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Steam Mop Reviews

By: Kelly Burgess on May 01, 2018

Editor's note:
Bissell's Power Fresh 1940 Steam Mop stays on top for this update, with the Shark Genius S6002 still a versatile choice for use as a spray mop or steam mop. We also recommend a top steam mop that does double duty as a stick vacuum.

Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop 1940 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Tank capacity - 16 oz. Cleaning path - 12" Weight - 6 lbs.

Best basic steam mop

Of all the basic steam mops currently on the market, the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop 1940 is a top pick with experts and gets the best reviews from owners -- by quite a large margin. Users say it cleans even tough, old grime and leaves floors sparkling. They also appreciate its excellent performance and easy handling, saying it's much simpler to use than many comparable steam mops and even some spray mops.

Buy for $89.00
Bissell Symphony Pet Vacuum and Steam Mop
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Tank capacity - 13 oz. Cleaning path - 11" Weight - 9.8 lbs.

Best vac and steam mop

If you'd like to be able to both vacuum and steam mop your floors without having to deal with two different appliances, reviewers say you need look no further than the Bissell Symphony Pet Vacuum and Steam Mop. Offering two-in-one convenience along with simple-to-use controls and a comfortable handle that adjusts for height, this Bissell performs very well as a steam mop, and does a nice job as a light-duty vacuum.

Buy for $162.37
Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System S6002 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Tank capacity - 11.8 oz. Cleaning path - 12" Weight - 6 lbs.

Best spray mop/steam mop combo

The Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System S6002 is a versatile two-in-one floor cleaning tool. It can be used as a simple spray mop, or, for a deeper clean or tough stains, can be used as a steam mop. The "flippable" pads can be changed out without touching them with your hands, allowing you a longer cleaning time with less hassle. This steam mop does well on heavier stains, too.

Is a steam mop right for your flooring type?

Unlike many cleaning tasks, using a steam mop requires absolutely no chemicals. Rather, the steam mop heats the water (distilled water is often recommended), the heated water loosens the dirt, and a microfiber pad attached to the mop head absorbs the dirt. In general, steam mops are suitable for all types of hard flooring; however, there are a few caveats. Most hardwood and laminate floor manufacturers recommend against using steam mops -- and doing so can void your floor's warranty. Many steam mops say they can be used on "sealed" wood floors, but, again, the manufacturer may disagree with that. Always check your floor's warranty (if still in effect) to be sure that using a steam mop won't void it. To be on the safe side, it's probably a good idea to try out your steam mop first on an out-of-the way section of your floor to be sure it will work without causing any damage.

We also found a lower level of satisfaction with the cleaning performance of steam mops on hardwood floors than with linoleum or tile. Quite a few users say the floor dried with streaks, or that the "scrubbing" pads included with the steam mop left scratches on their wood floors. Because of all of that, our advice is to be very careful before using a steam mop on any type of hardwood or laminate flooring. However, if you have tile, linoleum, or most of the other common types of hard flooring, a steam mop may be your new best cleaning friend.

Types of Steam Mops

Basic Steam Mop

Designed to do just one thing, steam mop your floors, these feature a built-in water tank, an element to create hot-water vapor and a flat mop head. You just fill it with water, turn it on, wait for it to heat up, and start steaming. Some reach hot enough temperatures to sanitize as well, while with others you may have to hold the mop on the spot for 10 to 20 seconds to sanitize. Basic steam mops are inexpensive to operate and environmentally friendly. Most include microfiber mop pads that are washable and reusable.

Multi-Purpose Steam Mops

These perform another cleaning function in addition to steaming. Some have vacuums to pick up debris before you mop, eliminating the need for using a separate vacuum or broom and dustpan. This saves you storage space over having more than one appliance, and may save money as well.

However, if all you need is a regular mop, see our separate report on mops for the top choices. We also recommend the best vacuum cleaners, stick vacuums, robotic vacuums and handheld vacuums for getting your floor debris free and ready to steam clean. And if you want someone else to do the mopping for you, check out this blog post on mopping robots.

Finding The Best Steam Mops
Our Sources
"The Best Steam Mop"
"The Best Steam Mops Review"
"The Best Steam Mops of 2018"

There aren't a lot of steam mops on the market, and there are a few good expert reviews, so it's pretty easy to find a consensus among them as to which steam mops are best. Those expert sites include Wirecutter, Your Best Digs and Top Ten Reviews. All of these sites test and then rank and rate the mops against each other.

In addition to looking at what the experts had to say, we evaluated thousands of owner reviews to find out how the steam mops ranked in real-world performance. This is particularly helpful in finding out if users experiences in things like ease-of-use and drying time matches up with the experts' relatively short term tests. Even more important, user reviews offer a great window into a product's long-term durability and the responsiveness of a manufacturer's customer service department when there is a problem. All of these factors were taken into account when making our recommendations for the top steam mops.

The best basic steam mops

For a basic steam mop, experts and owners agree that you can't do better than the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop 1940 (Est. $90). It's the top pick at Wirecutter, Your Best Digs and Top Ten Reviews after extensive testing. Kevin Purdy at Wirecutter praises the 1940's flexibility, ease of use and, in particular, the continuous steam feature, which is says, "is more convenient and comfortable than pump handles or triggers." Bryan Vu at Your Best Digs calls the Bissell's removable water tank his favorite feature, saying, "It was so convenient to pop it out and bring it to the faucet to refill, or to dump out the extra water when we were finished cleaning." However, the manufacturer recommends using distilled or demineralized water "to prolong the life" of this appliance.

In testing at all three of the sites mentioned above, the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop 1940 performed well in cleaning a variety of messes, including ground-in dirt and dried food spills. It also had the ability to produce just the right amount of steam to get floors clean, without leaving them overly wet. Your Best Digs notes that it took only about two minutes for the floors to dry after using the 1940, or, as they note, "about the time it takes to put the unit away and walk back across your floor without leaving a trail of footprints."

Owners love the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop 1940, too, saying it works very well for steam cleaning your floor on a daily or weekly basis. It also does a good job of removing stains on grout, some say -- and several reviewers post pictures to prove it. Many owners say they bought this mop because they felt that regular mops weren't getting their patterned tile floor clean and are thrilled with the improved results.

Although the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop 1940 is a basic mop, meaning it doesn't have any accessories or attachments to make it suitable for any type of steam cleaning other than floors, it does have three steam settings (low, medium and high). The 1940 can also sanitize, but you have to hold it in place for about 20 seconds to sanitize a spot. However, most owners say they did not buy the PowerFresh to sanitize, but rather just to clean, so they don't see that as a significant negative. The Bissell's 12-inch swivel head gets much praise for its ability to fit under most cupboards and clean along the walls. Its extreme maneuverability is one of the reasons that it lands in the top spot at our three expert test sites, too. It also locks into a standing position -- something most steam mops don't do -- and that is a very popular feature.

The Bissell PowerFresh 1940 is very easy to use, say owners -- just fill, plug it in, wait about 30 seconds, and start mopping. And testing at Your Best Digs found that it does heat up that quickly. Some owners would rather see a dedicated power switch rather than plugging in and unplugging the mop to turn it on and off, though. The PowerFresh's 15-ounce water tank produces about 15 minutes of steam on the high setting, and up to 30 minutes on lower settings. Your Best Digs found that 20 minutes was about average.

Purdy finds one minor quibble about the Bissell PowerFresh 1940: he says the mop heads are fiddly to remove and replace -- especially when the mop is hot. That matters because the 1940 includes two mop heads, one for general cleaning and a more heavy-duty version for scrubbing. If you need to change them out mid-task, be careful not to burn yourself.

Like all steam mops, the PowerFresh is intended to clean only with water, although, as we've already noted, the manufacturer recommends distilled, rather than tap water. For those who like the "clean smell" of scented cleaning products, Bissell includes several "scent discs." Purdy describes their fragrance as "Febreze-like," and doesn't recommend them. There is also an upgrade to the Bissell 1904, the Bissell 19404 PowerFresh Pet Steam Mop (Est. $90). The 19404 is the version tested by Your Best Digs, it's identical to the 1904, with just a few differences in the accessory package.

If the cost of the Bissel is a concern, the Shark Steam Pocket (S3501) (Est. $55) is a more affordable option that also does well in professional testing. It receives thousands of owner reviews that are nearly as high as those of the Bissell PowerFresh. This Shark steam mop is the number four mop after testing at Your Best Digs, but the number two mop is actually a steam cleaner (which we cover in a separate report).

In testing at Your Best Digs, the Shark Steam Pocket had good results in cleaning high traffic areas (the Bissell earned an excellent in that regard), and took about 12 seconds to remove dried soil. It also dried in two minutes and heated in 30 seconds. At 4.8 pounds, it's lighter than the Bissell, but with a shorter, 20-foot power cord. It was also the quietest steam mop editors tested, making no noise at all. Ultimately, they name it their top budget pick.

The Shark Steam Pocket S3501 scores lower at Top Ten Reviews, coming in sixth out of eight steam mops tested there. In particular, as both Angela Parkinson at Top Ten Reviews and the editors of Your Best Digs point out, you have to employ some elbow grease to use the Shark: producing steam requires you to pump the trigger and push the mop back and forth. That makes it harder to use than the Bissell, as does the fact that the water tank is not removable. The Shark works best for light messes, both sites agree, rather than heavier, dried-on dirt or food stains.

Still, as we noted, owners rank the Shark Steam Pocket 3501 very highly. One feature in particular that they say is pretty nifty is Shark's signature "flippable," 2-sided cleaning pad. When one side is dirty, just flip it to the other side to finish the job -- both expert test sites like that feature too, because you don't have to touch a dirty, hot, wet pad with your hands. The pads can be tossed in your washing machine. Shark says that each pad lasts for about 20 washes, but replacement Shark All-Purpose Cleaning Pockets (Est. $8 for 2) are readily available, as are generic options.

Although the Shark Steam Pocket may not be the best for heavy-duty cleaning, experts and users love it for everyday touchups. Except for the fact that you have to use a bit of elbow grease to generate steam, which owners barely mention, but it's otherwise extremely maneuverable and easy to use. The Shark steam mop includes a flask for filling the tank -- and the manufacturer recommends you do so with distilled, not tap water. As with all steam mops, we see a few durability complaints about the Shark Steam Pocket. Some say it didn't work or the tank leaked right out of the box. However, Shark gets great reviews for its responsive customer service.

For heavier-duty cleaning or bigger homes where you might need longer-lasting steam, we recommend the Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System S5003D (Est. $120). It's almost identical to our Best Reviewed spray mop/steam mop combo, the Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System S6002 (Est. $130), which we cover in our discussion of the Best Steam Vacuums elsewhere in this report. However, it does not convert to a spray mop as the S6002 does, and the S5003D has three steam settings as opposed to the S6002's one setting.

At Wirecutter where Kevin Purdy tests the S6002, he recommends the Shark Genius S5003D as an upgrade for bigger steaming jobs if you don't need the spray mop option. Owners give it very good ratings too, saying it's easy to use and they love that "flippable" pad technology. Again, the main complaint we see about this steam mop -- and all Shark steam mops -- is that it does not stand up by itself and you have to lean it against a wall.

Elsewhere In This Report
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Steam Mops buying guide

What every best Steam Mops has:

  • A large water tank.
  • An easy-fill design.
  • Variable steam control.

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