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Steam mop to use less chemicals and water

By on May 2, 2010

steam mop

DEAR SARA: Do those steam mop things work? And are they OK for hardwood? I don’t know a specific model, but they are usually about $100 and have pads at the bottom that wipe the floor while spraying steam at it. Spraying hot water at wood seems counter-intuitive to me, but the people in the commercials seem to be doing it. I’m looking for something that is low effort and leaves the floors clean, shiny and streak free. I’m hoping for something so miraculous that it gets the grime between the planks as well. Any recommendations, warnings, etc? Also, I set my daughter’s painting on the counter yesterday and the paint soaked through. It’s just washable tempura, but it was red and I can’t get it off.

I don’t know what the counter is made of, whatever cheap counters from the 70s are. It’s light colored, so everything shows up on it. Is there anything I can do to fade or remove red stains? — M.W., Canada

DEAR M.W.: I own a steam mop and like it. It works like I expected it to work. I fill the reservoir with water, it heats the water into steam quickly and then I use it on my floors. It’s a bit awkward at first to get used to a cord being attached, but it’s not a big deal. The steam dries very fast. The pad is microfiber and cleans my linoleum floor well. I like that I don’t have to use chemicals. I don’t recommend it for hardwood floors unless you know the floor has a good seal. You could damage your floor and void the warranty by using a steam mop, so follow your manufacturer’s recommendation on how to clean your floor. As for your counter, you can use baking soda and water, vinegar, Bar keeper’s friend, Mister Clean magic eraser or bleach diluted with water.

DEAR SARA: Would you happen to know how to get dried latex paint out of clothes? — Curtis M., Texas

DEAR CURTIS: You can saturate the spot with rubbing alcohol or products such as Krud Kutter, rinse and launder as usual.

DEAR SARA: I bought some shoes that I would really like to wear. At the store I did not notice the squeaking. I am curious, is there anyway to make them stop making noise? — Shoiji, New Jersey

DEAR SHOIJI: You can shake powder inside the sneakers or add a folded piece of paper towel under the soles.

DEAR SARA: I have one of those “switches itself off” kettles, and it has a short cord that plugs into the kettle at one end and the electrical socket at the other. On the end where it plugs into the kettle, every time I use it, I have to jiggle it and wiggle it to get it to switch on, and then when I let go of it, it moves ever so slightly, and I have to start again. Do I buy a new cord, or is there some simple fix I can do? — Janet, Canada

DEAR JANET: You can call the manufacturer and ask if they offer replacement cords. If not, you can locate a small appliance repair store (authorized service center) or go to a hardware store and ask if they have a replacement appliance cord. Before replacing the cord, you can check if it is indeed the cord that’s broken by testing it with a continuity tester. Here’s a mini tutorial that shows how to do this:


  1. pete

    5/4/2010 at 3:10 pm

    On the electric cord issue – it could be something as simple as the prongs being splayed just a little bit. You might try gently mashing on the ends of the prongs (with your fingers) to close the gap between the ends of the prongs just a little. Very little! Sometimes you can look at them and see that they have separated enough to make it difficult for them to stay in a socket.

  2. Julia

    5/18/2010 at 4:15 pm

    I bought my steam mop at Aldi on a “special” for 39.99, less the store opening coupon ($10. off) and I love it! I have a large dog and dog food turns to concrete on tile floors. The steam mop cleans it up in seconds without chemicals. The mop also cleans a tile bathroom floor effortlessly. It is much easier to use than mop and bucket. I don’t have wood floors and so I do agree with you that one should check with the manufacturer of wood flooring.

  3. Patti

    6/3/2010 at 11:46 am

    My parents gave me a steam mop for my birthday last year. I use it on the laminate floors in the kitchen and living room, as well as the slate floors in the bathroom. It is very light weight and I love it that I’m not sloshing around with a bucket of suds that invariable leaves rings I have to wipe up. The steam mop is quick to set up and put away and the floors are dry in no time. I think it is fun to use!

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