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The Lazy Lady’s Guide to Green Cleaning, Part 1: Shark Steam Mop

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m generally way behind the trends when it comes to, well, most things. People have been “green cleaning” (using environmentally- and health-friendly alternatives to traditional cleaning methods) for years. It’s taken me a little longer to get on this trend for a few reasons. First, I hate cleaning. I mean, I cannot stand it one bit. I tend to do the bare minimum so that my living space is habitable and not gross, but I derive no pleasure or satisfaction from cleaning. Second, if I have to spend time cleaning, I want it to be over with quickly. And in my mind, that means the stronger and more caustic the cleaner, the better.

I’m hopping on the green cleaning bandwagon for a number of reasons:

  1. Traditional cleaners are expensive, and I’m kind of poor.
  2. I have two small dogs, and I really don’t want them getting sick because they got some horrible chemical on their tiny paws and then decided to lick it off.
  3. I moved into a new house, which is pristine and beautiful, and it’s much easier to keep something clean than it is to get something clean, so I’d like to start off with good habits.

My first foray into green cleaning is a Shark Light and Easy steam mop. There are many, many different brands and options for steam mops on the market. I chose the Shark because it was on sale for $49 at Target and I had a gift card. It’s the cheapest in the Shark line of products, but I didn’t want to make a major investment if I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.

The features of the Shark, as documented by someone who has a very limited knowledge of what cleaning products should do, are as follows:

  • It’s purple. I like purple things.
  • It uses only water to clean your floors. You put water in the little reservoir, plug the thing in, it heats up and makes steam, the steam cleans things. You don’t need any kind of cleaning stuff that comes in a bottle and burns your nose hairs and smells like lemons or forests or fresh rain.
  • It comes with two cloth pads that stick to the bottom of the mop to catch all the dirt and various other gross stuff that comes off your floors. These pads are machine washable.
  • Since it plugs in, it may only be considered “partially green,” as it uses electricity. Whatever. Baby steps, here. Not all steam mops have cords, but mine does, probably because I’m cheap.

For the inaugural use of my steam mop, I tried it on the two hard floor surfaces in my house: sealed hardwoods and extremely porous tile. I did the hardwoods first. Basically, as you push forward on the mop, it releases steam at floor-level, and the cloth pad follows and wipes up. If you have an area that needs extra steam (like a stain or some stuck-on something-or-other), you just push on the mop handle a bunch of times and it cranks out a whole lot of steam. As I was doing the wood floors, I noticed that as soon as I was done with a section, it wasn’t wet. There was a slight hazy discoloration from the steam, but that went away in a minute or so. It didn’t take very long to do the hardwoods.

First time hardwood results: OH MY GOD ALL THAT SHIT WAS ON MY FLOOR? Holy crap. That white pad was FILTHY. And covered a little bit in dog hair, so I’ve since learned that sweeping or Swiffering first helps get a better clean on the floors. I removed pad #1 and put the second pad on to tackle my tile.

My tiled rooms are my kitchen and my bathroom, so I was now expecting an unprecedented level of grossness to get steam up off my floors. I Swiffered first to get up all the dog hair. (Yeah, dog hair, that’s it. All dog hair. Certainly not the startling amount that comes off my own head every time I blow dry.) I did the kitchen first. As I mentioned, my tile is really porous, which is great for keeping cool in the summer, but also great for absorbing spills and making them a little difficult to clean up. I worked from the perimeter of the room toward the center, and when every square inch was steamed, the floor was already mostly dry and felt pretty squeaky clean under my bare feet, which was a good thing because one of the dogs decided that the hissing steam demon was a threat to home and hearth, and decided to try to follow and attack it. Baby gates: they’re for more than just babies.

I was really happy with how the kitchen floor came out, so I carried the hissing steam demon to the bathroom, and went to town. Since this was the last room I was cleaning, and bathrooms are both fairly gross and designed to withstand a lot of moisture, I steamed the crap out of that room. I did the floor, the bathtub, the side of the toilet, and anywhere else the Shark would reach. (The cleaning head is pretty small, so it got into all of the little nooks and crannies, including behind the toilet, easily.) And once I was done, that room was spotless. I’ll spare you all the description of the cleaning pad once I was done, but I used gloves to remove it and throw it into the washing machine. In all, doing all of the hard floors took me less than half of the time it would have with a regular mop and bucket, and there was no drying time or stinky cleaning fluid to make me sneeze.

All in all, I’m really happy with my steam mop. I love that I don’t have to wait for the floors to dry, I love that I don’t have to worry about the dogs getting their little paws and noses into cleaning solution, and I love that I felt like I was sanitizing all of the gross out of my house with the magic of water. It’s like a wizard did it! Hey, anything to make cleaning more entertaining and less of a chore is a good thing in my book.

So, Persephoneers, what green cleaning method would you like to see this lazy lady tackle next? Vinegar? Um, vinegar? (That’s the only one I know. Help me out, here.)


10 replies on “The Lazy Lady’s Guide to Green Cleaning, Part 1: Shark Steam Mop”

I bought my Shark on Black Friday last year and I love it. I seriously use it 2-4 times a month to clean my entire downstairs – all tile. Works awesome – I have a 7yr old son, and 4 cats so there is a ton of hair and other sticky things on my floors all the time. I do agree that swiffering or a light sweeping of large debris is best before mopping.

There is an accessory pack you can purchase to “clean” carpet, but from what I gather it’s more like a sanitizing option, it won’t clean out a stain.

I have two warnings for new users – do not put the pads in the dryer – the hook and eye tape (that’s velcro’s generic name) will come off of the pad and makes it stick to the base less. Two – be very very careful when removing the pads. Steam is hot…mmmmkaaay – I burned the snot out of my toe trying to be lazy and not bend over to pull it off with my hands.

The dirt-voyeur in me kind of wants to see the “before” and “after” shots of those cleaning pads! This product sounds great; the one thing I hate about mopping is the use of chemical cleaners. And even if you use mild or green solution, you are still just pushing dirty water around on your floors. I wonder if they have something similar to the Shark in Europe??

If you have access to a lemon tree, you can clean tiles and other nonporous surfaces. Cut the lemon in half, pour some baking soda on the surface to be cleaned, and rub the cut side of the lemon on the baking soda, squeezing out the juice as you go along. Rinse. I’ve tried this on my bathtub and kitchen counter. The one caveat is, if you’re using it in your bathtub, make sure that bits of lemon don’t go down the drain; they make for drain-blocking nightmares that get pulled up in green stinky slimy form weeks later when you finally decide to do something about that slow drain. For example.

For the obsessively green folks, you can even re-use the baking soda that was de-odorizing your fridge for the last 3-6 months. Which is about how often I clean my bathtub anyway.

May I suggest Simple Green? It is non-toxic, biodegradable and will clean everything. It’s one drawback is that you need to rinse it off when you’re done cleaning because it doesn’t magically evaporate away. Having to rinse is totally worth it for me, though, because it leaves things smelling a little like root beer instead of brain damaging chemicals.

I LOVE my shark steam mop! I got the pocket mop, so there is less changing out of pads. It is gross how much that gets off my floors.

Yes, vinegar is great. I use it in my washing machine, my dishwasher. Baking soda is also a great abrasive cleaner. What else? The Method cleaners are very nice, and biodegradable. You can make your own laundry soap: a bar of soap, grated, washing soda, borax, oxyclean. I use castille soap for heaving cleaning jobs, like scrubbing the lawn furniture. You can also use it for laundry or washing your hair!

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