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How we test steam mops

Steam mops are put through the wringer in our rigorous tests.

steam mop on tiles

Our steam mop reviews are now among the most popular on our website – who'd have thought! There are countless models on the market, ranging from $500 machines with multiple attachments to basic $50 models. So how do we find out how well they are to use?

Our expert testers

Our expert testers review a wide range of products – from espresso machines and irons to tents, lawn mowers and tyre pressure gauges. 

How we choose what we test

Our market researchers find out what the most popular brands are on the market. They'll survey manufacturers about their latest models, and ask them whether they'll stick around beyond publication time. Sometimes we're lucky enough to be able to buy a steam mop ahead of its general release.

Steam mops come in barrel/canister form as well as the more typical stick type and we define both types as being steam mops (steam mops can sometimes be referred to as steam cleaners or steam systems). Steam cleaners that have suction abilities are not part of this category.

How we test steam mops

Our standard steam mop test includes an ease of use assessment and a floor wetness test.

Floor wetness

One problem members frequently report is excessive wetness on the floor after mopping. Steam mops should leave as little water residue as possible to minimise hazards and speed up drying time. Our testers assess how much residual water is left on the floor and give each steam mop a rating – the less water, the higher the floor wetness score.

A bit about grout

A lot of you have asked us how well steam mops clean grout. In the past, we prepared a tiled surface and stained it with cola and tea. All of the steam mops we tested did a poor job of removing grout stains, and we don't recommend them for this purpose.

If you're really keen on using a steam mop to work on grout stains, we tested handheld accessories separately in a home bathroom (if supplied), and found there may be some improvement with grout discolouration when using attachments such as a nylon brush.

Ease of use assessment

These checks include:

  • Ease of filling the tank
  • Ease of moving the mop head on the floor, and whether or not it gets tiring
  • Ease of using and accessing the controls
  • Ease of attaching mop pad
  • Steam mop reach score (the distance between the power point and the tip of the steam head, which also includes the hose and the wand)

Reliability survey

We've asked steam mop owners how satisfied they are with their purchases, and whether they've run into problems with them in the past year. We've highlighted these results in our report, categorised by brand, to help you find out not only whether a steam mop is likely to last the distance, but how happy it'll make you, too.

We've also run a pilot test on steam mops, to check whether they last at least a small distance (30 runs). All three price categories passed, from the $50 sample up to the $599. If they're going to fail, we found our three samples weren't going to do it in the short term.

What about stain removal?

While we've tested stain removal in the past, we've removed our stain removal test since all the steam mops remove stains fairly well, wth marginal differences, and tiles tend to be sprayed with an anti-stain repellent these days.

Test criteria explained

Ease of use is 80% (out of all the ease of use criteria, the ease of moving the mop head on the floor makes up 50%). Floor wetness makes up the remaining 20%.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.