Steam Mop Buying Guide

When it comes to steam cleaning, steam mops are the best models for cleaning floors. The reason that they produce the best results for floor cleaning is simple: floor cleaning is the primary intent behind the design. Consumers prefer steam mops to the traditional methods of floor cleaning for a variety of reasons. They are easy to use, they provide effective cleaning and they disinfect floors without the need for chemical cleansers.

In this guide, we cover a few of the points that consumers should consider when they are shopping for a steam mop.


As with any product, different models from different manufacturers will vary in performance. The effective cleaning power of the machine is important and there are a few factors that will affect the quality of results that a consumer should expect from the different models that are available.


A high temperature means more effective cleaning power and this is especially true in regard to the machines ability to disinfect surfaces. If the steam is just at the boiling point, it will kill germs, but the surface will need more exposure to the steam.

Steam Output

The level of steam output will also have an effect on cleaning power. More steam will usually mean better cleaning, but there are some jobs where the user may want less steam. If you are cleaning an oven, more steam will help to break-up the deposits of caked on grease and grime, but too much steam on certain floor surfaces could damage the finish.


For most messes, the steam will do more than enough to clean the surfaces, but there can be situations where a little help from a cleanser could be advantageous. Some models will come with the option of using a detergent to assist in the cleaning process. These steam mops will usually have a separate tank for the detergent and the option to turn it on or off.

Handling the Cleaner

If you are looking for easy cleaning, then you need to consider the ease with which the steam mop can be handled.


There really isn’t much that goes into the maneuverability of a steam mop. These devices are usually pretty light and easy to wield. If you are looking for a machine that is easy to handle, then you may want to look into features like a swiveling head, the level of recline on the handle and the shape of the cleaning head.

Size & Weight

For the most part, size and weight are not going to be too much of an issue with steam mops. Most models are designed to be compact and light, which helps to make them very easy to handle. One thing to consider is the weight of the machine when it has a full tank of water. All of these machines will be heavier when they have a full tank, but the biggest difference in weight will come from the machines with the largest water tanks.

Multi-Function Steam Mops

The basic steam mop is made for one thing and that is cleaning floors. If you want a model that is a little more versatile, then you will need to look for a multi-purpose steam mop. With the multi-purpose models, the consumer gets the same quality of floor cleaning that they would get from a standard steam mop, but the user can detach a portable steamer from the machine for more cleaning jobs.

With these models, you get many of the same attachments and accessories that you would expect from a cylinder style steam cleaner. You still get the great results for cleaning floors, but you can also clean counters, windows, bathroom fixtures, the stove and more. The level of multi-functional ability that a machine has will largely depend on the tools that are included.

Operating Cost

Steam mops are cheap to run in terms of electricity. Most only cost a few pence for enough steam to clean a couple of rooms. A bigger concern is the cost of the cloth pads. It’s worth checking how many pads your mop comes with. A lot of users found that they would get through a couple of pads a time when cleaning a reasonably large area. This is because the dirt has nowhere to ‘go’, as it has not been washed off in a bucket, like a traditional mop. Some customers also liked to put a dry mop cloth on after washing the floor and go over it again to get it really dry. Many steam mops will only come with one or two floor cleaning pads, so it might be a good idea to look into the cost of getting and extra pad and consider buying one for your own convenience.

Some machines come fitted with washable mops pads and this will obviously save money however you’ll obviously have the additional hassle of actually having to wash the pads.

Another thing to bear in mind is that some manufacturers specify that their machine should only be used with de-ionised or de-mineralised water and you will need to factor in a possible cost for acquiring this (as well as considering whether it will be a major inconvenience). The use of de-ionised or de-mineralised water is to prevent the build-up of limescale that would occur with the use of tap water. Some machines do come equipped with a filter to prevent scaling. A filter will allow the use of tap water, but it does mean that the consumer will eventually need to change the filter.

Detergent cost is another factor and if you are buying a machine to use it with a detergent, then bear in mind that most manufacturers recommend their own special detergent (of course) and this can be pricier than high street brands.


Picture of someone counting out 20 pound notesmops are available starting at around £25 up to about £240. The price depends partly on whether you are buying a simple mop only model, or whether you are going for an ‘all singing, all dancing’ multi-function model. Most mops are in the price range £40-£120. The more expensive models are not necessarily the best. You can get a top-performing mop for £50 and a multi-function ‘best buy’ for around £120 and there are many decent options available for less than that.

Additional Factors

Picture of the water tank on a Morphy Richards steam mopWater Capacity – The water tank capacity is going to affect the operation of the machine in two ways. The first is that a larger tank is generally going to mean more cleaning in one go and the other is the fact that more water will increase the weight of the machine when you are using it. In general water tanks hold between 0.28 and 0.5 litres of water.  Most models seem to hold about 0.4 – 0.5 litres.  Obviously the amount of water that is held in the tank will affect the weight of the model in use and it is generally an advantage to have a lightweight mop, which makes it more easily manoeuvrable.  However, if the tank has too small a capacity then you will end up having to refill the tank and wait for it to reheat more often.  Which factor is more important for you, will depend on your circumstances, so just bear it in mind when looking at the models.

Picture of clock melting to signify heat timeHeat Time – Steam mops vary, to an extent, in the length of time they take, from the moment you put in the water, to the time they are producing steam and you can start mopping. However, we are talking a range of times between about 15 seconds for the fastest to abut 40 seconds for the slower models, so you aren’t  going to be kicking your heels for too long before you can get going.  As mops produce steam for varying lengths of time, you may find yourself having to refill and wait for steam to be produced again, during one cleaning session – but all the models we have chosen heat up in a reasonable time, so this won’t be too tedious.

Steaming Time – The steam time refers to the amount of time that the user can clean on one tank of water. Models vary as to the amount of steam that is produced before they run out  and need to be refilled.  In general steam mops tend to have a shorter steaming time than steam cleaners (as they have smaller tanks).  They range from 10 minutes of steam time up to about 30 minutes.  How important it is to have a model that runs for a long time without needing to be refilled will depend on how you intend to use it.  If you just want a quick whizz across the kitchen floor then it will be less important to have a machine that can go for 30 minutes. If you intend to use it on a number of rooms in one session then you should take notice of the length of steam time you will get, as it will be irritating to keep stopping, refilling and waiting for it to heat up. Some mops have triggers on the handle which allow you to regulate the amount of steam that comes out, or to give an extra boost.  This will then obviously effect the length of time you get out of one tank – so it won’t always be the same time for each use.

Steam Settings – The consumer will find a lot of machines that only offer one level of steam output, but there are some that offer variable steam settings. This feature can be especially advantageous for models that offer multi-functional cleaning.

Continuous Steam – Some steam mops offer continuous steam when the machine is turned on and others have a steam trigger or button that releases the steam as the user needs it. Some models even have a trigger with a lock to allow the user both options.

Cord Length – If you plan to use the steam mop on a large area, then you may want to look for a longer cord. A longer cord means more reach and a short cord can be inconvenient for larger cleaning jobs.

Storage – Most steam mops are compact and easy to store. If it is a model with attachments, you want to make sure that it has storage for the tools and you also want to consider whether it comes with a place to wrap the cord. Another storage feature that is nice is the addition of a cooling tray. The head of the machine will be hot when you finish cleaning and the tray can protect the floor when you put it away.


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