Best For Most Homes
BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe
Great cleaning performance
powerful scrubbing brush
No hands-free pad replacement
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 Large Areas and Accessories
Shark Lift-Away Pro
22' | Water Tank:
Very good cleaning performance
Hands-free pad changing
Lots of attachments for various tasks
If your house has more tile or stone flooring than average (more than a kitchen and 2 bathrooms), the Shark Lift-Away Pro offers all the power and convenience you need for longer cleaning sessions. This is mostly because the Lift-Away Pro fixes the one flaw of the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe with 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. This mop also has a number of different attachments for cleaning things like stoves and counters and even has an attachment to use it as a garment steamer.
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 can save a little money with the Shark Genius Steam Pocket, which is essentially the same mop without all the extra bells and whistles. However, even this mop still costs more than the BISSELL.
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.
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.
The steam pocket worked well for standard messes in our testing, but didn't have the power to overcome stubborn stains.
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 cleaned a variety of floors with them, including vinyl, laminate, and tile. Though effective for specific types of cleaning, steam mops are not universally compatible with every type of flooring or cleaning need. Hardwood flooring is a tricky surface to clean with steam mops because gaps can trap moisture and lead to mold and warping. Sealed hardwood can be cleaned with steam according to mop manufacturers but many brands, including Armstrong Flooring, strongly caution against using these mops on hardwood. We spoke with local flooring stores and floor manufacturers to get more information on the subject and none of them recommended using steam mops on hardwood. Because it was widely discouraged we excluded it from 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.
When it came to cleaning tile, stone, and vinyl flooring, 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 'burst of steam' feature available on the Shark Lift-Away Pro and the Shark Genius Steam Pocket can cut through stubborn messes.
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.
The Shark Genius Steam Pocket was one of the most capable mops we tested when it came to tile floors.
Laminate Cleaning Performance
We have to start this section with a big disclaimer: most laminate manufacturers recommend against using steam mops on their flooring, and you may even void your floor's warranty by using a steam mop on it. Most mop manufacturers say they are fine for laminate floors. This is technically true, but only if the laminate is perfectly sealed. Nothing stays perfect for long, and chances are most laminates floors have some cracks in their seals that will let some steam in and cause damage. That being said, we still tested laminate floor cleaning performance, though we most likely would not use one of these mops on laminate floors in our own homes.
We would not recommend using one of these mops on laminate flooring. Even with the steam power turned all the way down, look at all the water left behind by the otherwise top performing Bissell.
For laminate floor cleaning, we had almost the same distribution of performance, except this time the O-Cedar Microfiber joined the group of high achievers. This model, along with the Shark Genius, Bissel and Shark Lift-Away Pro, all cleaned normal dirt and grime off of laminate floors with little fuss or difficulty. They all also have a low steam setting, which lets you at least reduce the chance of doing damage to sensitive laminate floors.
Both the Shark Steam Pocket and the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL Rolling are models we would outright avoid cleaning laminate floors with. While both were able to effectively clean laminate floors in our testing, you cannot turn their level of steam down. We got away with not damaging the laminate floor in our testing, but there is no way we'd want to subject any laminate to long-term cleaning from these machines.
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 scrubbing brush of the Bissell is the best tool we've found for stubborn stains.
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 provides relatively weak and uneven steam, making it a less efficient cleaner.
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.
The O-Cedar Microfiber and the Shark Steam Pocket both fell to the bottom of the stubborn stain scoresheet. Both of these models have enough steam power to get started on stubborn stains, but you're still going to have to pull out some traditional cleaning products and do some scrubbing to actually put a significant dent in them.
The hands-free pad changing of both the Shark Lift-Away Pro and the Shark Genius Steam Pocket is incredibly convenient for big cleaning jobs.
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 Enrichment 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.
The Bissell's large water tank opening, and its included measuring cup.
With scores of 5 out of 10, the O-Cedar and Shark Steam Pocket were relatively easy to operate but didn't stand out much. The O-Cedar's plastic body felt pretty flimsy and was fairly prone to tipping over, which caused its power cord holder to break off. We didn't like its opaque water tank, which makes it difficult to tell when to add water. The Shark Steam Pocket is a well-constructed mop but isn't nearly as user-friendly as it's more expensive counterparts from Shark. It has an odd method of steam release where the handle acts as a pump to put out steam. The pads are attached by velcro and must be changed by hand.
The relatively small water tank opening of the Shark Steam Pocket.
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.
The articulating hinge of the Shark models generally makes them quite maneuverable.
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 large body of the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL Rolling feel like a lot to drag around.
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.
The removable steam tank of the Shark Lift-Away Pro makes its accessories very convenient and easy to use.
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.
The Pure Enrichment PureClean XL Rolling offers a lot of accessories, but we found them to be of average quality.
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. Aside from this feature, the PowerFresh Deluxe doesn't come with any other attachments but the one that it does come with is quite effective.
The top-notch accessories of the Shark Lift-Away Pro.
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.