Tooling Around: When I Get All Steamed Up

About a month ago my Shark died at the tender age of three. For two days I worked to resuscitate her, but no amount of surgery could bring my baby back. She was far too large to flush down the toilet and my usually tolerant husband drew the line at a burial in our back yard, so I was forced to drag my Shark to the curb and watch sadly as the garbage truck took her away.

I looked at my husband with despair. “The house just isn’t the same, anymore,” I wailed. He pet my hair in that consoling way, offering to help me pick out another. “But that Shark was a gift from your mother! We can’t just up and replace it!” He assured me we could; we might even find something better.

So the research began and let me tell you, there are a lot of floor cleaning options out there. Wait, you guys knew I was talking about my beloved steam mop, right?  I can’t even imagine what our cats would think of having any other kind of shark in the house. “Dinner!“ maybe?

Shark Steam Mop S3101. Click image for details.

Anyway, you know by now how we like to research things before we let them become a part of our household. Computers, cookware, vehicles, appliances… I guess we really take the whole “caveat emptor” thing pretty seriously. Unfortunately, web research was all but useless in this case. It seemed like every mop, steam or otherwise, got as many good reviews as it did bad. Even the most helpful reviewers had a list of cons almost as long as the pros.

Time was running short – in our entire house we haven’t a single carpeted room and the tile floors were looking pretty nasty.

I can’t live with nasty floors. We opted to visit our home goods standby,  Bed Bath & Beyond, where the staggering array of options included, in order of price from least to greatest:

The newer version of our Shark

This other kind of Shark

A super duper Shark


Well, at least we had a history with the brand. Sadly, that history includes some sterile but not spotless floors, and a fair amount of scrubbing on my hands and knees. Then again, the online searches had turned up some positive notes. Along with all those negative ones. Agreeing we wouldn’t really know until we gave it a try, my husband lugged the mid-priced option off the shelf and handed it to me.


It was really big. No, big isn’t right; it was really long. Cumbersomely long. And heavy. I did not like it so back on the shelf it went, and out the door we went.

A day or so later I was at Target getting, I don’t know, liquid soap refills, when I saw their selection of steam mops. I sneered at the Sharks, fiddled with a Haan, looked at the Bissell, then I saw IT. “Clearance.”  Twenty minutes later I had a Hoover assembled on my family room floor.

Yep, the very scientific method of “which mop is on sale?” determined the winner.

Hoover Blue Disinfecting Steam Mop. Click image for details.

Turns out, it was an excellent choice.

  1. The triangle shaped head pivots, allowing me to get into every corner and up against every baseboard.
  2. I can practically lay the handle flat without the head losing contact with the floor which means I can mop under the couch, the beds, even part of the refrigerator.
  3. The cord is loooong. Thirty feet, to be precise. For the first time ever I can mop my foyer, living room, dining room, and kitchen without changing outlets.
  4. The tanks are removable and, therefore, easy to refill.
    1. Did you see that “s” up there? That’s right. Tanks, as in two of them. One is for water and one is for cleaning solution.
    2. You can absolutely mop using only steam, but if you choose to use the cleaning solution you are able to use as much or as little as you please. A dial on the front lets you choose the amount of cleanser you want released along with the steam.
    3. As for the water tank – it has a filter. I still insist on using distilled water, but you don’t have to. Because the mop has its own filter.
    4. Do you know what that filtered water is turned into? Steam. Germ-killing, dirt-lifting steam.
      1. Unlike my Shark, the Hoover has a power button so I can turn it off between uses (I clean my house in stages). As far as features go, this one is pretty minor, but I really like it.
      2. The steam is controlled by a trigger so I can let it go as long as a want on both the to and fro motions.  In comparison the old-model shark only released steam when pushed forward.
      3. The shark also only released steam from the front whereas the Hoover has multiple steam outlets scattered across the bottom of the head.
      4. Possibly my favorite feature is the carpet refresh system.  The mop came with three microfiber pads – two solid and one with holes.  The hole-y one is specifically for hard flooring surfaces, but the solid ones can also be used on carpet. Oh yes. There’s an extra plastic frame in which you place the mop head causing the mop to “glide” over carpeted surfaces.  It isn’t a carpet steamer – you don’t use the solution and you can’t suck dirt and water back out of your carpet – but it really does loosen dirt and help get rid of smells caused by cats and stinky little girl feet.

Now, the downers. All two of them.

  1. This sucker is rather heavy. I tell myself the heft makes for a good workout, but really it is something of a hassle.
  2. I have no idea what sort of ingredients are in the included/recommended cleaning solution. I have decided to remain ignorant for the time being.  Because I’m something of a tree-hugging hippie, I try to stick with simple, natural, and homemade cleaners.  Since my Hoover is still shiny and new I don’t want to take a chance at screwing it up by using something not approved by the company.  I limit my use of the cleanser to every other mopping, and only on the lowest setting. Eventually I’ll get around to checking more forums and reviews to see if I can substitute something more in line with my “green” preferences.

And there you have it; my new favorite pet…er…tool is a steam mop. I still occasionally spot clean with a scrub brush and elbow grease, but I am pretty pleased with my dreamy, steamy Hoover.

And you? What sort of tools heat things up in your home?

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Writer Caveat: Please keep in mind the comparisons above are between a new Hoover and an older model Shark. Our Shark was a first generation model so some of my comparisons are unfair. New models generally are better than old so apples were not pitted against apples here.

3 thoughts on “Tooling Around: When I Get All Steamed Up

  1. omigosh. Now I have to wait for my Shark to die so I can go get this cool Hoover. It has 2 tanks, and one is for cleaning solution? I’m dying. I wonder if its on sale at my Target………..

  2. I got my Hoover mop yesterday after seeing a Shark mop ad on TV and cringing at the price. Went into Home Depot and found mine for only $48, yes a clearance sale. Tried it out this morning and I think it will work nicely on our floors which people and pets usually drag in mud and dirt from the barn. Now I am online to see what other cleaning solutions I can put in the solution tank.

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