Steam mops are revolutionizing floor washing. Rather than use a wet swiffer-style mop, you can do a better cleaning in about the same amount of time with the power of steam. While they are much more expensive than the popular non-electric mop, steam mops are quickly gaining popularity and proving that convenience, performance and cleanliness makes them a worthwhile tool.
While you will still need to get down on hands and knees with a cleaner occasionally to do baseboards, corners and tight areas, once you've used a steam mop for floors, you'll not likely want to go back to the mop and pail routine.
Styles of Steam Mops
There are two styles of single function steam mop, those that have one-sided cleaning and models that are two-sided - you can flip the mop head over and clean with the other side of the cloth. The two-sided mop is the most practical - when one side is dirty, you don't have to unplug and change the cloth, just turn it over. Except for minor design differences, most steam mops are similar when it comes to handling, use and care.
Another type of steam mop is a dual function - one that has a steam mop plus a secondary function, that could include a sweeping or a scrubbing feature. Note that not all electric mops are steamers. This can really get confusing as you explore the different models, but looking at features will help you to decide whether it's a good fit for you.
Weight & Handling
While some find steam mops hard to push around, I have found them to be easy to handle without the back strain associated with wringing or swinging a heavy wet cotton floor mop. Using a steam mop generally requires little effort, unless the model is large, bulky in design or has a secondary function which can add more weight to the tool.
Where the water tank is positioned and its size can also affect handling. Take time to inspect the mop you're considering buying to check for accessories, features and especially lift and handling. Most but not all steam mops have swivel heads, making them easy to maneuver around cabinets and into corners.
Performance, Cleaning Ability
Some steam mops do list the intensity of steam or wattage on their product specs, but others do not, making it difficult for consumers to compare between models. If you want to sanitize your floors, you do need very hot steam, and the higher the wattage, the better.
Where they differ mostly, is how steam is generated and how many bursts it ejects. Full steam coverage on the mop pad also helps with performance. Some models use pump-driven steam (eject steam as you work with the mop), while others have a trigger control or continuous steaming. While some prefer the trigger control, others find no effect on cleaning between the two designs.
Best Features When Buying a Steam Mop
Aside from power and steam features, there are only a few items to watch for. How the mop cloth attaches and what they are made of. They should be thick and absorbent, durable and have an easy-to-attach fastening system.
A long cord is most handy. An assortment of heads of various shapes is very helpful for cleaning large areas or into corners. Note the access to fill the reservoir as well as the size. A comfortable handle and hole or hook makes it easy to hang.
If you have low carpets, you may like the rug tray accessory that enables you to steam 'dust' (not a steam cleaning) carpets. An adjustable handle is a must especially if you're on the tall side.
Steam Mop Accessories
While some steam mops come with two or more shapes of mop heads and custom cloths with replacements, other mops come with only one mop pad. A choice of mop head - triangular or rectangular, makes the mop more versatile allowing you to get into corners or cover a large floor area more quickly.
The more accessories that are included, the better. How long a mop cloth will last depends on many factors but one thing for certain, it's a good idea to have a spare cloth on hand. You should review the accessories that come with the model you choose and purchase at least one spare mop pad if none are included.
Benefits of a Steam Mop
Besides the convenience of being able to do several floors in much less time than with a regular floor mop and bucket, using a steam mop takes very little effort. There's no bending, no wringing, no water pail to trail or slop and no smelly or expensive cleansers. They use only water and take very little room to store. Are there any cons? I haven't found one yet, except price which varies with the style and amount of accessories that are included. Once you've used a steam mop, it's very hard to go back to traditional floor washing.
Steam Mop Care & Maintenance
Before you buy, it's a good idea to review my tips on what you shouldn't do with a steam mop so you can enjoy using this handy cleaning tool. These do not replace the manufacturer's use and care recommendations, but rather compliment them. Because of the hot steam and electrical nature of the mop, this is not really a cleaning tool that a young child should use. Always wear shoes when using an electric steam mop. Do not store plugged in and do not put any detergents in the water tank - they are designed to be used with water only.
- What Not to do With a Steam Mop
- Learn More About Vacuums and Floor Care
- How to Use a Steam Mop Efficiently
When buying any appliance, depending on the cost you may want to consider purchasing an extended warranty contract. There are pros and cons to buying one but these tips can help you to decide if its a good idea with this purchase. Always read your product manual, there are safety tips as well as important use and care information in it. You'll also find a parts list should you need to get anything replaced.
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