Steam mops are one of those delightful cleaning appliances that seemed so ridiculous when they were first advertised but are now widely accepted. If you had told some overly-skeptical man or woman in the 80s or 90s that cleaning with steam would become the new norm, you’d be met with laughter. However, ever since their invention by Romi Haan in the early 2000s, steam mops, and other steam cleaners quickly made their way into most modern households.
The reason steam mops ascended to prominence is in the convenience they provide. Steam mops don’t require any chemical-filled cleaning products, they are very effective at what they do, they are lightweight and easy to use, and they require no scrubbing whatsoever. Generally, steam mops are ideal for people that prefer to clean frequently but quickly instead of rarely but extensively.
They are not perfect, of course. A regular steam mop can’t be used on all surfaces at home, especially if it doesn’t have a wide array of specialized attachments. They also require a fair bit of prep time sometimes as the floor needs to be vacuumed or cleaned from any dirt, hairs and other such obstacles before cleaning with a steam mop. Additionally, regular steam mops don’t leave that nice smell of a freshly washed floor that normal mopping leaves.
These aren’t reasons not to get a steam mop, however, but instead – to compare steam mops carefully, read a tone of steam mop reviews, and choose a model that negates most of the steam mops’ drawbacks and will instead serve you fatefully and effectively for years.
So, if you’re looking to find what the best steam mop is, let’s take a look at our suggestions:
Top 3 Best Steam Mops
This Vileda model is a stylish and practical lightweight steam mop. It works on both carpets and sealed hard floor types. It’s exceptionally effective and kills 99.9% of bacteria. It also works great on grease spots and other types of dirt.
- Kills almost all known bacteria.
- Lightweight and easy to use.
- Comes with a 2-year manufacturer warranty.
- There are other models that produce more steam.
- Thicker rugs can give this model some trouble.
Morphy Richards 9in1 720020
The Morphy Richards is another multifunctional model that can be described as a “9 in 1 steam mop”. It can work both as an upright and a handheld steam mop. It also works on a wide variety of surfaces such as carpets, windows, tiles, hard floors, and more.
- Highly multifunctional.
- Works on almost all surfaces.
- It’s very budget-friendly, which qualifies it for a “best value steam mop” consideration.
- It’s relatively noisy.
- At certain angles, it can feed water back to the nozzle.
This Vaporetto item works both as a steam mop and as a portable steam cleaner. It produces a very strong superheated steam that’s enough to clean 99.9% of all known bacteria and germs with just one cleaning. It also uses the very nice Frescovapor deodorant for a fresh and pleasant scent after each cleaning.
- Kills almost all known bacteria.
- Leaves a very fresh and nice scent.
- Works on over a dozen different surfaces.
- Comes at a rather steep price.
- There are known complaints against the quality of the plastic materials.
How we picked the best steam mops?
Looking for the best steam mop on the market right now was a slow and extensive process. Not only are there a ton of different models from dozens of reputable brands, but they all offer functionalities and accessories that make them better or worse for different tasks. You may be looking for a cordless steam mop or an electric steam mop, a cheap steam mop or a high-quality one, a steam mop for laminate floors or a steam mop for wood floors, and so on. And all of these steam mops will be better for some things are worse for others.
With all these considerations in mind, we decided that our first priority will be to look for steam mop deals that offer the most versatility. The average homeowner shouldn’t have to choose between the best floor steam mop and the best steam mop for tile if there are models that can do it all at 100%.
That being said, we still looked for the best price steam mop out there. After all, steam mops may be a generally long-lasting home appliance, but with their prices ranging between 49 pounds and 499 pounds, we thought that even household owners with larger budgets would still like a “good deal”.
The third key factor was, of course, the quality of the product. Versatility is one thing, but quality and longevity needed to be a priority as well.
We scoured the internet for steam mop offers that answer positively to our 3 main criteria for dozens of hours. As expected, no brand ever says anything objective about their products and instead, they all stick to the good ol’ “Our products are the best” line.
To go around that we needed to read literally thousands of user and customer reviews online. The problem with those, as always, is that while good-intentioned, they are also rarely useful. Most user reviews lack objectivity, lack perspective, are overly emotional and non-descriptive enough, or are just based on individual experiences and don’t reflect that actual quality of the product. And there are the ill-intentioned fake reviews as well.
With general customer reviews giving us some insight and guidance but not enough clarity, we turned to some other expert opinions like those of allergyandair.com, cleanipedia.com, and others. With information and date from them, we started drawing comparisons between different products. Multiple dozen charts and tables later, the products above are the one we reached as “Best steam mops on the market right now”.
A quick breakdown of steam mops
All this being said, however, what are steam mops, exactly, how do they work, and how to use a steam mop properly, are all questions that we sort of answered for ourselves during our research. And since this is info that can further help you decide on which steam mop model is perfect for you, as well as teach you how to use it properly, let’s delve into it:
How do steam mops work?
Steam mops and other steam cleaning products such as steam vacuums, work on the very basic principle that overheated steam can be effective at cleaning. When simple water steam reaches high enough temperatures it can both eradicate most germs and bacteria that are found in our homes and on our floors, as well as soften and decompose dirt and stains. And once that is done, the mop attachment itself simply mops everything away.
Why are steam mops so popular?
The ease with which steam mops work is the chief culprit behind their rise to fame. When you try to use a regular mop you also need a bucket, a bucket attachment to squeeze the water out of the mop on, a detergent, a scrubbing brush or two, and so on. Additionally, regular mops require a ton of scrubbing and are often quite exhausting to use. Instead, a steam mop needs no physical pressure at all – at most you’ll need to keep the steam mop steady over certain steady dirt spots for 5-10 seconds until the steam sufficiently decomposes the dirt.
By not using a detergent, steam mops are also more environmentally friendly, as well as more suitable for homes with toddlers, small children or pets. As good as you mop with a regular mop, a portion of the detergent is always bound to be left on your floors – the same floors your pets walk on and sniff, and your toddler crawls upon. If you use a steam mop, there’s none of that – you can mop and leave your kids and pets in the room immediately, without a care in the world.
Steam mops don’t just clean – they sanitize. By using hot steam, steam mops clean quite well, but an added benefit of that is that hot steam is great at sanitizing surfaces. Where a mob and detergent combo just cleans and removes parts of the germs and bacteria on our floors (depending on the detergent), a hot enough steam will efficiently sanitize your floor by killing approximately 99.9% of all bacteria and germs on it.
Steam mops are also easier to store. They only need enough space for themselves and don’t need any space for the bucket, the scrubbing brush, or the detergent. And on another note for pets and kids – the fewer detergent you have in your home’s cabinet, the lower the risk is that your pet or kid will open a left-unlocked-door and drink a gallon of detergent as if it was juice (especially for dogs, a lot of detergents, automobile antifreeze, and other such chemicals actually have a very sweet and attractive taste).
Unlike regular mops, steam mops can also be used on carpets. Not all steam mop models are suitable for carpets, mind you, but some work well. They clean and freshen carpets, especially thinner ones, quite well. This is something that alone is worth the purchase over a regular mop and a bucket.
Steam mops are also usually easier to clean themselves. The cloth attachments of most steam mops are machine washable which means that every once in a while you just need to throw them in the washing machine and they’ll be done. A regular mop, on the other hand, is not a fun thing to wash and most homeowners usually just throw it away when it’s too dirty. From that point of view, you can say that a high-quality steam mop with a good longevity is also cheaper than regular mops in the long run.
Good steam mops also have design and attachments that allow them to reach more places. Depending on your home, there might be spots, corners, and nooks that are unreachable for a regular mop. Things such as under the furniture, behind a cabinet, and so on. A lot of steam mops face difficulties with such spots as well, but the high-quality ones usually have a design and an assortment of attachments that allow them to shine even there – literally and fugitively.
Some steam mops also have the functionality of leaving a pleasant and refreshing scent behind them. One of the major drawbacks of steam mops that most people point out is that they don’t leave the nice smell of a freshly-washed floor behind them, that regular mops and cleaning detergents do. This is true for most steam mops, but some quality products have the option of leaving a nice, pleasant scent as well.
Steam mops also have the additional benefit of slightly purifying your home’s air as well. This isn’t their main or even secondary goal, of course, but simply thanks to utilizing a high-heat steam, they do have that added benefit. Of course, they are nearly as effective at that as a dedicated air purifier, so if your home needs an air purifier, get one. However, it’s still a nice side benefit of steam mops.
What are some of the drawbacks of steam mops?
We’ve been talking quite extensively about their positive characteristics, but surely steam mops are not the end all be all of cleaning, right? No, they are not. Steam mops have their uses and they excel at those, but they also come with their own set of drawbacks, such as:
- Regular steam mops typically work on hardwood and tiles only. Of course, more proficiently made steam mops with extra accessories and attachments can be used on other surfaces as well – laminate, vinyl, granite, marble, and others. A good steam mop with the right attachment can also work on countertops and windows. Keep in mind, however, that steam mops are not recommended for non-sealed floors as they can damage them. Even on something like laminate, you’ll do well to first test the steam mop on a small corner of the laminate, maybe behind or under a big piece of furniture. If you start seeing some curling of the edges of the laminate or a change in its color – don’t use the steam mop on this surface. So, while some high-quality steam mops can be used on a wider range of surfaces and even have options and ways to regulate the temperature of the steam, you should generally be careful with them.
- Steam mops do need some extra prep time. For a steam mop to work its magic, the floor needs to be generally clean of the more sizable pieces of dirt. While a regular mop can go over a patch of cat hair and just sweep them, you generally don’t want to do that with a steam mop because you’ll need to change the wiper cloth much more frequently. Not to mention that some heavier stains and dirt spots will usually need some regular mop scrubbing. For those reasons, you should always vacuum or sweep your floors before using a steam mop. This will increase the amount of work and will take away from the “easy to use” benefit we mentioned above.
- Because of the previous reason, steam mops are generally intended for frequent but light usage. If you are one of those household owners that clean rarely but extensively (no judgment), a steam mop may not be for you. Steam mops are intended for a more frequent and light use. You can view them more as a “maintenance tool” than a dedicated cleaning tool. They do clean, of course, but they do best when the contamination is just light and on a surface level. If you want a powerful and effective heavy duty steam cleaner that can work in even the toughest of situations, you can consider a steam vacuum cleaner instead.
- Steam mops don’t heat their steam as much as other steam cleaners. Speaking of steam vacuums, compared to them steam mops don’t really heat their steam that much. They heat it to a sufficient level for frequent but easy cleaning purposes, but they pale in comparison to a steam vacuum cleaner. Of course, the maximum temperature of a steam mop varies from model to model, but it’s still not that impressive. This is due to the design purposes of steam mops – their lightweight and mobility are what makes them such great tools, but they also restrict their heating potential.
What are some steam cleaning alternatives to steam mops?
We already touched upon them, but let’s take a deeper look at steam vacuums. If you are impressed by the idea of a steam cleaning tool but you fear that a steam mop will simply not do a good enough job for your home, consider a steam vacuum.
Steam vacs are usually just regular vacuum machines that have the extra feature of using hot steam in cleaning. This is great because the hot steam helps sanitize your floor and other surfaces as well as clean them. Additionally, depending on the exact model and its attachments, accessories, and add-ons, you can use a steam vac for more than just floors. You can use it for furniture, for thick carpets, for drapes, for upholstered furnishings, and so on. The pros of a steam vac over a steam mop can be summarized as such:
- They cover more surfaces.
- They require less prep and pre-cleaning.
- They are much more powerful and effective.
Of course, steam vacs have their own set of cons as well:
- They are much more massive and bulky. Not every home has a dedicated room for that big of an appliance.
- A good steam vacuum cleaner is much more expensive than the average steam mop.
- Steam vacs are also quite noisy, especially compared to steam mops.
So, as you can see, steam vacs are definitely a good substitute to steam mops and vice versa, but ultimately – they just have different purposes. If you’d rather clean your home frequently and quickly, a steam mop will be your best bet. If you hate cleaning and want to do it as rarely as possible but still maintain your home in a good condition – steam vacs are for you.
When looking to buy a steam mop, we’d advise you to follow the same 3 chief criteria that we used in our own research – quality, versatility and price.
Quality is important for obvious reasons – steam mops aren’t something that you buy to use just for a week or a month, they are an appliance that will hopefully last you a decade and will do a top-notch job throughout that time. If you don’t care about the quality of work of a steam mop or about its longevity, then you don’t really have a reason to buy one – you can just as well continue using a regular mop and a bucket for cleaning. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that low-quality steam mops are just not worth purchasing.
Versatility is also crucial for the simple reason that it’s usually the Achilles’ heel of steam mops. The main – and perfectly justified – critiques of steam mops are that they don’t work on all surfaces, they have a hard time reaching tricky spots in our homes, they don’t clean too stubborn stains and dirt spots, and that they don’t freshen the air in our homes. All these critiques are very much true for 99% of the steam mops you’ll find on the market right now but select few models and brands compensate for them through design, accessories, and attachments. If you want to buy a good steam mop that will do a good job for you, looking for such versatile products is your best bet.
And while we said that a good, high-quality steam mop is something that should last you for years, this doesn’t mean that price shouldn’t be a factor in your purchase either. The range in prices for steam mops is just too great as they can be bought for anywhere between 49 pounds and 499 pounds. Even if you buy a high-quality steam mop that lasts you for a decade, if you can save a couple of hundred pounds without compromising the product’s quality – you definitely should.
With those key points in mind, we’d advise you to read as many reviews, articles and critics’ opinion pieces as you can. We gave you our opinions for the best steam mops on the market right now, but if you want to make the most informed choice, there’s a lot more research that can be done. Keep in mind that when reading user reviews you must be careful to see around people’s biases, their emotional judgments, and the occasional lack of context.
Also, when comparing prices, be careful not to make too great of a compromise with the product’s quality. Price may be a key point of interest, but you shouldn’t sacrifice quality. More expensive steam mops are sometimes expensive just for the sake of brand recognition, but often times they also include a lot of additional accessories, and attachments. Pay close attention to those and decide which ones you need and which ones you don’t need. Compromising quality is a big No-No, but wasting money to buy attachments that you ultimately won’t need is also unnecessary.
With all that in mind, if you’re interested in which are the more reputable steam mop brands out there, here are our suggestions: Vileda, Bisell, Morphy Richards, Shark, Black + Decker, Hoover, Vaporetto, Oreck, Smart Living, and Dirt Devil.
Additional information about steam mops and how to use them
As we mentioned in the beginning, steam mops have a lot of possible uses and variables, to extensively be described in even the biggest article. And while we gave it our best try, here are a couple of additional points that may grab your interest.
Sanitizing baby toys
Steam mops and steam vacs are funnily enough excellent at sanitizing baby toys and items as well. Because the hot steam is so good at killing germs and bacteria, all those toys, dolls, and other stuff your baby likes to chew on for hours can be sufficiently sanitized with a steam cleaner. Not all steam mops are ideal for something like that, as it depends on the exact nuzzle and accessories the steam mop has, but some are perfect for something like this. Parents that have a steam mop can easily save a lot of time and effort in cleaning their kids’ toys, and parents that are thinking of buying a steam mop or a steam vac should definitely consider this side use of these products.
We mentioned it briefly, but steam mops and steam vacs actually have the added benefit of contributing to the purification of the air in your home. Steam vacs are understandably better at it because they produce steam with a much higher heat level, but high-quality steam mops can also have a significant and positive effect on your home’s air. Besides, even though they produce a not-so-hot steam because steam mops are used more frequently, they make their “contribution” to your home’s air’s purity much more frequently as well. Still, don’t think that if your home needs an air purifier, a steam mop will simply do that job as well – air purifiers are dedicated to their job and do it much better. Still, it’s nice to note the positive side effect of steam mops and steam vacs.
Living with steam mops
Maintaining a steam mop is not an overly complicated task. All you need to do is be careful not to break it, follow the product’s instructions to the letter, and wash the cloth mops regularly to keep them clean. If the product is of a high enough value, you can be certain that – barring any accidents – it will be by your side for a long time.
More importantly, you should be careful not to ruing an unsealed floor or a precious carpet with a high-temperature steam mop. As we said, always follow the product’s instructions and when testing it on new surfaces, always do it carefully and on parts of the surface that you can easily hide under furniture later.
Steam mops revolutionized the cleaning products industry and have been helping homeowners around the world for a decade and a half. They use a simple yet efficient system of high-temperature steam and mopping to easily sanitize and clean your home’s floors and other surfaces. However, since they are not as powerful as steam vacuum cleaners and they don’t allow for the option of scrubbing like regular mops do, steam mops are best used for maintenance purposes. To use a steam mop to its full effectiveness, you’d do best to clean your home with it regularly and quickly. If you are the type of person that prefers to clean more rarely but more extensively, you can consider other cleaning methods such as steam vacs.
If steam mops are your weapon of choice, however, here are our recommendations again:
Vileda 157171 is both lightweight and very effective. It produces a nice temperature of steam that easily kills most known germs and bacteria, and it has a nice design that allows it to easily clean your floors, maneuver around furniture and reach complicated spots.
Another highly versatile item, the Morphy Richards 9in1 720020 can work on almost all surfaces you can find in your home. This makes it a great choice for bigger homes that have a lot of different types of surfaces. Additionally, this model is also quite budget-friendly.
The Polti SV440 from Vaporetto is a lightweight but powerful steam mop that is easy to use and still does an efficient job at cleaning your home. It also leaves behind a nice and fresh scent for those that miss the smell of a recently washed with a regular mop floor.