How we found products to test

During our research phase, we read subreddits like /r/BuyItForLife/ and reviewed articles from cleaning experts to gather information on what features to look for in a steam mop. We also checked out blog reviews and YouTube videos. We narrowed down the field to 18 steam mops, then culled the list even further based on consumer reviews.

Our five finalists are all rated four stars or higher on Amazon.com, and each meet all or most of the criteria that we found to be the highest importance to consumers. We then put each of our finalists through a series of household tests to see how easy they were to use, and how well they performed.

Compare the best steam mops

ProductPriceTypeTank Capacity (ml)Removable Water Tank1. Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh$$Basic443Yes2. Steamfast – SF-370WH$$Multi-Purpose1420No3. Shark – Pro (S3601D)$$Basic500No4. Shark – Steam Pocket (S3501)$Basic450No5. Bissell – Symphony 1543A$$$Multi-Purpose384Yes6. O-Cedar – Microfiber$Basic400No

Why use steam?

Steam mops make it easy to clean and sanitize your hard floors, without the need for detergents that can contain hazardous chemicals. Since hard surfaces are porous, steam cleaning can penetrate the surface to remove embedded grime. The heat from the steam vapor loosens the physical bond between soils and the surface you are cleaning, meaning that you can remove dirt and dried food spills more effectively and without the elbow grease. Plus, you can ditch that cumbersome mop bucket.

At a high enough temperature, steam vapor can kill bacteria, dust mites and mold spores. While kitchen and bathroom floors may not be one of the top germ hot spots in your home (according to the National Sanitation Foundation’s 2011 germ study, your dish sponge and toothbrush holder are likelier culprits), floors can still harbor bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli in lesser quantities, by contact with shoes or spills.

The steam mops we tested claimed to kill 99.9% of bacteria in sanitization studies. Although we didn’t perform a bacteria culture ourselves, it is true that heat above 212° will kill most microorganisms. Sanitizing an area requires continuous steam for 10-15 seconds; you’ll want to check the user guide for specific instructions for your model.

Household bleach is an EPA-registered disinfectant often recommended for disinfecting by health professionals; however, the fumes can irritate the lungs and mucous membranes. With steam cleaning, you can sanitize without exposure to toxic chemicals, which is especially reassuring if you have young children or pets crawling around on your floor.

Steam mops also offer the benefit of using microfiber pads, which are able to capture more dirt and dust than a conventional mop, even before you use the steam function. A study completed by the University of California Davis Medical Centerfound that traditional wet mops only reduced 30% of the bacteria present before cleaning, while microfiber mops reduced 99% of the bacteria.

How to use a steam mop

Steam mops can be used on ceramic tile, grout, sealed wood floors or linoleum flooring, but you should always check the care instructions from your flooring manufacturer to make sure you don’t accidentally void your warranty. Some types of flooring are sensitive to moisture and the National Wood Flooring Associationnotes that “steam or excessive water may damage a wood floor.” Manufacturers such as Armstrong/Bruce Hardwood & Laminate Flooring and Avaire Floating Porcelain Tile do not recommend steam mops, while LM Hardwood does recommend them. It’s best to check your warranty ahead of time to see what stance the manufacturer takes.

If you’ve used a wet/dry mop with a disposable pad, you’ll be comfortable transitioning to a steam mop. You attach a microfiber pad to the plastic head, fill the tank with water (most models recommend using distilled or filtered water to avoid mineral build up if you have hard water), and plug it in. Once it heats up, you can see the steam as you mop. As a general safety precaution, the user manuals recommend wearing closed-toe shoes to protect your feet.

Prior to cleaning, you should thoroughly sweep or vacuum your floors, and the microfiber pads should be cleaned and washed regularly. Some models come with carpet gliders, which can eliminate odors and freshen carpets, but do not remove stains. Multipurpose types have brushes and attachments to clean carpets.

Important features to look for

Steam control: Some types of flooring may not be able to handle the high heat settings necessary for sanitization or deep cleaning. Whether a digital or dial control, being able to customize your settings means you can adjust the steam to accommodate the type of surface you are cleaning.

Removable water tank: Not only is it easier to fill, it’s much easier to empty. This is important because you should always empty the water tank when the steam mop is not in use.

Heats in under a minute: We all have busy lives, and no one wants to waste precious cleaning time waiting for a steam mop to heat up.

Wide-angle swivel head: A mop with a swivel head allows you to clean hard-to-reach areas such as corners, under cupboards and along walls.

Ready light indicator: This gives you a clear visual indication that the mop is ready to begin steaming.

Empty light indicator: This shows you when the tank is empty, making for much less guesswork.

Continuous steam: Most consumers purchase a steam mop because they want to decrease the amount of physical labor needed to get the job done, making a mop with continuous steam preferable to a unit that must be pumped in use.

Multipurpose: Many steam mops can only be used on hard floors, but some are great multitaskers and take it up a notch with various attachments and brushes to clean carpets and other surfaces.

How we tested

Performance

We tested each product on linoleum flooring in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry/mud room. The multipurpose steam mops were also tested on short pile carpet and area rugs. Each steam mop was put through several rounds of general purpose mopping in the kitchen and bathroom, plus two specific performance tests:

High traffic areas: We wanted to find out how well each steam mop cleaned up ground-in dirt and dust, and there was no better test for this than the laundry/mud room. Outside dirt is constantly tracked onto the linoleum floor here, leaving dusty and sometimes muddy footprints all over the surface. With each steam mop, we did the same number of slow passes on the floor and then checked the results. After cleaning, we considered the floor’s brightness, how it felt to the touch, and how much dirt was on the microfiber pad (meaning it was no longer on the floor!).

Food soil: For this test, we spread a black bean paste on the floor and let it dry overnight. In the morning, we set a stopwatch as we hovered the steam mop over the stain with short passes until the stain was removed. Our intention was to stop at 20 second intervals, to prevent the floor from becoming damaged. However, in every case, the dried food soil was removed at 20 seconds or less.

Best Cleaning Power: Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh

The Bissell – 19404 shined in high traffic soiled areas as well as cleaning caked on foods from the floor. $78.26 from Amazon

The Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh Steam Mop Hard Floor Steam Cleaner was the top performer in both the high traffic and food soil tests. The scrubby microfiber pad (one of two microfiber pad options that come with the Bissell units) and easy scrubber brush meant that the mop required less passes and fewer seconds of continuous steaming to remove dried-on messes and ground-in dirt.

The Bissell – Symphony Pet All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop also made fast work of cleaning up food soils, but the Bissell 19404 PowerFresh performed better in high traffic areas. The scrub tool and nylon utility brush attachments of the Steamfast – SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner garnered excellent results in both areas, but it did not perform as highly with just the microfiber pad you would normally use to mop a floor.

Convenience

The whole idea behind a steam mop is that it offers you convenience, which means fast heat up times and fast dry times. It also means that you shouldn’t have to stop several times to refill the tank, or unplug the cord just to finish the room. After all, a longer cord allows for easier reach to electric sockets and less likelihood that you’ll have to unplug the cord and wait for the unit to heat up again just to finish a room.

To that end, we filled the tank of each steam mop up to 400 ml, and timed how many seconds it took to heat up at the medium setting. Then, we timed how many minutes it took before it ran out of steam, in order to test how long the tank lasted (again, on a medium setting). Once the floor was mopped, we pulled out our stopwatch one final time to test how long it took for the floor to dry.

Extra-Large Capacity: Steamfast – SF-370WH

Slower to initially heat up, but a great choice if you have lots to clean without taking breaks to refill the tank. $109.79 from Amazon

While the Steamfast – SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam took nearly five minutes to heat up, it had the largest tank capacity by far, holding approximately 976 ml more than the other models. The other finalists all heated up in half a minute, but only had a 400-500 ml capacity. The O-Cedar – Microfiber Steam Mop was the fastest to heat up, ready to go in only 20 seconds.

The Bissell 19404 PowerFresh Steam Mop Hard Floor Steam Cleaner and Bissell Symphony Pet All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop had the longest use times, both lasting 20 minutes (more than enough time to mop a kitchen floor). The Bissell Symphony also had the longest cord, extending 25 feet.

The convenience factor we appreciated most, however, was a fast dry time. If the water in the tank only reaches the boiling point, the steam tends to be wetter and the dry time is longer. The higher the temperature, the drier the vapor. The Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh and Shark – Steam Pocket Mop were both dry in two minutes, or about the time it takes to put the unit away and walk back across your floor without leaving a trail of footprints.

Comfort

This wasn’t a test, per se, but we felt it was important to judge the comfort level of using each steam mop. We considered how much it weighed, how easily the mop head maneuvered into tight spaces, how easy it was to use, and whether or not it was noisy during use.

The good news is that none of our finalists were noisy enough to wake up a sleeping toddler. The Shark – Steam Pocket Mop and Steamfast – SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner made no noise at all except for the sound of steam being released, and the remaining mops were equally silent once they heated up (after the first fill or refill, they make an initial “knocking” sound). If you wanted to use the vacuum function of the Bissell Symphony Pet All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop, we might recommend waiting until after nap time.

At less than five pounds, the Shark – Steam Pocket Mop and Shark – Professional again won points here for weighing the lightest of the mops we tested. We also found the smaller size of the rectangle shaped mop head was the best for small spaces, like in the bathroom. However, the Shark Steam Pocket Mop does require you to pump the handle and push to create steam. Even though this is the natural action of mopping, we found it more comfortable when the steam was released without manual effort. This feature is improved in the Professional model.

This made the Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh Steam Mop Hard Floor Steam Cleaner and O-Cedar – Microfiber Steam Mop our top picks for comfort. At eight and seven pounds, respectively, they are both lightweight enough to push around the room easily, and both release a continuous steam flow without any physical labor.

Best overall: Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh

After two weeks of testing (and moving around appliances so we could find new areas to steam), we found the Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh to be the easiest steam mop to use. It was also the steam mop that gave us the best results, leaving brighter, shinier and cleaner-feeling floors.

The added cleaning capability was thanks to the built-in easy scrubber, which flips down with your foot and adds an extra boost to the steam power. In our tests, it took only ten seconds to clean up dried-on food soils and the easy scrubber made a clear difference in the high traffic areas. This certainly beats scrubbing with a paper towel. (Check out our paper towel review for the best ones.)  You can actually see the grime coming up as you clean, with a marked difference in the areas just steamed.

Top Pick: Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh

Features like the flip-down easy scrubber, variable steam control, and removable water tank make the Bissell PowerFresh a clear choice for most households. $78.26 from Amazon

It comes with two microfiber pad options: a white microfiber pad for everyday use, and a striped scrubby pad for tougher messes. Both pads are treated with Microban antimicrobial protection, and have a pocket to hold an optional Spring Breeze scent disc. We found the fresh scent of a clean, steamed floor was appealing enough, but if you’re really a scent person, you can add the discs or even Bissell demineralized water in scents like Citrus and Eucalyptus Mint.

Our favorite feature is the removable water tank. It was so convenient to pop it out and bring it to the faucet to refill, or to dump out the extra water when we were finished cleaning. All the steam mop manuals advised not to store the mop with water in the tank, and it was a chore to hold the whole mop over the sink or outside in order to empty the tank. With the Bissell 19404 PowerFresh, this wasn’t an issue, and we were grateful for the thoughtful design.

The shape of the mop head fits into corners and tight spaces (like around the toilet), but it’s still large enough to cover a lot of square footage quickly. The 23 foot cord and 20 minutes of steaming time also mean that you can cover a large area without stopping. The mop head swivels easily, and the light weight of the unit makes it easy to push around, while still being sturdy enough that it didn’t feel as if it would break easily.

The Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh starts heating as soon as you plug it in, and is ready in 30 seconds, when the digital indicator light stops blinking to let you know you’re all set to begin. It doesn’t have an empty light indicator (perhaps the only negative), but you can tell you’ve run out of steam when it makes a knocking sound. There are three digital settings (low, medium, and high), so you can easily vary the level of steam you want to use.

All in all, this mop was simple to use, super convenient for cleaning floors and reasonably priced, leading us to recommend it as the best steam mop on the market.

Key takeaways:

  • The removable water tank makes the Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh a breeze to fill the tank, without searching around for a measuring cup. It also makes the tank exceptionally easy to empty after you’ve finished mopping.
  • The PowerFresh comes with a removable easy scrubber and two machine-washable microfiber pad options, so you can customize your cleaning power for the best results on your floors.
  • The digital indicator light and steam control settings make it simple to figure out when you’ve reached full steaming capacity, and to choose which level of steam will work best for the job you need to do.

Best multipurpose: Steamfast – SF-370WH

We were impressed with the wide variety of surfaces the Steamfast – SF-370WH was able to clean, from floors and baseboards to oven racks. In fact, we were so excited that we made a whole day of it, steam cleaning our fridge, oven, and walls. Thanks to the extension wands, we were even able to reach the ceiling.

Best Multipurpose: Steamfast – SF-370WH

A steam cleaner that can easily mop floors, but also clean BBQ grills and shop tools. With accessories ranging from a microfiber pad to a brass utility brush, you can tackle a wide variety of cleaning projects with this all-in-one unit. $109.79 from Amazon

The scrub brush and nylon utility brushes did an amazing job on our floors and walls, removing years of grime that couldn’t be touched by other cleaning products. The nylon utility brush also refreshed our low-pile carpet, removing stains and unflattening the fibers. On the area rug, it removed stains, but did pull on the fibers, so we would have preferred a more gentle tool there.

One of the features that is great about the Steamfast is the ability to either clean in short bursts using the steam trigger, or to push forward the steam-lock switch for a continuous flow of steam. This gives your hand a break when cleaning larger surfaces such as floors, but also gives you the ability to stop and move furniture or other objects out of the way without worrying about damaging the floors with continuous steam.

This cleaner is shaped like a tank, and with good reason. It holds up to 1,420 ml of water, so it can be used for around 45 minutes without needing to refill. That’s just over double the amount of use time as the other finalists. The only drawbacks we found were that the shape was a little more cumbersome than the models shaped like conventional mops, it took a little longer to heat up, and that the boiler was hard to fill without spilling.

Key takeaways:

  • Multiple accessories that come with the Steamfast – SF-370WH  allow you to decide which attachment to use on different surfaces; soft microfiber pads work well on hard floors and delicate surfaces, the squeegee tool can be used to clean windows and nylon utility brushes provide extra scrubbing power on grout and carpets.
  • An extra-large capacity water tank gives you up to 45 minutes of steaming time, allowing you to complete several rooms or projects without stopping to refill and reheat.

Budget pick: Shark – Steam Pocket Mop

For a budget-priced buy, the Shark – Steam Pocket Mop is our pick for the best deal. Priced as low as $52 at publication, this mop comes with many of the key features we looked for in a mop. It heats up in less than a minute (30 seconds, to be exact) and our test floors were dry in around two minutes.

It only took slightly longer to remove dried-on food soil than our top pick, the Bissell 19404 PowerFresh. It cleaned our high traffic areas at least as well as a conventional mop, without the hassle of hauling around a mop bucket and waiting ages for the floor to dry. Plus, you can start sanitizing the floor after three minutes of use, although you do need to pass over the area with a backward and forward motion at least 15 times.

This is the only steam mop we tested that takes elbow grease to use. You have to pump the handle to start releasing steam, which it continues to release with a push forward motion. As you push faster, the steam gets hotter. Since the mop itself is so lightweight, only four and a half pounds, this isn’t a difficult task, nor did it put any strain on our arms.

Budget Pick: Shark – Steam Pocket Mop

The Shark produces steam in 30 seconds, dries in less than two minutes, and quickly removes dried-on soils. $47.95 from Amazon

What we liked best about the Shark is the pocket style microfiber mop. It slips over the mop head and both sides can be used. All you have to do is easily flip the mop head, which can even be done mid-cleaningWe loved using one side of the double-sided microfiber pad to clean, and then flipping it over to sanitize with a fresh side. The Shark comes with a large rectangle shaped mop head, but you can order a triangle shaped mop head separately, if you prefer.

The few negatives we have to report are the fact that you have to lay the mop sideways to fill or refill tank, which was tricky and not at all convenient, and that the provided filling flask is not marked with milliliters. This made it difficult to know how much water you were putting in the tank, or if you reached capacity. (We used a separate measuring cup for our tests.)

Many consumers reported that they preferred a steam mop that released steam automatically, but if you don’t mind the manual pushing, this mop is a great choice, especially for the price.

Key takeaways:

  • The double-sided cleaning pad on the Shark – Steam Pocket Mop means you can scrub the tough messes without tracking any soil to the rest of the floor.
  • Its lightweight design makes it easy to haul around the house, and easy to push around the floor, making it perfect if you have multiple rooms you wish to clean.

Other finalists

Shark – Professional Steam Pocket Mop S3601D

With three unique digital steam settings, continuous steam and an extra large water tank, paying the extra money for the Shark – Professional Steam Pocket Mop S3601D is a worthwhile investment. For tough cleaning jobs, the Shark Pro’s heavy steam setting removes dried-on soils in ten seconds and cleans high-traffic areas as well as our top pick, making it our pick for runner up.

Although still quiet, the Shark Pro does makes more noise than the rest; it sounds something like a cat purring loudly. Unlike all the other finalists we tested, this one requires a Phillip head screwdriver to put together, but you only need to screw together the handle and the water tank.

In terms of upgrades from the basic Shark, the Professional doesn’t require any manual effort to produce steam. It has a digital steam control with three settings for dusting, mopping and scrubbing. The scrub setting, paired with the scrubbing strips on the Sonic Lift microfiber cleaning pad, was especially effective on high-traffic areas. The other side of the pocket pad features shaggy fingers which are meant to lock in dirt and dust, which is great when you want to use the lower heat dust setting on more delicate surfaces.

They also extended the cord by two feet and improved the range of the swivel motion (it is pretty impressive). We tested the S3601D, with the “D” option adding an triangle mop head and pocket pad to the deal. The triangle mop head is useful to get deeper into corners and clean tight spaces, but for larger jobs, the rectangle mop head is more effective and we found we didn’t want to switch mop heads just to finish a single room.

Bissell – Symphony

Both of the Bissell brand models we tested performed highly in terms of final cleaning results. The Bissell – Symphony Pet All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mopwas able to remove dried-on soil in ten seconds, when using the vacuum function. It also picked up all the dirt and grime in our high traffic areas, although it wasn’t as bright of a finish as the 19404 PowerFresh.

If you have pets, you know how stubborn pet hair can be, even after sweeping. The Symphony gives you the ability to steam clean your floors while vacuuming up the pet hair at the same time. It features digital controls, so you can easily switch the vacuum on and off, as well as switch between high and low steam settings. We also appreciated the ready light indicator, which lets you know that the water has heated sufficiently to begin steam cleaning.

Good for Pets: Bissell – Symphony

This unit solves a more specific problem, but can be a lifesaver. The Symphony steams and can vacuum stubborn pet hair simultaneously. $165.11 from Amazon

Although it doesn’t have a removable water tank, this was the easiest stationary tank to fill, thanks to an easy fill opening that helps prevent spills. The dirt tank is also easy to use, and features a built in Drop-IT system. All you have to do is press the lever to empty the debris into the trash.

The Symphony comes with the everyday use microfiber pad and scrubby pad (along with an optional scent disc, just like the 19404 PowerFresh), as well as steamboost disposable pads. We all know that sometimes pets make messes that are better suited for the trash than the laundry, and the disposable pads are a handy option in those cases.

It does take longer for the floor to dry with the disposable pads (40 minutes versus the five minutes with the microfiber), and in general, we found the need to remove bottom tray to attach either style of pad a little annoying. Other than being a little more bulky than necessary for regular use, we found the Symphony to be a highly efficient steam mop that would be great for pet-owning families.

O-Cedar – Microfiber Steam Mop

While it doesn’t have an extra bells and whistles, the O-Cedar – Microfiber Steam Mop was probably the fastest mop to set up and gets you started the soonest. With a couple of clicks, the addition of a velcro pad attachment that was the easiest to get on, and a fill of the water tank, you’re on your way. The best part about the O-Cedar is that it heats in only 20 seconds, the fastest heat up time of all our finalists. It weighs only seven and a half pounds, so it’s easy to push around, and it releases continuous steam until you unplug it.

Fastest Startup: O-Cedar – Microfiber

If a long startup time is going to prevent you from ever using a steamer, the O-Cedar clocked in as our fastest startup time at 20 seconds. $78.12 from Amazon

It comes with an angled head mop, which is great for quickly covering large spaces and fitting into corners, but difficult in small spaces such as bathrooms. It does make knocking noise when heating up (just like both the Bissell models we tested), but is silent while cleaning. The reason we rated this one last is it took several swipes to remove food and dirt soil, and performed only fair on high traffic area. It also had a long dry time of 16 minutes, much like using a conventional mop.

The O-Cedar also comes with a carpet glider, for refreshing and deodorizing carpets. Again, it’s easy to use; you just snap the glider on over the mop head and steam away.

The bottom line

The Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh Steam Mop Hard Floor Steam Cleaneroutperformed the competition in several of the key metrics we used to determine the best steam mop. It heats up in less than a minute, can be used for 20 minutes at a time, and the floor dries in less time than it takes to put the unit away. Most importantly, the built-in easy scrubber and scrubby microfiber pad work with the steam to remove soil and grime in a matter of seconds. The icing on the cake is its removable tank, which makes filling and emptying the tank with water a breeze.

If we were to choose a runner up for the best steam mop, the Shark – Professional Steam Pocket Mop S3601D would be our pick. The water tank holds 500ml, providing the largest holding capacity of the basic mops we tested. In terms of removing dried-on soils and cleaning high traffic areas, it was on par with the Bissell – 19404 PowerFresh, when we tested with the heaviest steam setting and the scrubbing strips on one side of the microfiber pad. However, the Bissell won us over with features like the removable water tank, flip-down easy scrubber, and ready light indicator.

How to Make a House Cleaning Checklist

Whether you do all the house cleaning yourself or leave it to professional cleaning services, it is useful to have a checklist to keep your cleaning on track. Get quotes from up to
3 pros! Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Laura Knox, owner of The Best Cleaning Lady on Indianapolis’ Southside, says making a checklist for each room will keep dirt from swirling around you like Peanuts’ Pig-Pen. By doing so, she says every nook and cranny gets cleaned eventually.

To make the checklist, divide the chores that need to be done by room, then divide each task by frequency.

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You missed a spot: When it comes to housekeeping, some chores often slip through the cracks.

Daily chores

Create a daily checklist that includes all the tasks that need to be done around your home each day.

If you use a housekeeping service, display the list prominently and put your house cleaner’s name next to the chores you want him or her to complete.

For example, you can be responsible for putting your laundry in the hamper or away and for loading and running the dishwasher. Your housecleaner can be responsible for cleaning the floors and dusting surfaces.

Other daily tasks to include are wiping down the shower and sink in the bathrooms, making the beds and straightening objects on your nightstand, couch and dresser.

Weekly chores

Some houehold jobs can be done weekly.

You can reserve window cleaning and deep floor cleaning, such as mopping the bathroom and kitchen floors and vacuuming the carpet, for weekly tasks.

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If a lot of people or pets live in your house or you have young children, you may want to vacuum and wash the floors more frequently.

It’s also a good idea to vacuum the upholstery on your living room furniture weekly.

Every week, launder the bath towels, bed linens and bath mats.

Knox says her clients also want weekly help with other often overlooked tasks, such as wiping down the top of the fridge, windows and door frames; dusting curtains, blinds and vents; and lifting and cleaning under large area rugs.

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Monthly and special occasion chores

Your cleaning checklist should include a few chores that you only need to do once a month or even less often. The person who cleans your home can assist you with these tasks, depending on his or her schedule and the inclination for the chores.

Monthly chores include deep cleaning your refrigerator and freezer. Remove and discard any spoiled food and wipe down the shelves inside the refrigerator. You should also wipe down the exterior.

Each month you should also wash any comforters or mattress pads and any window or shower curtains. Unpleasant tasks, such as scrubbing the grout between bathroom tiles and cleaning the baseboards, should be done each month.

Related Article   Tips for a Fresh Refrigerator

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Seasonal chores

Some tasks only need to be done seasonally, such as spring cleaning chores.

For example, you should clean your oven four times a year and turn the mattresses in the bedrooms semi-annually or seasonally. If you have a fireplace, it should be cleaned every few months.

Each season, check on the contents of your pantry. Discard any cans that are expired and any open packages of food that you have eaten in a few months or that you never plan on using. Wipe down the shelves of your pantry and organize the remaining food by type and date.

Related Article   Holiday Cleaning Checklist

‘Tis the season to feel overwhelmed by chores: Follow these cleaning tips to get your house ready for the holidays.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article that was originally posted on Jan. 12, 2012.

Want to leave your chores checklist to the pros? Log in to Angie’s List today to find highly rated professional house cleaning service.

The Best Steam Mops on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers

Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)

While we’ve written about our favorite vacuums here before, along with the best robot vacuumsmop slippers, and even a giant lint roller for pet hair, we decided to expand our cleaning-supply coverage to include bacteria-killing mops. Here are the best steam mops on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best-rated steam mop

  Bissell 1940 PowerFresh Steam Mop $78(was $100, now 22% off)4.1 stars, 11,130 reviews

Reviewers of the Bissell 1940 PowerFresh mop repeatedly praise its ability to handle the most stubborn stains and messes, even 10-year-old dirt-caked grout, according to one reviewer: “When I was deciding whether or not to purchase this mop, I had one concern: Can or will it effectively clean our 10-year-old grout? It cleaned my grout! Granted I used the little scrubber brush on the back of the unit (which I do wish were a little longer), but I carefully pressed on it with my foot so it would ‘scrub’ and reach down in the gap, and in two minutes’ time the floor went from black to nearly new clean.” Another reviewer claims this Bissell steam mop is effective because it gets terrifyingly hot but warns that “when using your foot to press down on the scrubber, be careful! The steam can burn your toes (yes, it gets that hot — which is good!)” It also easily cleans other pesky messes like pet hair and litter. Another user adds, “We have five cats — yes, five cats — and this mop has cleaned up their hair and the litter that sticks to floors outside the litter box like a plague. It cleaned that up! I KNOW, CRAZY!” $78 at Amazon  

Best-rated (less expensive) steam mop

  Shark Steam Pocket Mop $53(was $80, now 34% off)

Many reviewers of the Shark Steam Pocket Mop claim it did a better job at lifting dirt and grime than professional cleaning services they’ve used. One reviewer writes, “No disrespect to the cleaning service, because they did their best, but this mop pulled up the ground-in dirt and grime that a traditional mop couldn’t hope to touch. The bright white mop cover came up dark brown after just one pass!” Others who need to clean large areas appreciate the Shark’s powerful steam function. One notes, “I bought it because we were housing some friends during Hurricane Irma who had dogs, and literally EVERY square inch of floor had to be cleaned. Too big a job for the ol’ knees, you know?” The Shark Steam mop gave another reviewer “OCD-perfect results” and sanitized the floors “without the use of toxic chemicals.”Others love the mop’s 25-foot power cord, which means, as one reviewer describes, “no stopping midway to find another outlet. I cleaned my galley-style kitchen (approximately 18 feet long) and small dining area with only one refill of the water tank and only used one of the large pads.” $53 at Amazon  

And now some micro-picks for every type of steam mop you might be looking for.

Best steam mop with triangle scrubber

  Bissell Steam Mop Select 4.1 stars, 709 reviews

The Bissell Steam Mop Select’s triangular head is loved by reviewers who have small or oddly shaped rooms. As one person writes, “Our bathroom is small, with only about a 12-inch clearance on one side of the toilet, and a 7½-inch at the back. With a regular mop, I had to use the mop sideways and didn’t feel that it was doing the best job, especially by the back wall. The steam mop solves that. The head moves enough to get the 12-inch gap in one pass, and I can get to the back wall in two (one pass from each side of the stool). No more need to get a sponge and bucket to feel that the floor back there is getting clean!” Another reviewer confirms it works great in bathrooms, noting that “it rotates nicely to make cleaning around the toilet so much easier.” $60 at Amazon  

Best steam mop for spot-mopping

  O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop 4.1 stars, 760 reviews

For spot-mopping spills and messes, like one reviewer who had “dog-water dripping spots showing up on the tile constantly,” the O-Cedar excelled at lifting isolated stains: “With this steam mop, the dog-drip disappeared! My husband usually is down on his hands and knees scrubbing these stubborn spots, but with the mop it’s just a matter of going back and forth a couple of extra times to get the stubborn doggie slobber spots out!” Another adds that the O-Cedar “does great with the unidentifiable sticky spots from having a baby and a toddler. I just let it sit over the mess for a few extra seconds and it steams it away.” $70 at Amazon  

Best all-in-one steam mop and vacuum

  Bissell CrossWave Multi-Surface Wet-Dry Vacuum $240(was $270, now 11% off)4.1 stars, 1,836 reviews

“I used to ‘mop’ on my hands and knees and rinse the rag between sections because traditional mopping smears the dirty water around the floor rather than removing the filth like elbow grease does,” writes one meticulous reviewer, who adds, “This machine sucks the dirty water off the floor and out of the cleaning brush as you go … It definitely saves you physical effort; it’s as easy as a thorough vacuuming. And it cleans WELL. Dare I say better than hands-and-knees cleaning section by section.” As another reviewer notes, “I have 2 small children who are ALWAYS spilling milk, water, juice, food, snacks, and more. We have oil splatter from frying, coffee grounds, and 3 shorthair dogs that all shed (even though you wouldn’t think they shed this much, they DO). But one pass with the CrossWave and these nasty spots and my floors are as clean as when they were first installed.” Reviewers also like that they no longer have to sweep before mopping their floors, because of the CrossWave’s wet-dry vacuum design. As one person writes, “I purposely did not vacuum, dust, or sweep floors from the day I ordered it. I was SHOCKED when I finished and cleaned out the dirt-collection cup. Thought I kept a truly clean house! This little machine even picks up the driveway grit from the scatter rugs by our doors.” $240 at Amazon  

Best steam mop with detachable scrub brush

  Bissell 1806C Powerfresh Deluxe Steam Mop 4.3 stars, 833 reviews

The Bissell 1806C Powerfresh Deluxe has a removable mop head and steam brush that reviewers recommend for lifting stains that might otherwise require some additional elbow grease. As one reviewer who purchased this Bissell for a cleaning job writes, “One of the nicest features is the brush, which is very handy for cleaning grout.” This reviewer estimates that “the original brush shows a little wear after cleaning about 1,600 linear feet of grout, with about 15 strokes per foot. (No guarantee against tendinitis of the elbow after doing this kind of work, though)” but notes that “replacement brushes are available from Bissell and are inexpensive.” Another person — who “used the scrub brush with the hot steam to easily scrub off dried orange hard-water residue that lined the bottom outside of the shower door” — remarks that without the brush, they “would have had to use a knife to loosen up hard residue” in addition to doing “lots of hand scrubbing.” $89 at Amazon  

Best steam mop with detachable garment steamer

  Shark Steam Pocket Mop Hard-Floor Cleaner With Lift-Away Garment Steamer $128(was $160, now 20% off)4.1 stars, 158 reviews

Reviewers praise this Shark steam mop’s garment-steamer attachment, which offers a far more efficient alternative to pressing clothes with a standard iron. One reviewer, who “bought this to make cleaning my tile floors easier,” was surprised to discover “how easy the handheld attachments would be to use! It’s great for mopping and I love it dearly, but the true gem of this is the clothing- and curtain-steaming attachments. My husband’s business attire is the WORST to iron, and I hate doing it. Never again. His suit jacket took me TWO MINUTES to steam (no joke!).”

The 8 Best Steam Mops of 2019

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: BISSELL PowerFresh Steam Mop at Amazon

“Reviewers say this steam mop is light and easy to steer.”

Best Budget: Shark Steam Pocket Mop Hard Floor Cleaner at Amazon

“Every time you push it forward, the mop automatically releases steam.”

Best Multipurpose: Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off Pet Steamer at Amazon

“This versatile tool includes a “Lift-Off Pod” that you can take off the handle.“

Best for Hardwood Floors: LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Mop Cleaning Steamer at Amazon

“There’s a smart sensor that automatically releases more steam if you push it faster.”

Best for Laminate Floors: O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop at Amazon

“Heats up in just 20 seconds, and the pointed design gets into corners easily.”

Best with Vacuum: BISSELL CrossWave Floor and Carpet Cleaner at Amazon

“An all-in-one cleaning system that vacuums and washes floors.”

Best for Pets: Bissell Pet Steam Mop and Vacuum at Amazon

“The powerful vacuum picks up pet hair while its steam function sanitizes.”

  • Best Overall: Bissell 1940 PowerFresh Steam Mop               VERY GOOD Buy on AmazonBuy on Walmart Steam mops work by harnessing the heat power of steam to sanitize and help get off sticky messes. To use a steam mop you generally just plug it in and wipe over your floors. When choosing one for your household you can’t go wrong with the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop, which comes from a trusted brand and boasts thousands of positive reviews. This product retails for a low price, making it a more affordable option, and it can be used on sealed hardwood, ceramic, linoleum, granite, and marble floors. The PowerFresh Steam Mop has three levels of steam, and it even comes with fragrance discs that will help make your home smell fresh, if you prefer. It kills 99.9% of germs, and it features a flip-down scrubber that allows you to make quick work of dried-on messes. Reviewers say this steam mop is light and easy to steer, and many note it’s surprisingly effective at cleaning tough messes, even dark, dirty grout lines. Overall, the Bissell PowerFresh is an effective, affordable steam mop that will be a welcome addition to your cleaning arsenal. Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop Review
  • Best Multipurpose: Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off Pet Steamer               VERY GOOD Buy on Amazon Steam isn’t just helpful for cleaning floors! It can be used to clean numerous other areas of your home, which is why the Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off Pet Steamer is a worthwhile investment. This steam mop comes with a variety of additional attachments that allow you to use it on everything from curtains to grout. This versatile tool includes a “Lift-Off Pod” that you can take off the handle, essentially transforming it into a handheld steamer. There are 13 attachments included with the machine, including a window squeegee, fabric steamer, grout tool, flat scraper, extension hose, and more. No matter what surface you use it on, the Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off will kill 99.9% of germs without the use of harsh chemicals. Many users love the versatility of this product, saying it makes cleaning quick, easy, and almost fun. Looking for more? Check out our reviews of the best steam cleaners. Bissell PowerFresh Pet Lift-Off Steam Mop Review
  • Best for Tile: SharkNinja Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System               VERY GOOD Buy on AmazonBuy on Sharkclean.com Tile floors can get fairly dirty, especially if they’re in the bathroom or a high-traffic area. However, you can keep your tile and grout looking fresh with a tool like the Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System. This steam mop features unique double-sided pads that allow you to clean further, and you’ll love the touch-free release that saves you from handling damp, dirty cleaning pads. There are several features that make the Shark Genius worth every penny. It includes a “Steam Blaster” option that you can use to target tough messes and dirty grout, and its dual-sided pads are incredibly absorbent. You never have to touch dirty cleaning pads thanks to the unique release system—simply drop them off the mop into the laundry to wash. Users write that this mop is easy to use right out of the box, and many note it cleans further than other comparable steam mops thanks to its large water tank and double-sided pads. Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System Review
  • Best Budget: Shark Steam Pocket Mop Hard Floor Cleaner   Buy on Amazon High-end steam mops can get fairly pricey, and if you want to try out the technology before making a big investment, one of the best budget options available is the Shark Steam Pocket Mop Hard Floor Cleaner. This mop has all of the basic steam mop functions—can be used on any type of sealed hard floor, and it kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria with its powerful steam. The Shark Steam Pocket Mop uses two-sided microfiber pads to lift dirt off floors which can be washed, and its steam feature heats up in just 30 seconds. Every time you push it forward, the mop automatically releases steam, banishing dirt, dust, and dried-on spills. The mop comes with a 20-foot power cord, allowing you to clean large rooms without changing outlets, and it features a soft-grip handle that makes it easy to guide around your home. Users say this tool is lightweight, compact, and easy to use, writing that it does an impressive job cleaning up tough messes, especially for such a low price. Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best flat mops.  
  • Best for Hardwood Floors: LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Mop Cleaning Steamer   Buy on Amazon
    If your hardwood floors are the pride of your home, you’ll want to take good care of them to ensure they stand the test of time. You can save your wood floors from harsh chemicals by investing in a steam mop like the Light ‘N’ Easy Mop, which has a host of convenient features you’ll love. This steam mop’s water tank is located on the base, which the company claims deliver better steam penetration and temperature. There’s a smart sensor that automatically releases more steam if you push it faster, and the handle rotates 360 degrees for increased versatility. The mop has pointed corners that let you to get into tight areas, and it uses thin microfiber clothes that allow more steam to reach the floor. Users rave about how effective this steam mop is, especially on hardwood floors, writing that it creates a streak-free shine. Want to take a look at some other options? See our list for the best hardwood floor vacuums.
  • Best for Laminate Floors: O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop   Buy on Amazon Make your laminate floors look like new with a product like the O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop. Laminate floors have a tendency to get sticky when busy household run amok, so a steam mop is a great way to clean up nightly messes seamlessly. This affordable cleaning tool is lightweight and easy to use, and it even comes with a carpet tool that you can use to refresh other areas of your home. The O-Cedar steam mop heats up in just 20 seconds, and it has a pointed design that gets into corners easily. The microfiber pads are machine washable up to 25 times, and the adjustable steam levels will kill up to 99.9% of bacteria. Users say this tool is great, especially on laminate floors, as it leaves them immaculate and streak-free.
  • Best with Vacuum: BISSELL CrossWave Floor and Carpet Cleaner with Wet-Dry Vacuum   Buy on Amazon Save time cleaning by getting a steam mop and vacuum in one! The Bissell CrossWave Floor and Carpet Cleaner feature a wet-dry vacuum that allows you to pick up larger particles (think wet Cheerios and spaghetti) while you kill germs and bacteria on a variety of surfaces, win! The CrossWave is an all-in-one cleaning system that vacuums and washes floors at the same time thanks to its dual-action brush roll. It can be used on tile, sealed wood, carpet, laminate, linoleum, and more, and its two tanks separate the clean and dirty water. The CrossWave features Smart-Touch controls that let you switch between hard floors and carpets with the push of a button, and reviewers call the appliance “disgustingly amazing.” Enough said! Check out our other reviews of the best vacuums available on the market today.
  • Best for Pets: Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum Cleaner   Buy on Amazon As much as we love our pets, there’s no denying they can make a mess of the house. If you’re looking for a tool to help make quick work of pet messes (think urine stains and such), one of your best options is the Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum Cleaner. This cool cleaning machine vacuums and steams at the same time, saving you the hassle of picking up dust and pet hair before you wash the floors—now you can do it all in one fell swoop! The Symphony’s powerful vacuum picks up pet hair and debris, while its steam function sanitizes and shines your floors. It features a hands-free emptying system, so you don’t have to touch the grime you pick up, and you can even use it with disposable pads when you’re dealing with pet messes you’d rather throw away. Reviewers say this is a must-have tool for pet owners, as it makes it quicker and easier to pick up all those clumps of fur that are floating around your floors. Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our round-up of the best cordless stick vacuums.

Products Tested by The Spruce

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent nine hours testing three of our readers’ favorite steam mops. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these mops, from their reservoir capacity to their steam output. We’ve outlined the major points here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Steam Mop

Reservoir capacityConsider what areas you’ll be cleaning regularly. A larger reservoir means a more cumbersome appliance, but if you have a big area to clean, you’ll spend less time refilling the tank.

Steam outputDo you have kids or pets? If so, look for a model with an adjustable steam output so you can crank up the heat when you need to tackle tough stains.

AccessoriesA basic steam mop will do for occasional cleaning jobs, but some options come with extra tools that make it easier to reach certain areas of your home. Models with special nozzles for windows, blinds, countertops, and car upholstery are more expensive but more versatile.

Test Results: Bissell 1940 PowerFresh Steam Mop (Best Overall)

            VERY GOOD Buy on AmazonBuy on Walmart

What We Like

  • High-capacity water tank
  • Lightweight design
  • Easy to fill

What We Don’t Like

  • Short on additional features
  • White plastic body shows wear

This steam mop was a hit with one of our testers for its simple setup, ease of use, and great performance on her sealed hardwood floors: “The mop made them sparkle,” she noted. She said that the mop left streaks while the water was drying but noted that they disappeared over time. Lastly, one of our testers felt that the included spring breeze-scented discs smelled too strongly — so if you’re sensitive to perfumes or other fragrances, you may not want to use them.

Test Results: Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off Pet Steam Mop (Best Multipurpose)

            VERY GOOD Buy on Amazon

What We Like

  • Super versatile
  • Easy to switch accessories
  • Very effective

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavy
  • Difficult to fill water tank

Our testers loved how this mop could be used in so many different ways. “It is really simple to switch the accessories depending on what task you are working on,” one of our reviewers observed. Calling it “a really valuable purchase,” one of our testers particularly liked being able to use it as a handheld device. In terms of downsides, according to our reviewers, the water tank was difficult to fill and the product was a bit heavy. The takeaway: “It is on the more expensive side for a steam mop, but the versatility justifies the price,” one of our testers declared.

Test Results: Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop (Best for Large Floors)

How to Clean Your Floors

When it comes to keeping the floors clean, it’s as important to know what not to use as it is to know what to use.

YOUR BASIC TOOLS

The basic tools in a floor cleaning arsenal: vacuum, mop (wet, dry or steam) and broom. And, while absolutely no one wants to hear this, there is a lot to be said for getting down on your hands and knees to do the floors with a scrub brush and rags.

HOW TO CLEAN CARPET

If you have carpet or area rugs in your home, owning a vacuum is pretty much non-negotiable. The best vacuum is the one you’ll use frequently, which sounds facile, but the most souped-up vacuum in the world is no good to you if it’s too heavy to lift out of its storage space. It may be helpful to consult The Sweethome’s guide to vacuum styles, Which Vacuum Should I Get? For stains, a carpet and upholstery cleaner is a good thing to have when inevitable spills happen.

HOW TO CLEAN WOOD FLOORS

Before you can clean wood flooring, try this trick to figure out if you have surface-sealed, or oil- or penetrating-sealed wood floors: Run your finger across the floor: If there’s a smudge, the floors are oil- or penetrating-sealed; if not, they’re surface-sealed.

When cleaning surface-sealed wood floors, avoid very hot water and abrasive cleaners. Use warm water to dilute dish soap, white vinegar or ammonia for these floors. Glass cleaner also works well. Oil- or penetrating-sealed wood should be cleaned with a broom or dry mop and vacuumed; avoid products that contain acrylic or water-based wax.

HOW TO CLEAN LAMINATE FLOORS

Laminate flooring should not be cleaned with soap, abrasives or products that contain abrasives. Instead, clean the floors routinely with a dry or damp mop. If a cleaning solution is needed, diluted ammonia or white vinegar can be used sparingly.

HOW TO CLEAN LINOLEUM FLOORS

Linoleum should also not be cleaned using very hot water, abrasives or with wax- or solvent-based products. Instead, clean the floors routinely with a dry or damp mop. If a cleaning solution is needed, diluted ammonia or white vinegar can be used sparingly.

HOW TO CLEAN TILE AND NATURAL STONE FLOORS

Tile and natural stone flooring should never be cleaned using abrasives or a vacuum with a brush roll attachment, both of which can cause scratching, nicking or cracking. The brush roll is a rotating brush that’s great on carpeting for getting deep into fibers, but that shouldn’t be used on hard surfaces. Ceramic and porcelain tile can be cleaned using oxygen bleach, chlorine bleach or diluted dish soap.

A Smarter Way to Clean Your Home

Every home — big, small, apartment or vacation home — gets dirty. And while there’s not just one way to clean your living space, there is a smarter way to get the job done. Take this guided tour of your home — from the kitchen and bathroom to the bedroom and living areas — to learn the basic rules of cleaning as well as some tips and short cuts that will help you clean thoroughly and efficiently, starting now.

Wirecutter, a New York Times company, has spent hours testing cleaning products and you’ll see I reference them when they’ve reviewed products I recommend.

How to Clean the Kitchen

In the kitchen, wiping surfaces, keeping tabs on the fridge and washing dishes every day will prevent big time-consuming messes down the line.

KEEP DISHES CLEAN

If you’re a person who tends to let dishes pile up in the sink to avoid washing them, try this simple trick to put the effort involved into perspective: For a few days, as you think of it, set a timer before you begin washing the dishes, and make note of how long it took to clean up. If you know the task will take just minutes to complete, it will be less difficult to convince yourself to take care of those dishes now.


How to Clean a Burned Pot: To clean a badly scorched pot without scrubbing, cover the burned area with a liberal amount of baking soda and pour in enough boiling water to fill the pot a third to halfway up. When the water is cool enough to touch, head in with your sponge and use the baking soda solution to scrub away the scorch. Dump the solution and wash the pot with hot, soapy water.

The Dishwasher Debate: While there isn’t an absolutely correct way to load a dishwasher (and what would couples bicker over if such a directive were carved in stone?), there is one universal rule: It is much easier to load from back to front.

CLEAN YOUR SINK

The sink, especially the faucet, can be wiped free of bacteria and food particles with an all-purpose cleaner. And we all should probably clean the faucet more often, considering it’s something we touch with raw-chicken-covered hands.

Sponges should be cleaned frequently, too, either by running them through the dishwasher or microwave. If you use a microwave, first make sure the sponge does not contain any metal, then get the sponge very wet and nuke it for two minutes; be careful when you remove it, as it will be quite hot.

Has your sponge holder developed mold or bacterial buildup? Use a toothbrush dipped in bleach or white vinegar — but never both, as the combination creates a dangerous chemical reaction — to scrub away mold. Follow by washing the sponge caddy with hot, soapy water or run it through the dishwasher.

KEEP SURFACES CLEAN

Wipe your counter and stovetops with an all-purpose cleaner after use. Stovetops in particular benefit from this type of regular, quick cleaning, as splatters, drips and grease become baked on when left too long.

How to clean a stovetop: Something tough will be required to scour away baked-on splatters and greasy film. A Dobie Pad, which is a nonscratch scrubbing sponge, combined with a gentle powder cleanser will make short work of stubborn messes. When cleaning stainless steel, scrub with the grain, rather than in a circular motion, to avoid scratching, and use a gentle touch, allowing the product, rather than force, to do the bulk of the cleaning work.

How to clean small appliances: The exterior of small appliances like toasters, coffeemakers and blenders that sit out on countertops should be wiped frequently using all-purpose cleaners to prevent the buildup of splatters and greasy film from cooking. For deeper cleaning, take off all removable parts and wash it by hand or in the dishwasher. Give the exterior a once-over with all-purpose cleaner using tools like cotton swabs or an old toothbrush to get into tight corners and other hard-to-reach spots.

TACKLE THE REFRIGERATOR

An easy way to keep tabs on a refrigerator is to add one simple task to your trash day routine: 

When bagging up the garbage, open the fridge and eye its contents. Are there leftovers that have gone bad? Toss them. Has any produce liquefied in the crisper drawer? Dump it. Are the last few eggs in the carton about to go off? Make a note to have omelets for dinner, and congratulate yourself for being mindful of not wasting food.

How to Clean Spills in the Refrigerator: When sticky spills happen in the fridge or pantry, make short work of cleaning them by making a compress of sorts. Soak a sponge or rag in very hot water (mind your hands) and wring it so that it’s not dripping. Then, press it onto the sticky spot until the compress begins to lose its heat. If the sticky spill has loosened sufficiently, wipe it away; if it’s still clinging stubbornly, repeat as needed until the substance loosens up, and then wipe clean.

TAKE OUT THE TRASH IN A TIMELY FASHION

Here is a hard truth: Time will not make your trash situation better. Take care of it now.

MORE ON KEEPING YOUR KITCHEN CLEAN

Maintaining Pots and Pans

Treat your pans nicely or they might take revenge on your food.

Putting Your Kitchen on a Diet

How decluttering your kitchen can improve your health.

Would the City Shut Down Your Kitchen?

Even the most fastidious home cook in New York City may not make the grade under the health department’s restaurant inspection system.

How to Clean the Bathroom

If ever there was a place where regular cleaning — once a week, once every other week, depending on use — makes your life better, it’s in the bathroom. Wait longer, and it turns into a disgusting job.

SCRUB THE SHOWER AND/OR TUB, SINK AND TOILET

Many products designed for cleaning the shower and/or tub, sink and toilet do much of the work for you, provided you let them. The instructions will tell you how best to apply a product, and for how long to let it work before wiping or scrubbing away. It’s always a good idea to test a new product on an inconspicuous spot to ensure that it doesn’t cause discoloration.

How to clean tile and grout: Let the product do the work for you. Apply a mold- and mildew-eliminating product and let it penetrate the grout before hitting the surface with a stiff-bristled scrub brush. This will make much shorter work of what can be a tedious and exhausting chore.

How to remove soap scum: Water spots and soap scum that build up on glass shower doors can drive you crazy, but try this strange tip: Wet a dryer sheet and scrub the glass in a circular motion. A milky white film will form, which can be wiped away using water and a squeegee, paper towels or a microfiber cloth. The dryer sheet doesn’t need to be new; you can press a dryer sheet that’s been used for laundry into double duty for this task.

HAIR MANAGEMENT

Hair is a particular issue in bathrooms. In general, hair pickup should be a dry proposition. Start by vacuuming, sweeping or dry mopping; if you introduce, say, a wet mop to a hairy floor, you’ll end up with wet strands stuck to the floor. In the sink and around the toilet bowl, use paper towels or rags to pick up hairs before you introduce liquid cleansers.

How to keep bathroom floors clean: Store a small handheld vacuum in the bathroom to make staying on top of loose hairs a cinch.

MORE ON HOW TO KEEP THE BATHROOM CLEAN

What Should I Do About My Moldy Bathroom?

In the bathroom, a room the British call the water closet for good reason, eliminating water isn’t viable. Cutting off food, though, is.

How to Be Mindful While Cleaning the Bathroom

Can you be mindful while scrubbing the toilet?

How to Clean Your Bedroom

A little effort makes a big difference in the bedroom. Simply making the bed and moving mugs and glasses to the kitchen every the morning will do wonders for creating the appearance of a tidy bedroom.

MAKE YOUR BED

At the risk of unleashing your latent sullen teenager, it must be said that making the bed every day is a good habit. Would you like some reasons?

  • It makes the bedroom look pulled together, and that’s nice to come home to.
  • If you have pets, making the bed helps to keep hair, dander and drool off your sheets.
  • Turning down the bed at night is a ritual that can signal to the brain that it’s time for sleep.
  • Getting into a made bed just feels so good!

It’s also worth saying this: Many people think that making the bed is a waste of time, and that’s O.K. We’re not all moved by the same things, and what a tidy-looking bed does for one person may not do a single thing for another.

If you prefer to let the bedlinens air out during the day, make the bed with the sheets exposed by folding the blanket and top sheet halfway down toward the foot of the bed.

How to make a hospital corner: Do you love a tightly tucked bed? Hospital corners are easy to master, once you know the steps to take:

  1. Spread the flat sheet over the bed, with overhang on the sides and foot of the bed.
  2. Starting at the foot of the bed, tuck the sheet tightly under the mattress.
  3. Take the sheet on one side of the bed and lift it up, creating a 45 degree fold up the side of the mattress. Then, tuck the excess fabric under the mattress.
  4. Bring the lifted portion down, square the lines with the corner of the mattress and tuck it tightly.
  5. Repeat on the other side of the bed.

HOW OFTEN YOU SHOULD WASH YOUR SHEETS

Ideally, the bed should be made with a clean set of sheets once a week or once every other week. The timing depends on a whole bunch of factors, such as:

  • Do you sleep in the nude?
  • Are there multiple people sleeping in your bed?
  • Are you frequently having sex in the bed?
  • Are you a person who sweats at the night?
  • Are children co-sleeping with you?

If you answer yes to a few of these, you should consider changing your sheets more often. The choice also depends on how much time you have for the chore, and on how much you care about having clean sheets on the bed.

To make the job of stripping the sheets and remaking the bed seem less terrible, consider the reward: Later that night, you’ll get to slip into fresh sheets. Fresh Sheet Day is worth the work.

PUT CLOTHES AWAY

Make putting away your freshly laundered clothes part of laundry day. You wouldn’t bring bags of groceries into the house, set them down in front of the refrigerator and call it a day. Same with clean clothes: Part of laundry duty is putting them away.

KEEP SURFACES CLEAN

A feather duster may seem like a relic of the past, but in a bedroom — where we often use dresser tops and bedside tables to store books, eyeglasses, remote controls, etc. — that duster will make quick work of eliminating dust from knickknack-laden surfaces. The nature of gravity being what it is, dust first, vacuum second.

If you enjoy a cup of tea in the evening, or leave a glass of water by the bed in case you get thirsty in the night, make a habit of moving it to the kitchen in the morning to prevent dirty dishes from littering your bedroom by the end of the week.

Invest in a bedside table that has a drawer. It will allow you to stash small items like hand cream and lip balm so that they’re not cluttering up surfaces.

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How to Clean the Living Room

The name of the game in the living room is tidying and straightening.

REMOVE THAT WHICH DOES NOT BELONG

The nature of the living room being what it is, items that do not necessarily belong in the living room often make their way in there. Items such as dirty socks, wine glasses and even Krazy Glue eventually should be put in their rightful places (the hamper, dishwasher and tool box, respectively).

STRAIGHTEN AND SQUARE

Don’t underestimate the impact that taking a minute or two to fluff cushions, fold throw blankets and straighten decorative pillows can have on the look of your living room. Similarly, squaring up stacks of magazines and books is a fast and easy way to create the appearance of a tidy space. A quick pass of the feather duster over bookshelves and coffee tables will help get rid of dust with little fuss; microfiber cloths will eliminate fingerprints and smudges in a flash.

HOW TO CLEAN A COUCH

Your couch has a secret. Upholstered furniture comes with a code that should be used to determine what products should be used to clean it. The code can be found on the care tag, which is usually on the underside of the piece of furniture. It will read either W, S, SW or X. That code can be interpreted as follows:

  • W = Wet/water cleaning only. You can clean these with a number of methods: diluted dish soap and a rag, upholstery cleaner or upholstery cleaning machines.
  • S = Dry solvent cleaning only. Use a specialized upholstery cleaner for these fabrics, as water-based cleaners can cause damage.
  • SW = Dry solvent and/or wet cleaning. You can use either wet or dry solvent methods.
  • X = Professional cleaning or vacuuming only. These couches should only be vacuumed, and you’ll have to find a professional to tackle stain removal. If you have children, pets, and/or an active social life, please avoid purchasing an X-code couch.

Black & Decker FSMH1321 7IN1 steam-mop

The 7IN1 part of the name tells you that the Black & Decker FSMH1321 7IN1 steam-mop is a versatile product: it can handle everything from mopping floors to hand-held detail work. With plenty of tools in the box, it’s a great product for the price.

The main unit has a large attachable pole and floor cleaner, but you get a wide selection of nozzles including brushes, a window squeegee and a microfibre cloth for cleaning upholstery. Floor performance was excellent, with the pad picking up lots of grime from tiles and laminate flooring. The short cable proved slightly annoying in handheld mode for cleaning windows, although the results were good bar the water runoff at the bottom. Upholstery performance was very good, too.

The short cable is a little annoying, as is the leaky filler cap. And, the floor mop tends to pick up dirt in concentrated areas, meaning you have to swap out the cloth regularly. Still, all of these issues can be forgiven for the price, and the Black & Decker FSMH1321 7IN1 steam-mop is a great budget choice.

Here’s How to Clean Your House More Efficiently

few years ago, I found out that I’ve been cleaning my home all wrong. I was in a hotel room, when a maid came in and sprayed a solution on every surface…and then left. Right when I thought she’d forgotten, she returned. She wiped for less than two minutes with a thin dry cloth, and the whole place sparkled. It had, frankly, never occurred to me to let one solution do all the work, so I asked her what she’d used. It was something called Butcher’s Bath Mate—an industry standby.

Pro cleaners have brilliant tricks to get the job done. We asked three pros to school us on how to clean every room of the house much more efficiently. Plus, get their can’t-live-without-it cleaning supplies and top dos and don’ts.

The Best Way to Clean Your House

The biggest mistake people make is cleaning room by room (this is called “zone cleaning”). It’s much too slow! “You can either clean your kitchen in four hours, or clean your entire house top to bottom in four hours,” says Lisa Romero, owner of Just Like New Cleaning in Fort Collins, Colorado. “A lot of people get caught focusing on one area—say, doing a super job cleaning the counters—and never get to the stove, let alone the next room. In reality, just wiping things down and moving on is quick and efficient.” GETTY IMAGES

Most pros are in favor of “task cleaning”: completing one chore, such as dusting, throughout the entire house, before starting the next. “You’ll do a little more walking, so it’s a good workout,” says Ronald Payne, owner of RZJ Janitorial Services in Plano, Texas, “and I find that it’s faster because you’re in a mindset to keep moving.” Follow these seven steps and your whole house will sparkle in four hours if you’re a beginner, two and a half once you become a pro. Need an even quicker method? Check out our tips for cleaning your house in only an hour, or our speed-cleaning guide for just 30 minutes.

Our Ultimate Cleaning Guide

The recommended plan of attack? Top-to-bottom, left-to-right. “I always start [in the upstairs bathroom],” says Romero. “It’s a good place to leave supplies.”

For each task, start at the highest point in the room (if dusting, this might mean high shelves), and move from left to right across the room. This way, you don’t miss anything, and you won’t accidentally knock dust onto already-cleaned lower shelves. GETTY IMAGES

Step 1: Dust Your House

Dust each room, including the topsides of all the furniture, undersides of shelves, and all handrails, as well as picture frames, TV screens and knickknacks. “When it’s possible to dry-dust, I do—getting something wet makes it harder,” says Romero. To get rid of fingerprints, dampen a microfiber cloth with warm water.

Pro cleaning tip: Look up top. “People don’t dust up on the very top of furniture, and that’s where all the dust collects and then falls off,” says Romero.

Step 2: Clean Furniture Fabric

Go through the house and strip and remake beds; neaten any pillows or furniture blankets. Brush furniture surfaces with a vacuum extension as needed.

Step 3: Clean Mirrors and Glass

Wipe down mirrors and windows throughout the house.

Pro cleaning tip: Using one wet and one dry microfiber cloth won’t leave streaks. GETTY IMAGES

Step 4: Clean Surfaces

Wipe down all surfaces and counters throughout the house, disinfecting as necessary.

Pro cleaning tip: Be sure to wipe down all places that fingers touch, like door handles, light switches, TV remotes and phones. “Those are the places that people forget, and they really hold germs,” says Payne.

Step 5: Clean the Kitchen and Bathroom

Walk through and spray cleaner on tubs, sinks and toilets. Return and scrub. Then, in the kitchen, wipe down the inside of the microwave, and cabinet and appliance doors. GETTY IMAGES

Step 6: Clean Floors

Sweep, then mop or scrub the bathroom and kitchen floors, and any other floor that needs it.

Pro cleaning tip: “I always do bathroom floors on my hands and knees with a microfiber cloth and cleanser,” says Romero. “That’s how I know that I got every corner, even behind toilets, and that they’re 100% disinfected.”

Step 7: Vacuum the House

“I vacuum my way out the bedrooms, down the stairs, through the living room and out of the house,” says Romero.

Pro cleaning tip: It’s not crucial to vacuum every single inch. Just keep moving. You’ll get the spots you missed next week.

5 Cleaning Supplies the Pros Can’t Live Without

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PACK OF MICROFIBER TOWELS

$13 for 24-pack

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“I’ve saved thousands of dollars on paper towels and window cleaner since I started using microfiber,” says Lisa Romero, owner of Just Like New Cleaning in Fort Collins, Colorado. Make sure to buy good-quality cloths, usually around $1 per cloth from a janitorial supply store, and never wash with dryer sheets or fabric softener. 

Pro tip: Before using a cleaning product for dusting, try just warm water and the microfiber. “It usually works,” says Romero.

AMAZON

Karcher SC5 easyFix Premium Steam Cleaner

Yes, it’s expensive, but there’s a good reason for that: the Karcher SC5 easyFix Premium Steam Cleaner is the best cleaner that we’ve tested. With its near 2-litre capacity, 2kW+ heater and powerful VapoHydro mode, this is a steam cleaner that can handle everything.

Variable steam control power lets you control the SC5’s output, so you can tackle more delicate jobs. It’s the VapoHydro that really grabs attention: this mode mixes water with steam, giving a kind of pressure-washer action.

Karcher provides accessories for almost every job. There’s an Easyfix floor mopping head complete with washable microfibre cloths and a carpet glider. A large square brush gives you power for tough cleaning. And, a detail nozzle which takes a small round brush, small detail brush and power nozzle. In fact, the only thing missing is a window cleaning tool.

On all surfaces from hard floors and carpets, to tiles and window sills, the SC5 proved itself to be a powerful performer, shifting stubborn dirt. And, it can do it at speed; in fact, we’ve never seen a steam cleaner that can clean a hard floor so quickly.

For all-round cleaning ability, the Karcher SC5 easyFix Premium Steam Cleaner is the ultimate choice.