Steam cleaning is really taking hold of the market, and for good reason. Steam mops are a faster way of cleaning your floors than using a traditional mop and bucket, and they actually clean your floors more effectively.
However, I know from experience there are some of you out there who are a little sceptical about this method of cleaning, so below I’ve compiled a buying guide so you can decide if a steam mop is right for you.
How They Work
It’s a very simple system when you think about it. All a steam mop needs to do is heat water so it turns into steam. This is then passed through the mop head on to your floors.
This allows you to get up stains that are difficult to remove without all that scrubbing, and best of all they help sanitize your floors (and indirectly the air you breathe) by killing off many forms of bacteria that can be a potential hazard.
Many steam mops can only be used for your hard floor surfaces, but lots of them will deal with various materials such as linoleum, ceramic tile, hard wood and laminate (to name but a few). However, if you’re prepared to spend a little extra there are models that come with various attachments so you can tackle areas like countertops, grout and various other crevices where dirt can hide.
You should make sure the size of the mop head included will meet the requirements for the area you have. Too small, and it will take you longer, too large and you’ll have trouble getting close to the edges or into corners.
This is something that constantly irritates me when using a traditional mop and bucket because I have to make sure I leave enough time for the floor to dry. When you have a busy household like mine, this limits when you can clean your floors. For example, I NEVER used to mop my floors just before the kids were due back from school, or when the dog was due back from his walk. Shouting at children and animals to stay off the floors isn’t very pleasant for them or me!
With a steam mop, drying time is greatly reduced. However, if you have particularly difficult stains to remove, most models will need you to hold the mop head over that area for a while. When this happens, you may find the steam turns back into water leaving some residue behind.
Ease of Use
Most steam mops are incredibly easy to use. All you need to do is fill the reservoir with water, turn it on and wait for the steam to be produced. They’re also a lot more lightweight than traditional mops and eliminate the need to lug around a bucket of water. When you use a steam mop, you won’t need as much elbow grease either, they simply glide across the surface rather than you having to “scrub” the floor. I happen to think this is great not just for people who want to save time, but also for those of you that find it hard to get around.
Now this is something that puts a lot of people off using a steam mop, but if you read the care manual properly, maintenance can be as easy as steaming your floors. Lots of steam mops come with at least two mop pads but they have to be looked after. Of course, they will eventually need replacing, but you must make sure you wash them immediately after use (especially after a heavy cleaning job), or at least rinse them and make sure they’re properly dried. If you don’t, mildew can set in which is one of the biggest reasons people have to replace them so often.
Safety and Storage
This all depends on how much you want to spend. Some manufacturers produce steam mops that have their own “holding” mat. This means you don’t have to wait for it to cool down and it protects the surface you store it on. Of course, you are dealing with steam which is very hot so I would advise that you read the manual carefully before using your chosen steam mop. They’re also generally less bulky than a traditional mop, and won’t take up much space in your laundry room. Plus, you have the added benefit of being able to do away with that bucket!
Steam mops are not for everyone. Some people get a sense of satisfaction out of working hard when they’re cleaning, but for those of you that are looking for a more effective and eco-friendly way of cleaning that also sanitizes a steam mop is definitely worth considering.