Best Steam Mops & Hard Floor Cleaners
Sometimes regular mopping with luke-warm water just ends up spreading more dirt around. If you're looking to give your hard floors a sanitised clean, a steam mop can effectively kill bacteria and leave your floors sparkling.
- Award Winner 2021
The Hizero Bionic Hard Floor Cleaner has a number of everyday superpowers - it can sweep, mop, and dry hard floors. At $799, it’s pricey yet effective.
Price (RRP) $799.00
Leaves floors spotlessly clean
Handy waste disposal system
- Build Quality4.8 (154)
- Value for Money4.4 (153)
- Ease of Use4.9 (154)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 4.5 (152)
Made for use on hardwood, laminate, tiles, vinyl and even carpet, this HAAN floor steamer goes above and beyond the standard offering for steam mops. Selling for $219, it’s also reasonably priced.
Price (RRP) $219.00
Outstanding cleaning performance
Works on multiple surfaces
Easy to handle
Several included attachments
Plastic parts can break easily
- Build Quality2.9 (14)
- Value for Money3.0 (14)
- Ease of Use4.0 (14)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 3.7 (14)
- FeaturesHandheld option
The $279 Hoover Dual Steam Plus features plenty of extra attachments, allowing you to steam clean hard floors, carpets, as well as other handy spots such as the shower, and car upholstery.
Price (RRP) $279.00
Cleans floors effectively
Multi-purpose brush heads
Can add detergent
Mop pads easily fall off
- Build Quality3.7 (18)
- Value for Money3.1 (18)
- Ease of Use3.8 (18)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 3.8 (18)
How do steam mops work?
A steam mop, also known as a floor steam cleaner, is a home cleaning appliance that uses steam to mop hard surfaces such as sealed hard floors, ceramic tiles, linoleum, stone and marble.
After you fill up the in-built water tank inside the unit, you press a button to start the heating process, and water is heated up using an in-built heating element. When the mop’s ready to be used, the appliance will indicate this to you, for example through a green light.
The steam is then conveyed through the appliance to the cleaning head. It makes contact with the floor through a porous cleaning pad.
The application of hot steam loosens dirt and caked-in grime on the floor, which transfers to the mop pad.
What is the difference between a steam mop and a steam cleaner?
While a steam mop is specifically designed to clean hard floors, a steam cleaner has a multi-surface purpose. Depending on the product, you can use it to clean a variety of surfaces - including hard floors, carpets, upholstery, and sometimes showers and the outside of cars.
Steam cleaners also use hotter water than steam mops, producing hotter steam to kill firm-rooted bacteria in carpet fibres and shower tiles.
Is steam mopping better than regular mopping?
People who are loyal to the process of steam mopping prefer both the effectiveness and convenience of using a steam mop, compared to a regular mop. Here are some reasons why:
What steam mopping is good for:
Hot steam has been scientifically proven to effectively kill bacteria and dust mites, more than the luke-warm water you’d use while mopping.
The effectiveness of steam also eliminates the need to use any cleaning solutions with chemicals in them, which can be hazardous to health and also represent an additional cost.
You won’t need to lug around a sopping-wet mop and bucket with you. Once you fill up the water tank, everything you need to clean with is contained within the unit. It's a time saver, as you won’t be stopping to wring out the dirty water and re-wet the mop.
What steam mopping is not good for:
Being used on these floor types: unsealed timber, waxed timber and cork tiles. With these unsealed surfaces, steam can slink into gaps or under the floorboards, which causes the panels or tiles to expand.
Mopping large spills or heavy stains, and these will require individual attention to remove first, before using a steam mop
Tasks that vacuum cleaners would normally perform, like picking up dirt and debris. This is because a steam mop has no suction function. Make sure to vacuum your space before steam-mopping it, otherwise you could have lots of stray wet hairs and bits of dirt decorating your floors afterwards.
If you don’t want to wait around for a steam mop to heat up, or bother with ensuring a cord is long enough as you move between different areas of the house, a traditional mop and bucket may actually be easier for you.
Cordless operation, as while there are currently cordless hard floor cleaners, there aren’t any battery-operated or cordless steam mops.
Hard Floor Cleaners
These look similar to upright vacuums, but do more than suction dirt and debris. Functions include vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing and drying hard floors.
The surfaces suitable for hard floor cleaning are the same as those safe to be cleaned by steam mops. Again, avoid unsealed surfaces.
These are usually more expensive than steam mops because of the wide variety of functions they offer for hard floors, from around $100-$500.
For example, the popular Karcher Hard Floor Cleaner, the FC 5 Corded Jarder Floor Cleaner, can vacuum and mop hard floors in one step, making it slightly pricier than entry-level models, at $399.
Hard floor cleaners, as their name suggests, will also work on hard floors - but just like steam mops, the floors should be sealed to avoid steam warping the flooring.
Factors to consider before buying a steam mop
Ease of Use
The convenience of using a steam mop will only be enjoyed if your appliance is easy to use. Keeping an eye out for the following can help reduce the total time you spend cleaning:
- Heat-up time: All steam mops take some time to heat the water inside the tank. 15 seconds is considered a quick heat-up time, will other, slower appliances can take around 5 minutes.
- Running time: How long your steam mop can stay powered until its next water refill depends largely on the
- On-the-go water refills: Steam mops designed with a water boiler require you to turn the appliance off, or wait for it to cool down before you can refill the boiler. This is a safety measure so the steam doesn’t scald you. But if you’re in it to win back some time, choose a steam mop with a water tanked that can be opened and refilled at any point.
- Cord length: Opting for a longer cord will make it easier to steam mop a larger surface area without having to continuously unplug the cord and re-plug it into a socket that’s closer to the area you’re currently mopping.
Water Tank Capacity
This is one of the single most important factors contributing to the effective performance of your steam mop.
The more millilitres a water tank can house, the longer a steam mop can clean before requiring a refill. An average sized water tank is around 500mL.
Large water tanks
However, larger water tanks (600mL or over) are more convenient for larger households, or if your house has a lot of hard-floor surface area to be cleaner.
A larger water tank is also likely to produce hotter, drier steam, which means less water left on tiles or floorboards afterwards - and a shorter drying time.
Keep in mind that a heavier water tank will result in a heavier appliance to cart around as you clean. If you have back issues or can’t strain in this way, a smaller water tank may be more time-intensive but safer for you.
Small water tanks
While a smaller water tank (around 300mL) is theoretically suitable for apartments or smaller spaces, most models are cheaper, and built with lightweight materials that are less durable.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Using distilled water instead of tap water can keep your water tank in better condition, as hard mineral deposits are less likely to build up. These deposits can then transfer down into the nozzle near the mop head, which will cause steam to be blocked from escaping properly.
Microfibre cloths are the best at trapping dirt and grime, and they’re also easy to wash. You’ll need around 2-3 per mopping session, since the pads pick up grime and become grey quickly, so require changing to avoid spreading around wet dirt.
Look for a steam mop that provides at least 2 pads with your steam mop purchase. Some models are also sold with pads made from different materials. They can range from soft and gentle to more abrasive material (for scrubbing), making them suitable for cleaning a variety of floor surfaces.
The price will depend on a number of factors, such as the build quality, size of the water tank, brand name and reputation, and the number of included features and accessories.
Common steam mop accessories
- A detachable handheld cleaner is part of the steam mop, and can pop out to function separately. This can be useful for spot cleaning or quick cleaning.
- Lock switch: allows continuous steam to be released, without you having to constantly press down a trigger nozzle.
- Swivel head: an oldie but a goodie, allowing you to easily get under furniture and around nooks and crannies. A more angular mop head (such as a triangular mop head) will also help with cleaning edges and corners.
- Carpet glider: allows you to steam mop carpets. Since the steam mop is still not purpose built for cleaning carpets, it works better with removing light soiling.
- Window cleaner: some steam mops have a handy attachment that lets you steam the windows, while the cleaning mood has taken hold.
- Brushes and jet nozzles: allow precision steam cleaning of specific areas; typically with smaller surface areas. This includes cleaning in-between shower tiles, or cleaning the oven.
- Adjustable telescopic head: refers to the height of the mop stick. If you or family members are tall, the mop head should become high enough for you to mop comfortably, without hurting your back and making you lean down the whole time.
Finding the right steam mop involves weighing up three main things: price, the size of your space, and how often you mop. Larger spaces will benefit from a larger water tank - however this makes for a pricier steam mop, and also makes it heavier to cart around. If you mop frequently, consider spending a little bit more on additional features that will save you time, like a longer cord that lets you mop more of the house in one go.