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 hoping to steam clean. It produces powerful and even steam, glides smoothly, and has a nice, articulating cleaning head. This means you can clean your entire floor quickly and efficiently, even those hard to reach corners and edges. The cleaning pad has a convenient pull tab, so you can usually get it off without transferring any of the floor grime onto your hands. What made this mop stand out is its attached scrubbing brush, which is the most effective tool we've found for getting stubborn stains out of tile. That brush can be both accessed and used in a mostly upright position, so you don't have to turn into a hunchback to get rid of that old ketchup stain.
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 have to wait for the pad to cool down before you can safely 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 flooring to warrant needing a second pad, so this shouldn't be a problem for most (we were able to get through a kitchen and 2 bathrooms easily with one pad).
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 supplies 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. There's 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, which makes 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 adds enough of a benefit to outweigh any extra time spent scrubbing stains.
Best Bang for the Buck
Shark Steam Pocket
The Shark Steam Pocket is the best option we've found for those that want the added disinfecting benefits of a steam mop on the cheap. In our testing it provided simple and reliable steam cleaning in a relatively nimble and lightweight package, all for substantially less than its competitors.
We do have many complaints, both major and minor, with the Shark Steam Pocket — you have to lay the mop flat to fill the water tank, the velcro cleaning pad attachment is somewhat clumsy, the pumping action required to release the steam is similarly clumsy, and the steam distribution is often limited to the center of the cleaning pad. However, none of these complaints take away from the fact that it offers the disinfecting power of steam at a reasonable price, making it a great choice for those seeking cleaner floors without breaking the bank.
Read review: Shark Steam Pocket
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, along with a larger water tank and a slew of different cleaning attachments and accessories. This includes a hose and related attachments for steam cleaning things like stovetops or counters, as well as a garment streaming accessory. In our tests all of these accessories proved to be 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 have to sacrifice a little in stubborn stain cleaning performance. It does include 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 too 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 4 years. Within the home and kitchen genre specifically they have reviewed more than 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 reality of living and playing in a muddy mountain town. This makes them the perfect pair for investigating 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 and brought them into our testing lab to run them through the paces (as always we paid list price: we never want to be swayed by gifts from manufacturers). 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, changed and washed cleaning pads, timed heating cycles, and ran each mop into the tightest crevices and most acute corners we could find, all to assess relative user-friendliness and maneuverability. To top it all of we used all of the extra bells and whistles that each mop offers to discover whether these extra features might 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 customer 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 tested any extra features each mop offered. We then scored all of these attributes, weighting things like cleaning performance more highly than extra features, to arrive at scores on a 0-100 scale. We discuss the full results of all this testing below.
Related: Buying Advice for Steam Mops
The BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe is dominant 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 performance pales so much in comparison that we still think the BISSELL is the best overall value. The Shark Genius Steam Pocket and the Shark Lift-Away Pro both also provide great performance, but for significantly higher prices. If you have a lot of floor to clean, however, those higher prices may be worth it for the convenience of hands-free cleaning pad changing.
As you might guess, we consider cleaning performance the most important aspect of any steam mop. Therefore, we assigned 40% of each product's overall score based on its results in our cleaning tests. We did that testing on a variety of sealed stone and tile floors after purposefully tracking mud onto said floors. In general, steam cleaning hardwood, laminate, or vinyl flooring will void the flooring's warranty, so we didn't include these types of floors in our cleaning tests.
We didn't notice dramatic differences in cleaning performance between the mops. They are all great for regular periodic use on high-traffic surfaces, where dirt and grime can be 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. However, this method much less convenient.
General Tile/Stone Cleaning Performance
When it came to cleaning 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, and usually in a single pass.
A few models, including the O-Cedar Microfiber, the Shark Steam Pocket, and the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL Rolling, were all able to clean these surfaces well, but required more passes and more effort overall to do so. With these models we generally had to go over areas at least twice before they were truly clean. We still found faster, however, to clean with all of these models than with a standard mop.
Stubborn Stain Performance
We found steam mops most effective for regular cleaning, rather than for removing 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, and then divided those stains up into pieces to see how each model faired against 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 able to completely extricate the most stubborn of stains. Granted, this process still took plenty of 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 an abrasive scrubbing brush means you can't get down and dirty like you can with the Bissel.
The Pure Enrichment PureClean XL Rolling has several attachments that allow you to get in and do some physical scrubbing in addition to steaming. None of these attachments, however, were quite abrasive enough to remove 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 were both able to attack the surface level of stubborn stains, but that's about it. With these mops we ended up having to get out some proper sponges and use a lot of physical scrubbing 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 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 except the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL producing steam within one minute of being plugged in. This makes them much more convenient than traditional mopping, which can be more complicated 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 like 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 because it tipped over unexpectedly.
The Shark Steam Pocket also earned a 5 out of 10 in this metric. It 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.
We found the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL to be the least convenient of all the models we tested. This is mostly due to the external water tank. While this does increase the amount of time you can mop for in between refills, it also extends the pre-heat waiting to a whopping 8 minutes, and requires that you roll the tank along with you as you mop. Additionally, we found the mop handle to be a bit flimsy and it required us to hunch over more when doing two-handed scrubbing than most other models.
One of the most tedious aspects of cleaning floors can be scrubbing hard-to-reach spots, including corners and narrow sections between appliances. We, therefore, believe maneuverability is a significant attribute and assigned it 25% of the final scores. 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. 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 offers the most comprehensive list of effective extra features of all the mops we tested. First off, you get two full-sized standard cleaning pads right in the box. You also get attachments for steaming garments, two different nozzles to clean counters, stoves, or other non-floor surfaces, as well as a 3-foot hose to which you can attach those accessories. The titular steam tank also lifts away from the body of the mop so you can use these accessories without dragging around the mop itself.
The BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe has fewer accessories than some of the top-scoring models, but the ones that it does have are quite high quality, which earned it a 7 out of 10 in this metric. Most notable is the stiff scrubbing brush. It can easily be accessed using your foot when you happen upon a stubborn stain, and then the normal mop head can be reattached hands-free once you get that stain out.
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. 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 will best meet your needs.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata