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Best steam mops

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Are you a clean freak? Maybe you’ve got a mop, a bucket, a WetJet, a hand vac, an upright, a stick vac, and a Swiffer. But maybe you want to add a steam mop to that collection. Before you plunk down cash and find storage space for yet one more cleaning machine, check out Consumer Reports’ latest steam-mop tests.

To see how well each mop cleans up messes, testers apply jam, mustard, and ketchup to floor tiles. Each tile gets the same amount in a similar spot. Then, a specially designed device allows testers to step back and watch the steam mops go to work.

To keep it fair, each mop makes 10 strokes back and forth for a total of 20 passes. The tests are actually designed to leave behind some of the mess. If the mops cleaned up all of the stains, testers wouldn’t be able to detect differences in cleaning performance. A photo is taken before and after each test.

Then testers use photo-imaging software to measure the change in the image before and after cleaning and convert the difference into a score. Just because there’s steam doesn’t mean all of the mops can clean.

With the $80 Shark Steam Pocket, you have to keep the mop moving back and forth to pump steam to the mop head, something CR testers found annoying.

The Bissell PowerFresh Slim for $130 out-cleaned the other mops. Bur for slightly less cleaning performance, Consumer Reports recommends the $100 Shark Genius. It offers convenient cord storage, and you can spray steam directly on a stain in addition be being able to use both sides of the mop.

If tough stain scrubbing is your goal, the $90 CR Best Buy Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe comes with an extra brush for deeper scrubbing and offers very good cleaning power.

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If you’re still on the fence about whether a steam mop is the way to go, consider this: All of the steam mops Consumer Reports tested require distilled water. And all of them left residual moisture behind, which is a no-no for hardwood and laminate floors.

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