My new house has hardwoods, Travertine and ceramic tile though out. When we first moved in, I had no idea how I was going to clean it all and what supplies I was going to need to do it right. My husband and I spent hours online researching the best tools to use and we decided to give the Shark Deluxe Steam Mop a try.
The Shark Steam Mop cleans floors by heating plain water into a steam and uses absolutely no chemicals. It's safe to use on tile, vinyl, linoleum, sealed woods and laminates. It weighs in at only 3 pounds and heats up and is ready to go in under a minute. It comes in a basic model and a deluxe model which is the one we own. The differences in the models are the deluxe model has a 25 foot cord vs a 20 foot cord on the basic model. While that does not sound like a big difference, 5 extra feet really comes in handy when you are using it. The deluxe model comes with 5 washable cleaning pads vs 2 in the basic model which you really need if you plan on cleaning several floors without having to stop and wash the pads in between. A box of extra pads costs about $20.00 so you pretty much make up the extra cost of deluxe model right there. To get the best clean, you should change the pads as often as possible when they look dirty. The deluxe model also comes with a carpet glider attachment which is used to clean and refresh carpets and area rugs but I have not used mine yet so I am not sure how well that works.
Now for the details.
Why I love it.
1) It is extremely easy to use
2) No buckets and mops to lug
3) No cleaning with dirty water
4) It's lightweight and portable
5) No chemicals to buy or to pollute my home
6) Floors dry in minutes
As I mentioned above, the Shark comes with 5 cleaning pads. These pads are made of a microfiber material and attach to the bottom of the mop by just pressing them on and they stick with a Velcro like material. They are machine washable although it is recommended that they be washed by hand and never put in the dryer. I do stick mine in the wash machine but have not used the dryer instead I hang them with a clip in the laundry room to air dry.
The machine is light weight and easy to push. The 25 foot cord allows me to do full rooms in my hose and sometimes more without having to unplug it and then plug it in to another outlet.
It uses plain water from the tap although it is recommended that distilled water be used to extend the life of the machine. The tank is easy to fill and the package includes a small funnel to get the water in the hole and prevent spills. It holds enough water to do one to two average size rooms before needing to be refilled. To use it, simply push forward on the handle and a bust of steam is released which loosens the dirt for the cleaning pad to then pick up. I can move from my tile to my hardwoods without having to change a thing that I am doing. For stuck on spots, it does sometimes take a few passes to completely remove it all. It uses very little water which the pad absorbs most of so the floor dries very fast. In my house there is usually a child or an animal always under foot when I am cleaning so it is a blessing that there is little downtime before it can be walked on.
Now for the negatives.
1) It does not pick up hair or dust bunnies
2) It leaves some streaks
3) Does not clean grout well
4) It leaves hardwoods a bit dull
5) Pads do not come completely clean
6) No swivel head
Before cleaning a floor with the steam mop, you must make sure to sweep or vacuum it first. The Shark will not pick up much in the way of hair or dust bunnies and the pad will get dirty very fast with the few it does. Even after sweeping I still see a line of stuff that I missed that gets pushed out in front of the mop. I try to push it all to one location and then go back with a wet paper towel when I am done to pick it up.
The most unfortunate thing about the steam mop is that it does leave some streaking behind. I notice the streaks most on my black ceramic tile but at certain angles and lighting, I can also see it on my lighter tiles and my hardwoods. I have read that if you clean with one pad and then go back again over it with a new pad it helps eliminate some of the problem but I can't say that I have been bothered by it enough to have tried this.
I had high hopes that it would clean grout and make it look wonderful but that is not the case. On the small everyday stuff it does and OK job but when there is actual mud or visible dirt on the grout, it gets very little of it off. I have to go back with a cloth and some actual cleaning solution to finish the job.
It gets all the built up and stuck on dirt off my hardwoods they but look a bit dull after cleaning. I go back over them with a spray of orange glow when I am done cleaning with the Shark which doesn't leave a huge coating but does restore a shine to them and gives them a little protection from my family.
I have tried hand and machine washing the pads but they never come completely clean. The manufacturer says not to use bleach and I have been tempted to do so on several occasions but have not. My husband suggested that we get some oxy clean and try that on them so it's on my list and if and when I use it, I will post an update as to how it worked.
If I could request 1 big change in the design of the steam mop, I would want it to have a swivel head. Right now, it's hard to get into tight corners and spaces like behind the toilet with the rectangular head that only goes in one direction.
Does the Shark Deluxe Steam mop really work like they claim on TV? Yes, it does. Does it clean? Yes, it does, the proof is right there on the pad. Is it the perfect cleaning tool? No, I am afraid it is not perfect but that said, it sure beats the heck out of dragging around a bucket and a mop to clean the floors.
Update On Apr 02, 2010: It's been over a year now since we bought the Shark Steam mop and I till use it every week and it is still working perfectly.
Update On Nov 26, 2010: I just went out and picked up another Shark Steam Mop as a Christmas gift for my ex-husband (he asked for it). Wal-mart had the best Black Friday deal on it for $36.00.