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.