Homeowners (or renters) who don’t spend much time cleaning may never have heard of steam mops.
All it takes to become a convert, though, is to spend a few moments thinking about the smelly, dirty mess that a conventional mop becomes after just one or two uses – or thinking about the way your back and hands feel after repeatedly bending over a pail and dealing with harsh soaps, bleaches or other cleaning solutions.
The Benefits of a Steam Mop vs. a Traditional Mop
Steam mops simplify the cleaning process immensely, using the heat from generated steam to clean and disinfect floors. The task of mopping becomes no more arduous than vacuuming, floors are cleaner, and the steam is able to kill nearly 100% of the dust mites and bacteria that are just pushed around by a regular mop.
Unless there is tons of caked-on gunk on your floor (which would probably require hand-scrubbing anyway) cleaning with a steam mop is faster, more efficient and convenient, and easier on your body, and it leaves floors cleaner and the home environment healthier. You won’t have to buy nearly as many toxic cleaners with a steam mop.
What Factors to Consider When Buying a Steam Mop?
Steam mops vary in their performance based on their construction. Some have multiple jets of steam to moisten the cleaning pad which does the work, some have two-sided pads or separate pads to handle wood, more resilient flooring or carpet, some can do double-duty as a vacuum, some have an extra tank for a cleaning solution that will attack stubborn floor stains, and some allow you to control the amount of steam sent to the pad.
There are other features which can make your life easier when using a steam mop. Large water tanks (the water is used to produce steam) which are easy to remove and refill are a definite plus, as are long power cords so you don’t have to keep unplugging every time you move around the house. Needless to say, a light machine is always a plus.
The Your House Garden review team looked at all of these variables while coming up with our best steam mop top 5 rankings, and naturally, we’ve also factored in the price you’ll have to pay; there’s no reason the manufacturers should be the only ones cleaning up.
Here’s our report to help you get cleaned up in living room.
1. Bissell 1940 Powerfresh Steam Mop
Despite the “1940” label, this Bissell steam mop cleans like it’s the 2010s and not the middle of the last century. It’s light, easy to use, and does a great job on most types of flooring without leaving a dirty film the way a regular mop does when you’re done.
It’s a “basic” model without some of the bells and whistles that some more expensive steam mops offer, but those extras aren’t necessary for most homes – and the “basic” price for the Bissell 1940 is easy to handle.
This mop heats up relatively quickly and immediately goes into standby mode, so you’re ready to go in three or four minutes. The easily-removable water tank holds about two cups of distilled or demineralized water, which is enough to run for an hour on the low steam setting or around 15 minutes going full blast. There’s also a “medium” setting you can choose; you choose the settings by depressing one of three lighted buttons on the handle.
One of the only drawbacks of the Powerfresh is the fact that there’s no easy-to-find pause button for taking a rest or refilling the tank, but if you hold down the top steam button until the lights go off, you’ll be in standby mode with no steam being produced.
The microfiber pads on the Bissell (it comes with two of them) do a nice job on normal dirt, and there’s a flip-down “easy scrubber” which is meant to handle sticky stuff or dried-on messes. When the pads are full of dirt and gunk, you just toss them in the washing machine and air dry them; a good idea for this or any other steam mop is to buy an extra set of pads, so you always have enough on hand to finish a cleaning job.[youtube id=”EcaPxzLk–s” width=”750″ height=”340″ position=”left”]
There’s also a small brush on the back of the unit that can be used on grout. The company claims that the unit will kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs (oh, that pesky 0.1%!), which makes sense because the steam is extremely hot as it contacts the floor. The Powerfresh can also deodorize your floor if you choose to use the included Febreze fragrance discs.
The mop head is sufficiently large to clean large swaths of floor and the power cord is 23 feet long, so you’ll find that cleaning the floor is a much quicker job than you’re probably accustomed to. And your gleaming floors will make you wonder why you used a hand mop for so long.
Facts and figures for the Bissell 1940 Powerfresh Steam Mop:
2. Hoover TwinTank Steam Mop WH20200
This very good steam mop that has some definite advantages, and one very big negative. It’s reasonably priced, it’s lightweight, it has two separate tanks so you can switch between pure steam cleaning and more traditional detergent/disinfectant cleaning, and its triangular-shaped head makes it easy to get into corners and crevices.
What could be a drawback to make you think twice about a machine like that? The steam only comes out when you have the trigger on the handle depressed – and your finger (or arm) can get very tired, very quickly while using this Hoover. The Your House Garden review team is not sure that’s a deal-killer, but it could be for some readers.
The TwinTank tanks are filled separately, one with water and one with cleaning solution; Hoover recommends using their non-toxic, biodegradable SteamPlus solution, but there’s no reason (other than voiding the warranty) that you couldn’t use something else instead.
There’s a “solution control dial” on the machine, allowing you to choose all steam, all cleaning solution, or any mix of the two you choose. The idea is that when you hit a stain or spill that the steam can’t handle on its own, the solution will add cleaning power. If you have a home with pets or small kids who are always spilling sticky stuff, the extra oomph could be worth it, but remember that when you use the solution you’re losing some of the disinfectant power of pure steam.
Warm-up time is very fast on the Hoover (less than a minute), there’s a handy docking tray where you can put the mop when not being used, it can be used on any type of flooring and there’s a “carpet glide” feature allowing you to disinfect rugs.
In short, there’s not much to dislike about the TwinTank – except for the sore hands you’ll have while putting it away. Our fingers were so sore that we couldn’t write this review when it was time to write about our #1 steam mop, so the Hoover ended up at #2. (Just kidding, but you get the point.)
Looking closer at the Hoover TwinTank Steam Mop WH20200:
3. PurSteam ThermaPro Steam Mop 10-in-1 System
Let’s get this out of the way first: PurSteam isn’t Hoover or Bissell, and the review team didn’t seriously consider ranking the ThermaPro above either of those two venerable manufacturers’ products. However, this mop puts out a lot of steam, it’s lightweight, and its versatility makes it well worth considering for many homeowners.
We counted the number of functions this PurSteam mop can provide, and we didn’t reach the 10 promised by the name “10-in-1.” But thanks to its removable mop unit it can turn into a hand-held steamer, so it’s still an appliance that can handle a lot: hardwood floors, carpet, tile, windows and shower doors, even clothes steaming.
This unit heats up fast and begins producing steam in just 30 seconds, it doesn’t require distilled water, and it has an adjustable steam level that lets you mop for about 20 minutes on the lowest setting, or ten minutes on the highest.
Once again, don’t expect the quality of a Hoover or Bissell, though; the lightweight plastic is a bit cheap, the Teflon cleaning pads are small, and you can only mop by pushing the swiveling head forward, not back toward you.
There are definitely some suboptimal features of the ThermaPro, but the hand-held feature makes it the most convenient steam mop we’ve reviewed when it comes to using the same unit to clean floors, carpet, tile and mirrors. To us, that’s worth the mop’s moderate price tag.
The details on the PurSteam ThermaPro Steam Mop 10-in-1 System:
4. Shark Light And Easy Steam Mop
The Your House Garden review team close our rankings with two models which won’t break the bank but still will do the job well if you don’t do a lot of heavy-duty cleaning on a regular basis. This Shark steam mop, weighs around four pounds, and leaves floors clean and disinfected after use. What more could you ask for in a budget unit?
The Light and Easy heats up in less than five minutes, you pump the handle and then the machine emits steam only when you push it along the floor, and it holds enough water for about 15 minutes of cleaning. It has a swivel head and long power cord for convenience, and it works on just about all types of flooring.
There are no adjustments, no extras, no complications – think of it as being the Electric Broom of steam mops, and you’ll have the picture. It’s nice to have in the closet to pull out when needed.
Specifications for the Shark Light And Easy Steam Mop:
5. O-Cedar Microfiber Steam MopNo products found.
This O-Cedar mop costs a little more than the Shark but it’s still very reasonably priced, and what it brings to the table is speed. The unit heats up and starts to generate steam in only 20 seconds, so it’s perfect for a smaller job that has to be done in a hurry. There are adjustable steam level settings as well, which let you decide how much power to use depending on the floor surface.
The microfiber pad is 99.9% effective at killing bacteria and can be dropped into the washing machine for cleaning 25 times before it needs replacement; this model comes with one replacement pad.
The Your House Garden review team liked the triangle design of the head, which allows it to easily be maneuvered into tight corners where dirt is likely to accumulate. The O-Cedar also comes with a snap-on glider attachment that lets you steam carpets.
There are no elaborate features, no dual tanks, or multiple attachments; the O-Cedar Microfiber is simply a basic, nicely-designed steam mop that does a great job on all sorts of sealed floors, in a jiffy.
Specifications for the O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop:
Sienna Vibe Steam Mop
Bonus model which receives an honorable mention!
Your House Garden would normally have ranked the Sienna Vibe above the Shark because it produces constant steam without having to pull a trigger, and cleans just as well. The reason the review team moved it down to the bottom of our best steam mop top 5 list is that it tends to clog, sometimes. It’s not difficult to take care of the problem; you just have to take off the unit’s head and stick a pin into the hole where the steam vents. It’s a nuisance, however, and an unfortunate flaw in a very strong steam mop.
Otherwise, it heats up fast, does a solid job of cleaning and disinfecting, comes with a carpet glider kit to make it easy to disinfect rugs and has a swivel head.
The Sienna Vibe has everything we’d want in an inexpensive model. It’s just too bad that you need to keep a screwdriver and pin handy to use it regularly because we’d love to recommend the Sienna even more strongly.
A deeper dive on the Sienna Vibe Steam Mop:
Gruene Clean System Steam Mop & Hand Held Steamer
Note: This item no longer seems to be available, please consider another steam cleaner.
The review team have the same major issue with this Gruene model as we have with the Hoover: you have to keep your finger on the trigger in order to produce steam. However, the Clean System has one key feature which argued for its inclusion in the best steam mop top 5 list – it’s also a hand-held steamer that can clean everything from windows to golf clubs.
The mop itself is pretty standard. You fill the too-small (nine ounce) tank with water, let the unit heat up, and the steam does a good job removing most stains and gunk from almost any type of flooring.
There is no way to adjust the flow of steam, the head doesn’t swivel like the ones on our first two ranked products and the power cord is shorter, so you don’t have as much control of the steaming process as we’d like.
Open stretches of floor, though, end up just about as clean as with the other best steam mops on our list. One definite plus is the Gruene’s ability to use towels, terrycloth or almost anything else in place of the standard cleaning pads, saving lots of money on refills.
But what makes all the difference in the Clean System is that you can detach the guts of the cleaner to be worn on your shoulder with a strap, to be used as a hand-held model with a two-foot hose. There are also seven attachments to make it simple to steam just about anything: three different sizes of round brushes (two nylon, one brass), a window washer with squeegee attachment, an angled nozzle for nooks and cracks, a scoop nozzle for baked-on gunk, and a jet nozzle for grout. There’s a tool caddy to carry all the tools on the mop but it falls off pretty easily.
Your House Garden wouldn’t call the Gruene our steam mop of choice. But if we needed a decent steam mop and really needed a hand-held steamer as well, this is what we’d buy. It’s also good value.
The details on the Gruene Clean System Steam Mop & Hand Held Steamer:
Now that you have the cleaning under control you’ll have more time to spend on all those cool hobbies you love!