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Steam mop buying guide: How to find the best one for you

Everything you need to know about the best steam mops, including what to use and what not to use on wooden floors

Steam mops are becoming increasingly popular everywhere right now as they offer convenience and an easy cleaning alternative to lugging a bucket around with you. But do these bucketless mops really perform as well as they’re advertised to? Is every steam mop suitable for every surface? And, can this new-wave invention really replace the centuries-old mop and bucket classic? Let’s probe further to find out the facts.


How to decide which steam mop is best for you

With such a vast array of styles and brands on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start looking. In order to determine which steam mop is best suited to your needs, you’ll need to ask yourself a couple of key questions:

  • What surface will you regularly use your steam mop on? Wood, lino, tiles?
  • What’s your budget?

There are several things that you’ll need to consider before deciding which steam mop is best for you. We’ll take you through all of the priority factors and make some researched suggestions to help you decide!


Best steam mops for...

Steam mops are designed differently for different surfaces, so let’s break these down into the top queried categories.

Hardwood floors

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Steam mops can damage the surface of waxed timber. Some manufacturers of hardwood flooring express concerns that the steam is forced between the boards and cracks in the surface, which can cause them to expand. Problems such as buckling and cupping (raised board edges to you and me) and shortened life of protective finishes could occur over time. Always ensure you read your flooring manufacturer's warranty to see whether it states that steam mops should not be used.

Steam mopping hardwood floors does have its advantages, though. It can remove more than just surface dirt. Steaming can banish footprints, stains and even the most determined dirt from your floor. With the right product, you’ll brighten the finish of your wood floors and restore them to their original pristine condition, without the elbow grease.

After extensive research, we believe the best steam mop for hardwood floors is the O-Cedar Microfibre Steam Mop. It’s perfect for hardwood floors as it features a cushioned, microfibre pad and a triangular mop head. It also has an attachment for spot cleaning carpets – bonus. It’s sturdy in its build, offers a lengthy warranty and has fabulous versatility. It’s also lightweight and easy to use.

Pros include:

  • It heats water from room temperature to steam in 20 seconds.
  • It’s extremely lightweight at only 5 pounds, which means it can hold more water without being too heavy.
  • Its tank holds 400ml of water and comes with a filling cup so you can measure out water beforehand.
  • The triangular mop head fits into corners with ease and it can swivel 360 degrees, for maximum movability.
  • Its special snap-on carpet attachment gives it runners like a sled, enabling the steam mop to glide along carpets.
  • The pads are cushioned microfibre, which both protect and polish your hardwood floors.
  • With its consistent steam production, the O-Cedar is tested to kill 99.9% of bacteria on contact without the addition of chemicals.
  • There’s a simple on/off switch for steam.
  • The steam level is adjustable so that you can get it to a level that suits your flooring. There are three settings, from low steam for a quick whip-round to full blast for removing stuck-on spots and grime. The adjuster allows you to switch settings on the go, so you won’t need to stop and start.
  • It’s inexpensive but still comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty.

Tile floors

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When it comes to tiled flooring, not just any mop will do. Many of the steam mops on the market leave streaks, some of them simply don’t work and others aren’t up to the job of eradicating the dirt from the grouting between your tiles. It’s also worth pointing out that if you have deep grout, ensure not to inject too much steam as this can leave water at the bottom of the cracks and residual moisture can cause mold

After some more extensive research, we’ve concluded that the best steam mop on the market for tiled floors at present is the Black & Decker Smart Select Steam Mop. It comes highly recommended for its effectiveness on tough grime. It’s versatile and comes with a range of features to make cleaning all sealed floors a breeze. It also has a large tank to help you get it around your house without the need to stop and refill.

Pros include:

  • Its pressurised steam makes it more efficient, saving both time and water.
  • The extra-hot steam instantly kills any bacteria or mold on your flooring which is particularly handy on tile floors with deep grouting.
  • The tank heats up quickly – in just 15 seconds – and the resulting steam is practically invincible when it comes to dirt.
  • It has a large water tank with 450ml capacity, which enables you to get further through your house without the need to refill the tank.
  • The microfibre pads are machine-washable and reusable.
  • It has a swivel head making it great for getting around furniture and awkward areas with ease.
  • For further peace of mind, the SmartSelect comes with a two-year warranty.

Laminate floors

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Laminate flooring is fast increasing in its popularity throughout homes in Australia. Steam mops can save your back, and your knees, while keeping your laminate floors clean and sanitary. With the seemingly limitless options available on the market right now, knowing which mop is the best steam mop for laminate floors can be difficult to determine.

We’d recommend the Bissell Select Steam Mop. It features a triangular mop head that is easy to manoeuvre around and under furniture to eradicate unwanted dirt, dust and grime from your home. It’s also lightweight, and very easy to use.

The pros include:

  • The model is lightweight, which makes it easy to move, carry and store.
  • The triangular mop head allows quick, effortless cleaning under furniture, around corners and even in those pesky hard-to-reach areas.
  • There is no need for chemicals, just clean water.
  • It’s quick to heat up too; within 30 seconds you’ll be off.
  • Two reusable microfibre mop pads are included with each mop; one is designed for everyday cleaning and the other for heavy duty, stubborn stains.

Out there

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We’ve taken you through the best steam mops for different flooring, so now let’s look into which is the best steam mop – ever. Versatility is key because to be the best it will need to perform, and perform well, on any surface.

After some very thorough research, we’ve concluded that the Bissell PowerFresh Lift Off Steam Mop takes the cake. This steam mop is able to banish just about any stain with minimal passes as it produces just the right amount of hot steam. Competing units produce too much moisture and leave an abundance of water in their wake. Others produce too little steam and require physical force to remove the stains. The PowerFresh model produces just the right amount, every time, and powers through even the toughest stuck-on stain. It is also incredibly easy to assemble and use.

Pros include:

  • It eliminates 99.9% of germs and bacteria using only water and the washable pad for a natural non-chemical clean.
  • Fragrance discs can be used in conjunction with the mop to leave a refreshing scent as you clean.
  • The flip-down EasyScrubber on the back of the mop head makes removing tough, sticky messes even easier.
  • It has a low profile swivel head to get to hard-to-reach areas like corners and crevices effortlessly, for a thorough clean.
  • It has Easy Touch digital controls which allow you to manage and adjust the steam output using the three-step (HI/MED/LO) Digital Touch Control panel.
  • It has accessories galore including two washable and reusable microfibre pads, water cup, carpet glider, fragrance discs, extension hose, window squeegee, flat surface tool, brass bristle brush, fabric steam tool, multi-purpose brush, kitchen brushes, angled connector, grout brush and a flat scraping tool.
  • This product also comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty which protects you against manufacturer faults.

Additional features worth looking out for when choosing your steam mop

If you’re looking to add a steam mop to your home, then it would be worth watching out for some of the handy features outlined below.

  • Power cord

Make sure that this is long enough to suit your space.

  • Water tank

Check whether the water tank can be refilled while cleaning, because if you have to let it cool down before you refill it, it’s hardly time-efficient.

  • Cleaning pads

Cleaning pad are most commonly microfibre, as they catch and remove the dirt. Some models come with more than one pad which is great for changing during an extensive spring clean, or beneficial if one is in the wash when you need to steam clean.

  • Carpet glider

The carpet glider is an attachment that allows you to use the mop on carpet. This is great for refreshing carpet and spot cleaning.

  • Pad rest

Pad rests are handy for sitting the mop on if you need to take a quick break during cleaning. It allows the mop to sit in one place for a while without the risk of it damaging the floor.

  • A telescopic wand

A telescopic wand allows you to adjust the wand to suit your height and reduces the need to bend your back.

  • Accessories

Tools such as a jet nozzle or brush can be handy for cleaning grout, shower cubicles and other areas, extending the versatility of your steam cleaner.

  • Steam-ready indicator

It's useful to have a feature that indicates when the steam generator has heated up and is ready for use.

  • Heat-up time

Pay attention to the advertised heat-up time as this can range from 20 seconds to several minutes.


Are steam mops worth it?

Steam mops are less bulky than the household classic mop and bucket. They’re easier to store, clean more intensely and efficiently, and all of this with minimal or little effort, and best of all – zero chemicals. In conclusion, we’d definitely say so.

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Clare Cribbin

Clare works as the assistant publisher in the shopping team here at finder.com.au. Whether you're after the best fashion deals, promo codes for your favourite store or just wanting to know what to buy your brother for his birthday, she has all the knowledge.

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