Shark Steam Pocket Mop cleans up in our tests

The product: Shark Steam Pocket Mop
The price: $
119.80 including free shipping and handling. Includes mop, three interchangeable heads, four cleaning pockets, one carpet glider.
The claims: Dusts, cleans and sanitizes hard surface floors in one step.
The Buy-o-meter rating:
3 out of 5

So I'm always searching for new ways to make floor care less cardio and more efficient. Shark Steam Pocket Mop, which promises to dust and sanitize in one lunge, is hard to resist -- especially with a new puppy at home.

The Steam Pocket Mop harnesses the power of steam to clean hard-surface floors: Imagine a Swiffer marries a vaporizer.

In fact, the lavender, lightweight mop quickly and easily cleans concrete, vinyl and tile. Large wood floors -- not so well.

With a few pumps of its telescoping handle, the steam mop sends a whoosh of steam through a plastic head covered with a double-sided microfiber pad, called a "pocket." The machine arrives with three heads (small, XL, triangular), a plastic glider for deodorizing carpets, three reusable cleaning pockets and one Barney-purple dusting pocket.

Fill the egg-shaped canister with tap water, plug the mop into the nearest outlet, and let it rip through grease and dirt. The cleaning pockets easily stretch over flippable plastic heads, doubling the time between replacements. The mop's pumping action is so amusing that my 13-year-old son thought swabbing the garage floor was "cool."

During a cleaning test on bathroom tile and vinyl, the mop easily grabbed dust and devoured dirt. The small rectangular head glided along the tub and baseboards, although the triangle head could not reach the gunk behind the toilet. In less than three minutes, most of the bathroom floor glistened.

The Steam Pocket Mop, however, did not thrill during tests on large, engineered wood and hardwood floors. There's something about pairing steam and wood that just doesn't seem right. In fact, the mop was hard to push and left ugly tracks, which required a polishing cloth to remove.

Also, drips of hot water melted a little skin each time I changed cleaning pockets. The manufacturer warns users to unplug the steam mop and wait three to five minutes before fiddling with heads and pads. But who's got the time or fingers to spare? A minute here, four minutes there; soon the time-saving mop takes longer -- and raises more blisters -- than the wringer-bucket type.

Bottom line on Shark's Steam Pocket Mop?

If you frequently clean large title or vinyl floors -- remember the aforementioned puppy? -- this steam mop will make the job faster and easier.

If you're fishing for a wonder mop to make wood shine, don't take the bait on Shark's steam machine.
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