It can be a chore to clean heavily-used rooms that collect a lot of dust, dirt, and grime. We are always looking for easier and quicker ways to get it done.
Steam cleaning gained our attention as a means of clearing dirty floors naturally. The hot and moist vapors clean most sealed surfaces while ridding them of harmful germs.
Many homeowners use their steamers wherever they can reach as they need no toxic chemicals to work well. But if you are going to buy one, why not spring for a multipurpose model that removes the need for sweeping the ground first prior to steam cleaning?
That’s the best thing about the Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum Cleaner. It may be a pricey premium model, but its multipurpose design will let you vacuum pet hairs and dry debris in turns.
This is a versatile model that a lot of buyers will overlook just because they have no messy pets. Still, It offers convenient options for adjusting flow and switching mop pads on hard-surfaced floors and carpets as well as switching to light vacuuming when needed.
Want to learn more about steam cleaning? Check out our comprehensive steam cleaning guide.
Steam mops and their uses
Steam is a wholesome means of clearing out dust and grime on the ground that tends to build up over time. Trouble spots are effectively cleaned and sanitized in the same instant.
Tiny debris on the floor that is dissolved or softened and then dislodged by a steamer’s hot jets. The forceful flow of heat and mist generates the cleaning effects that the mop cloth picks up on with greater ease.
Since the treated surface becomes only slightly damp from the tiny amounts of moisture left behind, any residue is quickly absorbed and most surfaces will dry in a matter of seconds.
The technique is also very effective at fighting bed bug infestations, which can be a challenge to eradicate. It is favored for cleaning around households full of children, as steam cleans and sterilizes with no need for irritating chemicals.
Safely mopping up
The technique is safe to use on hard-surfaced floorings such as tile, ceramic, marble, and stone as well as on sealed wood and laminate floors in most cases
Most solid and engineered wood floors can withstand the occasional spill. However, any excess that seeps past the joints after years of regular steam cleaning may eventually weaken their structure. That said, if moisture does not get through and condense inside then steaming should be safe.
The dampness is much less than that left behind by conventional wet mops or carpet steam cleaners. The heavily-pressurized steam generated by the latter can really get into laminate boards, steam mops would be a much safer option then.
Multipurpose design and versatile operation
This model’s 2-in-1 design gives you the means to vacuum of loose hair and other light debris, followed by rounds of steam cleaning. Digital controls let you quickly switch between high- and low-level steaming plus vacuuming, allowing you to select modes according to conditions as you move about.
Construction is very durable for a model that weighs just over 10 pounds. As with similar upright steamers, it can be quickly moved between rooms and stored in most tall closets. The free-standing unit can be left in an upright position and will not tip over easily and the 25-foot cord is long enough to reach most outlets in larger rooms.
Separate mop heads are provided for carpeting and flooring, making this a vacuum and steamer that can handle a variety of surfaces. The head readily pops on and off, so it does not take long to adapt the operating mode to different floor types.
The alternate head snaps to the base and works much like the regular head but for a hinged frame that holds Swiffer-style pads in lieu of the washable type. Both a regular and a Swiffer-style mop head are supplied, along with 2 different sets of washable (2) and Swiffer-style disposable (4) pads.
Dirty and grimy areas can be deep-cleaned with a mix of vacuuming and steam mopping in succession. Sticky and dried up messes are dislodged by the built-in bristles. One nice feature is that you can add odor-fighting scent discs or specially-scented refill waters to freshen room air as you work.
The suction produced by the vacuum part is not as powerful as that of standard vacuums or carpet steam-machines, though. It generates just enough to lift loose hair, dirt, and other light bits, but the toughest stains and stickiest muck may still need to be tackled by hard scrubbing.
No one cares to get their hands messy after a job and the smart tank emptying tank mechanism helps with the post-cleanup. The removable collection cup features a hands-free mechanism for emptying its contents. You push down on a plunger to eject stuff through the bottom, while your hand stays dry and away from the nastiness.
Vacuuming and steaming performance
The steamer is readily assembled without any tool and you only have to flip up the small hatch at the back of its housing in order to fill it up with water. With a full tank and from a cold start, steam appears in about 30 seconds, faster with a refill.
The head does not rotate and maneuverability is somewhat limited, but it slides easily enough around fixtures and furniture. A light vacuuming followed by the application of steam will readily displace most dust and grime. This step lessens the need for a separate full-power vacuum.
When running, the unit is capable of generating steam with temperatures exceeding 200℉, which is sufficient to eliminate some 99% of harmful microbes. Controls for setting low and high flow are conveniently located on the handle.
Steaming is not automatic when powered on, the small trigger on the grip must be held down for release. Where extra or heavier bits that must be removed first, you let go of the trigger, select vacuum to start sucking up junk, then resume steam cleaning as you move on.
Clearing out the collection cup is a simple operation. You only need to detach it before getting its contents to fall down and out through the hinged cover at its base. The plunger and pre-filter mechanism can be very helpful here. The emptying method lets you keep your fingers mostly clean and dry while doing a task that most do not look forward to doing.
If you need to take a break, you can leave the steam mop standing as it is designed to stay upright. We noticed that although the microfiber pads work nicely, a regular washcloth fastened to the bottom can take its place and clean just as effectively.
The vacuum suction is not the most powerful around and there is only a single suction port. It will only take in debris within a narrow middle area to the front the mop head, so you will just have to sweep carefully along the line it directly covers. It will usually take more than a single pass to sweep heavier bits off.
The front bristle ends tend to gather clumps of wet hairs or dirt as well that must be picked off by hand. Thus it is usually best to avoid vacuuming while using steam since the spraying dust can end up wet and stuck to the floor in small mounds, which defeats the purpose of the sweeping.
One small challenge is that power cord is attached a bit too low down the housing and can needlessly get underfoot, tangling with itself all too often. At least the disposal of pet hair and other junk that gets trapped in the dirt cup is easy, you can readily drop its contents straight into the trash.
A more common issue involves the tank’s limited capacity, it can only hold 13 ounces of water at most. Bigger jobs will probably require refills and the tank is not detachable, thus it will involve a bit more effort to fill up.
With most consumer-grade steamers, you will need to let the base cool off before you can open and refill the tank safely during refills. This premium model is no different and you will also be forced to wait another 30 seconds as a fresh load of steam is generated.
Features and specifications
- The two-in-one design enables vacuuming and steaming floors in a convenient series of steps
- Output temperatures reach beyond 200˚F and eliminate 99% of all microbes
- Powerful 1,100-Watt boiler and separate vacuum section for greater convenience
- Free-standing canister unit weighs 10 pounds and is easily moved between rooms
- Tank volume of 13 ounces allows for 20-30 minutes of steaming at any one time
- Digital controls enable quick switching between three modes, from vacuuming to low and to high steam as well
- On-demand steam release allows for more economical operation over the years
- Microfiber fabric pad mops up sealed hard floors and leave them dry in a few seconds
- Hands-free disposal mechanism makes it easy to empty the contents of the dirt cup
- Works with either washable pads or Swiffer-style disposable cleaning pads
- Scent Discs can be added to freshen room air while you steam
- Lengthy 25-foot power cord has enough reach for most rooms
- Generous 2-year limited warranty
The Bissell 1543A is among the best combination vacuum and steamer designs. This versatile unit slides nicely around furniture and fixtures and its functions can be engaged as needed to match the task at hand.
This steam mop works nicely for cleaning hard floors. It’s absolutely brilliant being able to steam mop and vacuum all at once. We mostly believe that the 2-in-1 operation is more convenient in use than that of conventional, steam-only designs.
With digital steam-on-demand and variable-flow controls along with light vacuuming, it can handle all but the worst pet messes around the home. You can readily vacuum debris off the floor before steaming it to a shiny finish, with most surfaces drying off after a few seconds.
The small water volume should be sufficient for maintaining small homes. Those with bigger areas to manage will find that this model exchanges steam capacity for versatile operation. But for light vacuuming and steam mopping in one go, this is as good as it gets for picky homeowners with pets or without.
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