Steam mop, spin mop, or normal mop - a modern white mop cleaning wooden floor from dust

Steam mop, spin mop, or normal mop: Which one do you need?

Comparing steam mops, spin mops, and normal mops based on their cleaning mechanism, efficiency, floor compatibility, and more.

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Key Facts

  • A steam mop cleans and sanitises floors by heating water to 248 degrees Fahrenheit to produce steam distributed evenly by a microfiber mop head, effectively removing dirt and stains.
  • A spin mop features a microfiber mop and a spinning bucket with either a push-down handle or a foot pedal mechanism to activate a wringing system that efficiently removes excess moisture.
  • A normal or regular mop uses a long, telescopic handle and an absorbent mop head, requiring manual floor cleaning and wringing effort. It needs a cleaning solution to effectively remove dirt and stains.

Have you ever felt lost looking at the many mops for sale in a hardware store? You might think choosing a fancy, machine-powered mop is the best option, but these tools have their limits, too. Each mop type is different—some are good for quick cleaning, others for deep cleaning. 

So, how do you select the right mop? Check out our in-depth comparison guide of steam mops vs spin mops vs normal mops so you can easily choose the best one for your home.

What is a steam mop? 

Steam mop, spin mop, or normal mop - a steam cleaner mop cleaning floor

Most mops rely heavily on the cleaning solution to remove floor dirt and stains. However, steam mops are built differently. They use hot steam to clean and sanitise floors. How? A floor steamer mop has a built-in water tank to store tap water. Once the tank is full, its internal heating elements start warming the water to 248 degrees Fahrenheit, producing hot steam. The steam is then released through a nozzle or mop head, removing dirt and sanitising floors. 

A steam mop cleaner also has a microfibre mop head that does more than pick up and trap dust and dirt. It can also help distribute steam evenly, effectively cleaning the entire floor. 

What is a spin mop? 

Steam mop, spin mop, or normal mop - a person mopping floor with a mopping bucket on the floor

A spin mop, or a spinning floor mop, is an upgraded version of a traditional mop. It comes with a microfibre spin mop and a bucket. The spinning bucket is the iconic feature of a spin mop. It’s equipped with an innovative mop wringer mechanism that helps remove excess dirt, water and moisture from the mop. 

There are two ways you can active its mop wringer mechanism:

  • Push-down handle mechanism - Most spin mops have this feature, which requires the user to push down the mop handle, causing the wringing basket to spin. This creates a centrifugal force that shoots the water outward from the mop fibres, helping remove excess moisture from the mop head.

  • Foot pedal mechanism - Some spin mops have a foot pedal attached to the bucket. You’ll have to step on the foot pedal to activate the wringing basket, creating a centrifugal force similar to the push-down handle mechanism. 

What is a normal mop?  

Steam mop, spin mop, or normal mop - a normal mop cleaning the floor

A normal or regular mop is a traditional normal mop with a long, telescopic handle and a mop head made from absorbent materials like cotton, sponge, or microfibre. Like spin mops, a normal mop has a bucket for storing water and a cleaning solution. 

Since it’s just a normal mop, it lacks innovative features, requiring users to exert manual effort in mopping the floor and wringing the mop head. Plus, it relies on a cleaning solution to remove floor grime and stains. 

Steam mop vs spin mop vs normal mop: Which works best for floor cleaning?

Floor mopping can be tedious, but it’s an essential chore that helps get rid of dust and keeps indoor air clean and fresh. Choosing the right mop is crucial to ensure efficient and effective floor mopping. Here, we’ll delve deeper into the key differences between these household mops.  

In terms of cleaning mechanism

Knowing the unique cleaning mechanism of each mop will help you easily determine which works best for your everyday mopping needs. Let’s begin with steam mops. 

As mentioned, a steam mop heats water at a high temperature, producing steam. The steam is then directed into the mop head to clean and sanitise floors. Since the mop head is made from microfibre, it can effectively pick up dirt and dry debris and absorb excess moisture.

Spin mops also use microfibre mop heads like steam mops. However, cleaning with a spin mop requires extra steps since it relies more on the cleaning power of a cleaning solution instead of using steam. You’ll have to prepare the cleaning solution first, rinse and spin the mop occasionally, and change the water if it gets too dirty already. 

If using a spin mop sounds too much work, wait until you try mopping with a normal mop. Even though both spin mops and normal mops have similar initial steps (which is to prepare the cleaning solution), normal mopping requires more effort. For example, you’ll always have to wring out the mop head with only your hands before and after mopping the floor.

Recommendation: If you want an easy way of mopping floors, choose steam mops because they require fewer steps to clean and sanitise floors.

In terms of cleaning efficiency

Steam mop, spin mop, or normal mop - a person washes the floors with a steam mop.

When comparing spin mops and normal mops, spin mops are more efficient to use. You’ll be able to clean floors much faster with a spin mop since it eliminates the need to wring out the mop head through manual efforts. 

Moreover, spin mops are equipped with microfibre mop heads. Meaning, they’re good at trapping dirt and absorbing moisture. In contrast, most normal mops are only made from cotton string, which is less efficient in absorbing moisture and trapping dust. 

But, if we are to compare steam mop vs spin mop, steam mops have a clear advantage. Most steam mops don’t need chemical detergents, relying only on steam to clean and sanitise floors. Not to mention, the preparation process for using an automatic steam mop is much simpler. You just have to refill the tank with water, wait for the steam mop to produce steam, and you may now begin mopping. 

Recommendation: Steam mops are the best choice for cleaning efficiency. However, spin mops can also be a good choice because of their innovative bucket system.

In terms of floor compatibility

When comparing steam mops vs normal mops in terms of floor compatibility, clearly, normal mops gain the upper hand. A normal mop gives you more control over the mop head, cleaning solution, and cleaning process, which makes it compatible with all kinds of flooring. 

On the other hand, hard floor steam cleaners like steam mops produce hot steam that can cause sealed and moisture-sensitive floors to warp, swell or lose their protective coatings. You can still use a steam mop for tile floors like porcelain and ceramic, but it’s vital to avoid using them on unsealed and moisture-sensitive hard floors like wood, laminate, marble and other natural stone surfaces.

A spin mop is another versatile floor mop. Like normal mops, you may easily adjust the wetness level of the mop head using the bucket’s innovative wringer basket. This helps prevent the floors from getting too wet, allowing you to control the moisture level suited to your flooring material. 

Recommendation: If you need a versatile mop for different floor types, choose normal mops and spin mops. With these types of mops, you can control how wet the mop gets.

In terms of convenience

Steam mop, spin mop, or normal mop - a person squeezing mop in bucket for floor cleaning

A normal mop is convenient in the sense that it’s compatible with any type of flooring. However, remember that it’s less efficient than steam mops and spin mops. It can push the dirt around instead of cleaning the surface if the mop head material isn’t made of absorbent microfibre fibres or if you frequently don’t rinse it. 

Moreover, unlike spin mops, most normal mops don’t have a spout in their buckets. The spout makes it easier to pour and discard wastewater, so without it, you may still have to lift the bucket when changing the water.    

For this reason, choosing either an automatic steam mop or a spin mop is best for maximum convenience. Setting up a steam mop may have a slight delay since the machine still needs to warm up to generate steam, but once it’s ready, you’ll have a continuous steam supply that effectively loosens dirt and grime. 

Meanwhile, spin mops have a specially designed bucket with a foot pedal or push-handle mechanism to activate the spinning wringer basket. Using this, you can easily wring out the mop head without bending much over, unlike normal mops. This is why they are great for cleaning hard floors or with large areas like garage floors.

Recommendation: For maximum convenience, choose either a steam mop or a spin mop.

In terms of sanitisation

Are steam mops good for sanitising surfaces? Yes, because steam mops emit steam at high temperatures, which kills bacteria and viruses. Additionally, you don’t need to use a commercial-based cleaning solution when using steam mops,  reducing the amount of chemical allergens in the air. 

Moreover, steam mops have microfibre mop heads. Microfibre is found to have superior microbial removal properties compared to string mops, effectively sanitising surfaces. 

Although spin mops also have microfibre mop heads, they rely on disinfectants and chemical-based cleaners to sanitise floors. It’s similar to how normal mops depend on the cleaning solution to kill bacteria and germs. 

Recommendation: Choose a carpet and floor steam cleaner like a steam mop for more effective sanitation.

In terms of cost

Steam mop, spin mop, or normal mop - a person shopping for a mop in a department store

Regular cotton mops are the most affordable of the three, with prices starting at $12. Spin mops are the next most affordable option, ranging from $45 to $60. 

Meanwhile, steam mops are the most expensive due to their advanced features and more complex designs. In Australia, the price range of steam mops is $100 to $300. 

Additionally, the advanced features of steam mops may require the help of a mopping expert to be fully utilised. While this could add to the overall floor cleaning costs, the efficient and deep floor cleaning they provide makes it a worthwhile investment for many homeowners.

Recommendation: Normal mops are more affordable upfront, but it’s still better to choose a steam or spin mop even though they cost more. These mop types can clean your floors more thoroughly and efficiently than a normal mop.

Connect with floor cleaning experts on Airtasker

Choosing the right mop is only the beginning of keeping your floors spotless and sanitary. Knowing how to use your mop correctly, particularly when it involves more complex cleaning tools like steam mops, can be tricky. 

Why not skip the DIY cleaning struggle and get in touch with the pros on Airtasker? These expert cleaners not only deep clean even the dirtiest floors but also provide specialised services such as floor waxing and restoration, bringing old floors back to life.

Steam mop vs spin mop vs normal mop

Steam Mop
Spin Mop
Normal Mop
Cleaning Mechanism
Uses high-temperature steam to deep clean tiles and sanitise floors
Uses a microfibre mop head with a cleaning solution
Similar to spin mops but requires manual wringing of dirty water from the mop head
Cleaning Efficiency
Highly efficient; cleans and sanitises floors without using harsh cleaning chemicals
Efficient with an innovative bucket system that reduces manual effort
Less efficient and less effective at picking up dust
Floor Compatibility
Not suitable for unsealed or moisture-sensitive floors
Versatile, with adjustable wetness; safe for most floors
Most versatile; suitable for all floor types
Convenient and easy to set up; provides continuous supply of steam once ready
Convenient; utilises a foot pedal or push-handle mechanism for easy wringing
Less convenient; manual wringing and bucket has no spout for water disposal
Offers excellent sanitation; high-temperature steam kills bacteria and viruses without chemical
Offers good sanitation; uses disinfectants in cleaning solutions but depends on chemicals
Less effective sanitation; dependent on the effectiveness of the cleaning solution used
Most expensive; price ranges from $100 to $300 due to advanced features and design
Moderately priced; price ranges from $45 to $60 due to innovative features
Most affordable; price start at $12 due to simple design

FAQs on steam mops, spin mops, and normal mops

A steam mop can damage floors like hardwood and laminate. Aside from that, the steam can be very hot, so you can accidentally get scalded if you’re not careful. This is why you should keep kids and pets away while steam mopping.

Steam mops can push the dirt around if you don’t use them correctly. Unlike cordless or corded vacuums, they don’t have a suction element. And if the mop pad gets too dirty, it will no longer pick up dirt and spread it across the floor. This is why you should vacuum before using a steam mop and occasionally replace the dirty mop pad to avoid pushing dirt around. 

It’s good to steam clean your tile floors since the hot steam can help loose dirt and grime and kill bacteria and mould. However, remember that not all floors are suitable for steam cleaning. So, consult a floor cleaning expert before you try to steam-mop your floors yourself.

Yes, there are cordless steam mops available. They are more convenient than standard corded steam mops because they are lightweight, so you can quickly move them around without worrying about tangled cords and power outlets.

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