Best Steam Mops - How to Choose the Right One?
Steam mops clean and sanitize the floor surfaces combining the cleaning effect of hot steam and scrubbing effect of steam mop pads. Due to the hot steam, steam mops kill up to or even more than 99.9% of bacteria and other germs, keeping the home clean and pleasant to live in.
On the other hand, one has to be very careful when cleaning and replacing steam mop pads due to the heat. Also, hardwood, laminate, and similar sensitive floors must be certified for such cleaning and must have a finish without cracks, since moisture can enter the wood and cause it to buckle and even rot.
Updated: August 17, 2021.
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Corded vs. Cordless Steam Mops
Corded steam mops feature water heaters in the 1000 - 1600 watts range, usually around 1500W. Even such strong water heaters require 20-30 seconds to start to produce the steam just to be able to begin with the cleaning.
Thus, steam mops come with 20-30 feet (~6.1 - 9.1 m) long power cords, giving them a relatively long cleaning range using a single wall power outlet.
Cordless steam mops would be similar units, being powered only with an onboard battery. Since required amounts of energy are still beyond the reach of lithium-ion (or other) batteries at a reasonable price, cordless steam mops as such are not yet available on the market.
Many sites claim that they list the 'best cordless steam mops', but in fact, they list corded versions.
Note: there are cleaning aids/units very similar to cordless steam mops, for example:
- Shark SK460 Professional Steam & Spray Mop is a corded/cordless unit, being able to operate as corded steam/spray mop and cordless spray mop - very versatile mop.
- Bissell 2307 SpinWave Cordless Hard Floor Mop is a cordless hard floor mop that can use warm water, but it doesn't have a water heater that would create hot steam, hence it is not a 'cordless steam mop'. Nonetheless, it is a very useful unit, being much more gentle to sensitive floors than classic steam mops.
Also, there are other similar units, but in the end, none of them is a 'cordless steam mop'. For more information about this topic, check our Cordless Steam Mops article.
Steam Mops Features and Specifications
The most important features of steam mops include:
- water heater converts water into hot steam, which is then used for cleaning. As said before, water heaters operate in the 1000 - 1600 W range and they require plenty of energy, hence steam mops are corded units.
- power cords are generally 20-30 feet (~6.1 - 9.1 m) long and are wrapped around wrap hooks. Automatic power cord rewind systems are generally not found on steam mops, since they would increase the weight, mechanical complexity, and in the end - the price.
- water tank size varies, but generally, it is in the 10-17 oz range (0.3 - 0.5 liters), which is enough to clean a rather large area in most situations (steam setting on 'High').
- water type: most steam mops can use tap water, but it is recommended to distilled or demineralized water in order to prolong the steam mop life, especially in the areas with hard water. Hard water leaves deposits on the water heater and other internal components of the steam mop and can even leave marks and streaks on the floors. Recommendation: use distilled, demineralized, or even scented demineralized water.
- operating time of steam mops depends on the amount of water, steam setting (if available), type of cleaned floors, amount and type of dirt, etc. Generally, steam mops can operate for 15-25 minutes using a single wall power socket and one water tank refill, after which, they must be shut off and cooled down. Of course, more expensive units generally don't have such limitations.
- steam mop controls are simple. In most situations, there is just an 'On/Off' button/switch, steam level switch and in some models, there is a 'Steam on-demand' switch. Most controls are positioned right on the handle and can be operated quickly and easily. More advanced models have additional controls, depending on the features they have.
- steam levels vary from simple 'On/Off' switch to continuous regulator, with 'Steam on-demand' somewhere in the middle. Steam mops with several steam levels are more suitable for homes with various types of floors, while steam mops with the simple steam on/off are suitable for homes with tile and similar, heat resistant floors.
- cleaning head shape: most steam mops come with rectangular steam mop cleaning heads, allowing them to quickly clean large areas. However, rectangular cleaning heads can have issues when maneuvering over the floors with many obstacles and objects and can have issues when cleaning corners. Thus, some steam mops come with triangular cleaning heads, while some models feature both rectangular and triangular cleaning head, allowing the user to choose which one to use, according to the situation.
- types of steam mop pads: most steam mops feature at least two types of steam mop pads. Fine microfiber pads are intended for everyday cleaning and for the cleaning of sensitive surfaces. Scrubby steam mop pads are intended for cleaning extra dirty areas on tiles, marble, and other similar floors with heat/mechanical very resistant surfaces. Depending on the design of the steam mop cleaning head, some steam mop pads are two-sided - when one side gets dirty, the steam mop head is simply flipped and the clean side of the steam mop pad is used. This way single steam mop pad can cover double the area before it must be replaced. Steam mop pads are generally machine washable, although some models feature disposable mop pads for cleaning extra dirty areas and pets/kids messes.
- scented discs and scented water are used to refresh the cleaned area. Scented discs are placed in the special pockets of steam mop pads, while scented water is used as common distilled/demineralized water. Although this scent is soft and gentle, some users use just half of the scented discs and dilute scented water with distilled/demineralized water. Personally, the scent is not that strong but do as You please, of course.
- cleaning attachments/detachable pods: most steam mops are designed for floors only, but steam mops with steam hoses and detachable steam pads can be used for cleaning elevated surfaces too and can be very helpful for cleaning toilets, bathrooms, kitchens, and similar areas.
- scrubbing mechanism: most steam mops are mechanically very simple cleaning units, with the users providing all required scrubbing by pushing and pulling steam mop cleaning heads over the cleaned surfaces. However, in order to improve and speed up the cleaning, certain models come with a scrubbing mechanism that scrub the surface with the steam mop pads. Scrubbing mechanism can be of great help for everyday cleaning, but it is an excellent aid for cleaning stubborn messes and stains. On delicate and sensitive floors, it is generally recommended NOT to use a scrubbing mechanism.
- weight and dimensions: simple steam mops are very lightweight and compact units, weighing just a few pounds. On the other hand, steam mop/vac combos can weigh up to 10 pounds, blurring the difference between the steam mop/vac unit and lightweight upright steam vacuum cleaners.
1. Bissell 1940 Power Fresh Steam Mop
It is a very simple and reliable steam mop, that is available at a very affordable price. For all these reasons, it is one of the most popular steam mops on the market for a longer period of time.
Bissell 1940 is a corded steam mop powered via 23 feet (~7 m) long power cord. The unit is rated at 1500W - it takes about 30 seconds for the Bissell 1940 to start to produce the steam.
Unit weighs ~6 pounds (~2.7 kg) with an empty water tank and can be easily carried around, even up and down the stairs.
Water tank capacity is 16 oz (~0.47 liters). Water tank can be filled quickly and easily, even during cleaning - just be sure to thoroughly read the manual/instructions.
The cleaning width is 12 inches (~30.5 cm) and combined with a swivel mechanism and lightweight design, Bissell 1940 is a very maneuverable steam mop - it can easily clean under and around tables, beds, sofas, and other objects and obstacles.
It is recommended to use distilled or demineralized water with the Bissell 1940 mop - tap water leaves residues on the water heater and other internal parts of the steam mop, shortening the operating life of the Bissell 1940 and other similar steam mops.
Bissell 1940 comes with two microfiber cleaning pads (fine microfiber pad and scrubbing microfiber pad) and two Spring Breeze scent discs.
Also, it comes with three steam settings: Low, Medium, and High.
For cleaning of extra tough messes, it features Easy Scrubber and for refreshing of the carpets and cleaning their surfaces, it comes with a carpet glider.
If You are looking for a general-purpose steam mop, Bissell 1940 is probably your best choice - it has been tested in real-life situations by countless users and it passed with flying colors ...
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Bissell 1940 Power Fresh Steam Mop Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
2. Shark S3501 Steam Pocket Mop
Shark S3501 Steam Pocket Mop is a compact and lightweight unit, with high capacity water tank and a relatively strong water heater.
Thanks to its simplicity, it is a very reliable and durable steam mop.
Units physical dimensions are 51.2 inches (H) x 12.0 inches (W) x 5.9 inches (D) (~130 x 30.5 x 15 cm) and it weighs 4.87 pounds (~2.21 kg) with an empty water tank.
Water tank capacity is 15 oz (0.45 liters) and allows the user to clean a large surface without refilling the unit during cleaning. To help the user estimate amount of water in the tank, the unit features a water tank viewing window.
Shark S3501 is equipped with a 1550 W water heater and it is ready to produce steam after 30 seconds.
Unit comes with 20 feet (~6.1 m) long power cord, which is long enough for most cleaning tasks at home. However, it could be perhaps a little bit longer.
One of its most interesting features is the fact that both sides of the microfiber cleaning pads can be used for sanitizing and cleaning, doubling the time and area that can be cleaning with just one cleaning pad.
By default, the S3501 steam mop comes with a rectangular cleaning head and two all-purpose microfiber cleaning pads.
Cleaning width is 12 inches (30.5 cm) helping the user to clean a large area rather quickly, saving plenty of time.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Shark S3501 Steam Pocket Mop Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
3. Bissell 1806 PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop
Bissell 1806 steam mop features 12 Amps (1440 watts) water heater - after plugging in the unit, it takes around 30 seconds for the water heater to reach the required temperature.
In order to start cleaning, the user has to choose steam ON setting and to choose Low or High steam, depending on the floor types and type of dirt that is going to be cleaned.
Bissell 1806 is powered via 25 feet (~7.6 m) long power cord, providing the user with a long cleaning reach using just one wall power socket.
Bissell 1806 weighs 5.7 pounds (~2.6 kg) and thanks to its full swivel neck, it is a very maneuverable unit, being able to clean around various floor objects and obstacles.
For everyday cleaning, Bissell 1806 comes with two types of washable pads, soft and scrubby mop pads.
Both soft and scrubby microfiber steam mop pads are machine washable using no bleaches or similar chemicals. Also, they should be air-dried.
Cleaning path width is 12 inches (~30.5 cm) allowing the user to clean larger areas with ease.
SpotBoost Brush is intended for scrubbing away tough, stuck-on messes, and to easily clean grout and crevices. SpotBoost Brush is exposed by detaching the mp foot from the rest of the unit via a foot pedal on the back of the steam mop.
Also, in order to improve the feeling of freshness and cleanliness, Bissell 1806 comes with two Spring Breeze Fragrance Discs.
Bissell 1806 features a built-in water tank, which capacity is 19 ounces (0.56 liters). Also, Bissell 1806 comes with a filling cup to help the user quickly add water when required.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Bissell 1806 PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
4. Shark S5003D Genius Steam Pocket Mop
Like all similar steam mops, Shark Genius S5003D not only cleans the floors, but it sanitizes them using hot steam. So-called 'Steam Blaster' feature even allows direct steaming of tough messes and stains, while washable two-side steam mop pads and scrubber heads are based on Shark's Touch-Free Technology - user doesn't have to touch the dirty pads.
Shark Genius S5003D is a lightweight steam mop featuring 1200 watts water heater, requiring some 30 seconds to start to produce the steam.
The water tank capacity is 350 ml. The water tank is not removable, thus Shark Genius S5003D comes with the filling flask.
The steam mop itself weighs 6.0 pounds (~2.72 kg) with the empty water tank - there are lighter steam mops on the market, but Shark Genius S5003D comes with several features that justify its weight.
Nonetheless, it is still a rather lightweight steam mop.
Physical dimensions of Shark Genius S5003D are 47.1 x 13.8 x 7 inches (~120 x 35 x 17.8 cm). The power cord is 22 feet (~6.7 m) long, providing good reach using just one wall power socket.
Most interesting features include:
- Intelligent Steam Control is an electronic steam control system providing the user with three different steam settings.
Steam Blaster feature enables the user to apply the steam directly onto the cleaned surfaces - very important for cleaning really stubborn stains and messes.
- Touch-Free Technology enables the user to avoid touching the dirty mop pads.
- Dual-Sided Dirt Grip Pads are mop pads that allow the user to clean double the area using just one mop pad.
When the unit arrives, the box contains a steam mop, a rectangular Genius Head with Steam Blaster, 2 double-sided Dirt Grip washable steam mop pads, and a filling flask with the clip.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Shark S5003D Genius Hard Floor Pocket Steam Mop Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
5. Bissell 2075A PowerFresh Slim Hard Wood Floor Steam Cleaner System
Thanks to the hot steam, Bissell 2075A is able to kill 99.9% of all the bacteria and germs on the cleaned surfaces.
Bissell 2075A weighs only 6.4 pounds (~2.9 kg) in the floor steam mop configuration. It also features a 12 oz water tank, 13 inches (33 cm) wide cleaning path, 25 feet (~7.6 m) long power cord, and a long list of available cleaning tools: Fabric Steamer, Bristle Tools, Angle Concentrator Tool, Grout Tool, On-Board Tool Kit, Flat Surface Tool, Red Bristle Scrub Brush, and Clothing Steamer Tool.
Also, the unit comes with a wall mount, suitable for vertical storage.
Bissell 2075A features 'Steam On-Demand' steam control and is suitable for various floor surfaces, including glazed tiles and sealed hardwood floors.
Note: when steam cleaning wooden floors, it is absolutely important that the wood finish is cracks-free, or the moisture can penetrate the wood and make it rot and buckle.
Personally, steam mops in general are great cleaning aids, but sensitive wooden floors should be steam cleaned only periodically if their finish is certified for such a cleaning method.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Bissell 2075A PowerFresh Slim Hard Wood Floor Steam Cleaner System Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Long Story Short: If You have large areas of bare floors at your home/apartment, especially tiles and similar heat resistant floors, steam mops can be of great help.
They clean and sanitize floors using just the power of hot steam and scrubbing effect of the steam mop pads - with no chemicals. Simple steam mops, with no scrubbing mechanism, but with steam level selector can be found really cheap and can last for a really long time.
Just be sure to choose according to your individual needs and personal preferences.