Steam Mop Leaving Streaks? Here’s the Easy Solution

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Have you purchased a steam mop in order to keep your floors clean and looking nice, but run into the problem of having annoying streaks left behind? This is a shockingly common problem that the manufacturers of steam mops don’t tell you how to remedy which leaves people feeling a little frustrated. 

A steam mop can leave streaks if you are adding too much water or using a dirty steam mop pad. Additionally, leaving the steam mop in one position for too long or using tap water can cause a steam mop to leave water marks behind. Try using distilled water instead.

Now, there are a few other reasons why your steam mop may be leaving behind obnoxious messes and we’ll cover all those and more! We’ll give you plenty of common problems and their solutions so you can get the most use out of your new steam mop. 

Why Does My Steam Mop Leave Streaks?

Whether you own a Bissell or a Shark steam mop, there are several potential reasons why you may end up with a streaky floor. Some of the biggest culprits out there are:

  • Dirt and other debris not fully swept up
  • Hard water with minerals 
  • Dirty mop pads
  • Stepping over cleaned areas

1. Debris

Debris such as dirt or food particles can be such a simple problem that is often overlooked. 

Before you begin using your steam mop, sweep the area you are cleaning very thoroughly. You may find it easier to even vacuum the area, just to make sure all the small pieces are picked up.

2. Hard water

A lot of people live in areas with hard water that is full of minerals. These minerals can cause a lot of streakiness. If this is the case, the only thing you really can do is to switch to distilled water. You may also find it difficult to get rid of hard water streaks. 

So, if you know for a fact what kind of water you have, it’s best to avoid it completely because the streaks from this type of water are a pain to get rid of and will just cause more problems than it’s worth. 

3. Mop pads

With the steam mops, you have to make sure you are frequently changing out the pads because if you don’t, they aren’t going to do their job. Plus, using them if they are soiled or very dirty is just going to drag debris from previous cleaning sessions all over your floor. 

4. Stepping on previously cleaned areas

Another reason why your steam mop is leaving streaks is stepping over a previously cleaned area. Your expensive Bissell or Shark steam mop is not at fault here, it’s just that you stepped over an area that is damp.

If there is anything on the bottom of your shoes or feet, you’ll also be tracking more debris onto the areas that were just mopped. Remember, areas need some time to dry completely after steam mopping.

How To Avoid Streaks With A Steam Mop

Each of the problems causing a steam mop leaving water marks behind listed above has a simple solution and we’ll cover each point in depth to help you avoid any future headaches!

1. Sweep and vacuum before steam mopping 

The easiest way is to sweep and even vacuum the area.

However, it may also help to make sure you have a clean pair of shoes that you use indoors only that will prevent any tracking of dirt and other things onto your floors. 

If you get streaks from debris, let the floor completely dry out. Then, go over the affected area with a broom once more. From there, use your steam mop to spot clean the areas where you can see where the debris left marks. If the amount is significant, you may want to try cleaning the entire area again. 

2. Pour white vinegar over stubborn streaks

Some streaks are stubborn and are a little more complex to get clean. For this method, you would want to make sure you are using distilled water when you go over the area once more. 

However, sometimes these streaks can be particularly difficult to clean. If this is the case, the easiest and most effective way is to use a towel and some white vinegar. Pour a little of the vinegar over the streaks. After this, use another towel with some water on it to clean up the vinegar. Let it air dry! 

3. Steam mop an area several times

Depending on what caused the streaks, you may be able to simply put in a new one and reclean the affected area. If you notice that it’s not working still, let it dry, sweep the area, and try to use the vinegar method. 

For this step, you may be able to simply wipe away the streaks with a damp towel or by going over the area again. If it persists, make sure your movements are swift and not slow. It may also be beneficial to use a little force if the streaks don’t want to come up. 

Remember, be sure to use a clean steam mop pad every time. The mop pads should be cleaned thoroughly or should be thrown away after each cleaning use to prevent this from happening in the future. 

4. Steam mop an area in sections

Depending on the layout of the room, or your house, you may find it easier to clean an area in sections. Ideally, you would want to wait for an area to dry completely, and start on another section. 

The easiest way to prevent yourself from stepping on previously cleaned areas is to work your way from the farthest end of the room and clean towards your exit. If you step on the spots that were just cleaned, you can end up with dirty streaks or, or worse, footprints.

5. Add water only (no chemicals)

Check with the manufacturer of your steam mop because many of them do not recommend adding chemicals or fragrances. Both Bissell and Shark do not recommend adding anything extra to your steam mops.

There are not many on the market that approve of using extra chemicals to clean with. If you’ve gone over everything else, and the streaks keep appearing, this could very well be the issue. 

If they suggest water only, it’s best to follow that guideline. Despite what some floor cleaners say, follow the instructions for the mop itself. That should prevent any further issues in regard to persistent streaks. 

IMPORTANT: Steam mops work best if you add water only into the tank. However, there are a few steam mop friendly cleaning solutions. Here is the complete list of what you can or cannot add to a steam mop, including what you can add to make your steam mop smell nice.

Final Thoughts

Many of the reasons streaks occur are due to simple issues that may not have even crossed your mind! Vinegar is going to be your best friend if you end up with hard water streaks. 

The biggest takeaway is to make sure you are following the instructions given to you by your particular mop brand. Some people will suggest things that go against the instructions and that can either harm your floors or make it feel impossible to fully clean.

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