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A steam mop is a mop that uses steam to clean floors and carpets. Unlike a regular mop, which requires cleaning agents such as bleach or detergent, a steam mop uses heat from steam to disinfect the floors. A microfibre pad is often placed right underneath the steam jet to trap dirt. Most steam mops have a small water tank, and often provide dry steam.
A steam mop works by heating up the water inside the reservoir to temperatures of about 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit). Many steam mops have one jet of dry steam (but may have as many as 15 jets), moistening a microfibre pad placed underneath. The steam helps soak the pad and dirt is drawn off ground. Unlike regular mops, steam mops do not leave a residue on the floor and often clean through the dirt. The intense heat of the steam can kill about 99 percent of the bacteria and household dust mites. Steam mops can disinfect floors, restore shine, kill dust mites, and remove some stains.
Some of the steam mops feature a two-sided, flip mop head that allows you to clean twice as much floor before changing the mop pad. One pad is soft for use on delicate flooring such as hardwood and laminates. The other pad has built-in scrubbing strips that facilitate cleaning tough messes.
While steam mops have advantages, the heat from the steam can scald skin quickly, raising potential safety issues.