These tools lead to a more thorough clean.

These days, we're thinking about cleaning in an entirely new way. It's no longer a weekly chore to tick off the to-do list—properly cleaning and sanitizing our surfaces and floors is now a daily task to keep our homes free from COVID-19. Virus or not, according to a study from the American Cleaning Institute, 20-percent of Americans dread mopping above all household chores. That's why we'd advise upgrading your cleaning equipment to make this annoying—but critical, in the context of the pandemic—task more convenient.

steam mop
Credit: Getty / Manuel-F-O

That's where steam mops come in: This tool replaces heavy buckets of unclean water with pure steam, eliminating the dip-and-wring action required with more traditional methods. It should be noted, however, that, while the CDC does recognize steam cleaning as an effective sterilization method, it's still unclear whether or not at-home devices produce medical or professional-grade results. For more insight, we enlisted Kathryn Emery, a home improvement and lifestyle expert, to share everything there is to know about effectively cleaning with a steam mop.

Steam Heat

First and foremost, what is a steam mop? The tools have "chambers inside that heat water to 250 degrees and use the muscle of steam to deep clean floors," notes Emery. "Steam mops are paired with microfiber pads to catch the dirt, grime, and germs that are loosened by the steam."

Flooring Types

Steam mops are engineered for hard floors, though there are some carpet-specific models. You do, however, need to ensure that your flooring material can take the heat—which means they need to be sealed or waterproof. "Steam mops are great on tile, linoleum, vinyl, ceramic, porcelain, and on most hardwood and laminate flooring," offers Emery. But you should always check with the model's manufacturer to be sure, since "water can cause damage to the material itself or the joints in between," she adds.

Nothing but Pros

There are many pros to cleaning floors with a steam mop. For starters, you don't have to constantly bend over a bucket or wring out excess moisture (this makes these appliances especially appealing if you're older or suffer from back pain). But above all, the biggest upside is the eco-friendly clean. "Steam mops swap heat for chemicals, making it a sustainable, all-natural way to clean," explains Emery, noting that all you need is water. "This is a great option for people with children or pets who want to ensure a clean, but chemical-free environment."

Choices, Choices

While there are many benefits to using one of these models, keep in mind that they are costlier than your traditional mop. "As with any item with innovation and electrical components, they're more expensive than their simpler counterparts," adds Emery. And while you don't have to bend over and refill a bucket, "they are corded, so your maneuverability is a bit limited." When it comes to choosing the best steam mop for you, Emery says to consider iterations with accessories like scrubbing attachments or extra microfiber pads. These add-ons make a difference. "Also, look for a removable water tank, corner mop heads, and fragrance discs," she notes.


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