A South Korean woman invented the steam mop to make cleaning her floors easier for herself. When she saw that it really worked well, she decided to market it.

Read on to learn the differences in cleaning power between a traditional and steam mop. We’ll explain the pros and cons of each. Then you can decide which one gives the best clean.

Traditional Mopping

The tried and true method of cleaning the floors involve a bucket of hot water, a mop, and some kind of soap.

Today, mops come in dozens of styles. Some mop heads are ropes, sponges, disposable wet wipes, and so on.

Some you have to wring out by hand. But most come with an attachment that wrings out excess water without getting your hands wet.

For example, spin mops have a plastic compartment attached to the inner walls of the bucket that wring out the excess water.


People who love this method of mopping claim there are many benefits.

For one thing, you can use your body to get a deep clean. You can exert a lot of force to scrub out hard bits of dirt. Some people like the physical exercise of mopping.

Another benefit is the clean, refreshing scent of freshly mopped floors. Many mopping solutions are pine or floral scented.

One of the best advantages of this type of hard-floor cleaning is that you don’t require any special products. As long as you have a mop and a bucket you can mop. This makes mopping a very inexpensive chore.

Vinegar, dish soap or even bleach (on certain surfaces) are possible options. You don’t have to buy special floor cleaning products unless you want to.


The downside to traditional mops is that you could be spreading the germs and dirt from room to room as you re-use the same water.

Many people never clean their mop. Giving it a rinse and letting it drip dry is not adequate to rid it of germs.

The mop head can be a breeding ground for bacteria. It is likely that the germs from around the toilet are being spread to the living room and kitchen. Especially if you don’t wash your mop head properly or often enough.

Granted, this con does not exist with mops that use disposable wipes.

Another con to traditional mops is that the floor can remain quite wet. Even if you use the right hardwood cleaners, leaving the floor wet will cause damage to your hardwood over time. It can even damage the subfloor.

Steam Mops

Do steam cleaners really work? Yes!

Steam mops heat water up inside the mop’s tank to about 248 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot water produces steam. This steam comes out of the mop’s jet (or jets) and dampens the microfiber pad to clean the floor.

Steam mops will have either one jet or as many as 15. Heat is a powerful cleaning agent because it weakens the bond between dirt and the floor and kills bacteria. Steam penetrates into tiny gaps between the floor’s surface to eliminate dirt and germs.


One of the best things about steam mops is that they destroy germs. The high heat kills up to 99.9% of germs and bacteria as well as dust mites and even fleas. 212 degrees is the temperature that reliably kills pathogens and bacteria.

A steam mop can make a big difference in getting rid of harmful germs that can cause illness, especially if you have young children or someone with chronic illness.

Steam mops also don’t leave any streaks or marks on the floor of any kind. There is no drying time or residue.

Another advantage is that you don’t have to fill and carry a heavy bucket of water.

You don’t have to scrub at stubborn stains or caked on dirt. The mop does all the hard work.

Steam mops are also eco-friendly. Most models only use water, no chemicals or products. This makes the steam mop safe for children and pets.

Never put cleaning products in a steam mops tank to try to get a better clean (unless the mop has a dual function). The steam is all you need for a deep clean of your floors.

Some models come with special attachments that let you steam clean other parts of your home such as your countertops. Kitchen counters are a breeding ground for bacteria so this could be a great tool for your home.


The main con is the initial expense in purchasing the steam mop. However, many come with solid warranties so that if something goes wrong with your mop you can get a replacement.

Another con is that you won’t get a piney fresh scent when you mop. Your floors will be clean and disinfected without any smell.

You should not use a steam mop on any unsealed floors. Stick on flooring is also not ideal for steam mops as the adhesive on the edges can begin to lift from the heat.

Hardwood and laminate floors are also sensitive to heat and steam. You should not use a steam mop on this type of flooring either. This really limits what flooring a steam mop is good for.

Bottom Line

I hope you enjoyed reading about the pros and cons of both traditional and steam mops.

The best option for you really depends on what is most important. However, on the basis of cleanliness, the steam mop wins hands down.

If you’re interested in getting a steam mop for your home, make sure you check out the best steam mops first.

See Also:
Can I Use Tap Water In My Steam Mop?

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