We mopped hundreds of square feet of tile and stone flooring with the 6 best steam mops available in 2020, wielding these steamy Excaliburs against the toughest dirt, grime, and stains we could find. We came out the other side thinking that, while many of these products perform well, most homes probably don't need one. But if you have an area of stone or tile flooring in your house that is constantly getting sullied by muddy footprints, a steam mop can make constant spot cleaning a much more efficient process. If you fall into this category, our testing results can lead you to the perfect steam dragon for your entryway or kitchen.
The Best Steam Mops of 2020
Best For Most Homes
BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe
Offering top notch performance at a fairly reasonable price point, the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe is the mop we would recommend to the vast majority of people looking to do some steam cleaning. It produces powerful, even steam, glides smoothly, and has a nice, articulating cleaning head. This means you can clean your entire floor, even those hard to reach corners and edges, quickly and efficiently. The cleaning pad has a convenient pull tab, so you can usually get it off without transferring any of that floor grime onto your hands. What really made this mop stand out is its attached scrubbing brush, which is the most effective method we've found for getting stubborn stains out of tile. That brush can be both accessed and used in a mostly upright position, so no need to turn into a hunchback when trying to get rid of that old ketchup stain.
Really the only criticism you can levy against the BISSELL is the fact that it doesn't allow for hands-free pad replacement. This means you'll have to wait for the pad to cool down before you take it off for cleaning. The mop also only comes with 1 pad, so if you're cleaning a large area you may need to buy a second pad. However, most people don't have enough tile or stone floor area to warrant needing a second pad (we were able to get through a kitchen and 2 bathrooms easily), so this shouldn't be a problem for most.
Read review: BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe
Best for Cleaning Large Areas
Shark Genius Steam Pocket
If your house has more tile or stone flooring than average (generally more than a kitchen and 2 bathrooms worth), the Shark Genius Steam Pocket offers all the power and convenience you need for longer cleaning sessions. This is mostly because the Genius Steam Pocket fixes the one flaw of the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe by offering a hands-free pad replacement feature. You can simply throw a new pad on the floor, press a button to eject the old pad, slip the cleaning head into the new pad, flip it to either side to lock it in, and you're on your way. No need to stop and wait for the mop to cool before you can change the pad.
The biggest downside of the Genius Steam Pocketis the fact that it lacks any sort of stiff scrubbing brush, making it slightly less adept at getting out stubborn stains than the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe. However, for those that have enough stone or tile flooring to burn through more than one cleaning pad in a session, the hands-free pad changing feature will add more than enough efficiency to make up for any extra time spent scrubbing stains.
Best Cleaning Accessories and Great for Large Areas
Shark Lift-Away Pro
The Shark Lift-Away Pro provides all the hands-free pad changing convenience of its sibling, the Genius Steam Pocket, and adds a larger water tank and a slew of different cleaning accessories and attachments. This includes a hose and related attachments for steam cleaning things like stove tops and counters, as well as a garment streaming accessory. In our tests all of these accessories proved to be both more effective and easier to use than those offered by the competition.
There are a couple of disadvantages if you decide to go with the Lift-Away Pro. The first is that it lacks a truly powerful scrubbing brush like the one on the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe, so you do make a slight sacrifice in stubborn stain cleaning performance. It does feature a steam burst feature that can loosen most stains, but it wasn't quite as effective as the BISSELL's scrubbing brush in our testing. The second is that this mop lists for double what most others cost. If that's a bit steep and you don't care about all the extra cleaning attachments, you'll likely prefer the Shark Genius Steam Pocket, which is essentially the same mop without all the extra bells and whistles. If you plan on using all of those attachments, however, we think the Lift-Away Pro is well worth the extra cost.
Read review: Shark Lift-Away Pro
Why You Should Trust Us
Steven Tata and Max Mutter, the leaders of TechGearLab's steam mop team, are both veteran tech product reviewers, having tested and reviewed over 400 consumer tech products in the last 3 years. Within the home and kitchen genre specifically they have reviewed well over 100 products ranging from toaster ovens and humidifiers to air purifiers and vacuums. Both also live in homes with lots of tile flooring that are constantly sullied by the realities of living and playing in a muddy mountain town, making them the perfect foils for exposing the relative cleaning powers of the market's best steam mops.
For this review, we researched more than 50 mops before compiling a list of the 6 most likely to serve our readers well. We then bought those mops (as always at list price: we never want to be swayed by free gifts from manufacturers) and brought them into our testing lab to run them through the paces. This involved creating controlled messes of mud, ketchup, and grime so we could make cleaning passes with each mop, one right next to the other. We also filled and refilled water tanks, timed heating cycles, changed and washed cleaning pads, and ran each mop into the tightest crevices and most acute corners we could find, all to access relative user-friendliness and maneuverability. To top it all of we used all of the extra bells and whistles each mop offers to find whether or not these extra features would be helpful in an average home.
Related: How We Tested Steam Mops
Analysis and Test Results
To find the best steam mop we did a deep dive, combing through user reviews and spec sheets to find the mops that were most likely to deliver good performance. We then spent over 2 weeks getting floors dirty and cleaning them to find which mops cleaned the best, were easiest to use, and the most maneuverable. We also used any extra features each mop offered. We then scored all of these attributes, weighting thing like cleaning performance much more highly than extra features, to arrive at scores on a 0-100 scale. We discuss the full results of all those tests below.
Related: Buying Advice for Steam Mops
The BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe is dominant both in terms of performance and price, making it a rare product that we would recommend both to people looking for the best performance and those looking for a good budget option. Sure, there are cheaper models, but their performances pale so much in comparison that we still think the BISSELL is the best value overall. Both the Shark Genius Steam Pocket and the Shark Lift-Away Pro also provide great performance, but for significantly higher prices. If you have a lot of area to clean, however, those higher prices may be worth it for the convenience of hands-free cleaning pad changing.
As one would expect, cleaning performance is the most important aspect of any steam mop. Because of this, 40% of each product's score is comprised of its cleaning test rating. We tested our mops on a variety of sealed stone and tile floors after purposefully tracking mud onto said floors. In general, cleaning hardwood, laminate, or vinyl flooring with void the flooring's warranty. Therefore we didn't consider these types of floors in our cleaning tests.
We didn't notice dramatic differences in cleaning performance between the mops. They are great for regular periodic use on high-traffic surfaces, where dirt and grime are easily lifted by the steam. For heavier-duty cleanings, such as deep-set stains and large food spills, we found the traditional method of using a bucket of water and mop or sponge to be much more effective, albeit much less convenient.
General Tile/Stone Cleaning Performance
When it came to cleaning tile tile and stone flooring (the only types of flooring where we would use a steam mop), all of the mops did an adequate job. However, there was a clear distinction between mops that did great and those that simply did well. The Shark Genius Steam Pocket, the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe, and the Shark Lift-Away Pro all belong in the former category. These mops were able to easily lift dirt and grime from laminate floors, usually in one pass.
The remaining three models, the O-Cedar Microfiber, the Shark Steam Pocket, and the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL Rolling, all cleaned these surfaces well, but required a bit more effort than the other models did. We often found ourselves having to go back over an area to get some last bits of dirt up that were not cleaned on the first pass. That being said, these models were still more convenient than a traditional mop and bucket.
Stubborn Stain Performance
We found steam mops most effective for regular cleaning, not for getting out stubborn stains that had spent a long time setting into your tile. That being said, we did go on a quest to find tile floors with old, set in stains, then divided those stains up into pieces to see how each model faired at getting rid of them.
The clear standout in this category was the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe. Its scrubbing brush and powerful steam blasts made it the only mop we tested that was actually able to totally extradite the most stubborn of stains. Granted, this process still took some elbow grease, but slightly less than if you were to use a traditional mop.
In a distant stain removing second place were the Shark Genius Steam Pocket and the Shark Lift-Away Pro. Both of these models were able to blast away significant portions of stubborn stains with their steam power, but the lack of any abrasive scrubbing brushes mean you can't get down and dirty like you can with the Bissel.
The Pure Enrichment PureClean XL Rolling has a number of attachments that let you get in and do some physical scrubbing as well as steaming. However, none of these attachments were quite abrasive enough to really get that set in grime, so we ended up leaving about half of most stains on the floor.
We found both the O-Cedar Microfiber and the Shark Steam Pocket to be able to get some of the surface levels of stubborn stains out, but that's about it. With both mops we ended up having to get out some proper sponges and use a lot of old fashioned elbow grease in order to get rid of truly set-in stains.
Second to cleaning performance, user friendliness was the second most important rating metric in our review, with scores comprising 25% of each product's overall score. Despite being relatively simple products to operate, some of the steam mops were much more user-friendly than others. We based each mop's ease of use score on the functionality of three main components; the water tank, steamer, and cleaning pads. We judged the water tanks based upon how prone they were to causing spills and by their capacities. Our favorite mops have wide openings or gradual lead-ins, which make filling much easier. There wasn't much variety between the mops' tank capacities, except for the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL, which has a massive tank that holds 1.5 liters.
Overall, almost every mop we tested heats up rapidly, with all but the Pure Enrichmeof these nt PureClean XL producing steam within one minute of being plugged in. This makes them much more convenient than traditional mopping, which is more involved than filling a steam mop and plugging it in. Replacing cleaning pads is generally an easy process but some mops make this especially simple and clean. All of the mops have washable pads so we focused on assessing how easy they were to change.
Earning top scores of 9 out of 10 in ease of use are Shark's Lift-Away Pro and Genius Steam Pocket. Both feature touch-free pad changing, nearly-instant steam, and water tanks that are easy to fill. The BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe came in just behind the Shark models with a score of 8. It is very user-friendly but doesn't have touch-free pad changing, which cost it one point in our ratings. We liked that the BISSELL could stand up on its own, while the Shark models need to lean on other objects to stand.
With an average score of 5 out of 10, we don't love but also don't hate the user experience offered by the O-Cedar. Its general operation is straightforward, but it is fairly prone to tipping over if left unattended. In fact, we broke off one of the small protrusions used to coil the power cord around because it tipped over unexpectedly.
The Shark Steam Pocket, which also earned a 5 out of 10 in this metric, feels well constructed, but you have to do an odd pumping action on the handle to get steam to come out. For open areas this is fine as the pumping action corresponds with pushing and pulling the mop back and forth, but in tighter spots it can be quite awkward to pump the handle and maneuver the mop effectively.
The lowest scorer for ease of use is the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL, which only earned a 3 out of 10. It was the only model that we tested with an external water tank and it took approximately eight minutes to heat up after being plugged in. Although the external tank helps to produce plenty of steam, the PureClean XL generally felt awkward to use with its steam trigger and lightweight plastic handle. The mop handle is fine for one-handed operation but led most testers to hunch over when using two hands to scrub floors.
One of the most tedious aspects of cleaning floors can be scrubbing hard-to-reach spots, including corners and narrow sections between appliances. We found maneuverability to be a significant attribute and 25% of the final scores are based upon it. We tested maneuverability by mopping a variety of spaces, qualitatively rating mop head glide, corner and edge cleaning, and cord length. The top scorers in this metric glided smoothly across any surface and left no nooks and crannies unclean. There wasn't too much variety in maneuverability and scores ranged from 5 to 8 out of 10.
The Shark Genius Steam Pocket, the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe, and the Shark Lift-Away Pro were top performers in maneuverability, earning scores of 8 out of 10. At 25 feet, the PowerFresh Deluxe has the longest cord of any steam mop that we tested. Shark's Genius Steam Pocket and Lift-Away Pro have the most supple mop heads and did the best with cleaning corners and edges.
The Shark Steam Pocket earned a 6 out of 10, just edging out the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL and O-Cedar, which both earned scores of 5. These models were all decently maneuverable but none stood out. The Pure Enrichment is very cumbersome to move around because of its separate rolling water tank and 16-foot cord.
While some of the mops we tested are spartan in their features, others come with an array of attachments and accessories that make them much more functional cleaning machines that can be used in every room. The basic function of a steam mop is to clean floors and some models include hoses and cleaning heads that can scrub walls. We spent most of our testing time focused on floors and only 10% of each product's score comes from its features score.
The Shark Lift-Away Pro led the pack for features with a score of 9. It has many accessories and configurations that make it ideal for around-the-house cleaning. The Lift-Away comes with two full-size floor pads, a three-foot hose, garment steamer, two tools for cleaning walls and tighter surface spaces, and a triangular scrubber pad. The steamer can be lifted out of the mop body and handheld accessories can be hooked up to the included hose.
Despite having far fewer accessories than the Lift-Away Pro, the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe still earned a 7 out of 10 for its handy scrubbing brush. The mop head can easily be detached by foot to use a plastic scrubber on stubborn spots.
Earning scores of 6 out of 10, the Shark Genius Steam Pocket and Pure Enrichment PureClean XL felt average when it came to features. The Genius only came with a floor cleaning mop head but has three steam output settings for different types of flooring. The PureClean XL has no steam settings but comes with more accessories than any of the other mops we tested. It lost points in this metric because many of the attachments feel flimsy and we even melted some of the scrubbing brushes trying to clean tile and stone surfaces. Even though it comes with plenty of attachments we found it unimpressive that some would melt from the heat of the steam.
Steam mops are somewhat of a niche product, and certainly, don't have a place in every home. However, if you have high-traffic tiled areas that warrant frequent cleaning, and you don't want to deal with constantly lugging a bucket of water around, they can be convenient time savers. We hope that our testing results have elucidated whether or not a steam mop would be a good purchase for you, and if so which one would be best.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata