Steam Mop Not Steaming? Here’s How to Unclog It

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For those tough cleaning days, an old-school mop isn’t always enough. No matter the brand, whether they are Shark, Bissell, Vax, or Vileda, steam mops are a force to be reckoned with when tidying up large spills.

You want the job done as efficiently and quickly as possible, so what happens when your steam mop is not steaming? Keep reading to find out what causes a steam mop to get clogged and how to fix it.

Steam Mop Not Steaming: Quick Fixes

If your steam mop suddenly stops working, there are some quick fixes you can try before going any further and checking to see if there are any blockages in the nozzle. These quick fixes work for all steam mop brands, including Shark, Bissell, Vax, Vileda, or Black and Decker.

1. Add More Water

The first thing to check is the water supply. Have your cleaning efforts used up all of the available water in the mops tank? If so, there certainly won’t be much steam to work with.

Try to get a feel for how quickly your mop uses its water supply so you can plan out your cleaning sessions appropriately. Always let your mop cool down before adding more water as well, and make sure it is off.

2. Check the Power Outlet

The water tank is full, but still no steam coming out? As silly as it sounds, double-check that everything is plugged in properly, especially if you’re using an electrical wall outlet.

It’s possible that while using the appliance, the plug was pulled from the wall. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can also check if your outlet is working. Some outlets require a switch to be on to let electricity reach it.

3. Adjust the Settings

Check your mop’s settings. There are numerous models of steam mops on the market that each have different instructions. Some steam mops, like this Shark Genius steam mop, have a steam control dial that may need to be adjusted or a child lock in place that needs to be flipped.

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The Bissell 1806 and 1940 steam mops also have steam levels. If you own either of them, and the steam mop is not steaming, there is a chance that the steam level is set to low.

While you're checking those settings, make sure the water tank cap is screwed on tightly. If not placed correctly the mop will not have enough pressure to produce steam.

If the water tank is full, everything is plugged in, and your settings are looking good, but you’re still having issues, it may be time to check for blockages.

How to Unclog a Steam Mop

Steam Mop Not Steaming

Unfortunately, it is common for a steam mop to acquire buildup when not used frequently. Depending on the type of water available to you, mineral deposits can quickly block the steam from exiting your mop. If it’s been a while since you last whipped out your steam mop, there may be clogs stopping it from doing its job.

Each steam mop model will have a different set of instructions, so make sure you’re following along with the manual from your box. Generally, you can check the steam exit point for any blockages as well as the hose if your mop is a canister-style model. Below is a list of steps to follow when checking for clogs.

Step 1: Stop Using the Mop

Turn off your steam mop and let it cool down completely before doing any maintenance.

Steam mops use boiling water and can reach temperatures that are very high, so be safe and make sure everything has cooled and is turned off before starting this process. Once you’re sure the mop is off, empty the water supply, so you don’t make a mess on the floor you’re hoping to clean.

Step 2: Locate the Exit Point

Most steam mops have an exit point where the steam comes out, and it will commonly be a nozzle or spray tip. Using your manual, locate this exit point. If you don’t have your manual, you can check on the manufacturer’s website. Identify the make and model of your steam mop and look up a manual online.

Step 3: Clean the Blockage

Use a sturdy tool that will fit inside the opening but not cause damage (paperclip, cotton swab, etc.) to try and fish out stray gunk or debris. You may be able to see the buildup right at the front of the nozzle. 

However, the clog could be further down the nozzle or hose and will need some extra elbow grease to remove. If you feel you were not able to get the majority of the blockage out because it is too far down in the hose, continue to step four. Otherwise, assemble your mop and check how it works.

Step 4: Dissolve the Blockage

Use vinegar to dissolve any mineral deposits that are still causing problems. You can pour the vinegar directly into the nozzle or use a cotton swab to break down the blockages. If you don’t have white vinegar, any descaling cleaning products will do the trick too.

If you use this step be sure to use your steam mop right away to get rid of the excess vinegar in the hose. Also, you do not want to fill the steam mop tank with vinegar to avoid internal damage.

Step 5: Check Your Work

Put it all back together and check your work. With any blockages gone, your steam mop should be back in action. If not, below are some additional issues that could be the culprit but are less frequent.

Why Does a Steam Mop Get Clogged?

Mineral deposits tend to build up in the nozzle and hose of your steam mop between uses. Typically if your steam mop is used regularly this does not happen. A clog is more likely to build up if you wait a few months between uses. Hard water is normally the culprit for mineral buildup.

When the mineral buildup inside hard water sits unchecked for too long in your steam mop, the water dissolves and leaves behind mineral deposits that make it difficult to use in the future.

Other Possible Problems

Perhaps the water isn’t hot enough when you start using it to produce steam. Make sure to wait until the mop is hot enough to do its job properly. Let your steam mop heat the water to around 212 ℉ (100 ℃). This temperature will give you the proper amount of steam and is the right temperature to kill germs.

If all else fails, it could be a manufacturer issue. There could be leaks within the internal system that you don't know. At this point, it would be best to contact the manufacturer to see if they can assist you. 


If you want to take care of your steam mop, the best thing to do is use it regularly. This prevents the possibility of mineral buildup in the nozzle and keeps your mop working in top shape.

If you suspect something may be wrong with your steam mop, there are plenty of fixes that you can try at home yourself before looking to the steam mop's manufacturer for help. 

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