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What Does a Steam Mop Do? Ultimate Steam Mop Guide 

 April 2, 2021

By  Jeanette Giselle

What does a steam mop do? Steam cleaners are great tools to have in your supply closet!

In this post you will all that a steam mop can do plus get some great recommendations to the top models available.

In an effort to be transparent, this blog uses affiliates links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases. So heads up, there may be some in this post!


What does a steam mop do?

Steam mops use the water you put into their tank to heat up at high temperatures, and once it’s ready (which doesn’t take long at all), it releases steam either onto a mop pad or directly out from one of its tools.  The steam is meant to get deep down in the dirt and break it up, which it does flawlessly.

With a steam mop, you are lifting up dirt and wiping it away all at once, leaving your floors and once dirty surfaces sparkling clean like the day you got them.

A steam mop utilizes the sanitizing powers of steam to clean surfaces, which not only means that the water stays consistently hot, but it’s also killing germs and bacteria as it goes.

Using steam instead of water ensures that no leakage gets down into your floors surfaces and starts to ruin them. 

Many of these modern devices come with tools and accessories that get into even the hardest to reach places and don’t require the dreaded scrubbing by hand method.

With the high temperature of the steam, even the yuckiest grime and dirt will fall right off. 

Your floors will dry quicker, be shinier, and most importantly, your precious time will be saved. 

PRO TIP: Pair your favorite steam cleaner with a steam solution for the best results. The best rated cleaning solution on Amazon is the Bissell Spring Breeze Demineralized Water.

What are the benefits of a steam mop?

The fact that a steam mop uses steam at such high temperatures allows for it to kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs as it goes about cleaning.

You never need to worry about using harsh chemicals with a steam mop, which is great for furry friends or babies who may be crawling about.

While you’re cleaning up the mess, you’re also sanitizing and inadvertently killing odors which lingering bacteria is often the culprit for.

It works across multiple surfaces from floors to upholstery to linens to exteriors, like windows, grills, and cars.

It blasts away dirt, grime, grease, stains, and even mold.

Do Steam Mops Really Sanitize?

Yes. Cleaning with steam is a powerful alternative to chemical cleaners which can leave behind unwanted effects on health and the environment. Heat and steam kill bacteria and that is exactly how steam mops work. 

Is steaming floors better than mopping?

Anybody who has mopped the traditional way would agree that after using a steam mop, there is no turning back. 

Not only is steam better for your surfaces than water (you’re not getting leakage into any crevices that may begin to buckle or warp when water is introduced), but it also sanitizes as it’s working it’s magic. 

It’s easy to use, easy to clean, easy to store and with the modern steam mop coming included with so many versatile tools for every need, you will never need to experience the mess that comes with a mop and bucket ever again.

IN A RUSH? The Best Overall Steam Mop is the Bissell PowerFresh Slim. Check out the product page here or see the full review below!

What to Look for in a Steam Mop

When searching for the perfect steam mop, there are some important things to consider that will help you decide on your best match:

Accessories

Most modern steam mops come with accessories, but some feature more than others. If what you’re looking for is a steam mop with a wide range of gadgets, check out the Bissell PowerFresh Slim. It’s rated my best overall and has tools that will clean anything from grout to upholstery to pet beds.

Versatility

Looking for something that goes inside, outside, and everywhere in between? Check out the Bissell Power Steamer 3 in 1. People love it for it’s deep and powerful clean both on and off the floors, and inside and outside of the home. If you want a 3-in-1 heavy hitter, this is it.

Budget

If you want to make the most of your money, and aren’t in dire need of anything overly powerful but that still leaves your space feeling fresh, take a look at the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop.
It delivers on price but also on effectiveness, and has nearly 30,000 happy customers on Amazon who agree.

Tank Capacity

When you need a machine that goes that extra mile and can hold a ton of water in its canister, you need the McCulloch Deluxe Steam Cleaner. Perfect for greater reach, longevity, and getting multiple spaces clean all in one go around.

It doesn’t hurt that it comes with a ton of accessories as well, so you can rest assured you are covered for the duration of your clean!

The Best Steam Mops:

  1. Best Overall: The Bissell PowerFresh Slim
  2. Best Multi-Functional: Bissell Heavy Duty
  3. Best Budget: Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop
  4. Best Canister: McCulloch Deluxe Steam Cleaner

Compare them all here or keep reading for individual reviews.

Best Overall: The Bissell PowerFresh Slim

Here we have a 3 in 1 mop. You can truly have it all. It functions as a floor steam mop, an extended reach steam cleaner, and a handheld for your every need.

It features an extra long power cord and 9 different tools and accessories, such as a grout tool, angle tool, flat scrapper tool, and a bristle scrub brush. 

It has a ton of functions, like being able to mop on floors made of materials like laminate and hardwood to cleaning multiple areas of your home from grout to the shower to upholstery.

You name it; the versatility here is unmatched.

Highlighted Features
  • Every BISSELL purchase helps save pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Powerful handheld steam cleaner and steam mop in one
  • Clean and sanitize sealed hard floors without the use of harsh chemicals; eliminate 99. 9 percent of germs and bacteria with the natural power of steam
  • Superior clean above floors with the extension tube and extra-long 25 ft power cord to reach those difficult areas in your home
  • On board storage kit allows you to carry tools while you steam clean - grout tool, angle tool, flat scrapper tool, bristle scrub brush
  • Bonus tools: Flat surface tool with mop pad, clothing steamer tool, bristle scrub brush for above floor multi surface cleaning. All tools can be attached to end of handheld steamer or extension tube

Best Multi-Functional: Bissell Power Steamer 3 in 1

If you’re in the market for a heavy duty, 3 in 1 machine that functions across multiple modes and surfaces, then this is your best bet.

This upright steam cleaner transforms into an extended reacher as well as a handheld.

The best part is that it works seamlessly indoors and outdoors. It’s powerful temperatures and variable steam modes allow it to be used in so many different ways.

A nice touch is the on-demand trigger that lets you control the amount of steam being released.

It boasts 29 accessories such as a grout tool, a fabric cleaner, fabric cloth and a wall mount for easy storage.

It’s useful for both interior and exterior car cleaning, as well as home and patio use!

This gives you a deep clean both in and out of the house so you’re not limited to indoors only and is great for so many surfaces from the grout in your bathroom to the grill in your backyard.

Highlighted Features
  • Powerful, high-temperature steam to blast away dirt, grime, grease, stains, and mold across a wide variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces. For use in garage and workshop areas; Interior and exterior of auto's, boats, ATV's, and recreational vehicles; windows; outdoor patio furniture and decks; And all sealed hard floor surfaces.
  • 3-in-1 heavy-duty multi-purpose steam cleaner. The upright steam cleaner transforms into both an extended reach steam cleaner and a handheld steam cleaner.
  • Chemical-free cleaning. Sanitize with the power of steam, eliminate 99. 9% of germs and bacteria.
  • Variable steam modes and on-demand trigger allows you to control the intensity and amount of steam being released
  • Convenient storage with wall mount for easy and convenient storage.
  • On-board accessory storage carries accessories with you as you clean.
  • Includes 29 accessories to tacking indoor and outdoor tough messes that can be used on both the extended reach steam cleaner and the handheld steam cleaner.

Best Budget: Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop

Sometimes you don’t need any extra fluff, and just want something that does a good job well done.

This is the perfect well-rounded steam mop, according to tons of happy customers on Amazon.

A highly rated steam mop, it features a 23ft power cord that is heated and ready to go in 30 seconds.

It lets you choose the right amount of steam for your floors with high, medium, and low settings – perfect for surfaces that require a bit more delicacy like vinyl.

Use the flip down easy scrubber for added grip on tough stains and watch as you are delighted by the specially featured insert fragrance discs that are added for a scent boost during cleaning!

Highlighted Features
  • Clean and sanitize sealed hard floors without the use of harsh chemicals; Eliminates 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria with the natural power of steam
  • Power through tough, sticky messes with the flip down easy scrubber
  • Choose from high, medium, or low steam based on your cleaning needs with the smart set digital steam control
  • Features swivel steering and a 23 foot power cord. Ready to use in 30 seconds
  • Includes: (1) microfiber soft pad, (1) microfiber scrubby pad, (2) spring breeze fragrance discs, and a carpet glider. Power rating: 1500 watts
  • Packaging graphics may vary
  • Easy Scrubber flips down and reaches down to the grout and crevices.
  • SmartSet Steam Control for light cleaning to heavy messes.
  • Spring Breeze fragrance discs insert in the mop pad for a fresh, clean scent while you steam mop.
  • Removable water tank you can easily fill at the sink.
  • Low-profile mop head cleans into corners and edges.

Best Canister: McCulloch Deluxe Steam Cleaner

If you need power, stamina, and a machine that holds a TON of water (64 oz that is heated in less than 12 minutes, to be exact), look no further.

Featuring an 18ft power cord and a 10ft steam hose, this steam cleaner is great for reaching those tough spots and crevices.

It has 23 accessories that come in handy for any job you may need it for around the house. The wheels and handle means you can move it around easily.

It has an option for continuous steam, 4 bar pressure, and on-demand variable steam control.

Clean grout, windows, and grimy crevices with ease, and watch the dirt fall off within seconds. No more “spray and wipe methods of cleaning.”

This is well made and worth the investment, as it comes with an attachment for nearly anything you might need to clean.

This product boasts superior support which means that if you’re not totally satisfied, they will replace it for up to 2 years, so you can invest in this machine guilt-free.

Highlighted Features
  • CHEMICAL-FREE CLEANING — Naturally deep clean and sanitize without the use of harsh chemicals using hot, pressured steam to eliminate grease, grime, and stains from a wide range of surfaces including ceramic tile, grout, granite, sealed wood flooring, laminate, appliances, grills, autos, and more.
  • SANITIZE WITH STEAM— With proper application, steam sanitizes by removing germs and bacteria.
  • 23 VERSATILE ACCESSORIES — Equipped for steam cleaning jobs in and around your home including a floor mop, mop pads, nylon brushes, brass brush, angled nozzle, scrub pad, scraper, squeegee, and more. Conveniently store accessories on-board or in included storage bag.
  • LARGE CAPACITY TANK — The 64-ounce water tank heats up in under 12 minutes and provides up to 120 minutes of steam. Blast away dirt and grime with on-demand variable steam control, optional steam lock for continuous steam, and 4 bar (58 PSI) pressure.
  • GREATER REACH — Extra-long 18-foot power cord and 10-foot steam hose provide added maneuverability and reach for those hard to get to places.
  • SUPERIOR SUPPORT — When you choose a McCulloch product, you’re investing in superior performance and design that will deliver total satisfaction. If not, we’ll replace it, for 2 years. Supported by a customer service team based in Andover, KS.
  • Built to meet U.S. voltage requirements. Certified, safety-tested, and warrantied for use only in the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions

What floors can you use a steam mop on?

Steam mops are safe on most hard floors. Check out the recommendations on the specific steam mop you purchase.

If used on the lowest setting, it’s safe enough for most floors. But if you’re looking for my most gentle recommendation, that’s going to be the Bissell PowerFresh.

Can you put disinfectant in a steam mop?

No. It’s best to use the solutions that are recommended and provided by the manufacturer. The great thing about steam mops is that they don’t use harsh chemicals to disinfect and clean. 

Adding extra cleaners or chemicals into your steam mop can damage and corrode the interior of the machine and cause it to malfunction.

Check out the details for the specific steam mop you decide on and go from there.

So, what does a steam mop do?

Steam mops are simple to use – much simpler than a regular old mop and bucket. Just fill the water tank, plug it in, and start steaming! 

High temperatures clean and sanitize just about anything; even bacteria and viruses.

With these modern machines featuring so many multi functional tools (like my favorite, The Bissell Powerfresh Slim), you have so much versatility without the mess. 

  • Every BISSELL purchase helps save pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Powerful handheld steam cleaner and steam mop in one
  • Clean and sanitize sealed hard floors without the use of harsh chemicals; eliminate 99. 9 percent of germs and bacteria with the natural power of steam
  • Superior clean above floors with the extension tube and extra-long 25 ft power cord to reach those difficult areas in your home
  • On board storage kit allows you to carry tools while you steam clean - grout tool, angle tool, flat scrapper tool, bristle scrub brush
  • Bonus tools: Flat surface tool with mop pad, clothing steamer tool, bristle scrub brush for above floor multi surface cleaning. All tools can be attached to end of handheld steamer or extension tube

Jeanette Giselle


Jeanette is a mom of three kids and full time entrepreneur. She is a certified Professional House Cleaner by the AHCA. It is her passion to help overwhelmed mothers simplify their home duties so that they can spend their time doing the things they love. 

Jeanette Giselle

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