Pros: lightweight, no chemicals, cleans & sanitizes
Cons: microfiber pads are hard to find in stores
I don't mind cleaning as long as I'm not spending most of my life doing it. I'd much rather use products that deep clean surfaces so that my time spent on the chore is cut in half. Several of my rooms are either hardwood or tiled, and once upon a time I used to use mops on them (especially in the kitchen area) I grew tired of replacing mop after mop when they looked a little ratty, and turned to Swiffer (the Wet Jet). It worked pretty well for me, but it only gave me the appearance of clean on my floors. That sounds a little confusing perhaps, but what I mean by that is that while it looked clean, it didn't "feel" that way to me. I didn't walk in the room and get that squeaky clean vibe, where I just know my floors are as clean as they could be. Eventually, I started looking for a better option.
I saw the Bissell Steam Mop advertised on TV one night (about 7 months ago) , did a little research on them, and decided I would give it a try. Tax and all, it cost around $90 which really wasn't so bad considering I spent nearly that much on mops and cleaning agents pretty regularly, so I figured this would actually save me a couple of bucks. This steam mop was advertised to clean one's floors by using steam, and there were no chemicals required. I thought the promise of no chemicals was wonderful because I have a child and a really small dog and the less I exposed them to cleaning chemicals, the better. It wasn't a very bulky "mop" : the mop head dimensions are 7 & 1/2" x 10 & 1/2" and the overall height is 45 & 1/2". It also only weights close to 7 pounds (6.9 is exact) so this is something I would be able to transport from room to room with no trouble (could just pick it up and carry instead of push it to the destination).
Upon opening the packaging, you'll see that the mop will need some assembly, but it is really simple to do. You will need a Phillips screwdriver and use the provided screws to attach the unit (the handle part) to the mop head. You also receive 2 microfiber cleaning pads that you will need to place over the mop head. This works like a fitted sheet and has a string that allows you to adjust it to the perfect fit. These are machine washable or you could just wash them by hand.
The mop is made of plastic, and it has 2 hooks with which you would wrap the cord around, a mopping handle and a carry handle. The cord section is one of those quick release types which is great if you need more cord trailing behind you. I don't bother though, and just unwind as I go.
To use the mop, first you will have to add water to the plastic water container on the back of it. It takes about 2 cups of water to fill the bottle (then you place it back in). The manufacturer recommends using distilled water with this mop. The reason behind this is that the distilled water won't clog your vents (I guess if you have hard water, it would be bad eventually) and just extends the life of your mop. I don't mind because I buy it anyway by the gallon, for drinking. It costs less than a dollar usually and a gallon will last me a few cleanings.
Before using the mop, it is recommended (and probably best) to sweep the area you are going to mop. I've always done this before mopping anyway so I did not mind this step. I would recommend it because you only get the two mop head pads with this machine and the only place I have been able to find replacements for them is online and you may find yourself in the same situation. It's probably a wise choice to extend the life of these pads by taking care of the sweepable surface dirt beforehand and just letting this mop get the set in stuff. These pads are reusable of course, but eventually they can get a little ratty looking and need replacing.
After you plug in the cord , it is supposed to be ready to go in about 30 seconds. There is an indicator light to let you know when it's heated enough to produce the steam. The 30 seconds wasn't very far off with mine. I didn't have to wait very long before the little light came on. The great thing about this unit is that it has a trigger so you can control where and when to steam. I just like that freedom. It's works a bit like an iron that steams....it's quiet and you only hear that "hiss" and you can see the steam puffing out and onto the surface of your floor. This steam works to loosen and them remove any hard stains you may have or any sticky goo residue on your floors. You can even leave it in place for 15 seconds to actually sanitize the area you are mopping. Of course in a big room this (sanitizing) can take a lot of time, but I think it comes out several "degrees" cleaner when doing this than just by running over it in a regular cleaning. You get about 15 good minutes of steaming before you'll need to replace the water but it starts right back up once you get it back in there.
I pass the mop back and forth over my floors, pressing the trigger as I go (which is pretty much what is suggested). I have had the cleaning pads come off a few times and here's a good tip: Turn the machine off and wait until the pad cools before trying to place it back on. That sucker gets h-o-t. After the first washing and drying of these pads they seemed to shrink so I never had this problem again. But, it's something to watch out for. If you notice that yours are pulling when you go in a back and forth motion on the floor, you may want to just go in one direction only. (for instance, pushing it away from you...picking it back up...and doing it again).
I have noticed a difference in my floors. I get that overall clean feeling just from being in the room after cleaning them and it seems to last for a longer period of time before cleaning again. With the old standard mops and even the Swiffers, I still felt like I should get down and scrub the floors and cleaned them several times a week. I never had any stains or anything on my floors but they shine a lot more and feel incredibly clean beneath my feet when I'm walking on them. I also love that the mop head is pretty "thin" so I can get under places I couldn't with a traditional mop. I also like that the mop head swivels (360 degrees) and can go around table legs or chair legs and I don't have to move anything around.
I'm in love with my Bissell Steam Mop and if it broke down tomorrow I would buy another before nightfall. It's lightweight, cleans like it says it would, and is environmentally friendly even. No Chemicals!! That's the greatest thing about this mop. It would be nicer if the cleaning pads were available in stores (or, at least available in any near me), but I don't mind so much buying them online. I would recommend this mop to anyone who might gasp at the price tag on the more expensive Hoovers. This mop works wonderfully, and it's much more affordable.
**A few Quick Notes about Hardwood Flooring**Important**
I do have hardwood floors but could not use this on all of them. This is mostly used on tile or other surfaces. Most of my hardwood is very old and Unsealed and to use this on them would damage the wood badly (warping the boards for one thing).
For the sealed floors, I know because of the type that they are safe for steam. To be extra cautious, I'd do a quick steam. These, I had in mind while writing this review and the results are as I said in it. This mop is stated to be safe for sealed surfaces. However....
I would advise anyone steaming their hardwood floors to first check with their manufacturer or care instructions to find out if this is safe for their particular hardwood floor finsih/type. With these types of products, it is also usually advised to do a test area first (such as in a closet) to see how it affects the finish. And, it's usually advised to either use extra precaution, or avoid altogether the high traffic areas (which is why I would never, to my hallway).