Steam Mops and Floor Cleaners
If you’re looking for a hardwood floor cleaning machine for your home it can be a little confusing at first because there are several different but similar-sounding options.
The information here explains some basic terminology and concepts to help you decide whether a steam mop steam cleaner or floor scrubber machine works best for your needs.
Steam Cleaners And Steam Mops
“Steam cleaner” is a general term which includes the two forms explained below. In a steam cleaner, only the steam itself is used as the cleaning agent, no detergents or chemicals are added.
Steam mops come mounted on mop handles to deliver steam directly to a floor.
Handheld steam cleaners go anywhere around the house and use various attachments to clean all surfaces including counters, drapes, upholstery, furniture, walls, showers, tiles and grout, etc
Use pads, brushes or moving scrubber heads to clean floor surfaces
Use cleaning solution (on floor or added to water) to clean floors and other surfaces
Usually an upright machine and may have attachments for cleaning upper surfaces like counters, furniture, drapes, furniture, tile, grout, etc.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Steam cleaners, both steam mops and handheld, can sanitize surfaces in the home IF the steam reaches a certain temperature and is applied to the surface for enough time.
Generally the steam temperature should reach about 170 degrees Fahrenheit and remain against the surface to be sanitized for at least 30 seconds to effectively kill most bacteria.
Steam cleaning machines can actually produce a “dry” steam which has a low moisture content. A dry steam is useful in cleaning dust off painted walls or grease off surfaces and in other situations where too much moisture is a drawback.
Handheld steam cleaners can be good at cleaning vertical surfaces with large areas like walls and showers stalls, windows and glass doors.
Steam only cleaners that don’t use soap or chemicals are ideal for safe cleaning of pet cages and places where people, kids and animals live. No chemical use also mean odor, environmental toxins or added waste from buying containers of cleaning chemicals.
Evidence of grout cleaning abilities goes both ways, some say steam cleaners work great, others have not had success. Differences are in the details of each situation, the machine used and the user’s technique and abilities make it impossible to say whether steam is superior for getting grout between tiles clean.
Floor Cleaning Machines (Wet/Dry Floor Scrubbers)
Floor cleaners that use a chemical cleaning agent can benefit from the added cleaning abilities of the cleaning solution, and some people like the “just-cleaned” smell that gets left behind. Of course there are also the environmental drawbacks mentioned above.
Floor cleaners with moving brushes can provide added scrubbing power against spills and dried on materials (seen and unseen). Spinning brushes also help clean into textured surfaces and reach grout between tiles.
Floor cleaners that cycle water across the floor and pick it up again ensure that no dirty water is left on the floor. Some power mops also squeegee the floor and suck up excess water to leave the floor dry when done.
Floor cleaning machines with a vacuum function in addition to the floor cleaning abilities can cut out an extra step of having to mop or sweep the floor before cleaning.
Floor Cleaning Machines Summary
When it comes to floor cleaners price is a partial indicator of a machine’s abilities and the user’s eventual satisfaction and happiness with the results. In our reviews of steam mops and floor cleaning machines, those on the lower price end of the spectrum had more negative reviews than the middle or higher priced models.
Consider The True Cost of Low Price Options
Many times negative reviews of cheaper machines were not due to poor cleaning performance, but because the machine never worked at all.
Obviously buying a machine that never works – then needs to be returned – is a total waste of time. And buying a machine that works once or twice only or one that works poorly all the time is no solution either.
We’re not suggesting you buy the most expensive machine on the market, but we do recommend reading reviews and carefully considering time and frustration factors when looking at the lower priced machines. In fact, you’ll probably notice that some of the cheapest ones, even by big name manufacturers, are now on clearance because they didn’t make it in the market.
Great Choices In Middle Price Range
We’ve reviewed excellent home steam clean machines and floor cleaners in the $120 to $180 range that have hundreds of very positive ratings from actual users. When avoiding the low end there’s definitely no need to swing too far in the other direction.
There are higher priced commercial options are out there for people with unique needs. But for most home owners our advice is to avoid the low end and discontinued models, stay with a major manufacturer and trusted retailer and you should find a great floor cleaner that saves you a lot of time and leaves your home clean for your family.