How to Clean Your Steam Mop: A Step-by-Step Guide

Jeneva Aaron
Jeneva is the founder and CEO of where she provides honest and objective reviews on home and cleaning products. She is a cleaning enthusiast. She got inspired to build her own cleaning blog when she realized how cleaning can make an impact on our lives and how a cleaner home can affect a person's mood.
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Updated April 27, 2023

When was the last time you cleaned your steam mop?

How to Clean Your Steam Mop: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you clean your steam mop? Although you might find it unnecessary because your steam mop kills bacteria anyway, it still needs to be cleaned.

Regular maintenance is important to make sure your steam mop is cleaning your floor efficiently. Not only will this keep your floor pristine, but it will extend the life of your steam mop too.

So whether you have a Shark steam mop or an unbranded steam mop, it needs to be cleaned regularly.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to take care of your steam mop, so you can enjoy cleaner floors.

How to Clean Your Steam Mop

How Often Should You Clean Your Steam Mop?

How often you should clean your steam mop depends on how often you use it.

But, we recommend deep cleaning your cleaner as soon as you notice reduced steam or no steam at all. Or if there’s any dirt or build-up in your steam mop.

And you should also deep clean your steam mop regularly at least once a month. Or after around 25 uses.

We also recommend following these tips to keep your steam mop clean:

  • Empty the water in the tank after every clean. Make sure you clean the tank weekly and descale it every 6 months.
  • Wash your steam mop-pads after each use.
  • Wipe down the surface of your cleaner and accessories using a soft cloth before and after each clean.
  • Change the filter cartridge on your steam mop as soon it changes color.
  • Decalcify your steam mop periodically or once a month using a mixture of water and white vinegar. But, keep in mind that some steam mops should not be decalcified. So make sure you check your manufacturer’s guidelines to see if this is allowed.

How To Maintain & Clean Steam Mops

This guide can be used for all models of steam mops. And particularly on the following shark steam mops: Shark S3501, Shark S7000AMZ Steam Mop, Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop, Shark Lift-Away Pro Steam Pocket Mop.

The recommendations for cleaning and maintaining these steam cleaners are the same.

However, accessing or activating the different parts may differ, such as removing the bin, filter, brushes, or hose.


So make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions for your model to find out how to access these parts.

1. Empty The Water Tank

First, make sure you empty the water tank after each clean.

Remove the tank cap and empty it over a sink. Then, replace the water cap onto the tank.

Emptying your water tank after each use is crucial.

The mineral build-up in the water can cause corrosion and wear and tear to your steam mop over time. Especially if you don’t remove the water after each use.

Alternatively, you can use distilled or demineralized water in your tank to avoid mineral build-up. But, we still recommend emptying the water tank after using your mop.

2. Clean The Water Tank

If you notice any calcium build-up inside of your water tank, you should clean it straight away.

To do this, detach the water tank from your steam cleaner. Then, add the descaling solution that comes with your steam mop.

If your cleaner doesn’t have a descaling solution, you can use white vinegar, baking soda, or citric acid and hot water:

  • White vinegar and baking soda have natural antimicrobial properties. So they can be used to remove hard water deposits from glassware.
  • Citric acid is a non-toxic, antibacterial, and antiseptic substance. It’s found in lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits. Citric acid works similarly to vinegar and can remove water buildup on dishes and glassware (1).

Use only one of these solutions:

  • To use white vinegar, add 2 tablespoons to a full tank of water.
  • For citric acid, we recommend mixing 50mg of citric acid crystals with 1 liter of water. Add the solution into the tank.
  • For baking soda, mix 1.5 ounces with a quart of distilled hot water and add it to your tank.

Close your water tank and gently tilt it back and forth to break up the deposits. Let the solution sit for at least 30 minutes up to a couple of hours.

Then, empty the solution from your water tank and rinse it clean with water. Wipe the water tank with a damp cloth to remove all traces of the descaler solution.

Finally, fill the tank with clean water and turn your steamer on. After the steamer has completely steamed through one full cycle of water in the tank, it’s ready to use.

3. Wash The Mop Pad

We recommend washing your mop pad in warm water after each steam cleaning session.

This is because the steam mop pads emit chemicals that are absorbed through the cloth when heated. And these chemicals can be transferred through the steam during your cleaning.

We also recommend that you wash your steam mop pads separately from any other fabrics to avoid picking up lint.

Some manufacturers such as Shark, recommend using temperatures below 40°C to wash your Shark mop pads. While other steam mop brands recommend temperatures below 60°C to clean them.

So make sure to check with your manufacturer to find the right temperature to use for your cleaning pads.

Make sure you only use mild liquid detergent to clean your mop-pad. And avoid using fabric softeners, harsh laundry detergent or bleach as these can damage the material of your mop pads.

Fabric softeners can also leave a residue on your mop pad that reduces their ability to collect dirt and dust.

If your mop pads are machine-washable, wash them in the washing machine after cleaning. But make sure you only clean them on a warm washing machine setting.

To completely dry your mop-pads, dry them on a low tumble-dryer setting or air dry them for a few hours.

Keep in mind that dirt particles, grease friction, and repeated washing in a washing-machine can cause the mop-pad fibers to break down. And this could lead to some resistance when you’re pulling or pushing your mop during cleaning.

So for efficient cleaning results, we recommend replacing your microfiber pads every 3 to 4 months.

4. Clean The Unit

Before you begin the cleaning process, make sure you unplug it from the electrical outlet. Then, wipe over the exterior of your mop unit using a damp cloth.

You should do this before and after each use to prevent dust and other airborne particles from collecting. Otherwise, these can spread around your home when you’re using your steam mop.

Make sure you don’t allow any moisture to reach around the indicator light.

And never pour water or any other liquid onto the unit or immerse it in water. This can damage the unit or lead to mold and mildew growth.

5. Clean The Accessories

Next, wash your non-electrical accessories in warm, soapy water with mild liquid detergent.

Always make sure you completely dry your accessories completely before you next use the steam mop. To do this, you can use a dry cloth or leave to air dry for a few minutes.

For electrical accessories, wipe them clean with a soft dry cloth. To remove calcium deposits, you can clean them with a small spray of lubricant.

Fill your cleaner with water and place it in a well-ventilated area. Then, run a continuous jet of steam through the attachments for several minutes.

6. Change The Cartridge Filter

Some steam mop models have a water filter cartridge. These are designed to remove lime particles from the water before it cycles through the unit.

If your steam mop has a water filter cartridge, make sure you check it every time you fill the water tank. The filter medium inside the cartridge is a light color.

If you notice that the filter medium has changed color significantly or is emitting less steam, you should replace the cartridge.

To do this:

  • Switch your mop off and unplug it from the power outlet.
  • Then, place it in a neutral position and remove the water tank.
  • Pull the water filter cartridge out of the tank.
  • Replace it with a new one and push it securely back into the tank.

Finally, place the water tank back onto the unit. Make sure the components are securely attached before you turn your clean steam mop back on.

7. Decalcify The Steam Mop

As we mentioned before, calcium and mineral deposits can build up inside your steam mop over time. And this can reduce the performance of your steam mopping.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to use distilled or demineralized water. This can prevent corrosion and wear and tear, which can add years to the lifespan of your steam cleaner.

Some manufacturers sell specific cleaning solutions, like this demineralized water solution for Bissell steam mops.

Additionally, on some mops like Shark steam mops or Bissell steam mops, the manufacturers don’t allow the use of white vinegar or decalcifying cleaning solutions. For example, they advise against using aromatic or alcoholic cleaning solutions as this may damage the unit or make it unsafe to use.

However, other brands, like Russell Hobbs, recommend descaling your cleaner with a mixture of white vinegar and water.

To do this:

  • Add a mixture of 1/3 white vinegar and 2/3 water to your water tank.
  • Next, point the steamer away from the floor and turn the unit on.
  • Allow your unit to produce steam until the solution is completely gone.
  • Then, rinse the water tank with clean water.
  • Lastly, fill the tank once again using only clean water and release steam until the tank is empty.

8. Clear The Blockages

If you have blockages in your steam mop, it’s likely to be a result of limescale buildup. This is referred to as ‘furring’ and is the most common cause of blockage in a steam mop.

To clean a blockage in your unit, remove the main body of your steam mop from the mop-head base. If possible, remove the handle too.

Then, insert a paperclip or other thin pin object into the nozzle to remove the blockage.

Some models, like the Shark steam mop, come with a cleaning pin or nozzle cleaner that you can use.

If there is a blockage in your steam mop-head, remove the mop-pad. Then, insert the cleaning pin or paperclip into the steam holes on the mop head to remove any clogs.

Avoid using a sharp object to remove blockages because this can damage your steam mop head. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your model to safely remove blockages.

A good way to avoid blockages or limescale buildup is to use demineralized or distilled water in your tank. And, if allowed by the manufacturer, regularly decalcify your steam mop with white vinegar or a decalcifying solution.

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