A steam mop can leave your floor sparkling and sanitized
Steam mops can give your floor a spotless shine with less hassle than using a regular mop and bucket. Many also have the ability to disinfect by super-heating steam to 200 degrees Fahrenheit -- twice as hot as tap water -- which kills bacteria, viruses and mold.
A basic steam mop features a built-in water tank, an element to create hot-water vapor and a flat mop head. "Steam is nearly 100 percent effective in cleaning surfaces faster and easier," says Miamomiao Liu in Process Heating, a monthly trade magazine. "With its extremely high temperature, it can thoroughly clean and, in many cases, sanitize or disinfect surfaces without the introduction of chemical solutions." To sanitize, hold the steam mop in place for five to 20 seconds, depending on the model. When cleaning with just water, steam mops are inexpensive to operate and environmentally friendly. Most include microfiber mop pads that are washable and reusable.
Some steam mops also have vacuum features. "Steamers that also pick up dry debris eliminate the need to use a separate tool to sweep the floor before steaming," say the experts at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. However, many experts are less than impressed with these combo machines, and none outperform a regular steam mop in professional comparisons. In their evaluation, Good Housekeeping editors say, "Performance varied in our test, but most sweep-and-steam mops did at least a passable job at both tasks. While some allow you to sweep and clean simultaneously, don't count on it; you'll get the best performance doing each task separately."
If you just need a regular mop, see our report on mops. We also recommend the best vacuum cleaners, stick vacuums and handheld vacuums. If you want to use steam to clean everything from the floor to the kitchen sink, see our report on steam cleaners.
To find the best steam mops and vacuum steam mop combos, ConsumerSearch.com editors analyzed dozens of different models. Professional comparison tests are combined with owner reviews to determine each mop's cleaning performance, ease of use, reliability and helpful features. One is sure to leave your floor shining clean.