Steam mops are touted as a chemical-free and “sanitary” way to clean floors. But they’re an expensive alternative to the conventional sponge mop and elbow grease. We’ve tested 25 models – find out how well they performed.
Snapshot: The Hoover 5630 Heritage12100081 steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, 0.55L removable water tank and weighs 3.3kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Monster Compact SC60 steam mop has a 1.2L water tank and weighs 4.7kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Vax Duet Master VSTDUET1600 steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, removable 0.4L water tank and weighs 3.1kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Dirt Devil EasySteam Express II DDSTM1500 steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, 0.30L water tank and weighs 2.1kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Hoover Enhanced Clean Disinfecting Steam Mop HSTM1500 has a non-adjustable handle, .50L removable water tank and weighs 3.5kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Hoover Expert Dry Multi Steamer 9630 steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, 0.9L water tank and weighs 4kg. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Monster EZ1 steam mop has a height adjustable handle, 0.60L water tank and weighs 2.8kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Hoover Floormate Steamscrub Touch 12100120 steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, removable 0.7L water tank and weighs 4.1kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Shark Lift-Away Pro Steam Pocket Mop S3901NZ steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, 0.3L water tank and weighs 3.4kg. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Haan Multi SI-A70 steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, 0.35L removable water tank and weighs 3.2kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: This Bissell Powerfresh 1440-F steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, 0.45L removable water tank and weighs 3kg. But how well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Karcher SC1.020 steam mop has a non-removable 1L water tank and weighs 4.6kg but it doesn’t have a carpet steaming attachment. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Haan Slim & Light Pro SI-A-45 steam mop has a removable 0.35L water tank, weighs 2.8kg and has a carpet steaming attachment. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Smart Living Sonic 7128 steam mop has a non-adjustable handle, 0.41L water tank and weighs 3.5kg. But how well does it clean?
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The steam is pushed through a washable cloth pad on the cleaning head to loosen grime for the pad to wipe away.
The mops plug into the wall like a vacuum cleaner, but they don’t have suction to suck up spills so floors must still be vacuumed or swept before steam mopping.
Steam mops don’t use chemicals for cleaning so may be useful for people sensitive to chemical cleaners.
Then, we fire up our steam mops and get to work. Each mop’s performance is converted into a stain-removal score.
We also look at how much water is left on the floor after mopping. Steam mops should leave very little residual water: the models in our round-up with very good floor wetness scores (eight or above) left the vinyl almost completely dry after mopping.
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Steam mops can be used on most hard-floor surfaces – but not on cork tiles and unsealed or waxed wooden floors. Most manufacturers suggest testing on an “inconspicuous area” first. If you’re unsure, we recommend checking with the manufacturer of your flooring product to ensure they don’t recommend against steam cleaning.
Some models come with a carpet attachment. We found these fine for “refreshing” carpet but unsuitable for heavy soiling or stains.
Some steam mops can also be used on sofas, beds and soft toys.
Leaving a hot mop for too long in one place can mark a floor – especially if it’s varnished or polished wood (the steam can damage it). This can be an issue when a steam mop’s heating up or cooling down.
Some manufacturers recommend holding the mop in one spot to “disinfect and sanitise”. Don’t do this for too long.
Also read the instructions about this carefully: it might be suitable for some floors and not others.
Recently, a member asked if he could use a steam mop to clean the ceilings of his motel. It was a good question – but we urged caution, as the steam is likely to eat away at paint and could damage plaster or cladding. Some models don’t have a great seal around the water reservoir, so you risk getting wet.
Instead, we recommended filling a spray bottle with a mixture of ammonia, baking soda, vinegar and warm water, then spraying it directly on to a telescopic mop with a soft cleaning head.
Before using a steam mop on any surface, we advise trying it on a small, inconspicuous area and waiting an hour, to ensure it won’t cause any damage.
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Steam mops are a good way of cleaning a lightly-soiled hard floor – and their lack of chemicals may be useful for people sensitive to chemical cleaners. But they’re far more expensive than a conventional sponge mop.
For everyday stains that you clean up immediately, warm soapy water and a conventional sponge mop are still a great option.
One of the most expensive things about a steam mop is replacing mop heads. The branded heads can be expensive and are sometimes hard to find.
Some shops sell cheaper third-party steam mop heads that are claimed to fit certain models. While this is often cheaper, it pays to ensure the mop heads fit. If in doubt, take your current mop head into a store to compare it to the third party head.
We've crunched the numbers and awarded Monster our Top Brand award for steam mops. Consumers can be confident a brand touting this award has delivered top results both in the lab and in our surveys.
Check out more of our tests, articles, news and surveys in our Appliances section.
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