Steam cleaners eliminate microorganisms from a variety of floors and surfaces, keeping our homes gleaming. You can avoid using harsh chemical cleaning products because heat treatment only needs tap water. Additionally, they’re perfect for disinfecting items like mattresses, soft furnishings, and upholstery that you can’t wash or clean with regular detergents. Without using any chemicals, steam cleaners can clean and disinfect both hard and soft surfaces in your house. They are frequently underappreciated pieces of equipment. We bought a lot of them, tested them at home and in the lab for 16 hours.
12 Best Steam Cleaners for Freshening up Your Space
We timed each cleaner’s setup, assessed how well it removed caked-on stains from an upholstered cushion and fresh stains from a tile floor (if it was made to do so), and took note of the features’ versatility. The Good Housekeeping Institute has evaluated every type of steam cleaner, from mops to portable versions. Our top picks for home steam cleaners are listed below.
How can I pick the right steam cleaner?
The three basic categories of steam cleaners exist. Here is all you need to know about them in order to select the best one for your house:
Depending on the cleaning chores you want to use it for and your particular preferences, you may choose the steam cleaner that is perfect for you. The majority of steam cleaners come into one of three categories: steam mop, handheld pick, or canister-style appliance. Canister-style cleaners are often the most adaptable of these three types by design. They often come with a range of attachments and a hose that expand the steam cleaner’s reach and enable you to access the tight spaces in your room. You may transport it from room to room by using its wheels or carrying straps, which are often included. On the other hand, steam mops are often more lightweight, convenient, and manoeuvrable. Due to the fact that these choices aren’t typically intended for cleaning upholstery, they’re also excellent choices for homes with hard flooring.
Grout, ovens, and sinks are excellent detail areas to clean with handheld steam cleaners. Whatever you decide, be sure to use your steam cleaner in conjunction with other cleaning equipment, such as a vacuum, regular mop, stain remover, or dusting wand. According to our expertise, this device is only one of several that you can and ought to use to appropriately handle a problem.
Surfaces That Comply
Many diverse surfaces may be sanitised well with steam cleaning, but not all steam cleaners are suitable for both soft and hard surfaces. For various surface types, the steam production is sometimes excessively strong (like flooring that becomes easily saturated). The majority of steam cleaners may be used on appliances, tile, grout, and bathroom fixtures (such as sinks, showers, and toilets). Once the appropriate attachment is connected, some may also be used on carpets and upholstery.
The steam mop
Steam mops are simple to set up and operate because they are small and light. They work similarly to traditional mops but are far more effective cleaners. Built-in water heaters in their handles warm the water in around 20 seconds. Because they are smaller, they will require refilling more frequently than cylinder cleaners (below), but this makes them much easier to move around your home. Many have swivel heads for squeezing under furniture and kitchen equipment. Many steam mops may revive carpets and rugs when used with an attachable carpet glider, albeit they work best on sealed hard surfaces.
However, they can often only handle a very small amount of soil. We would advise using specialised carpet cleaning equipment if your property has a lot of carpeting. The majority of the mops on our list are 2-in-1 designs that can also be used as handheld cleaners for tiles and stovetops.
Steam cleaners in cylinders
Despite their tendency to be heavy, cylinder steam cleaners incorporate wheels to reduce the need for dragging. The main differences between them and two-in-one steam mops are their stronger steam output and larger water tanks that require less frequent refilling. They frequently come with many attachments that attach to the hose and may be used for a variety of home duties. While some types are acceptable for upholstery, others are not.
Pocket-sized steam cleaners
Similar to a handheld vacuum, these tiny steam cleaners are more lightweight and portable, making them the ideal cleaning partner for difficult-to-reach locations like windows, tiles, taps, and showers. Even the bacteria on your toilet seat may be eliminated by using them. You will need to dry manually because they are not as effective for drying greater sections of flooring and they don’t mop up any remaining water as they go.
Key characteristics to watch for
In addition to accessories, there are several more aspects you might want to take into account:
The tank capacity for water
The smaller the water tank, the more frequently you’ll need to top it off. The longer the tank takes to heat up and get ready for use, the longer it will last. While steam mops typically carry up to 450ml, cylinder variants typically have a larger capacity, with some holding up to two litres. Keep track of whether the tank can be detached and filled at the faucet or whether a jug is required (these are sometimes included).
Time to warm up the entire tank
The size of the tank has a big impact on how long it takes a steam cleaner to heat up and begin producing steam. Depending on the device, this might take as little as 20 seconds for a steam mop and two minutes for a cylinder.
Numerous models on our list include changeable steam settings, whether through buttons or an adjustable control dial. One steam mode, on the other hand, ought to suffice if you simply want to use your machine for fast and easy chores.
What extras do I need for my steam cleaner?
Most steam cleaners have attachable parts that may be used for a variety of housework tasks. Standard steam mops without a removable handheld unit often just provide extra cleaning pads. In contrast, cylinders and 2-in-1 mops sometimes come with additional instruments like scrubbing brushes, scrapers, and grout cleaners for really thorough cleaning. Other attachments for certain surfaces may include squeegees for windows and glass, ironing attachments for draperies, and upholstery equipment. Some versions include detergent, although this only adds a pleasant aroma and not more cleaning power.
What we test
Every steam cleaner is put to the test by the Good Housekeeping Institute, using it on windows, ceramic tiles, vinyl flooring, inside an oven, and gas ranges, just like you would at home. We put steam mops to the test on hardwood floors, noting how long it takes to get rid of dirt and food stains. We also consider how simple it is to manoeuvre the mop around tight spaces and whether the cleaned floor appears bright and streak-free.
We examine the attachments of cylinders and two-in-one variants as well. We use the scrubbing brushes to clean the grout and tiles, remove hardened food from the stove, and shine the glass shower doors and windows. The ease of use of the controls, the speed at which the cleaner heats up, and the ease of attachment installation are the final factors we take into account.
1. Polti Vaporetto SV440 Double Steam Mop
Look no farther than this Polti model if you’re looking for a superb mop steam cleaner. You can clean behind furniture and kitchen appliances thanks to its flexible joint, and because of its lengthy 7.5-meter flex, you won’t have to continually switch plug outlets. The water tank heats up in just 15 seconds, but even with the ready light on, it takes a few more seconds for steam to start to come out. The trigger switch on both the stick and portable device proved to be useful, and there is a variable steam dial.
Additionally, it has an anti-calc filter and the ability to add fragrance to the steam while disinfecting and reviving surfaces. On hard, cemented surfaces, it performed admirably, but not as well as on carpet. The built-in bristles at the back of the floorhead effectively washed tenacious filth off vinyl, but after handling especially tenacious food residues, the bristles on the included round brush began to bend.
2. Kärcher SC5 EasyFix Premium Steam Cleaner
The most potent steam cleaner from Kärcher is a huge cylinder model that has plenty of attachments to handle most cleaning jobs around the house. We discovered that it was simple to put together and silent when in use. A large 1.5-litre water tank and 0.5-litre steam boiler reservoir ensure that you won’t run out of steam before finishing your floors. The tank delivers a wide variety of steam outputs and warms up in a surprisingly quick three minutes. It received high scores for thoroughly cleaning ceramic tiles without creating a mess and for leaving vinyl flooring gleaming without requiring washing.
Our windows dried fast and were clean. Additionally, it only lost a few points in our testing for cleaning the oven and stove. The primary drawback was that it rapidly generated a lot of steam and surplus water, which required some mopping up when cleaning. Nevertheless, considering its all-around superb performance, this feels like a reasonable price to pay.
3. Kärcher SC2 Upright EasyFix Steam Mop
Another trustworthy choice from Kärcher was this upright steam cleaner. When it’s ready, an indicator light lets you know, and depending on whether you’re cleaning wood or stone floors, you can determine how much steam is needed. It was effective in removing soap scum from our tiled floor and in lifting stains from vinyl. The mop was simple to manoeuvre thanks to its swivel head design, which provided great access within cabinets. Thanks to the well-designed water tank that is simple to remove, refilling is also a breeze.
The Velcro cleaning pads are particularly clever since you can wash and reuse them. It includes a good filter, but a hose extension would have been helpful for getting into tight places. However, it is perfect for hard flooring.
4. Hoover Steam Capsule 2-in-1 CA2IN1D
For scrubbing and thorough cleaning, this powerful steam cleaner includes a triangle brush that detaches from the floorhead. It may be used as a handheld to clean windows and countertops and has low, medium, and high steam settings. It performed admirably on ceramic tiles, not losing a single point, and took less than seven minutes to remove the tough food stains from our oven. It also comes with a tonne of gadgets, like a carpet glider, but the bristles on the spherical brush bent after only one usage.
While a screwdriver is not required, it is tricky to screw the handle into the main body of the floor cleaning tool. We disliked having to hold down the trigger switch for extended lengths of time, and we would have appreciated a bigger opening for the 350ml water tank filling. Overall, though, it’s affordable and effective.
5. Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus S84-W7-P
If time is of the essence, this cleaner heats up in only 30 seconds. Maximum manoeuvrability is provided by the mop’s head’s ball joint connection to its body. If you need to reach places that are difficult to reach, you may easily convert it to a handheld. Additionally, its water tank is divided so that it can store both water and detergent. With just one point lost on ceramic floors and gleaming results within 30 seconds of cleaning, it proved to be a true all-arounder. It was dependable in the oven and on vinyl floors, and just as remarkable on the hob (ours was cleaned in 20 seconds). Although our flooring was a touch damp after use, this model is excellent for fitting in a quick clean.
6. Beldray 10 in 1 Handheld Steamer
This budget-friendly device, which performed superbly, received the highest rating of all the portable steam cleaners we tested. After just 50 seconds of heat-up, its powerful stream of steam cleaned our hob in 30 seconds, easily cutting through burnt-on filth. Although there are no adjustable settings, the thumb trigger is quick, allowing you to adjust the steam bursts to your needs. It has a variety of attachments, including a shower squeegee head and an angled nozzle, and is simple to store. By utilising the included steam cloth cover, you can even turn it into a clothes steamer. Unsurprisingly, for a handheld, it shouldn’t be used for vast regions, and after cleaning, water will need to be wiped away. But this is the perfect lightweight tool for doing little jobs.
7. Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B
This steam cleaner performed admirably in our test of vinyl floors and would be helpful to you if you want to maintain the cleanliness of your kitchen and bathroom floors. The polygonal form of the floor head also makes cleaning corners simple, and the built-in brush comes in handy if you need to scrape tough stains. The water tank can be somewhat hefty because it can contain up to two litres of water, but fortunately, it has a nice handle. We found it to be small, so you won’t need to free up a lot of closet space. You can keep the tools on board.
8. Shark Floor & Handheld Steam Cleaner S6005UK
Once you get beyond the tricky setup that necessitates a screwdriver, this steam cleaner might assist if you’re having trouble cleaning odd spots effectively. The mophead is readily manoeuvrable, twisting into corners and tilting to reach under furniture, and it has an extra-long flex that enables you to clean all surfaces from a single plug outlet. There are many helpful tools included, and more can be ordered online. However, a window squeegee and carpet glider would have been nice to have in the package.
There are several steam settings, including a steam blast option for removing deeply buried floor stains, but you can’t tell whether the steam is ready until it starts to come out. The clothes shrank when we cleaned them in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions, but the mophead detaches with the push of a button, requiring no handling. It can be used as a handheld but isn’t freestanding and the grip isn’t telescopic. If you have a lot of cleaning to do but not a lot of time, this is a reliable option.
9. Morphy Richards 12-in-1 Steam Cleaner
This inexpensive steam mop received top grades for cleaning windows and ceramic surfaces. It didn’t spray dirt, and it has a lot of attachments, including a useful squeegee, making it a useful purchase. However, while cleaning one oven, we discovered that the brush occasionally came free. Its floorhead spins for versatility in usage, and the hose may be folded in half for easy storage. The cleaning cloths shrank a little bit after washing, but given their inexpensive cost and consistent effectiveness, we can overlook this.
10. Shark Klik n’ Flip Automatic Steam Mop S6003UK
With three steam settings available on this Shark steam mop, you can choose the ideal setting for any job. Additionally, its instructions include thorough information on which to use and when. The 350ml water tank warms up in less than 30 seconds, but there is no light to let you know when it is finished. It rapidly cut through dirt, and the double-sided floorhead was very helpful for tough stains. It’s also simple to deploy; just turn the machine-washable pad over to reveal twice as much cleaning space before pushing the button to release and reload touch-free. This can only be used on hard floors, unlike most of the adaptable designs we’ve examined, but its cleaning effectiveness was good.
Its lengthy rope made it easier to reach below kitchen equipment and furnishings while moving about. However, it feels hefty and isn’t freestanding. If your home has a lot of hard flooring, you should get this.
11. Vytronix 10-in-1 Multifunction Steam Mop STM01
This reasonably priced steam mop is portable, lightweight, and great for both little spills and large clean-ups. Its replaceable 450ml water tank has a great variety of steam outputs and warms up quickly, although it takes a few seconds for the power to drop. In all of our cleaning tests, it performed admirably, leaving tiles spotless and quickly removing dried-on stains from vinyl floors. It cleaned our gas stove fast when used as a handheld. Similar results were obtained in the oven, but more scrubbing was necessary to get rid of dried-on debris.
It also left the windows dirty. The spinning triangular floorhead proved useful for reaching into corners and tight spaces. It comes with a variety of accessories, including a grout cleaner. Although it moved awkwardly on rough surfaces, we adored how cosy it was to grasp and use. Overall, it provides excellent value for money at less than £50.
12. Polti Vaporetto Pro_95 Turbo Steam Cleaner
This adaptable cylinder model’s variable steam output has a helpful “turbo steam” feature for getting rid of tough stains. The convenient display unit lets you know when the 1.3-litre water tank needs to be refilled and when it will be ready (in roughly six minutes). For added convenience, all of its attachments are compatible with the machine. It was particularly effective in removing muddy stains from sealed floors and ceramic tiles. We also tested it on carpet, and it performed admirably; the bristly brush at the rear of the floorhead removed entrenched filth effectively while softening and removing grime without harming the fibres.
When cleaning smaller surfaces like ovens and hobs, it does spray some dirt and is cumbersome. Additionally, a shorter flex implies that for bigger spaces, you might need an extension lead. Despite a few minor flaws, it’s a worthwhile purchase if you’re seeking a reliable and effective all-in-one.