Rating: 3.8 Reviewed by Erica
While testing the Shark Steam Pocket Mop S3501 in order to write this review I almost gave up on it because one feature – that really turned out to be a plus – seemed to challenge my generally logical nature.
It was the ability to flip the head from one side to the other that I couldn’t figure out but once I did, I have to say I was fairly impressed; enough so that I’ve since given it to my oldest son to use in his new apartment and he’s been using it for a year now without any issues.
It’s not the ideal choice for everyone but it’s perfect for his small place and the abuse it’s surely taken from him and his two roommates.
This is a stick style steam mop that can only be used for cleaning hard floors. It does not vacuum nor does it clean carpet and you can’t use it to wash vertical surfaces (so no tub walls, windows or mirrors).
It requires no chemicals and runs only on water.
It’s very lightweight (not that much heavier than a traditional mop) and much easier to use than dragging out a bucket and squeezing out a wet mop head.
Table of Contents
Floor Types & Carpets / Mop Head Type / Water Tank & Steam / Controls / Attachments & Accessories / Cleaning Solution Options / Dimensions / Pros / Cons / Consumer Reviews & Ratings / Price & Overall Review
Floor Types and Carpets
You can use this on most sealed or glazed surfaces (except laminate):
- Sealed Concrete
- Sealed Hardwood
Just check your flooring care manual or with the manufacturer beforehand to be safe. Also, a steam mop could strip any soft finishes over time, like wax. For an alternative mop type for use with laminate see my article: here.
The Shark Steam Pocket mop has a rectangular shaped head (although a triangular shaped head can be purchased separately) and has about a 10.5” cleaning path (the width once a pad is attached). The height of the head itself with the pad attached is 2” and if you lay the handle flat to the floor it’s about 5” high. That gives you pretty good flexibility for going under furniture such as a buffet cabinet or work table and easily goes under cabinets.
The head both swivels – so you can work into corners, around table legs and behind toilets to a degree – AND flips over so that you can use the other side of the cleaning pad without having to stop, remove the pad and replace it with a second. It also does a good job getting right along the edges of your floor.
Shark calls the cleaning pads “pockets” because they’re two sided and wrap entirely around the top and bottom of the mop head as compared to the flat pads on other styles that attach only to the bottom of the head.
This style of cleaning pad take a little more effort to attach and I found the Velcro strips that hold the opening together fought me when working to put the pad over the head. I had to get down on my knees to put it on and having been spoiled by the kind where you simply throw the pad on the floor and place the head on top of it this did – just maybe – get me a little frustrated.
Steam mops are like the three bears in Goldilocks when it comes to putting out steam. They either don’t put out enough which makes the pad too dry so it doesn’t slide across the floor easily; or they put out too much steam which makes the mop pad too wet, leaves the floors wetter than you want and requires changing pads more often during one cleaning session; or they’re just right and glide across the floor easily lasting through an entire cleaning.
The Shark S3501 is a bit on the “too little steam” side. It may be the result of the thick cleaning pad. While steam does come through and the pad does a good job of cleaning, it doesn’t go across the floor without some effort on your part.
This means that one pad – especially since you can use both sides – does last throughout the cleaning of at least 800 sq. feet without having to be changed and does get into even the patterns and grooves in flooring but you’re going to put in some manual work.
It’s still far easier, less backbreaking and less messy than a traditional mop, yet not as easy to use as some of the more expensive models. There’s a specific feature of the handle that causes the most work but I’ll get into that in the Controls discussion below.
This also means that floors dry quickly as it does not leave a lot of water behind. So, if you’ve ever had those times when another adult has walked into the room, ignored the fact that you were actively mopping the floor and tromped across your still wet floors with dirty shoes you’ll be thrilled that this one greatly reduces the chances of that ever happening again.
While it does a good job getting into patterns in different kinds of flooring, it will not clean built up dirt in grout. These kinds of mops generally don’t. It will remove recently dropped food that might be on top of the grout but it will not remove that grey buildup that happens over time. For that you need a heavy duty steam mop with a scrubbing feature, your carpet cleaner with handheld attachments, or a handheld steam cleaner with a concentrated nozzle.
This steam mop comes with just ONE cleaning pad. The manufacturer’s site and the manual both say it comes with two but most retail listings note that there is now only one in the box. I don’t know why Shark started doing this but this isn’t the only model where they reduced the number that were included.
I prefer to have at least two available at any one time because – with kids and a dog – I never know how much I may need to clean up in a day and I don’t always have time to clean one pad right away. Replacement pads cost about $3/piece.
The pads can be machine washed with liquid detergent and can go in the dryer on the low setting or line dried.
Water Tank & Steam
The Pocket Mop’s water tank is located just above the head and holds 15 oz of water which is towards the top of the range that similar mops will hold. This lets you go longer in between refills. To fill the tank requires that you lay the mop flat on the floor which is not exactly the most efficient design. They do provide a water filling container with a funnel spout and the container will fit under even small, bathroom faucets.
The water tank has a clear window that lets you see when water is running low so you know when to refill.
It uses 1200 watts of power which is about $.14 cents in electrical costs per hour of operation (based on US average kilowatt costs). It’s very quiet when in use and you’d be able to have a conversation over the sound of the mop.
The tank starts heating as soon as you plug the cord into the wall. A light on the front turns on to show you power is connected. It takes just over 30 seconds for the steam to be ready but the Shark Pocket Mop has a feature they call “On Demand” steam which – while advertised as a positive – is not how I’d describe that feature.
“On Demand” means that the steam is only emitted from the holes in the bottom of the mop when you push the handle. The handle then compresses which forces steam out of the bottom of the mop head. When pulling back on the mop in a normal mopping movement, no steam comes out. Once the tank is done heating you have to pump the handle 10 times or so to prime the tank before you start mopping.
I believe the reason for this design is so that your floors dry more quickly. As you push forward, steam comes out and the steam works through the pad to loosen and pick up dirt. As you pull back, no steam comes out but the absorbent pad dries whatever water may have been left on the floor.
This means two things. First, it takes more work to use this mop than some others because unless the handle actually compresses, no steam is coming out. Second, actually sanitizing your floors and killing germs probably isn’t going to happen under normal use.
In order for steam to kill those nasty bugs and bacteria, it has to sit on a spot of flooring for a period of time that is dependent on the temperature of the steam. This can range from 8 seconds to as much as 90 seconds for some mops.
Unless you’re an extremely slow, sloth-like mopper, normal mopping motions aren’t enough to apply steam for the time required in order to sanitize the floor. That is even harder to accomplish if the mop only emits steam when you’re pushing down on the handle as is the case with the Shark Steam Pocket mop. On the product page, the Shark company footnotes their claim that the mop can “eliminate 99.9% of household bacteria” with “under controlled test conditions, results may vary”. The product manual for the S3501 doesn’t even discuss how to use the mop to sanitize your floors.
Any device that uses water is prone to deposits building up from minerals in the water. A steam mop is such a device and you should plan on some extra maintenance to keep it in working order.
Emptying the tank completely after each use helps but that means you have to lift the entire mop over the sink and shake water out of the tank. Mops with removable water tanks are easier to deal with in this respect.
Using distilled water – especially if you live in an area with hard water – will also help but is not required. However, if you do have hard water then not only is the mop at risk of clogs from the mineral deposits but you may also notice more streaking on your floors. When the water that was put on the floor dries, it will leave behind those same deposits. Using distilled water can help with this, too.
This is a really easy mop to operate. There are no buttons and no trigger as some hops have. There’s not even an on switch. Plugging it into the wall turns it on. The only pieces you’ll need to operate are the cap you need to remove from the water tank before you fill and the pumping action of the hndle during mopping (which happens naturally just as when you push on a manual mop).
It doesn’t stand up well on its own, though, but with a little practice you can lean it up against a counter so that it will stay upright.
Don’t expect it to feel as solid as a vacuum cleaner. It’s not. It’s really lightweight but does feel sturdier than the S3101 made by Shark.
The handle is almost round and large enough to be used by those with small hand or large. It’s a good thickness, too, so you will feel you have a sturdy hold. The pole of the handle I also telescoping so that you can adjust it to a height that works for you.
The trickiest part of this mop is getting used to flipping the mop head over in order to use the other side of the pad. No matter how many times I read the instructions I simply had it in my head that I should flip the mop head backwards and work the handle from the other direction in order to get the other side of the pad. Not true – the head simply rolls from left to right (or vice versa) in order to reach the other side. It takes a few attempts to figure it out because as soon as you lift the mop the head drops vertically and doesn’t want to flip on its own. You might need to kick it over with your foot.
There are only two accessories that come in the box:
- 1 Washable All Purpose Cleaning Pad (even though the manual says it comes with 2 recent kits seem to come with only 1 – check the listing carefully at online retailers and the box if buying in the store)
- Filling funnel
However, there are a number of accessories that you can buy separately:
- Washable All Purpose Scrub Pocket
- Washable Clean & Dust Pocket
- Replacement Rectangular Pad
- Triangular mop head you can snap onto the end of the handle instead of using the rectangular head but you’ll also need to buy the compatible triangular pads
- Carpet glider – a rectangular plastic frame that goes on the bottom of the mop head so you can freshen (not clean) your carpets with steam
Triangular mop heads have a narrower cleaning path and that might come in handy if you have a lot of furniture on hard flooring surfaces and need to get in between the furniture and the wall where a rectangular head might be too wide. You can’t buy this mop with the triangle head option instead of the rectangular so it’s always going to cost more to structure it that way. By the time you add the two costs together you’d be better off buying the Hoover TwinTank.
Cleaning Solution Options
The Shark Steam Pocket mop is not designed for use with any chemicals. You can only put water in the tank. However, you can spray cleaners on the floor by hand as you clean and use the mop to go over the cleaner. Some cleaners leave a sticky residue, though.
Dimensions & Storage
It’s hard to find accurate dimensions online. Everywhere I looked I saw some misinformation – even on the manufacturer’s site.
The weight is approximately 4-5 pounds. It’s not as light as the Shark Light & Easy but still weighs very little – barely more than your standard cotton/rag mop.
When fully extended, the mop handle is about 51 inches tall and shortens a couple of inches.
The mop head is 10 inches wide and when the entire mop is laid flat the tallest point is 5 inches high.
The power cord is 20 feet long (older models and the manufacturer page show a 25 foot cord but that’s not what’s included any longer).
The cord wraps around two hooks on the mop and the top one flips to the side so you can quickly release the cord.
The plug is polarized meaning one blade is wider than the other.
Since it doesn’t stand up well on its own you’ll want to store it in the corner of a closet or buy a U-shaped hook that’s wider than the handle and you can hook the handle on it when not in use.
- Low price
- Does lift and remove dirt from floors
- Large capacity tank
- Decent cord length (relatively speaking as none come with great cord lengths)
- Telescoping handle
- No chemicals required to remove dirt
- The “On Demand” feature requires some elbow grease in order to clean and keep steam coming out of the mop
- Doesn’t glide across the floor very easily
- Only comes with one pad
- Will not sanitize floors under normal use
For the most part, consumers like this steam mop over using a traditional mop. It’s easier to set up and saves time. It’s very simple to operate and they love the ability to simply pour some water into a tank, plug it in and get mopping.
Replacement pads are easy to find online, hold up well, and the only trends I’ve seen in other reviews regarding overall performance are the mop dying after some months of use. The number of times this occurs seems very low and in line with other manufactured goods.
There’s a similar mop by Shark – the Light & Easy S3101 – which, in my opinion, had a high number of issues with handles breaking but I have not seen that to be the case for the S3501.
The ratings on retail sites are strong and I agree that, on average, those ratings are in sync with overall performance.
There are a number of steam mops around the $50 range and this is one of the best if you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend more than that. I’d certainly recommend this one over the Light & Easy S3101 because – for just a few dollars more – you get more functionality (specifically the swivel head, a larger water tank and a sturdier handle).
The difference between the S3501 and more expensive mops comes down to the way the steam is emitted because of the “On Demand” feature. You are going to physically work harder with this mop than you would with more expensive options and you can’t sanitize as easily as you can with other models but it is still easier using the Shark Steam Pocket mop than it is using an old fashioned mop.
That’s the trade off. You’ll save $30-50 over buying the next level up but you’re going to exert more elbow grease with this one. That’s how I think one should consider the purchase. If you know this going in you’ll feel better about the decision once it’s made.