Are you skeptical of those steam mops you see on late-night infomercials? Do you wonder if they can really clean your floor without soap or cleaning products? Are they really an asset to cutting down the allergens in your home and sanitizing your floor? In a world full of inflated advertising claims, the answer is a clear "Yes!" You may have noticed that steam mops are no longer delegated to the realm of 3am TV spots, and also that virtually every major appliance manufacturer has one or more versions of this device.
How Steam Mops Work
Steam mops do their work using water heated to a bacteria-killing 200 degrees Fahrenheit or more, without chemicals, which makes them a great way to clean if you or family members have allergic reactions to bleach, ammonia, chlorine, or fragrances, etc. They can also make your home more eco-friendly, as you don't dump detergent residue down your drain that can pollute streams, affect the water supply, and kill or disrupt the reproductive cycles of fish.
Though some mops have vacuuming capabilities, most of them require that you sweep or vacuum your floor first. When the water is hot enough, you can remove stains and dirt by running the head of the mop over the floor. The mop head is covered with either a disposable or washable pad that collects dirt in the process. Depending on the type of stain, you might have to move the mop across the stain several times. When Good Housekeeping Magazine tested steam mops, they found that spaghetti sauce stains were more resistant to cleaning, and needed more swipes with the mop, but most stains such as dirt, soda, or orange juice, etc. were gone in a flash.
How Effective Are Steam Mops At Killing Germs?
Some mops have an EPA registration number to support claims that they kill germs, but most clean the floor without making excessive claims that they sanitize it with just a normal mopping action. According to the Center for Disease Control, you need temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit to kill dust mites, 165 degrees to kill food-borne bacteria, and 212 degrees to eliminate a variety of other bacteria. For most steam mops, vaporized water is well over 200 degrees when it leaves the water tank, but cools off by the time it reaches the floor.
To sanitize the area, most mops need to be held over an area for up to 20 seconds. The ones that claim to sanitize all the time, maintaining the water at the consistent 212 degrees, often have more steam outlets to get the hot vapor to the floor more quickly. Most steam mops will zap dust mites and food-borne germs commonly found in kitchens.
What To Look For In A Steam Mop
When buying a steam mop, here are a few things you should look for:
- A large water tank, preferably one that is removable. Your goal is to not have to refill the tank multiple times to clean the floor. Many tanks last 15 to 30 minutes between fills. If you leave the mop in place to sanitize some areas of your floor, you use the water more quickly.
- A long power cord. Since the unit has to be plugged in during its use, you want a cord long enough to help you navigate around your home or kitchen without changing outlets.
- How steam is dispersed. Some models produce continuous steam, while others require you to press a lever to release steam.
- Types of floors where you can use it. Many steam mops dispense too much vapor for hardwood floors that are unsealed or are finished with non-wax surfaces. Consult with the manufacturer of your flooring or try the steamer in a remote area of your floor to make sure it will not damage the surface.
There are many steam mops on the market that do a great job in cleaning the floor more safely and efficiently than you can do with a mop and a pail of detergent filled water. Just read reviews to find the mop with the features you need to clean your floor with no allergic steam.
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