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Buying a Steam Cleaner or Steam Mop Guide


In recent years the rise of steam cleaners and steam mops has been quite dramatic and there have been countless innovations along the way.

Of course there are many ways to clean your home with traditional chemicals so what makes steam a better alternative?

  • High temperature steam is great for cleaning floors and many surfaces found around the home including the kitchen and bathroom etc. Using steam require no chemicals and is a much better cleaning method as it has the added benefit of killing off nasty bacteria.
  • Multi-surface, not limited to hard surfaces steam cleaners can be used to clean upholstery and even clothing materials. This makes steam cleaning an extremely versatile cleaning solution for most homes.
  • Powerful cleaning, even hard to clean kitchen ovens, grills and BBQ’s can be cleaned.

Choosing the best steam cleaner for your home:

People often use the term ‘steam mop’ or ‘steam cleaner’ to describe products but they essentially use the same technology.

To keep things simple you can put them into three main categories:

Handheld Steam Cleaners:

  • Generally lower priced and come in a smaller form factor. In most cases these handheld steam cleaners are used to clean the surfaces of grills, tiles and BBQ’s.
  • Not suitable for large cleaning jobs, of course you wouldn’t buy one of these to clean anything larger such as a hard floor etc. That being said you can still clean a fair amount of your home.

Steam Mops:

  • Your basic steam mop will let you clean sealed hard surfaces which include wood laminate, tiles, lino and much more.
  • Often these steam mops will include a carpet glider tool which simply attaches to the bottom and allows you to clean and refresh your carpets with the power of steam.
  • Although this does go some way to cleaning carpets and making them smell fresh its not at all a complete carpet cleaner replacement.  In most cases all in one steam mops are cheaper than a traditional steam cleaner or separate mop unit attachment.

Steam Cleaners:

  • Generally speaking steam cleaners are 2-in-1 machines that feature a steam mop with a detachable handle, most of these machines will allow a plethora of attachments to allow performing of different cleaning tasks.
  • Additional cleaning tasks would include much more detailed cleaning such as tiles including grout, stone, ovens, BBQ’s and even upholstery which his makes these units great for a total steam cleaning solution for around your home.
  • With all this added functionality and cleaning potential you will have to pay more.

Features you should consider when purchasing a steam cleaner or steam mop:

With the huge range of steam cleaners and steam mop products available you’ll want to make sure you know what to look for when it comes to specifications etc.

1. Water Tank Capacity:

  • All steam cleaners and steam mops need to be filled with water so operate.
  • In most cases this is normally done by removing and filling a small plastic container,
  • Generally steam mops will have a tank capacity of around 400 to 500ml (0.4 and 0.5 litres) and more expensive steam cleaners hold much more.
  • So depending on the cleaning tasks you are going to perform the water tank capacity is quite important otherwise you’ll have to keep filling up.

2. Heating Up Time:

  • Once you have filled up your water tank your steam cleaner or steam mop will need to heat that water so you can start your cleaning jobs.
  • Heating time will depend on the size of your water tank and the power of the machine.
  • Typically most steam mops will heat up and be ready to use within a time of 30 seconds to 1 minute, those are rough numbers yours may be faster or slower.

3. Steaming Time (cleaning):

  • Once you have filled up your water tank and the machine has finished heating up you’ll want to start cleaning. Another really important factor to note is the steaming time which means how long you’ll get for cleaning jobs util a refill and heat up is required again.
  • In the majority of cases the steam mops we have reviewed will allow 10 to 15 minutes of steaming time and some costly models will even give you up to 20 minutes between the filling and heating up process.
  • It is worth considering this seriously as if you have a home with lots of cleaning jobs you won’t want to keep stopping.

4. Included Attachments and Tools:

  • The majority of steam mops and steam cleaners come with some sort of attachments which can be used for a variety of cleaning jobs around your home.
  • Its important to ensure when choosing a model that it has all the attachments you are going to need for your cleaning jobs.
  • If you choose the right model and its included attachments you can future proof your purchase as in the future you’ll likely need one of the included attachments.
  • Common attachments and tools can include an extension nozzle and attachments for cleaning upholstery, cleaning clothes, worktops and even window cleaning.

5. Weight:

  • Like most home appliances which include vacuum cleaners etc the weight of the item you are using is important as it will determine how long you can use it for.
  • Most steam mops are quite light and range between 2 – 3 kg in weight although this will increase as you add your water and of course the bigger the tank equals more weight for you to lug around your home.
  • If you are planning to be cleaning using steam quite frequently when its worth considering this when choosing a model for the reasons above.

6. Steam Mop Head Type:

  • You will want to take a couple of things into account when choosing a steam mop head and those are size and especially maneuverability of the mop head.
  • Small mop heads will allow you to clean in tight spaces, some models have swiveling mop heads which are great for cleaning underneath certain types of furniture eg: under tables, chairs and couches etc.
  • Once you have decided on the above the next thing you’ll want to take into consideration is the type of cover provided as there are two common covers which are used.
  • Disposable covers tend to be easier to use but have to be thrown away and re-usable covers will save you money long term but themselves have to be washed. Personally I would go for re-usable covers.