Steam Mops vs. Swiffer

Steam mops and Swiffers are two of the more modern innovations to easy household cleaning.

Whilst both clean floors, they work in very different ways.

Steam Mops vs. Swiffer

Since the invention of both steam mops and Swiffers, there has been a debate about which one is better.

Some prefer one over the other for various reasons, so here’s the difference between them.

Steam Mop 

Steam mops, as the name suggests, work to clean floors through steam. All you do is plug them into a socket with the appropriate amount of water, and then mop the floor with it! 

However easy as they may be to use, steam mops do have some drawbacks. 


When you get a food stain on your countertop, your first instinct is to scrub it with a cloth and warm water. This is the same concept for steam mops! 

Steam mops hold water that is heated over 200 degrees Fahrenheit to produce steam. This steam works to loosen dirt and dust particles with reusable cloth pads to easily clean a floor within minutes. The steam doesn’t linger around for too long, as the wet layer quickly evaporates to leave a shiny surface. 

The steam levels can be easily adjusted from a high to low setting depending on the severity of the dirt. There are also a variety of cloth pads materials for different stains, such as microfiber pads or gentle scrubbing pads. 

These types of mops do not require any detergent or cleaning agent to clean floors, which is ideal for those who don’t like the smell, as the steam and cloth pads can disinfect dirty floors without them.

Not only does this cancel out smells, but it also protects flooring against harsh chemicals that could damage or dull the quality of the floor. 


The main problem with steam mops is that they cannot be used on a variety of surfaces. Laminate flooring is probably the best surface for steam mops as it cleans the easiest and is not affected by the hot steam. 

Steam mops are not suitable for vinyl flooring or hardwood floors. Hot steam on vinyl flooring can curl the corners and create bumps on the surface, much like a warm and humid room with cheap wallpaper. The glue that has stuck the vinyl flooring down will not react well with the hot steam. 

Likewise, hardwood floors have a protective coating to maintain the quality of the floor. Hot steam essentially melts this away. 

It is also important to remember that if steam mops are left on a surface for too long, even if it is laminate flooring, the hot steam will start to melt the area. 

Another slight downside to steam mops is that they have a cord. Whilst this cord is long enough to clean almost every area of a room, this could be a safety hazard and might be more of a hassle to deal with when storing the mop away.


A Swiffer WetJet is a more versatile option than a steam mop. These mops stand out as they use a cleaning agent that is dispersed during the cleaning process.

They are essentially a mix between a regular mop and a sponge for cleaning dishes. 


Much like how a steam mop holds water in a container, Swiffers are equipped with a designated part for holding a cleaning liquid.

This detergent is released with the press of a button, so it can be controlled easily. This is incredibly useful because it means you don’t have to move a bucket of soapy water around as you mop the floor!

Another major advantage of Swiffers is that they are run by batteries and do not need a long cord. They can be used only with one hand due to their light weight, and it means there is no cord to limit the cleaning area. 

Like with steam mops, Swiffers require removable pads. Whilst this may seem like a disadvantage, in reality, this means that dirt is not distributed around the room after each clean. You wouldn’t use the same paper towel to wipe down a surface, would you? 

As Swiffers don’t use hot steam, they can be used on a range of surfaces without causing damage. This includes hardwood floors, laminate, vinyl, tile, marble, and stone flooring. 


The main disadvantage of Swiffers is that they use detergent. This means the user will have to regularly stock up on a cleaning agent, and the smell will linger around for a while.

Whilst some may smell better than others, it’s important to remember that this means chemicals are left to stick to the floor. 

Sure, it will give a nice shine and a fresh smell, but it also means that the floor will be wet for longer than a steamed floor which will evaporate. 

As well as restocking on detergent, cleaning mops and batteries will also have to be regularly bought. 

Chemicals from detergent will not provide as much of a deep clean as steam. If you’re looking to give your floor a deep clean, this will provide more manual labor. 

Final Words

As you can see, there isn’t a clear answer as to which mop is better for cleaning a floor. Where a steam mop offers a better deep cleaning option, Swiffers can be used on more surfaces.

Where Swiffers don’t require a long cord, steam mops provide a dryer floor faster due to evaporation. 

Both are as good as each other for cleaning purposes, so it all comes down to personal preference!

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