Best Steam Mop of 2021
$69.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Decent cleaning performance||Lots of cleaning accessories|
|Cons||Hard to fill water tank, poor steam distribution||Large and heavy, average cleaning performance, takes a long time to heat up|
|Bottom Line||A cost-effective option for adding the disinfecting power of steam to your cleaning routine||A large and cumbersome device that doesn't offer any advantages to outweigh its large cumbersomeness|
|Rating Categories||Shark Steam Pocket||PureClean XL Rolling|
|Cleaning Performance (40%)|
|User Friendliness (25%)|
|Specs||Shark Steam Pocket||PureClean XL Rolling|
|Water Tank Capacity||450 ml||1500 ml|
|Cord length (feet)||20'||16'|
Best Overall Steam Mop
The BISSELL Symphony steam cleans and vacuums simultaneously, allowing you to sanitize your kitchen floor in one fell swoop. For those who find themselves cleaning high-traffic areas several times a week, this can vastly cut down on overall cleaning time. Some do-it-all machines fall short, but the Symphony performs its double duties exceptionally well, keeping the contents of its dust tank dry so it's easy to discard, while still blasting away stuck-on filth and stains with its steam. It comes with a scrubbing pad for extra stubborn stains, which easily cut through all of the set-in grime we threw at it during our testing. It's easy to turn off the steam and simply use this as a stick vacuum on your carpets, or you can purchase the carpet glide attachment to use the steam to deodorize your rugs.
This premium performance comes with a premium price tag — the Symphony is generally much pricier than mops that don't have this dual functionality. However, if you don't already own a stick vacuum, or if you have lots of floors in need of steam cleaning and would love to save some time by vacuuming and steam mopping in one pass, we think the extra cost of the BISSELL Symphony is well worth it.
Read review: BISSELL Symphony
Best for Most Homes
BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe
The mop we would recommend to the vast majority of people hoping to steam clean is the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe, which offers top-notch performance at a fairly reasonable price point. It produces a powerful and even steam, glides smoothly, and has a nice, articulating cleaning head, making it a breeze to get into those hard-to-reach corners and edges. The cleaning pad's convenient pull tab allows for easy removal, presenting minimal risk of dirtying up your hands with grime from the floor. This mop stood out because of 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 go Quasimodo to get rid of that old ketchup stain.
The only criticism we can levy against the PowerFresh Deluxe is the fact that it doesn't allow for hands-free pad replacement. You must wait for the pad to cool down before you can safely remove it. The mop also only comes with one pad, so you may want to purchase a second one if you'll be cleaning large areas. However, this shouldn't be an issue for most users — we cleaned a kitchen and two bathrooms easily with one pad. Those with smaller amounts of tile or stone flooring likely wouldn't need to purchase a second 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 two bathrooms worth), check out the Shark Genius Steam Pocket. This steam mop supplies all the power and convenience you need for longer cleaning sessions. This is mostly because this Shark model 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 Pocket is the fact that it lacks any type of stiff scrubbing brush, which makes it slightly less adept at getting out stubborn stains than the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe. However, if you have enough stone or tile flooring to burn through more than one cleaning pad in a session, we feel that the hands-free pad changing feature adds enough benefit to outweigh any extra time spent scrubbing stains.
Read review: Shark Genius Steam Pocket
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 at a low cost. In our testing, it provided simple and reliable steam cleaning in a relatively nimble and lightweight package — all for substantially less than the competition.
We do have some gripes, both major and minor, with the Shark Steam Pocket. First, you have to lay the mop flat to fill the water tank, which is annoying. The velcro cleaning pad attachment can be finicky. The pumping action required to release the steam is somewhat clumsy, and the steam distribution is often limited to the center of the cleaning pad. However, we feel that none of these complaints detract from the fact that it offers the disinfecting power of steam at an approachable price, offering a great deal to 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, including a hose and related attachments for steam cleaning things like stovetops or counters, as well as a garment steaming accessory. All of these accessories proved themselves in our testing to be more effective and easier to use than those offered by the competition.
We have a few bones to pick with the Lift-Away Pro. For starters, it lacks a truly powerful scrubbing brush like the one on the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe, so you'll have to sacrifice some performance when you're cleaning a stubborn stain. 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. Also, this mop lists for double the price of most others. If the price is 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. However, if you know you'll use all of the attachments, 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 GearLab's steam mop team, are both veteran tech product reviewers, having tested and reviewed over 400 consumer tech products in the last four years. They have reviewed more than 100 products within the home and kitchen genre, ranging from toaster ovens and humidifiers to air purifiers and vacuums. Both also happen to 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 seven most likely to serve our readers well. We then bought those mops and, as always, paid the full list price (we never want to be swayed by gifts from manufacturers). Next, we 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, 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 off, we used all of the extra bells and whistles that each mop offers to discover whether these additional features might be helpful in the average home.
Related: How We Tested Steam Mops
Analysis and Test Results
We did a deep dive to find the best steam mop, combing through spec sheets to find the mops that were most likely to deliver a good performance. We then spent over two weeks getting floors dirty and cleaning them to see which mops cleaned the best, were easiest to use, and were the most maneuverable. We also tested any extra features each mop offered. We then scored all of these attributes, weighing things like cleaning performance more highly than extra features, to arrive at scores on a scale of 0-100. The full results of all this testing is discussed below.
Related: Buying Advice for Steam Mops
In terms of performance and price, the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe dominates, making it a rare product that we would recommend to people both looking for the best performance and those looking for a good budget option. Of course, there are cheaper models, but in comparison, their performance pales so much that we still think the PowerFresh Deluxe is the best overall value. The Shark Genius Steam Pocket and the BISSELL Symphony both also provide great performance, but for significantly higher prices. If you have lots of floors to clean, the higher prices may be worth it in exchange for the convenience of hands-free cleaning pad changing. For those seeking a sanitizing steam clean for their floors on a budget, the Shark Steam Pocket provides good performance for a slightly lower price than its competitors.
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 purposefully tracked mud onto a variety of sealed stone and tile floors before we began our testing. We didn't include hardwood, laminate, or vinyl flooring in our cleaning test because, generally, steam cleaning these types of floors will void the flooring's warranty.
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 the steam can easily lift dirt and grime. We found the traditional method of using a bucket of water and mop or sponge to be much more effective for heavier-duty cleanings, such as deep-set stains and large food spills. That method, however, is much less convenient.
General Tile/Stone Cleaning Performance
When 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 BISSELL Symphony all belong in the former category. These mops could easily lift grime and dirt from hard floors, and usually in a single pass.
With its integrated vacuum that works simultaneously with the steam mopping function, the BISSELL Symphony sets itself apart from the competition. This one-two-punch cuts your cleaning time in half since you won't have to sweep beforehand.
A few models, including the O-Cedar Microfiber, the Shark Steam Pocket, and the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL Rolling, could all clean these surfaces well but required more passes and more effort overall to get the job done. We generally had to go over areas at least twice with these models before they were truly clean. Still, we found it faster to clean with all of these models than with your standard mop.
Stubborn Stain Performance
We found steam mops most effective when used for regular cleaning, rather than for removing stubborn stains that had spent a long time setting into your tile. That said, we went on a quest to find tile floors with old, set-in stains, and then divided those stains into pieces to see how each model faired against them.
The BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe was the clear standout in the category. Its combination of powerful steam blasts coupled with its scrubbing brush 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 third place is the Shark Genius Steam Pocket. This mop was able to blast away significant portions of stubborn stains with its steam power, but the lack of an abrasive scrubbing brush means you can't get down and dirty (and consequently clean) like you can with the BISSELL models.
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. For old, set-in stains, we ended up having to get out some proper sponges with these mops and use a lot of physical scrubbing.
Following cleaning performance, user-friendliness was the next most important rating metric in our review, comprising 25% of each product's overall score. Though generally simple 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, except for 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.
The Shark Genius Steam Pocket earns a top score in our ease of use tests. This model separates itself from the rest of the field with its touch-free pad changing, nearly-instant steam, and a water tank that is easy to fill.
The BISSELL models we tested, including the PowerFresh Deluxe and the Symphony, also scored well in our user-friendliness metric. Both models have large 1" openings on their water tanks, simple controls, and feel solid and well made. The PowerFresh makes it easy to engage its scrubbing brush, while the Symphony allows for easy transfer between mopping, vacuuming, or both. However, neither model offers hands-free pad changing, so you'll have to wait for them to cool down to change pads if your cleaning job is large enough to necessitate more than one pad. The Symphony's mop head pulls away from the steam source enough that you don't have to wait long before it's cool enough to touch, but it would still be nice if it were totally hands-free.
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 earned an average score. 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 no biggie, because the pumping action corresponds with pushing and pulling the mop back and forth. However, it can be quite awkward to pump the handle and maneuver the mop effectively in tighter spots.
We found the Pure Enrichment PureClean XL to be the least convenient of all the tested models, mainly due to the external water tank. While this does increase the mopping time 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 somewhat 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. Therefore, we believe maneuverability is a significant attribute and assigned it 25% of the final scores. We tested maneuverability by mopping various spaces and 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. Ultimately, we really didn't find too much variety in maneuverability.
The Shark Genius Steam Pocket, the BISSELL PowerFresh Deluxe, and the BISSELL Symphony were top performers in maneuverability. At 25 feet, the PowerFresh Deluxe and Symphony have the longest cords of any of the steam mops that we tested. The Genius Steam Pocket has the most supple mop head of our test fleet and outshined the others at cleaning corners and edges.
The Shark Steam Pocket, Pure Enrichment PureClean XL, and O-Cedar 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. A steam mop's basic function 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. Only 10% of each product's score comes from its features score.
The BISSELL Symphony offers more cleaning features than most mops. First off, there is a specific scrubbing pad for stubborn stains that we found to work quite well. Most importantly, it also has a vacuum, which can be used in conjunction with the steam mop function in order to clean kitchen floors without sweeping or mopping first, or on its own as a stick vacuum.
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. Most notable is the stiff scrubbing brush, which 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.
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 it 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