Do you want a machine that sweeps and steams? A vacuum steam mop combination gives users the ability to sweep first, and then mop. However, experts say these machines often do only a mediocre job at cleaning.
Do you need to steam more than just the floor? If you want a steamer for surfaces such as grout, furniture or bathroom fixtures, look for a mop that offers extra accessories. A carpet glider, upholstery brushes and steam nozzles are some user favorites. For cleaning vertical surfaces such as mirrors and shower walls, be sure to select a mop that can tip upside down without spilling water.
What about robotic mops? A leading consumer organization tested the iRobot Scooba, cousin to the vacuuming Roomba. Despite costing $300 to $400, the Scooba misses almost a fifth of the floor, including corners, and isn't powerful enough to scrub stubborn stains, editors say.
The cost to steam clean your floors can extend beyond the purchase price of a new mop, depending on the model you buy. Steam mops that operate on water alone are cheaper to use, without the added expense of detergent. Some use a built-in water filter with replacements typically costing $10 to $20. Most mops include cleaning cloths that are washable and reusable. Erica Ryan, a blogger for TheSteamQueen.com, throws her mop pads in the wash with other towels and rags, saying it's far easier to launder these than to deal with a regular mop. One leading testing organization disagrees, saying hand-washing pads or tossing them in with other laundry is unappealing.