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The best steam cleaner

Which steam cleaner is best?

A steam cleaner is a must-have tool if you want to keep the surfaces in your home as clean and sanitized as possible. 

Not only can a steam cleaner handle messes on hard surfaces like sealed wood, tile, tubs, toilets, and windows, but it can also clean and deodorize soft surfaces like carpets and drapes. You don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals, either, because the steam can take care of most germs and allergens on its own.

To make sure you’re up to date on the latest product developments, we’ve taken a fresh look at steam cleaner trends and included two new models as well as a longtime favorite for your consideration.

Top steam cleaners

1. BISSELL Symphony Vac and Steam 2 in 1 vacuum: A multi-use cleaner that can steam floors and vacuum dry debris. This newcomer on our list has earned a spot for its versatility.

2. Steamfast SF-370 Canister Cleaner: A compact steam cleaner that offers plenty of power and helpful accessories. This new addition stands out for its ability to get to hard-to-reach spots.

3. McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner: An extremely heavy-duty steam cleaner that works on a variety of surfaces. We’ve included this model on our list for years because of its significant power.

For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.

What you need to know before purchasing a steam cleaner

Steam cleaners are available in a few different types, so you can choose a style that best suits your needs.

Handheld steamers are compact and lightweight, featuring a small tank for water and a spout for directing the steam. They heat quickly and work well for cleaning small areas like the area around the toilet or along the baseboards. However, a handheld steamer can usually only hold enough water for about 10-15 minutes of cleaning.

A canister steam cleaner is similar to a canister vacuum. It features a large tank with wheels and a nozzle connected to it with a hose. Canister steam cleaners may feature additional attachments, such as a utility brush or scrub brush.

You can tackle most cleaning jobs with a canister model, including the floors, carpets, shower stall, tub, and upholstery. Its tank is usually large enough to generate steam for approximately 45 minutes. However, they take longer to heat up than handheld models and their larger size can make storage a challenge.

Mop steam cleaners resemble a stick vacuum. Instead of a dirt cup, the body serves as a water tank, and the steam is released from the head as you move it over the floor. The head is covered with a microfiber pad to wipe away any dirt and other residues that come loose.

This makes them ideal for cleaning floors, but they can’t clean other surfaces in your home. A mop steam cleaner usually provides steam hot enough to sanitize your flooring, and the surface dries within minutes. Most models run for 15 to 20 minutes before they require refilling.

You can spend $25-$40 for a handheld steam cleaner that comes with some accessories. For a high-quality mop steam cleaner, you pay $60-$150. A canister steamer is the most expensive option, usually costing between $100 -$200.

Best steam cleaner FAQ

Q. Does a steam cleaner disinfect?

A. If the steam it generates is hot enough, it can kill most germs and bacteria. The majority of pathogens die at 212 degrees, and a steam cleaner can often reach that temperature. Some models claim to kill up to 99.9% of germs, which means they get that hot. Keep in mind, you usually have to steam a spot for about 10 minutes to kill the germs, which can damage some surfaces.

Q. What surfaces aren’t safe for a steam cleaner?

A. While a steam cleaner can clean many surfaces in your home, there are some you should avoid. A steam cleaner shouldn’t be used on unsealed wood, brick, concrete, stone, marble, or delicate fabrics like silk. A good rule of thumb is to keep a steam cleaner off any surfaces that might suffer moisture damage.

Best steam cleaners

Best of the best

BISSELL Symphony Vac and Steam 2 in 1 vacuum 

What we like: Works as both a vacuum and a steam mop. Doesn’t require chemicals to sanitize. Comes with scented pads to manage pet odors.

What we dislike: Design is somewhat large and heavy, which can make it difficult to move.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck

Steamfast SF-370 Canister Cleaner

What we like: Works extremely well for small, hard-to-reach areas. Creates steam that’s hot enough to kill insects and other pests. Tank holds 48 ounces to limit how often you need to refill it.

What we dislike: Doesn’t feature onboard storage for accessories. Power can’t be adjusted.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

What we like: Powerful enough to deep clean a variety of surfaces. Includes a variety of accessories. Can efficiently clean large areas.

What we dislike: More expensive than other models, though you’re paying for the power and features.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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