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Steam Mops – Good Deal or Waste of Money?
Bissell, Shark, and even Eureka have introduced steam mops into their home cleaning product lines. Will these new gadgets stand the test of time, or are they the latest fad – here today and gone tomorrow? Will you really be able to throw out your old mop and bucket once and for all? Find out…
First, it is probably a good idea to understand how these steam mops work. Although there are some differences in the way they operate, many of their features are the same. They are corded units that use electricity to heat water. The base of the mops are covered with reusable, and generally machine washable, pads. By pushing on the handle or pulling on the trigger, steam is released into these pads. These pads, with the help of the steam, pick up dirt as they are passed across flooring surfaces.
Contrary to popular belief, basic cleaning with steam mops generally will not sanitize flooring surfaces. The mop will not sanitize unless the cleaning pad is left in place for a specified period of time. For example, the Bissell 1867 instructs users to leave the unit in place approximately fifteen seconds to sanitize. It would take a long time to sanitize a small area, such as a foyer, and let’s not even discuss how long it would take to do a larger area!
Also, these machines are not vacuum sweepers. Their design does not allow them to pick up dirt particles. The area must be vacuumed or swept prior to using. Sweeping and vacuuming are not only recommended, but they are required to prevent scratching flooring surfaces and damaging the reusable cleaning pads.
Steam mops will ruin unsealed hardwood floors. There have also been reports of damage to no-wax surfaces. Contact the manufacturer of your floors to verify if these types of steam cleaners are safe to use on them. It is a good idea to test a small area to verify that it does not have any adverse effects on your floor’s finish.
Steam mops use only water. If you are tempted to mix detergent with the water, don’t do it! It will ultimately ruin your cleaner and void your warranty. Although tap water can be used, most manufacturers recommend distilled water if the tap is hard or to prolong the life of the filter.
Although you will save money by not having to purchase expensive detergents to clean your floors, owning a steam mop is not expense-free. You will need to occasionally replace the cleaning pads, and may need to replace filters and other parts that may wear out from time to time.
Overall, steam mops are an effective way to clean floors. However, keep your expectations realistic. Old worn out tile will not suddenly look new, and you may be disappointed if you think your grout will suddenly sparkle. However, it will do just as well as a bucket and traditional mop, without the back breaking hassle and time consuming work required by the old-fashioned methods.
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Originally posted 2005-02-04 08:35:48.