We review 13 steam mops (nine stick and three canister models), priced from $49 to $299.
Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which steam mops:
Take a look at Brands and models tested, and How we test for more information.
Steam mops are one of the most viewed products on our website and one of the most requested tests from members, so we thought it was high time we took at the latest models.
Steam mops claim to make cleaning grimy floors (and other surfaces) easy and chemical free, using the power of steam to shift the stubborn dirt. Some claim that their steam also helps kill bacteria and mites. They’re suitable for most hard floors, including vinyl, tiles and sealed timber.
All the tested models are very good at their main purpose - the general cleaning of hard floors. For stain removal they're all OK - all handle a soy sauce stain well, while mustard stains have poor removal scores. Stain removal success can depend on the flooring you have – some stains will soak more easily into some types of floors over others – as we discovered in our recent test. Even though we used vinyl flooring for this test, because it was different to that used in our last test, these results aren’t comparable to previously tested models.
Like vacuum cleaners, steam mops come in stick and canister forms, but they don’t have suction power; if you need to clean up large amounts of spilled liquids, you’ll need a conventional mop or a wet and dry vacuum cleaner.
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Video: Steam mops review
CHOICE takes a comic look at the humble steam mop and asks, are they really all things to all people?
For more information on Floors and surfaces, see Laundry and cleaning.
Bear in mind
Steam mops are suitable for most hard floors, including vinyl, ceramic tiles, linoleum, marble, stone and sealed timber, however they can damage the surfaces of cork tiles or unsealed/waxed timber. It's usually worth testing them in an inconspicuous spot to make sure they won't harm the floor material.
Most claim to rejuvenate carpet and upholstery, and while we found they do refresh the carpet’s appearance, they don’t actually clean it. Also, since steam mops don’t have suction power like vacuum cleaners, if you need to clean up large amounts of spilled liquids you’ll still need a conventional mop.
Don't leave the mop standing (while on) in one place for too long. The build up of heat and steam could damage the floor. It's usually OK to do this sparingly to clean particularly grubby spots, but be careful.
The Karcher SC3.000 is the only canister model in this test. The Karcher and Thane (from Danoz Direct) come with extra attachments like a hand-held tool and jet nozzle, so we subjected them to extra testing. The Karcher performs its extra functions well and is slightly better at these tasks than the Thane, so if you’re after a steam mop with these extra attachments the Karcher is worth considering. The Thane even works as a garment steamer, however we found it to produce too much steam for this task, leaving the garments wet.
Our tester assessed how much residual water was left on the floor after cleaning and most of the steam mops were very good, leaving very little water behind, however, the Thane, Hoover and Kenwood left a fair bit of water behind on the floor.
Brands and models tested
- Airflo Easy Steam AFS102
- Aqua Lazer Steam Mop ALM_R
- Bissell Healthy Home Steam Mop Max 1957-F
- Home Hero Steam Mop BS290 (12100065)
- Hoover Enhanced Clean Disinfecting Steam Mop HSTM1500
- Karcher SC3.000
- Kenwood Ariete Steam Mop SC4160
- Monster EZ1
- OptimPlus Steam Clean SC263 (12100069)
- Piranha Steam Mop 900121 JJB-603
- Shark S3501NZ
- Thane H2O Mop X5 (A)
- Vax Steam Hard Floor Master VSTM1500
(A) From Danoz Direct
How we test
Performance Our tester, Peter Horvath, applies six different household substances – mustard, coffee, red wine, soy sauce, tomato sauce and black shoe polish – to vinyl floor tiles in a set pattern. The tiles are dried overnight. Any easily removable residue is wiped off, by hand, using sponges and water. This leaves hard, dried residue which Peter then tackles with the steam mops. After cleaning the tiles as much as possible with each mop, he assesses how much visible matter or staining is left and scores the results.
Where models have other functions or tools, such as for cleaning tile grouting or sweeping floors, Peter tests these too. He tested the Karcher canister model and Thane (from Danoz Direct) with their additional tools (jet tool, nylon brush etc.).
Ease of use Peter assesses each mop for moving the mop head over the floor, using the controls, how wet it leaves the floor and ease of filling the water tank.
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