Buying Guide to Steam Mops
8 Things to Know Before You Buy
Understanding the basic features and capabilities of a quality steam mop will help you choose the right model. With these handy tips, you'll steam your way to a squeaky clean house in no time flat.
Fact #1: Steam Mops only work on certain surfaces.
A quality steam cleaner harnesses the power of hot water to deep-clean a wide variety of hard surfaces* around the home, including:
- Ceramic tiled surfaces
- Laminated floors
- Marble floors or surfaces
- Sealed hardwood floors
- Stone floors or surfaces
- Tiled floors
Steam mops are great at loosening and drawing out set-in grime, bacteria, allergens and mold that you can't get to otherwise. They're also great at removing troublesome messes, such as: dirt, dust, food/liquid spills, pet stains, scuff marks, stains and stickiness.
*Good to Know: Steam could damage the wood grain of unsealed hardwood floors, just as it could alter the state of a waxed floor. So, it's a good idea to test an area before steaming a room's entire floor or an entire surface. When in doubt, check your model's instruction manual for more information.
Fact #2: Types
Which type of steam mop you choose will depend on various factors, including how much area you need to cover and your cleaning habits. Generally, there are two main types of steam mops, both of which offer optimal cleaning capabilities (depending upon your needs).
Steam Mops: These lightweight, upright machines are easily maneuverable with a mop-like head. The mop holds removable, reusable cleaning pads through which steam is ejected to cleanse surfaces. Ideal for interiors.
Steam Canisters: Larger in size, the canister variety of steam mop can hold more water in its reservoir, which increases its steam cleaning time to approximately 2 hours (in some cases). Ideal for cleansing hard flooring, counters, bathroom and/or kitchen tile, grout, and upholstered furniture (depending on attachment).
Fact #3: Steam Mop Parts & Attachments
Steam mops have a number of different parts and may come with additional attachments depending on the model you choose to purchase. Here are some terms you may encounter:
|Part or Attachment||Definition and/or Function|
|Boiler||Heats the water to optimal temperature in order to create steam.|
|Cleaning Pads||Removable and reusable microfiber pads which steam flows through to clean a hard surface.|
|Cord||Electrical power cord lengths range from 16 to 30 feet, depending on model. (Please consult product guidelines before using an extension cord, as doing so could be unsafe.)|
|Direct Nozzle||Concentrates steam to a specific area for tough, built-up stains and messes.|
|Filter||Filters the water used for steaming. Filters will need to be replaced from time to time (check your model's requirements).|
|Mop Heads||The base on which the cleaning pad is attached. Some are interchangeable, swiveling, square or triangular shaped.|
|Reservoir/Tank||Holds the water that will be converted to steam.|
|Steam Control||Controls the amount of steam that releases from the mop.|
|Trigger/Button||When pressed, releases steam.|
|Water-level Indicator||Tells you when it's time to add more water to the tank or reservoir.|
Fact #4: Water Capacity
The size of the steam cleaner's water reservoir determines how long it will function before you have to refill the tank. Generally, handheld models have a small tank, which means frequent refilling; canister mops have larger reservoirs for longer cleaning periods.
Fact #5: Water Temperature
Opt for a steam mop with a built-in water heater. Well-heated water is critical for effective steaming and cleaning. Choose a steam mop that heats water to the boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (some will heat water even hotter). Look for models that quickly heat the water; a plugged in steam mop will usually be ready to use in a few minutes time.
Fact #6: Sanitation
Steam mops are a great way to clean without the need for chemicals.
Fact #7: Drying Times
As a water-based cleaning method, steam mops leave surfaces wet, which means you'll need to allow for drying time. The waiting time depends on the surface you've cleaned and the temperature of the water during cleaning. Models that heat water up to high temperatures and force heat through the mop generally have quicker drying times.
Fact # 8: Some Helpful Hints
- Tap water is OK to use, unless you have hard water; if that's the case then distilled water is preferred.
- Make sure you can add water before the machine cools down; waiting to refill can slow down your cleaning time.