Steam mops are electric, so they depend on amps for their power. As with most electricity-based units, more amps mean more cleaning efficiency. Steam mops can have as few as 6-6 ½ amps to double that amount at 12-12 ½ amps. More amps on a steam mop just means faster preheat time and more consistently-heated steam, so it is not as if your mop will do a bad job if you choose one with lower amps. They are not like vacuums where crucial functions like suction power are dependent on amps. Many steam mops do not even include their amp-rating upfront. If you plan on using your steam mop a lot and expect to deal with a lot of dried-on, sticky stains, you should probably get a steam mop with more amps.
All steam mops have a water tank where you pour in water that turns into the steam. Most tanks are removable, so you just take them out and fill them in a sink. Tap water is fine with most mops, though some recommend distilled water. Unlike tap water, distilled water does not contain minerals that can cling to to the steam mop and make it less effective. If you do use tap water, manufacturers recommend that you wash out your tank every few months or so, to flush out any minerals. This keeps your mop functional and extends its life. Most steam mops have pretty small water tanks because the mops are very thin and light. A large water tank can hold about 500mL. Unlike with regular mopping, you do not add any soap or cleaning solutions to the water tank.
Fast preheat and drying times
One of the benefits of steam mopping is that the water does not take long to heat up to very high temperatures and turn to steam. You only have to wait about 30 seconds before you can push the trigger to release steam on your dirty floor. Drying time takes only seconds, and you do not have to go over a wet floor with a towel like you would with a regular mop that uses buckets of soapy water. This sort of speed allows you to complete mopping chores extremely quickly and with little-to-no hassle.
Steam is significantly more effective at cleaning and sanitizing compared to regular mopping with soap and water. The heat kills germs and melts grease or oil-based stains quickly. A steam mop can heat water up to 212 degrees-Fahrenheit, which is much hotter than anything you could get with just water. With this sort of heat, steam mops can get rid of 99.9% of germs without any additional chemicals or cleaner. This way, you do not have to worry about damaging the environment or endangering pets or children. There is zero residue or fumes. Even sticky and set-in stains melt away when exposed to hot steam, and then you just mop up the stain remains.
Steam mops typically include settings for variable steam power, so you can adjust the amount of steam you use based on the difficulty of the cleaning task. For light cleaning like dust, spills, and so on, you do not need much steam to clean it up. Larger messes like sticky liquids or dried-on spots require medium to high steam levels. Some mops even include a fourth, more powerful setting with bristles so you can scrub off particularly tricky spots. The names of the steam settings vary from brand to brand. Some just use the normal Low-High labeling, while others can have names like Dust, Mop, and Scrub.
Steam mops are primarily designed for use on hard surfaces. Since the mops only use steam and no chemicals, you can use a steam mop on essentially every surface. This includes stone, vinyl, hardwood, ceramic, and linoleum. You can clean every room with hard surfaces, even marble, which requires very specific care and cannot handle any chemicals. Wherever your hard surfaces are – kitchen, bathroom, dining room, etc – you can use a steam mop.
The steam on steam mops go through cleaning pads, which clean up what the steam melts. They are usually made from microfiber, so dirt clings to the fabric. Microfiber is also washable, so you can use the same pad for about 20 or so washes before you need to purchase a new one. The cleaning pads often include two sides for more effective scrubbing and drying. When you purchase a steam mop, you usually get at least two pads, so you can wash one and use the other.
Steam mops are well-known for their superior maneuverability. They are all very lightweight and easy on the arms. The lightest mops can weigh only 3 pounds, and rarely reaching over 9 pounds, with water in the tank. This is ideal for quick cleaning and for people who can not do heavy-lifting. The mops are also easily transportable during moves or if you loan it out to a family member or friend. In terms of getting into corners and other tight areas, steam mops have features like 360-degree swivel heads or 180-degree triangular heads. You can easily glide and turn along wall edges, into corners, and other compact areas without needing to remove all the furniture from a room. Wider cleaning heads also allow you to cover more ground faster, so even mopping large rooms goes by quickly.