So What is The Difference Between a Steam Mop and a Steam Cleaner?

Before we start, it is good to note that many people think that Steam Cleaners are available as vacuum cleaners that also use steam to do cleaning. This is not really so. Steam cleaners designed specifically for carpet cleaning generally use hot water and detergent. To find out more about this misrepresentation, you can read my other review (steam cleaners – the dirty little secret).

In this article we will be reviewing only those machines that use REAL STEAM. This would include hand held steam cleaners and steam mops.

Steam Mops work with steam and are excellent at sanitizing floors in the kitchen and bathroom and other soiled areas that may be harboring bacteria and germs. Other steam cleaners (not carpet steam cleaners) are of the hand-held variety. This may come in the form of an attachment to an HAAN si35 Steam Mopmcculloch mc-1275 steam cleanerSteamfast sf-226 handheld steam cleanerupright steam mop, a canister steam cleaner and even a small hand held container with a spout.



Why Should You Get A Steam Mop?

1. Bugs: One BIG reason to own a steam mop is to use a natural method to sanitize your home. By using steam, you can effectively destroy all types of bacteria, germs, mites and bed bugs without resorting to toxic chemical cleaners. Bed bugs die at 115º so be sure to get a product with adequate heat.

2. Convenience: You can use a regular mop in detergent with a wringer attachment on a pail and shlep that all over the place, but it is much simpler, cleaner and more effective with a steam mop.

3. Easy-To-Use: Ever try to clean drapes and other window coverings. It is a huge pain! By using the attachments that come with some steam mops, you simply wave the steam over the dirty areas, and – voila…sanitized, cleaned and wrinkle-free fabrics at the same time.

4. Got allergies? Steam clean your home and you’ll help remove many of the dust mites, mold, spores and other allergy causing particles floating around.

5. Hate Cleaning Bathrooms? Who doesn’t? If you have young boys around, going to the bathroom is always hit and miss – mostly miss. With a steam mop, you can quickly eradicate the dried floor stains, sanitize in and around toilet seats, kill shower mold and remove some of the gunk from grouting between tiles.

How Does A Steam Mop Work?

Steam mops have a canister or container that you fill with water. This water is brought to a boil and the resulting steam is forced out the bottom. By covering the head of the steam mop with a microfiber cloth (or cotton), you can pass the head of the mop over the dirty areas and the steam does the real dirty work by loosening up caked-on stains, grease and other unsightly dirt. Once the dirt is loosened up, the cloth easily removes any filth. And the cloths are washable.

Some steam mops come with different heat output depending on the brand. Since the temperature can rise as high as 240º you will want to be careful on surfaces that can be damaged by excessive heat.

Where Should A Steam Mop Be Used?

Steam mops can be used on many types of surfaces.
Wood, carpet, granite, marble, linoleum, parquetry and some laminates.

Since there are many different types of steam mops with different temperature outputs, the best thing to do is check the instructions that come with your unit to make sure that the area you are cleaning can withstand the high temperature of steam. This is especially true of unsealed wood floors which may rise with too much heat and waxed floors, which the steam will melt into a mess!

What Should I Look For In A Steam Mop?

The key things to consider are:
1. The Steam Mop’s Maximum Temperature.

If the temperature is too low, it will take longer to clean tough areas. And sanitization  may be incomplete. Look for temperatures between 200º and 240º.

2. How Long It Takes To Heat Up.

You don’t want to wait too long for your mop to be effective. Look for units that can heat up in a reasonable time – around 3 – 7 min.

3. Accessories

Not a must, but good to have. Some steam mops come as a system and include the necessary attachments to do upholstery, drapes, beds, windows and other off-the-floor- areas.

4. Tank Capacity.

The more capacity, the less often you will have to refill and wait for the unit to be ready. However, the more water it holds, the heavier your mop will weigh.

5. The Length of the Power Cord

The length of the cord will determine how many rooms you can work in at the same time. Something to consider is a staircase. Always plug in where you want to end up after you finish. Otherwise you may have to wait for the floor to fully dry before walking up or down. (Especially if you’re doing a steam treatment on carpeted stairs).

6. Continuous Steaming

Nothing is more annoying than having to constantly keep pumping steam out by hand. Especially if you are suffering from arthritis! Go for a steam mop that continuously emits steam.

7. Side To Side Steam Vents

Don’t settle for a steam mop with only one hole to vent the steam. It is better to spread the steam across the head of the mop so as to get as much area cleaned in one pass as possible.

8. Weight

Average weight without water should be around 5-7lbs.

9. Floor-Protector Pad – Washable Microfiber Pads – Gliding Tray

You will want to use the floor protector pad on certain wood floors to help prevent streaking. Microfiber pads do a great job of cleaning and a Gliding tray is a must for navigating carpets easily when doing some spot cleaning.

10. Water Heating Tank That Is In The Head Of The Mop

There is an advantage to having the heating element in the water tank at the head of the mop instead of riding somewhere on the handle. If the water is being heated further from the head, the steam cools down by the time it reaches the head and openings. This is not as powerful as when the head unit itself is heating and emitting steam. Also, the tubing will eventually get clogged with mineral deposits making it more difficult to keep clean.


Remember that some steam mops may not work as well as planned the first go-around. It seems some models need to go through a wear-in period. Give it a try 2-3 times and all should be as you expect.

Don’t forget that a steam mop is not your total solution to cleaning. You must still vacuum the floor first!


When It Comes To Steam Mops – Our Top Picks include

Eureka Envirosteamer 313a Steam CleanerThe Eureka Envirosteamer – 313A- Floor steamer for use on hard floors and surfaces
- Cleans and sanitizes with no chemicals
- 6-1/2 amps of power
- Indicator light for water levels
- Preheating/cool-down tray for safety
- Adjustable-height handle
- 12-1/2-inch cleaning head; lightweight design; cloth clip
- Measuring cup, funnel, and 2 steam pads included
- Measures 7 by 12-1/2 by 49 inches; 1-year limited warranty

HAAN steam mop systemThe Haan Deluxe Total System – For all sealed hard floor surfaces
- Uses regular tap water
- Plus version comes with a sanitizing tray attachment for carpeted areas
- Heats up in less than 3 minutes
- Produces up to 20 minutes of steam per refill
- Includes 2 super-absorbent, multilayer Ultra-Microfiber cleaning pads that are  washable and reusable
- Model FS20+ Dimensions:  50-1/2 by 11-1/2 by 7-1/2 inches (HxWxD) fully extended
- Weighs 3.15 pounds
- Warranty – 1 yr.
- Model HS20 includes full assortment of useful accessories including a garment steamer and window cleaner
- HS20 Dimensions: 8-4/5 by 5-1/5 by 8-1/2 inches

Check Out These Other Top Choices

Some of the Steam Mops & Steam Cleaners shown here are
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