Power Through Dirt and Grime on Your Floors With the Best Steam Mops
No more buckets of soapy water.
Updated Aug 1, 2022 8:24 AM
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Blame it on Cinderella for making the chore of scrubbing your floors feel so abysmal, as this time-consuming household task tends to be the one that gets put off the most. And honestly, we get it—schlepping a bucket of sudsy water around the house while shoving a mop to and fro can feel laborious. But have you tried a steam mop? Invented in the late ’90s, it has since become a household staple for those with a proclivity for thinking smarter, not harder.
Though the best steam mops come with some caveats (they’re not exactly wood-friendly), the perks of using steam versus a traditional mop are fodder for those who live for a deep clean. To operate, the steam mop is plugged into an outlet and the water in the reservoir heats up to a boil (distilled water is best!). Once it’s around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the hot water vapor absorbs into the mop pad, loosens grime, and sanitizes the floor beneath it. Ahead, browse through our favorites, plus get the lowdown from experts on how your home could benefit from a steam mop and which floors you should—and shouldn’t—use it on.
- Best overall: Bissell 1940 Power Fresh Steam Mop
- Best steam and scrub: Shark Steam & Scrub S7001 Steam Mop
- Best value: Bissell 1806 Steam Mop
- Best heavy-duty: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner
- Best multipurpose: Black + Decker Steam Cleaner
- Best two-sided: Shark Steam Pocket Mop
Best Overall: Bissell 1940 Power Fresh Steam Mop
Cord length: 23 feet | Weight: 6.8 pounds | Water tank capacity: 16 ounces
What we like:
- Removable water tank
- Easy to maneuver
- Only comes with 1 soft and 1 scrubby pad
Why we chose it: An under-$100 steam mop that has all the needed features for a deep clean, plus it’s easy to use—what more could you ask for?
This streamlined steam mop is affordable and gets the job done quickly and efficiently—if you’re new to the steam cleaning game and want to test the waters, make it this one. Useful design details like a removable water tank and continuous stream make cleaning feel like a breeze. Plus it’s lightweight and easy to push around the room. Choose between low, medium, and high steam based on the floor type and degree of messiness, and add a fresh scent with the mop’s fragrance discs. For particularly stubborn stains, the easy scrubber flips down to clean grout and crevices (this handy feature is activated by pressing down on it with your foot). This steam mop comes with one microfiber soft pad and one microfiber scrubby pad, plus two spring breeze fragrance discs.
Best Steam and Scrub: Shark Steam & Scrub S7001 Steam Mop
Cord length: 25 feet | Weight: 7.8 pounds | Water tank size: 10.82 ounces
What we like:
- 3 steam modes
- Upright lock
- Rotating steam pads
- Over $100
Why we chose it: A mop that has rotating steam pads for a thorough clean.
For those of you who are used to a lo-fi mopping experience, Shark’s steam mop will feel like a snazzy upgrade with its rotating steam pads, LED headlights, and choice of three cleaning modes. It comes with four soft-scrub washable pads and is constructed with swivel steering to easily clean those hard-to-reach corners and edges. The rotating scrubbing nozzle is what makes this pick feel unique, offering 150 pad rotations per minute for a powerful steam and scrub. To clean just the way you like it, choose from three steam options: a light cleaning mode for a quick, light cleanup; normal for everyday use; and deep for stuck-on messes.
Best Heavy-Duty: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner
Cord length: 16 feet | Weight: 9 pounds | Water tank size: 54 ounces
What we like:
- 17 accessories
- Sleek design
- Cleans several surfaces with high water tank capacity
- Bulkier and harder to store
Why we chose it: A sleek, modern steam cleaner that you can use on floors, furniture, and beyond.
Steam cleaners are slightly more expensive and bulkier than steam mops—but if you’re looking for an all-encompassing steam cleaning experience, then you may want to consider a cleaner in lieu of a mop, like Dupray’s. It takes around eight minutes to heat up, and from there you can remove dirt and stains from floors, furniture, toys, kitchen appliances, car interiors, grout and tile, bathrooms, windows, mirrors, and beyond. The floor tool can be used with regular cloths, microfiber pads, or microfiber bonnets. And for areas like grout lines, appliances, and bathrooms, you can switch to one of 17 accessories including a steam lance, triangle tool, window tool, brass brush, and nylon brushes. You can even use Dupray’s steam cleaner as a clothing steamer—it really does it all.
Best Multipurpose: Black + Decker Steam Cleaner
Cord length: 20 feet | Weight: 6 pounds | Water tank size: 19.2 ounces
What we like:
- Converts from mop to handheld steamer
- Removable water reservoir
- Comes with steam glove
- Comes with a lot of separate accessories to keep tabs on
Why we chose it: This steam mop converts to a handheld model and comes with a steam glove for a full-control cleaning experience.
If you’re the kind of person who gets jazzed about the bells and whistles on your cleaning tools, then Black + Decker’s multipurpose steam mop will be a welcome addition. The mop comes with two cleaning pads and two steam gloves for when it converts into a handheld steamer, which is great for pivoting to stainless steel and sealed surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. Also in the mix: an adjustable steam nozzle, small plastic brush, grout brush, copper brush, fabric steamer, and accessory bag. The steam flows continuously without having to hold down a trigger, and the large water tank capacity means you won’t have to constantly refill (this also helps defray the possible disadvantages of the one-sided design).
Best Value: Bissell 1806 Steam Mop
Cord length: 25 feet | Weight: 6 pounds | Water tank size: 16 ounces
What we like:
- Built-in scent disc tray
- Spot-treatment brush
- On/off button
Why we chose it: A competitively priced steam mop with the option to add a fresh scent.
For just around $100, Bissell’s 1806 steamer mop punches above its weight. It’s designed with the company’s SpotBoost brush, which is detachable and can be used for those messes that need extra attention. The mop comes with one microfiber soft pad for delicate flooring and one microfiber scrubby pad for heavily soiled floors, as well as two spring breeze fragrance discs, which can be slotted into the mop’s built-in scent disc tray (good for those who want as chemical-free experience as possible while still getting that squeaky-clean scent). This steam mop heats up fast in about 30 seconds, and the swivel head makes it breezy to maneuver around a room. Something we especially appreciate about this model is that it has an on/off button (some steam mops turn on once you plug them in), plus it offers the option between low and high steam. It’s worth noting that the 1806 is one-sided, which means if you’re cleaning a large surface area, you might have to change your cleaning pad.
Best Two-Sided: Shark Steam Pocket Mop
Cord length: 22 feet | Weight: 4.85 pounds | Water tank size: 15 ounces
What we like:
- Under $100
- Doesn’t lock upright
Why we chose it: A two-sided steam mop that, despite its lighter weight, has a sizable water tank capacity.
Shark’s Steam Pocket Mop is ready to use in just 30 seconds. The water tank capacity is larger than we’d expect for such a lightweight model (it’s the lightest on our list) and comes equipped with three levels of steam control for a customized clean. This mop is designed with two quick-release mop heads, so once one side is dirty, you can flip to the other side and move on to another room with the opposite side of the mop head.
How We Chose These Products
Everyone knows how rapidly dirt and grime can build up on your floors if you don’t have a consistent routine that goes beyond a simple sweep or vacuum. We tapped cleaning experts to find out why a steam mop might make this process easier to stay on top of week after week. They shared features that actually make a difference when you’re cleaning, plus brands that they trust to get the job done as efficiently and effortlessly as possible. From there, we narrowed our search, prioritizing models with positive track records and generous product warranties. Maneuverability, steam control, and useful attachments like steam gloves and brushes were all taken into consideration, as was the design aesthetic.
Our Shopping Checklist
The single most important consideration when using a steam mop is the type of floor you’re using it on. “Some floor companies do say that using a steam mop will void their warranty, so be sure to check first,” says Clean Mama founder Becky Rapinchuk. “Tile, laminate, and linoleum are all floors you can use a steam mop on, but I don’t recommend using it on wood floors.” The reason for this, cleaning expert Lori Williamson explains, is because the floors could warp if they absorb too much moisture. “Proceed with caution with hard floors where adhesive was used like in luxury vinyl and sealed or engineered hardwood,” she says. “That said, steam mops work great on hard floors that can tolerate moisture and heat such as ceramic, porcelain, and some stone surfaces.”
“Steam mops with multiple attachments allow you to use the power of steam to clean other areas in your home other than just floors,” says Williamson. “For example, steam mops that convert to handheld steamers can be used to clean kitchens, bathrooms, kids’ toys, high chairs, mattresses, and more.” There are also steam mops with attachments like steam gloves—to use on sealed granite, tile, and stone—and brush attachments, which are meant to get pesky dirt and grime out of grout.
“If you have a larger surface area or multiple rooms, water tank capacity does matter,” Rapinchuk notes. “Ultimately, you don’t want to have to stop to add more water.” Unlike steam cleaners that can hold greater amounts of water, steam mops usually fall in the range of 10 to 20 ounces. “A larger capacity is a bonus for those who have larger homes,” Williamson adds.
A steam mop is designed with a washable, reusable cleaning pad, typically crafted from microfiber. When shopping for a steam mop, you’ll find both single-side and double-side models. “Depending on the mop, cleaning pads can offer more flexibility,” Williamson says. “One side can be made with one texture that is good for certain concerns (like gently scrubbing to tackle stuck-on gunk), and the other side can be a different texture. It also could just allow you to cover more surface areas by flipping to the clean side when moving on to mop another room.” It’s important to change your cleaning pads regularly, otherwise you’ll just push dirt and grime around the floor. If you don’t have a clean one on hand, Rapinchuk recommends “wetting it, wringing it out, and rinsing frequently as you mop, as this will ensure that you don’t get streaks and your floors will get as clean as possible.”
Q: Should I put a cleaning solution in my steam mop?
“Unless specified by the mop manufacturer, using just water is sufficient,” Williamson says. “If you want to spot-clean and spray a cleaner directly on an area first and then go over it with the mop, that could be a good alternative.” The reason for this is due to the high temperature of the water, which allows the mop to effectively clean and sanitize the surface below. “If you want to add anything, try a couple drops of lemon essential oil on the mop pad,” notes Rapinchuk.
Q: Are steam mops better than traditional mops?
Steam mops are undoubtedly more convenient than a traditional mop and bucket approach, plus they’re much more effective at lifting up dirt and grime without relying on chemical cleaners. The main disadvantage is that they’re not appropriate for all floor types, so if your house is designed with primarily wood floors, it may not be worth investing in a steam mop. On the flip side, if you have several rooms with, say, ceramic or porcelain tiles, you’ll be better off with this tool in tow.
Q: Can you use tap water in a steam mop?
While you can technically use tap water in a steam mop, Rapinchuk (and most of the user manuals for the mops outlined in this guide) recommend an upgrade. “Use filtered water if you can; it will keep the streaks away.”
The Last Word
Steam mops are king when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing surfaces. If your home has steam-safe flooring such as ceramic tiling, chore day will feel like a breeze. Bissell’s 1940 model—our top pick—is perfect for first-timers thanks to its budget-friendly price point and powerful performance.
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