The steam mop is a wonderful and convenient cleaning tool, but how you use it makes a world of difference in cleaning efficiency. This is a very innovative floor mop which can save time, but it does need some prep work if you want clean floors in the end.
Compared to a mop and bucket cleaning system, the steam mop makes it extremely convenient to quickly touch up floors. But, you should follow some guidelines when using a steam mop, if you want to be happy with your purchase and how well it cleans.
Steam mops come in a variety of styles, sizes, ways to attach the mop head and amount of power or steam generated. Some have better features than others. But features aside, regardless of the model you want to buy, you need to consider a few things.
Prepping the Floor First Is Key
It's imperative that you vacuum the floor before steaming. You could alternatively sweep if you don't have a vacuum, but good suction power will pull out of cracks things like lint, dust and other surface debris that tends to dirty the mop head. Once vacuumed, your floor is ready to steam mop.
There are a few dual function sweeper/steam mop tools on the market. While they can be very handy and work reasonably well when it comes to cleaning up small messes or areas, so you don't need to get the vacuum out. But for the whole floor, before steam mopping, a vacuum gets a lot more dirt off the floor. And that means less dirt on the mop pad, so a cleaner steaming.
A Steam Mop Is a Maintenance Cleaning Tool
By maintenance, I mean that when you use a steam mop, the floor should be only slightly dirty. If your floors are heavily soiled, you will be smearing the dirt with the hot steam all over the floor. Results will be less than desirable.
A steam mop works well if the floor has been regularly maintained and just needs a light cleaning. In other words, if you just bought a steam mop, wash your floors the old way, then maintain them with a steam mop more often than you usually do. Cleaning floors more often is the best strategy with a steam mop and you will still save time and effort in the long run.
More Mop Pads Are Essential
Since you want to avoid trailing or smearing dirt around as you steam your floors, you'll want to have more than one mop pad, so you can change it as required. I usually start steaming at my laminate floors, then proceed to vinyl and change the pad as needed, as well as when I reach the faux tile near the entrance, to get a smear-free shine.
Steam mop pads are reasonably priced, generally wash up nicely in the washer and should be hung to dry especially if microfiber. Read your product manual to confirm care instructions for your steam mop and accessories. Changing the pad when the current one is dirty, ensures a clean steam mopping. Pads should be removed from the steamer immediately after use and laundered.
Use Only on Sealed Floors
This is not an efficiency issue but one of general floor care. Steam mops should only be used on sealed floors because excess moisture can damage some surfaces. Also, you should never leave one plugged in (active) unattended while you do something else. Moisture can accumulate in the pad and could mar the floor surface.
A good rule of thumb is to test certain hard surface areas if not sure if you can use it there and always keep the steam mop moving. Don't allow it to idle on a certain spot. When you're finished with a steam mop, allow it to cool on a sealed surface and remove the pad as soon as possible.