The 8 Best Steam Mops of 2019

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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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“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.