteria withWe all want to keep our floors clean and without having to use toxic chemicals to do so. Steam mops are definitely the way to go, but there are so many from which you can choose. Here are our picks for the best steam mops and steam mop systems, and what you’ll want to know before you choose yours.

What Is A Steam Mop?

A steam mop is a floor cleaner that uses the power of steam to clean and sanitize solid and hardwood flooring. While a traditional mop typically uses strings and sponges, as well as cleaners, a steam mop is sort of like autoclaving your floor. An internal mechanism in the steam mop creates steam (so be careful around littles), and that’s pumped out of the cleaning head and onto the cleaning pads. The steam is what loosens dirt and grime on your floor and the cleaning cloths on the steam mop head will clean the ick away. The temperature of the steam often kills bacteria and mites on your floor, and all without any toxic chemicals.

How Does A Steam Mop Work On Stains And Spills?

A lot of how your steam mop will work on stains and spills depends on the heat of the steam as well as the severity of the spill and stain. Steam mops aren’t suction. If you have a spill with a lot of liquid, you’re probably not going to absorb it up with a steam mop. You’ll need a traditional mop or even just cloths.

If you have a stain on the floor, the temperature of the steam will make a difference. Obviously, the hotter the steam, the more it’ll loosen the grime. But it also makes a difference if you’re steaming hardwood over vinyl plank, as well as how bad the stain is. Letting the steam soak up most stains on floors typically will get them up, but they’re not miracle workers, so they won’t get up years of grime and sedimented dirt.

Some steam mops are used on tile with grout, but they typically don’t do a super job actually cleaning the grout unless you have a steam mop system that has nozzle tools and the pressure to get it out. The same goes for carpet or upholstery. Some steam mops have attachments that will let you ‘sanitize’ your carpet, but be wary of that because that steam is evaporated water and if your carpet doesn’t dry well with the settled water, you may end up with mold on the padding underneath.

Where Can I Use A Steam Mop?

The default answer is most solid floors. We say most because sometimes on hardwoods or cork floors, they can damage the floor. Again, the water in the steam will enlarge and warp both wood and cork, so you want to be careful that there are never pools of water from the steam, or that you don’t leave the steam mop on those types of floor too long. For most hard floors, tough–vinyl, ceramic, marble, stone, linoleum and sealed timber? They’re great.

Do Steam Mops really Kill All The Bacteria They Say They Do?

Most steam mops will claim they eliminate or kill bacteria, and they do–mostly. The high temperatures that make the steam are what kills bacteria and virus, and at the head of the mop? That steam will kill just about anything. The thing is, though, the mop pad often absorbs a lot of that heat and as it does, it lowers the temperature of the steam cleaning. As the mophead continues to be saturated, the temperature again rises, but you’ll want to make sure good bursts of steam make it all over the area you’re cleaning, and you’ll want to wash the mop pads immediately after, as the bacteria and virus from your floor can still hang. When you’re looking for the best steam mops, pay attention to the temperatures coming out.

Related: Eco-friendly Tips To Keep Things Clean Around The House

What Features Should I look For In The Best Steam Mops?

Most steam mops are pretty much the same–the stick, the water tank and the mophead/cleaning pads. Still, some are systems and have additional accessories. And, each steam mop’s basic accessories may differ. Pay attention to the following:

  • A water tank that you can refill while you’re cleaning instead of having to first turn the mop off and let it cool down. Often, steam runs out mid-clean.
  • Cleaning pads that will trap and carry dirt away. It’s nice to find a steam mop that has more than one pad that comes with it so you can always have one clean while the other is laundering.
  • Pad Rests are important! You don’t want to let a steam mop sit in one place for too long, particularly if on hardwood or marble or stone. A pad rest takes that pressure off, literally.
  • Carpet gliders allow you to use the steam mop on the carpet to ‘refresh’ your carpet. It’s nice for killing off dust mites, as they pile up daily in epic proportions and a carpet is basically a big dust filter on the floor. Just remember to make sure not too much water or steam sits.
  • Many steam mops come with additional tools like brushes or jet nozzles that let you use the power of steam in other places. Some even have window-cleaning attachments and those are nice for non-toxic window washing.
  • It’s nice to have an indicator that tells you when your steam mop is ready to use. Most of them make lots of loud ‘shhhh … shhhhh’ noise as they are heating up but having an indicator is nice
  • It’s also nice to have a steam-on and off lock switch. This will help make it so you don’t have to hold a trigger for continuous steam or bursts, and can also protect accidental burnings from steam flow.

How Do I Find The Best Steam Mop For Me?

Many steam mops differ in size and weight. You want to look for something lightweight and easy to move around, and isn’t big and gawky when you’re trying to clean the floor after dinner. Look for options that allow you to adjust the size of the stick or even fold the handle down to make it easier to store, and also consider space for where you’ll keep it when not in use. Steam Mop systems are awesome but they can be bulkier than a stick steam mop.

Also think about what accessories you want. If you’re just looking for a quick and easy way to clean the floor regularly without toxic chemicals? A basic stick steam mop will probably do the job well. If you want to do other things–clean grout or clean your shower stall or even the engine of your car  (yes, some steam mops can!), you’ll need to look at more premium steam mops.

Last consider whether you want to be able to tailor the output of steam you’re getting, or even if you want a steam mop that will ‘sweep’ beforehand. Remember that a typical steam mop will just be pushing unswept dirt back and forth on your floor, so think about whether you’ll want to do that manually before each steam.

Mothering’s Pick Of The Best Steam Mops

Best Overall Pick: Shark Genius Hard Floor Mop System

The cleaning pads are dual-sided and pretty absorbent, and they have zig-zags of specially designed gripping material that will lift and lock dirt as you’re cleaning.

Pros:

  • Touch-free pad ejection
  • Dual-sided pads
  • Pads with gripping material that lifts and locks dirt
  • Slim design
  • Long cord
  • Can add water while in cleaning-mode

Cons: 

  • Small water tank
  • Cleaning pads tend to unravel after lots of uses

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Runner Up Best Overall: Bissell Power Steamer

The Bissell Power Steamer is a close runner-up to the Shark Genius Steam Mop. It was a tough call, really. It too has powerful, high-temperature steam that blasts dirt and grime away, but it also is a 3-in-1 system that transforms into a handheld steamer and extended reach steamer. Mamas love this because you can use it to steam dirt from fan blades or your curtains (both notorious for dust collection) and it’s pretty easy to swap out those features. The 29 accessories can go with you on the on-board accessory storage carrier to make it easy to get to and the variable steam modes and on-demand trigger allow you to control the steam intensity and amount.

Pros:

  • Slim and light
  • 29 Accessories
  • 3-in-1 Functionality
  • Wall-mount makes for easy storage

Cons: 

  • Steam could be a tad more powerful

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Best Affordable Steam Mop System: McCulloch Canister Steam Cleaner

The McCulloch Canister Steam Cleaner reminds us most of the old Eureka Enviro Steamer–somewhat of a pioneer of steam mops. It has 20 accessories as well that let you do more than just your floors, including a window squeegee, nylon and brass brushes, a scrub pad and a scraper. The tank is HUGE–48 ounces that heats up in about 12 minutes and gives you about an hour and a half of steam power. People love it in their car engines because 58 PSI steam pressure does a nice job. !

Pros:

  • Powerful steam
  • Huge water tank
  • On-demand variable steam control
  • Extra-long cord

Cons: 

  • Bulkier than a stick steam mop
  • Tank takes 12-14 minutes to steam so not ideal for quick cleans

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Best Beginner Steam Mop: Shark Steam Pocket Mop

The shark steam pocket mop is one of the best steam mops for beginners

If you’re new to steam mopping, the most popular Steam Mop out there is the basic Shark Steam Pocket Mop. It’s reasonably priced, easy to put together right out of the package, has a super long cord and pads go on and off pretty easily. The water heats up pretty quickly for a basic model steam mop, and the corner attachment is nice for getting those hard-to-reach places in bathrooms and kitchens. It’s a great starter, and many think it’s the best steam mop on the market–beginner or not!

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Quick steam-up process
  • Pads are easy on and off

Cons: 

  • Basic functionality and no additional accessories
  • Steam power could be a bit more powerful

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Best Premium Steam Mop System: Vapamore MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaning System

If you’re looking for the primo in steam mops, the folks at the Vapamore engineering team have one for you. In fact, it’s named the MR-100 Primo because it means first. Vapamore created a steam mop system unlike any other. In Italian, Vapore means ‘steam’ and Amore means ‘love,’ and this company means it when they say they love steam (and what it can do).

Cons: 

  • Pricier
  • Short cord
  • Shorter hose

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