Monday, November 26, 2012

Design Tips: Steam Mops - Too Good to be True?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So what about the new steam mops? I heard of a local housecleaning service owner who swears by hers. She loves the light weight, quick cleaning and how it sterilizes the dirtiest, icky floors. And, all for around $50! Sounds like quite a promise!

So I set out to see for myself what the deal is. First stop, the Consumer Reports website. You need to be a subscriber to access all the ratings, but it's a great resource I recommend. If you're not a subscriber you can still access a lot of helpful information. For the general steam mop buying guide, click here.

They have only two on their recommended list. Uh-oh. The H20 Ultra that retails for about $418 and the Eureka Enviro Steamer 313A, with a price around $65. I was concerned that their best rated mop, the H20, rated only 67 out of 100. That's not good news!

Even worse, the reader reviews are far more ominous. Product failures across all price points, mop cloths that fall off and other parts that break. But, at least most people seemed to get a new mop under warranty from either the vendor or the manufacturer. Still, I was cautious and haven't shelled out for one yet.

I watched the Consumer Reports video on how they tested the mops. The staff made a delightful mess across a vinyl tile floor, spilling syrup, mustard, ketchup and a whole bunch of other stuff in a scientific array, let all of it dry overnight then went to town with about 10 mops to see what would happen. Hmm, I thought, who has vinyl tile floors anymore outside of a commercial building's back hallway or a hospital! I'd have tested the mops in more typical residential kitchen or bathroom flooring products like tile, wood, sheet vinyl and true linoleum.

I think Consumer Reports, as well as my own expectations, were set way too high. None of the mops were great at cleaning up the messes themselves. The steam definitely loosened the hardened material in most cases but since there's no suction or scrubbing feature on any of these mops and the dirty water just gets pushed around. You still need to pick up the leftover water somehow... then, the saturated removable pad is a disgusting mess! You're supposed to wash that in your clothes washer? Yuck!

My take-away is that the steam mops, if you get one that works, is a good tool to sanitize your floors after the chunks and the loose dirt is cleaned up first. Not many germs can survive 200-plus degrees Farenheit. I think I still want one in addition to my trusty vaccum cleaner and my old-school, on my hands and knees, bucket with warm water, mild soap and rags. (I don't have a lot of flooring, that job goes pretty quick). I'd be cautious about using a steam mop on my 60 year old hardwood floor or one with a delicate finish or with seams like true linoleum.

At $50 or so, for my concrete basement, it might be worth a try. I'll definitely buy from a store with a generous return policy like Sears or Target. The shown mop from Bissell, retails for about $70 and is 4th on Consumer Reports' ratings list.

Until next time!
--Elaine Bothe

Images courtesy of Bissell. 

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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:01 AM 


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