Are steam cleaners better than squeeze mops?

LOS ANGELES The results were surprising. The newest cleaners range in price from $70 to $150, but none of them were better in tests than a $15 mop.

The Shark is just one of a growing number of steam mops, the latest innovation in household cleaning that claims to make short work of big messes.

/*Consumer Reports*/ put the Shark and nine other steam mops, including ones from Bissell and Oreck, through tough tests.

"Well, the first thing we did is we went into one of our labs and got the floor dirty -- really dirty," said Consumer Reports tester Bill Taylor.

Testers used ketchup, syrup, mustard, and other stuff to create a scientific mess. Since you can't always get to spills right away, the mess was left overnight to really set in.

So how did the mops do?

Well, some weren't very good, taking a long time to steam away soils. Others don't soak up much, leaving gooey gunk to be pushed around the floor.

And once the steam mop is finished cleaning, you still have to deal with a mess.

"All these mops have removable pads that can be washed, but you might want to separate these from your clothes when you wash them," said Taylor.

When all the tests were done, Consumer Reports did find a good cleaner it named a "best buy." It's the $70 /*Eureka Enviro Steamer*/. It steams for a full 20 minutes on a tank of water and has a long cord so you can clean larger areas.

However, Consumer Reports says a $15 squeeze mop and some hot water will do just as good a job, and cost you a lot less.

As for the Shark, Consumer Reports found it did a good job, but not as good as the less-expensive Eureka or even that old standby, the squeeze mop.

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