Are you getting weird smells from your steam mop? You might not be cleaning it properly. Here are 5 smells resolved.

Let’s face it, doing the house chores is never something we look forward to. It’s tedious, effortful, and leaves you with a horrible back pain that lasts for days. There’s really not a lot to love about it.

That being said, there are some appliances in this day and age that make our lives easier. One of the most evident ones are steam mops. Since the first time I tried cleaning with them, I knew I was never going to be able to go back to a regular mop.

They just make cleaning so much easier and quicker.

However, as wonderful as they are, perfection is a feature they lack, which means that, from time to time, they can deliver unwanted results and create unpleasant smells. This is completely normal, but not the most hygienic thing, so we better address the issue as soon as possible.

There are many possible reasons why you’re getting weird smells from your steam mop. From reusing the dirty water from previous cleaning cycles, to a dirty filter.

Below, you will find a list of the most common causes to this occurrence, and the easiest steps you can take to address them. Rest assured that, if you follow them to a tee, your appliance will be back to normal in no time, and your home will smell incredible once again.

Are you ready? Let’s get busy!

Most Common Bad Smells

  • Dirt
  • Humidity
  • Vinegar
  • Stagnant water
  • Food residue

Fixing a Smelly Steam Mop

#1 Replace the Filter

Replace your filters regularly

No matter how clean you keep your home, there will always be something for your steam mop to pick up. As time goes by, and you use your appliance, the filter inside it will become increasingly dirty. This is completely normal.

While there is not an established amount of time that should pass between filter changes, a good moment to do it, is as soon as you see it change color, or look filthy.

Being conscious about the state of this filter will not only guarantee that you’re actually cleaning under the most hygienic conditions, but also get rid of the unwanted smell.

Solution: This might sound absurd, but I swear it works. Try setting a reminder on your phone or calendar to change your filter every two weeks, or so. Provided that it still looks fine, you can wait another two weeks before you replace it.

#2 Clean the Head

Make sure to clean the mop’s head after every use

This is probably the most important part of your steam mop. If you fail to clean it regularly or change it when it becomes damaged, your appliance will not be able to clean adequately.

If you think about it, the head is permanently in contact with all the gunk on the floor, so it makes sense that it gets dirty quite often, and needs to be cleaned constantly. Provided that you’re getting weird smells from your steam mop, chances are it requires a deep-cleaning session.

Solution: In most models, you’ll be able to remove the head easily. Once you have done that, put a mixture made up of equal parts of water and vinegar in a clean bucket. This will not only help kill any lingering bacteria, but also provide you with the ultimate cleaning solution.       

Ideally, you will want to clean your steam mop’s head after every use. The vinegar and water mixture works great, but you can just use water during the daily cleaning sessions.

Make sure to rinse off any vinegar residue after cleaning weekly to prevent any unwanted smells.

Steam Mop Beeing Used To Clean The Floor
Clean your steam mop head regularly. Otherwise, your appliance will not be able to clean.

#3 Empty the Water Tank Between Uses

Avoid using the same water for several cleaning cycles

Hey, I get it. It’s great to be environmentally conscious. Water is a scarce resource, so we must take care of it, and save as much of it as we can. As a matter of fact, I commend you for being so “green”.

That being said, while the idea of reusing the leftover water in your tank for future cleaning sessions might sound good, it could be causing the horrible stagnant water smell coming from your appliance.

While the water in your tank is not in constant contact with the gunk and dirt that you clean off the floor, some small filthy particles can get into it, and contaminate it. This is especially true if you reuse it for several cycles.

Please watch out for this, as it could not only create bad smells, but even put you and your family at risk of disease.

Solution: Throw out the water in your tank after every cleaning session. If you have houseplants, and want to keep being environmentally conscious, you can use it to water them.

This way, you will be both preventing water waste, and keeping your plants alive and well. A true win-win situation if I’ve ever seen one.

#4 Clean the Water Tank

In a perfect world, throwing away the used water after every cleaning cycle should keep your water tank clean, but sadly, reality can be a little more challenging.

While doing this regularly will mostly prevent the formation of harmful microorganisms and dirt in your tank, you still need to clean it from time to time.

Most steam mop manufacturers recommend doing this at least every week, and descaling it every six months. After all, what’s the point of giving your floor a good mopping, if it’s going to end up dirtier than it was before?

Solution: Carefully unplug your appliance, and remove the water tank.

For weekly cleaning, you can sparingly use running water, and soap. Just make sure to remove any remnants before putting the tank back into your appliance.

There are some products out there specifically designed to clean steam mop water tanks. If you want the full cleaning experience, and do not wish to use vinegar, you can always look them up online and purchase them.

For the descaling process mentioned above, you will need water and vinegar mixed in equal parts. Once you have poured this mixture into your water tank, leave it there overnight, and try steaming your mop for a couple of minutes the morning after, so everything gets properly cleaned.

#5 Clean the Nozzle

Your nozzle might be obstructed

Lastly, check your nozzle.

If you’re getting weird smells from your steam mop, and none of the solutions above worked, chances are it’s obstructed with gunk.

While logic would dictate that this part should not get dirty or accumulate dirt residue, in reality, it certainly can. The issue won’t manifest itself in a week or two, maybe not even for a couple of months, but over time, I can guarantee it will occur.

This is why cleaning every part of your steam mop regularly is so important. Doing this will not only get rid of any unwanted smells, but also guarantee that your appliance cleans, and functions as it should.

Solution: Carefully unplug your appliance, and let it cool down.

Once you have done that, please follow these steps:

  • With a screwdriver, remove the screws holding your steam mop’s base together
  • Remove the plastic body, and expose the unit’s internal components
  • Locate the nozzle, sometimes it’s close to the filter
  • Carefully remove the nozzle, and look for gunk buildup

If there is any, you can use running water, vinegar, and a paperclip to slowly clean the part.

Provided that you identified damage on the nozzle, you will need to replace it.

Worry not, though, this is fairly simple. All you have to do is run a quick Google search on your steam mop’s make and model, and you should be able to find a new one at any online marketplace.

Alternatively, if you’re still under warranty coverage, you can call your manufacturer and probably get a spare at no cost.

Hands Holding Steam Mop Nozzle
If your steam mop stinks, it may be obstructed with gunk.

How to Properly Clean Your Steam Mop

At this point, I must sound like a broken record, but I just can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your appliance sparkling clean.

As you’ve learned in this article, the best way to do this is to remove the leftover water in the tank after every use, clean it weekly, and descale it twice a year.

Make sure to change your filters at the first sign of dirt accumulation, and give your nozzle a good scrubbing under running water every other month, or whenever you detect an obstruction.


Getting weird smells from your steam mop can be very off-putting. The whole purpose of owning this appliance is to fill your home with a fresh, clean aroma, so having it do the exact opposite, is nightmarish.

It’s really hard to miss, but more often than not, the reason behind this occurrence is more closely related to our own user habits, than to a technical fault with the appliance itself.

Unless something’s wrong with your steam generator, or some other internal component in your unit, I’m confident that cleaning every single part of your steam mop regularly, will fix this issue.

And although I said above that there are products out there specifically designed to clean your water tank, these are not vital. You don’t have to spend money on them if you don’t want to.

You can get great results by just using running water, and some vinegar.

Thank you so much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If you found this article useful, why not keep the learning going through our other incredible resources below? There’s no such thing as too much knowledge.

Happy mopping!