Best and Worst Steam Mops From Consumer Reports' Tests

We unveil which models give floors a good cleaning—and which don't

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Steam mop and dust cloud illustration Illustration: Lacey Browne/Consumer Reports, iStock

Don’t underestimate the power of a steam mop. This cleaning tool provides a faster, more convenient way to scrub tile than an ordinary squeeze mop. You just press a button to heat water from a refillable tank to create steam and move the mop over your floor. Afterward, the steam evaporates quickly, leaving you with streak-free, dry floors. But not all steam mops do a good job of cleaning floors.

So which steam mop is right for your home? We tested 10 models in our labs to find the winners—and losers—that are in stores.

To test how well a steam mop cleans, CR’s engineers apply three condiments that stain—ketchup, mustard, and jam—on 12x12-inch ceramic tiles. After it dries, we take photos, then a machine pushes the steam mop over each tile in 10 even back-and-forth strokes. We use photo-imaging software to compare before-and-after images to see precisely how much soil was removed.

For comparison, we repeat our tests using an ordinary squeeze mop and hot tap water. The low-tech squeeze mop cleans our floors better than all the steam mops we’ve tested. But you need a bucket of hot water, and you have to squeeze out the sponge periodically, which may be unappealing.

Below, you can read reviews of four of the top steam mops from our tests, listed in alphabetical order—plus a quick look at the worst. You can also use our steam mop buying guide to get a sense of which features are helpful, and CR members can check out more options in our complete steam mop ratings. =

For other cleaning jobs, we test and rate vacuums and carpet cleaners, too. And find out what works best to remove stains in our Bissell Little Green carpet and upholstery cleaners vs. Resolve sprays face-off.

Top-Performing Steam Mops

CR’s take: If you’re cost-conscious, the PowerFresh Deluxe from Bissell might be the right steam mop for you. This modestly priced model earns a Very Good rating for cleaning, meaning our testers didn’t see much residue after cleaning each tile. The mop has a 25-foot cord, two types of scrubbing pads, and two steam rates to choose from (meant for different types of soil). A helpful indicator light tells you when the steam mop is done heating up and is ready to use. Bissell includes a two-year warranty that covers mop repair and replacement.

CR’s take: The Bissell PowerFresh Pet Lift-Off 15441 earns Very Good ratings in our steam-rate and cleaning tests. It has a 25-foot cord, which makes it easier to maneuver. It also features an indicator light that tells you when the mop is ready for use, but it lacks an empty indicator light to let you know when the water tank needs to be refilled. Like other Bissell steam mops, this model includes a two-year manufacturer’s warranty for repair and replacement.

CR’s take: Best for those with a range of cleaning needs, Bissell’s PowerFresh Slim comes with four mop heads (two large heads for floor cleaning and two small ones for use with the attachments). It’s the only steam mop in our tests to earn an Excellent rating for cleaning. It has a 25-foot cord, which makes it easier to maneuver, and a ready indicator light. But our testers note that it doesn’t provide an easy way to wrap the cord for storage when you’re done. Again, Bissell includes the same two-year warranty for repair and replacement.

CR’s take: The Shark Steam & Scrub S7001 delivers solid performance all-around, receiving Very Good ratings across the board in our cleaning, convenience, and steam-rate tests. There are a few drawbacks, though. For one, this model’s cord is only 22 feet long, making it a bit shorter than our other top picks. It’s also no-frills; there’s no ready light or empty-tank indicator light. Nonetheless, it gets the job done, leaving floors fairly clean.

The Worst Steam Mop

CR’s take: The Shark Steam Pocket S3501 sits at the very bottom of our steam mop ratings, earning an Overall Score of 9 (out of 100 possible points). It’s the only mop we tested that lacks a motorized pump, which means you have to constantly pump the handle yourself to create steam. The DIY pump can’t pack the same punch. It earns a rating of Poor for its ability to clean in our tests, along with a Poor rating for its steam rate. It also has the shortest cord in our ratings—20 feet, 5 feet shorter than the one on the top-rated Bissell PowerFresh Slim 2075A.

Consumer Reports

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