Steam Mop vs Wet & Dry Vacuum

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It's cleaning time! But which is better: steam mop or wet & dry vacuum? Let's find out.

Whilst the differences between these two machines might seem obvious at first, it's actually not. By comparing their features, we'll help you make an informed decision on which is best suited for different situations and your needs.

We'll also look at some of the pros and cons associated with each choice before providing our final conclusions on steam mops vs wet & dry vacuums. Let's dive in.

Steam Mop Overview

Can you use a Steam Mop on Laminate Floors?

To put it simply, steam mops take the hassle out of mopping floors. They use hot steam to deep clean surfaces, removing dirt and bacteria without the need for harsh chemicals.

Steam mops offer many advantages compared to traditional cleaning methods, including increased efficiency and hygiene and shorter drying times, all with less effort by you. In summary, if you have a lot of hard floors that need mopping regularly, a steam mop offers a lot of value.

Benefits of Steam Mops:

The main benefit of steam mops is their ability to sanitize surfaces with just water vapor instead of using chemical-based cleaning agents. This eliminates the need for expensive and potentially hazardous cleaning solutions, while still providing a better result than traditional mopping.

In addition, steam mop heads absorb more dirt than traditional mop heads due to their increased surface area coverage per swipe. As a result, less time is spent scrubbing floors by hand.

Furthermore, steam generated from these machines helps lift dirt away from hard floor surfaces much better than a vacuum head alone can do.


Handheld and stick models of steam mops are both readily available on the market, offering users a choice between portability and power.

Handheld steam mops usually boast smaller tanks that generate lower levels of hot vapor. In contrast, stick versions tend to have larger tanks and deliver higher amounts of water vapor. Therefore, stick steam mops are best for hardwood floors.

Both types come equipped with replaceable microfiber pads, making them perfect for daily domestic duties. 

Wet Dry Vacuum Overview

Wet & Dry Vacuum Yellow Background

Wet Dry Vacuums offer a variety of benefits that make them ideal for deep cleaning. They are able to lift dirt, debris, and liquids from surfaces without the need for harsh chemicals or other cleaning agents.

A wet dry vacuum is also suitable for sealed floors such as hardwood, laminate flooring, tile and more. In addition to being easy to use and store away when not in use, they provide a deeper clean than traditional mops or steam cleaners because of their suction power.

Benefits of Wet Dry Vacuums:

Wet dry vacuums are great for deep cleaning carpets and hard floors alike. Their powerful suction lifts dirt from surfaces quickly and easily while also removing any liquid spills you may have encountered throughout your home.

However, unlike steam cleaners which rely on hot water vapor to clean, traditional wet & dry vacs clean via suction only.

Although, this is where it can get confusing as there are certain hybrid types that both wash and vacuum floors at the same time! 

The obvious benefit of Wet & dry vacuums is that they pick up water as well as dirt. If you pick up even a small amount of water in a regular vacuum cleaner you will damage it. By contrast, wet & dry vacuums are specifically designed to suck up huge amounts of water.

For ease of use and storage, wet & dry vacs are a great choice. Additionally, wet & dry vacs are great at lifting pet hair from furniture as well as dust particles from ceiling fans or air vents.


The most common type of wet & dry vacuum is a barrell or canister type. They come in a range of sizes relating to how much water they can hold: starting from 3 gallon handheld models up to over 10 gallons heavy duty vacuums. These are the traditional type that rely purely on suction for cleaning.

In addition, all come equipped with interchangeable attachments, like crevice tools for getting into tight spots and brushes tailored to picking up pet hair from furniture or stairs.

The other type of wet & dry vacuum that we mentioned is a hybrid wet/ dry vacuum and mop such as the Bissell Crosswave. These are amazing cleaning machines as they combine the benefits of mopping and vacuuming into one. Not only do they pickup wet and dry messes but they also wash your floors at the same time. As a result they are a dream device for many pet owners. 

Comparison of Steam Mop and Wet Dry Vacuum Features

Pros and Cons of Each Option

Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of both options is key when selecting which cleaning solution best fits your needs.

Cleaning Performance and Efficiency:

Steam mops offer a chemical-free deep clean, as the hot steam generated by the mop head absorbs dirt, grime, bacteria, and other contaminants from sealed floors. The traditional mop pad then collects the dirty water while leaving behind a streak-free finish.

Wet dry vacuums provide powerful suction power to lift dirt particles off hardwood floors or carpets. They can also be used on various surfaces such as furniture, car interiors or stairs, making them more versatile than steam mops.

Versatility and Mobility:

Steam cleaners are lightweight but often bulky in size due to their large water tanks. Therefore they’re not as portable as stick vacuums or handheld models. By comparison, wet & dry vacuum cleaners come with multiple attachments for easy cleaning in tight corners. As a result, they are more versatile.

Regular descaling and replacement of filters are all that's needed to keep a steam cleaner running smoothly. Similarly, wet & dry vacuums require frequent filter changes. Although they may be sturdier in the long run due to their metal components versus plastic ones found in many modern steamers.

Final Recommendation

Comparing the features of steam mops and wet dry vacuums, it is evident that each has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks.

Steam mops are great for quick clean-ups and sanitizing hard surfaces, but they don't have the same power or suction as a wet & dry vacuum. Wet & dry vacuums offer more versatility with their ability to tackle large wet and dry messes on flooring or furniture. 

When it comes to cost considerations, steam mops are typically less expensive than wet dry vacuums; however, you get what you pay for in terms of performance.

If you're looking for something lightweight that can handle small spills on hard floors quickly then a steam mop is your best bet. On the other hand if you need something more powerful that can tackle larger messes on a variety of surfaces then a wet & dry vacuum is a better choice.

In terms of cleaning performance and efficiency both options do an adequate job; however there are some key differences between them when it comes to versatility and mobility:

  • Steam mops are lightweight so they're easy to move around while wet/dry vacuums tend to be heavier. 
  • You can't use a steam mop on carpeted surfaces but you can use a wet/dry vacuum.

FAQs in Relation to Steam Mop vs Wet Dry Vacuum

Is A Steam Mop Better Than A Vacuum Cleaner?

It depends on the type of cleaning that needs to be done. Vacuums are a great choice for extracting dust, dirt and pet hair from carpets and hard surfaces. Steam mops are better suited for sanitizing hard floors (either tiled or hardwood/ laminate) since they use hot steam to kill germs and bacteria.

For deep cleaning carpets, a vacuum cleaner is generally more effective than a steam mop as it can reach deeper into the fibers of the carpeting. 

What Is The Difference Between A Steam Mop And A Wet Vac?

A steam mop and a wet vac are both cleaning tools, but they serve different purposes. A steam mop uses hot water vapor to clean surfaces like tile or hardwood floors without the need for chemicals. On the other hand, a wet vac is designed to suck up liquid spills from carpets or furniture using suction power generated by an electric motor. 

Is A Wet Vacuum Cleaner As Good As Mopping?

The answer to the question of whether a wet vacuum cleaner is as good as mopping depends on several factors. Wet vacuums are effective at quickly removing large amounts of liquid, while mops can provide more thorough cleaning and sanitizing. Vacuums may be better suited for deep-cleaning carpets or upholstery, while mops are ideal for hardwood floors and tile surfaces that require frequent maintenance. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the type of surface being cleaned.

Do I Need A Vacuum If I Have A Steam Mop?

The decision of whether or not to use a steam mop depends on the kind of flooring and how much cleaning is necessary. If your floors are mostly hardwood or tile, a steam mop can be enough for basic cleaning. However, if your home has carpeted areas that require deeper cleaning, then a vacuum cleaner is recommended in addition to using a steam mop. Vacuum cleaners provide more powerful suction which helps remove dirt and debris from carpets more effectively than a steam mop alone.

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