Vacuums are technology’s answer to the broom, but what about the mop? Can an electric mop really outperform a manual mop?
Well, it depends. Let’s look at a quick breakdown of what products you have to choose from when it comes to electric mops and scrubbers.
We’ve separated products into seven categories that encompass the majority of electric mops and scrubbing devices meant for cleaning a variety of surfaces, including hardwood and tile:
Now we’re going to show you our recommended mops from each category, along with their strengths and weaknesses. Use the links above to skip ahead to the section that interests you, or keep reading!
Keep In Mind
Each of these mop types handle messes differently. For example, robot mops aren’t capable of cleaning up large amounts of liquid, such as a glass of milk. The same can be said for steam or spray mops; there just isn’t enough material on the mop head for absorbing large quantities of liquid. In the electric mop world, the vacuum/mop combo, often called a wet-dry vac, dominates large messes.
Rather than rely on detergents, steam mops generate steam that helps dampen and loosen stuck-on messes from hard flooring. The scrubbing action is done with a removeable cloth or pad, usually reusable, that works similar to most microfiber or spray mops.
- Steam mops pads are generally not “fluffy” and allow you to scrub and remove difficult, stuck-on messes.
- Steam is cheap. However, most manufacturers recommend using only distilled water, which can easily be found at your local grocery store. This avoids mineral buildup from the impurities found in tap water.
- Lightweight and maneuverable.
- Can’t be used on unsealed hardwood. Your hardwood floor needs to be sealed after installation to insure the space between the edges of each board are protected.
- Steam mops are limited in the amount of liquid they can absorb, so large spills aren’t something they can handle. However, double-sided mop heads give you more surface area for absorption.
Warning: About Hardwood Flooring
It is recommended that steam mops (or any liquid cleaner) only be used on hardwood floors that have been sealed with polyurethane after laying so that the grooves between each board are sealed as well. If your floor was sealed at the factory, but not after it was laid, then you should not be using a steam mop. Seek professional advice on how your specific floor should be cleaned.
Steam Mop Comparison Table
Why Pick the Shark Genius Steam Mop?
One of the common complaints about some steam mops, and other mops that rely on detachable pads, is that the pad isn’t secure and moves, or even falls off, when you apply too much pressure. Shark’s locking mechanism for the pad is as secure as you could hope for it to be. Also, you don’t even have to touch the exterior of the pad to remove it.
Aside from that there are a few reasons that it stands out.
- Double-sided pad that you can easily flip over.
- 3 levels of steam with the S5003D model.
- Steam Blaster for focusing on difficult stuck-on messes.
- 22′ Power Cord
There’s more to a good steam mop than just producing steam. The simple features outlined above come together in the Shark Genius to make a solid steam mop. It addresses many of the common complaints that we see in customer reviews.
The Number One Rule of Steam Mops
Only water can be added to the tank, preferably distilled water. You will destroy your steam mop if you add cleaning solution. No essential oils!
When you introduce a cleaning solution to the water and then evaporate the water (as steam), you are left with a residue of all the chemicals inside the cleaning solution that didn’t make its way out with the steam. Eventually, the residual chemicals will burn as if you left a pot of water on the stovetop and dumped sugar into it and let the water boil off.
Bissell also sells demineralized water that will work with any steam mop, but you’ll find it’s probably cheaper to buy plain old distilled water locally.
How Do They Compare With Other Mops?
Steam mops are even more straightforward than spin mops in that the only extra function they perform is producing steam. One advantage to steam mops is that they don’t leave behind much water on your floor, so you don’t have to worry about waiting for it to dry or tracking dirty footprints. You can even control how much steam is released to fit your needs.
To get the best performance and life out of a steam mop, you also should use distilled or demineralized water. Water from a tap, unless you have a home filtration system, will always have minerals and small traces of other chemicals in the water. When the water evaporates into steam, the minerals will be left behind and eventually will reduce the performance of the machine.
It’s not going to ruin the steam mop if you use tap water, but if you can use filtered water in the mop, then you will increase the life of your steam mop.
Detachable Tank: Good or Bad?
As you can see, the majority of the steam mops in our table do not have removable tanks.
That’s a good thing.
The Bissell 1940, not shown in the table, is the basic model of the Bissell Model 1806 Steam Mop we’ve recommended above and is an example of a steam mop with a removable tank that has had some problems with leaks.
Now, we’re not claiming you can’t get a leak with a built-in tank, but repeatedly attaching and detaching the tank and building the mop with a mechanism to support that function creates a potential place for leaking to occur. Simply having a tank that attaches to the pump without any intermediate plumbing tricks creates less opportunity for problems.
About Our Runner-Up Pick
The Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe 1806 is an improvement over the Bissell PowerFresh 1940 model for several reasons, but most importantly the water tank. In the newer 1806 model, the water tank is built into the body of the mop. You will have to fill the tank with the provided cup, but this helps eliminate the leaking problems that occur on steam mops with removable tanks like the 1940 model.
There are a few other differences, such as the water tank is 19 oz. on the 1806 (up from 15 oz. on the 1940), and the power cord is 25 feet on the 1806 (up from 23 feet on the 1940). Another difference is the “SpotBOOST Brush” on the 1806 model, which essentially turns the body of the mop into a steam brush for getting tough messes.
Both the 1940 and 1806 model can be turned off without unplugging them.
- SpotBOOST Brush turns the body of the mop into a steaming brush.
- Built-in water tank means no leaky seals.
- 2 Steam Settings (Can be turned OFF without unplugging.)
- Scent Discs Optional
- Safe on sealed hardwood, tile, stone, marble, granite, linoleum, and laminate flooring.
- 2 Year Warranty
- 25-foot power cord
If you’re not completely satisfied with the idea of only relying on the steam from the mop to clean your floors, then you can spray any solution you usually would use onto the floor before or during cleaning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I have to pump the handle to release the steam?
A: No pumping required. Just set the steam level by pressing the button on the body and steam will continuously come out. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t leave the steam mop sitting in one spot for too long while it is still turned on. Use the same button to turn the steam setting to off.
Q: Can I use this on hardwood floors?
A: Yes, but the hardwood must be sealed. This means that the hardwood was sealed with polyurethane after being installed so that the seams are covered as well. If you use a steam mop on pre-sealed hardwood that is laid, leaving the seams unsealed, you can damage your floor over time.
Q: Do the pads slip off the steam mop?
A: As long as you put them on correctly this shouldn’t be much of an issue. It’s best to put the front of the pad on first, then tuck it into the groove on the mop and work your way around, tucking as much of the elastic band into the groove as possible. Bissell doesn’t recommend this, but you can put the pads in a clothes dryer and slightly shrink them. They will fit more snug after 1 or 2 cycles. Also, floors with a rougher texture will pull on the pad more. Allow steam to build up which will help lubricate the pad as you mop.
Q: Are the pads washable/reusable?
Q: How long from turning on does it take to produce steam?
A: About 20-30 Seconds
Q: Can this steam mop stand on its own?
Other Steam Mop Options
Bissell Symphony Pet Vacuum and Steam Mop
The combination of vacuum and steam mop might seem odd, but it does solve a common problem of some steam mop users: when you are trying to clean up large amounts of dust or pet hair it will tend to clump up from the moisture and may even be left behind on the floor.
Now, typically when you mop a floor you sweep or vacuum beforehand. Steam mops perform best when you do the same thing before using them. Vacuums often leave fine dust and hair that still clings to the floor when suction alone won’t pull it loose.
Steam mops are a great tool to get that next level of clean after sweeping or vacuuming. They also don’t require you to use cleaning chemicals to sanitize your floors.
Does the Symphony perform both jobs well?
It’s not going to suck the finish off your hardwood, but it does remove enough debris to make the steam mop useful if you’re trying to skip sweeping, or using your standalone vacuum. Combining both functions into one is effective.
The Symphony is a unique product that can save you time if you want to touch-up your floors, but the vacuum isn’t going to replace a full-size upright or canister vacuum. You might see some complaints about a particular steam mop creating clumps of hair or dust, but the truth is these people are probably using the steam mop wrong. As we mentioned earlier, you have to vacuum or sweep the floor before using a mop, and the same is true for a steam mop.
If you already have a vacuum, which most people do, then the price jump from a traditional steam mop to the Bissell Symphony might not make sense to you. However, if you have a lot of hard flooring in your home, then the Symphony would probably serve you well.
O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop
The O-Cedar Steam Mop has all the necessities with an affordable price tag. Similar to the Bissell PowerFresh, it has a built-in water tank, so you don’t have to worry about leaks. The tank holds about 13 oz., which allows you to cover a lot of area in one fill. The Microfiber pad refills are relatively cheap as well. There is no warranty with this steam mop, unlike the Bissell that has a 2-year warranty.
- Produces steam in 20 seconds
- Adjustable Steam Level (Can be turned OFF without unplugging.)
- Includes a glider for carpets.
- Triangular Head Design makes cleaning corners easy.
- Safe on sealed hardwood, tile, stone, marble, granite, linoleum, and laminate flooring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How are the microfiber pads attached and do they slip off?
A: They are attached using velcro strips and stay on with no issues.
Q: How many times can I wash the pads before replacing them?
A: About 25 times, as recommended by the manufacturer. Of course, this depends on how you use them.
Q: How is the water tank refilled?
A: A 200 mL cup is provided and it takes about 2 filled cups to fill the tank. The tank is not detachable.
Q: What are the dimensions of the triangular mop head?
A: 12″ across the back (hypotenuse) and 9″ on each side.
Electric spin mops rely on friction from rotating pads and generally have an onboard tank of cleaner you can spray as you clean. The spinning action means they rely less on your ability to put downward pressure on them as you mop.
There is a corded and cordless model of the Bissell Spinwave. The lithium ion battery on the cordless Bissel Spinwave will last about 20 minutes. If you’re concerned about the battery life, then consider the corded model.
- Easily glides across the floor. Great if you have wrist, hand, or other mobility issues such as arthritis.
- Switch between soft pads or scrubbing pads as needed.
- On-demand spray that lets you apply just the right amount of cleaning solution to your floor.
- The spinning action reduces the amount of effort needed to clean your floor.
- Can’t soak up large quantities of liquid.
- Attaching the pads takes some practice. You have to get them centered just right.
Electric Spin Mops Comparison Table
Why Pick the Bissel Spinwave?
The Bissell SpinWave is a great daily cleaning tool for your bare floors. With the option to get a corded or cordless model, you can either opt for more freedom or the ability to clean a large area at once. If your home has mostly bare flooring, you might find a cordless just can’t keep up. The weight, spray reservoir, and cleaning performance of the corded and cordless model are the same.
Most spin mops have an onboard tank and sprayer so you can apply cleaning solution as you go. This means you can control how wet your floors are better than a traditional mop, and you don’t have to worry about dirty mop water. Just drop the dirty pad in the washing machine, and you’re done.
- 28 oz. tank capacity
- Includes soft-touch pads for gently cleaning hardwood floors and scrubby pads for tough messes.
- The spinning pads make it glide across the floor which reduces the physical effort needed to clean.
- Spray dispenser is built in.
- Safe on sealed wood floors, vinyl, grout, laminated flooring, tiles, stone or marble.
- Weighs 11 lbs.
- 2-Year Warranty
The spinning pads are attached via velcro pads on the bottom of the SpinWave. These hold up well, but you have to be careful and get the center of the pad in the center of the rotating disk. Otherwise, it will not spin symmetrically. This system works well and makes it easy to remove the pads for cleaning.
Here’s a demonstration of how the SpinWave works and how to attach the pads.
The hardest part is getting the pads precisely in the center, but it’s just something you’ll get used to with time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I have to use Bissell Cleaning Solution or can I use the one I currently have?
A: You can use your own cleaner. Moderate detergents or essential oils that are diluted in water are fine.
Q: Can I use the SpinWave on hardwood or marble floors?
A: The SpinWave is safe on sealed hardwood and marble floors. Be sure to use the correct cleaning solution for each floor type.
Q: Is the SpinWave hard to push?
A: No it glides across the floor when turned on. The rotating pads make it easy to move around.
Q: Is there a steam feature?
A: No, the solution is sprayed out of the front as a liquid when you press a button on the handle.
Q: How long is the cord?
A: 22 feet.
Q: Is cleaning solution included with the SpinWave?
A: Yes, you get a bottle of multi-surface cleaner.
This type of mop is most similar to the traditional mop, but saves you the trouble of making and disposing of mop water. You have more control over how much liquid gets on the floor than with a traditional mop. The cleaning pads are often washable and reusable, so this is one of the less expensive alternatives to a mop.
There are electric models, such as the Swiffer WetJet, but our top picks for this category use a simple mechanical trigger that doesn’t rely on batteries.
- You have more control over how much liquid is on the floor than with a traditional mop, which leads to faster drying.
- Easy to get started cleaning. No preparing mop water and disposing of it.
- Washable pads with soft or stiff fibers.
- Can’t absorb large amounts of liquid.
- Requires more physical work than other mop types.
Spray Mops Comparison Table
About Spray Mops
Spray mops, like steam and spin mops, aren’t capable of absorbing large liquid messes. Traditional mops have more material on the mop head that can absorb liquid than the electric alternatives. However, with spray mops, you can just grab the mop and start cleaning. There’s no preparing mop water.
In a hurry to touch-up your floor before guests come over? You won’t have to worry about getting too much water on the floor as you have complete control of how much gets sprayed on the floor, more than with a traditional mop.
Spray mops are also mechanically simpler than the other types of electric mops we’ve shown here, which means they’re typically cheaper. Models such as the Rejuvenate are powered by the handle pump, while others are battery-powered with a button-activated spray.
Why Pick the Rejuvenate Spray Mop?
Honestly, there aren’t any huge differences between many of the spray mops. There’s not one killer feature that blows the others out of the water.
With that said, there are problems that many customers complain about, such as leaking, handles breaking, pads falling off constantly, pumps failing, and more. Spray mops are simple, but we don’t want one that’s going to do any of the above after just a month or two of use.
The Rejuvenate, at the time this article was published, is less expensive and offers the same features as the Rubbermaid. The addition of the grout scrubber tool is a nice touch. You can easily add your own homemade solution to the bottle and you get replacement bottle caps.
Again, there is not a huge compelling reason to favor one over the other, and it mainly comes down to price.
The Runner-Up: Rubbermaid Reveal
As for the Rubbermaid Reveal, the pads are much more dense and substantial than the typical disposable spray mop pad. Not only that, but the simplicity of velcro-like pad attachment makes it very easy to use.
The Rubbermaid mop kit includes 3 pads and 2 additional refillable bottles. Rubbermaid claims the pads can be washed 100 times, and most users agree on this. This is one of the reasons we love this model as the pads last much longer than other spray mops (and steam mops) we’ve looked at. This is a considerable cost saving.
Lastly, the 1-year warranty is fantastic at this price point.
More Spray Mop Options
O-Cedar ProMist MAX Spray Mop
The O-Cedar ProMist is one of the least expensive models we’ve chosen for this list. The pump handle means you don’t have to worry about grabbing the mop and finding the batteries are dead. However, it does mean you do have to pump the handle to spray cleaner, which might be an issue if you have arthritis or dexterity issues.
At this price, expecting any kind of warranty is unrealistic. It’s a good idea o take advantage of return policies with retailers such as Amazon when a product’s warranty doesn’t solve your problem.
Swiffer WetJet Spray Mop
Being a battery operated spray mop, the WetJet simplifies the mopping process, but like most spray mops it isn’t going to take care of large messes.
Batteries can be a blessing and a curse. This type of spray mop is easy on your hands and requires less work than the pumping models, but swapping batteries adds to the overall cost of the mop.
The WetJet is meant to replace a mop and bucket, but we think that the soaking ability of a spray mop is not on par with a traditional mop. Cleaning up messes, such as spilled liquids, isn’t possible unless it’s a small amount. Partially soaking up a mess with paper towels or a rag and then using a spray mop to finish is more realistic.
Robot vacuums and mops are not a complete replacement for their less intelligent counterparts. However, if you currently use a robot vacuum then you know how convenient they are by reducing how frequently you need to vacuum. The same is true for robot mops.
Robot mops also have a vacuum function. You will want to vacuum yourself or let the robot vacuum before running it in mop mode to get the best performance.
- Zero effort cleaning whenever you need it.
- Sweeps or mops
- Smart navigation. The Braava keeps track of where it has been and where it needs to go.
- Reusable microfiber cloths or disposable cleaning cloths
- Can’t handle large messes.
- It’s not a quick cleaning solution. A complete cleaning cycle will take an hour or two, depending on the size of the room.