Best Grout Steamers

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best grout steamers

Anyone who’s spent time scrubbing the grout between their bathroom or kitchen tile knows what a tiresome chore it can be. A grout steamer can make this chore much more bearable, allowing you to effectively clean any tile surface in your home quickly, easily, and without the use of chemicals. 

A grout steamer emits steam, which contains molecules small enough to penetrate grout pores to remove dirt, stains, and debris. Because the steam is so hot, it also kills germs and bacteria to sanitize the grout. You can use a grout steamer on any surface in your home with grouted tiles, but most homeowners use it for bathroom and kitchen floors and countertops. It’s also extremely effective for tiled walls around bathtubs and shower stalls. 

The market offers quite a few grout steamers, so which one is best for you? When shopping, it’s important to look at steamer type, water tank capacity, and the weight of the machine, among other features. 

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A good grout steamer can effectively clean grout without chemicals. This makes it a safe and appreciated alternative to chemical grout cleaner in homes with children and pets.

Key considerations

Handheld vs. full-size

Grout steamers are available in several styles. One of your primary decisions is whether you want a handheld or full-size steamer. 

Handheld grout steamers: A small, compact handheld grout steamer is ideal for cleaning small areas like a bathroom floor or countertop. It features a nozzle and trigger attached to a water reservoir and holds less water than a full-size steamer. That means you may have to refill it often, depending on the size of your job. Handheld grout steamers tend to be lightweight and less costly than full-size models.

Full-size grout steamers: Full-size steamers come in one of two designs. The majority are steam mops, which look a lot like stick vacuums. There is a water tank in the middle and a head at the bottom that emits steam. You use the handle to push the steamer over the grouted area you want to clean. 

Some full-size grout steamers look like canister vacuums. The water reservoir connects to the head via a hose. To use a steamer like this, you must push the appliance over the area you’re cleaning.

Because they feature larger water reservoirs, full-size grout steamers are ideal for cleaning large spaces, including multiple tiled floors. You can clean a large area more quickly with a full-size steamer because you push the steamer over it rather than holding it and slowly moving it over the area. 

Capacity

The water reservoir capacity of grout steamers varies from as little as 10 ounces to as much as 60 ounces. Handheld models generally have smaller tanks than full-size models. 

If you have a lot of grout in your home, you’ll definitely want a steamer with a large water tank. If you have only a few grout surfaces, you may prefer a steamer with a small tank because it’s lighter and easier to manipulate.

Weight

For the easiest cleaning, opt for a grout steamer that isn’t too heavy. Remember that you’ll be filling the steamer with water, which increases its weight. If you want a handheld steamer, consider one that weighs 4 pounds or less. If you opt for a full-size model, consider one that weighs between 4.5 and 10 pounds.

Steam cleaning doesn’t damage grout, but if you leave your steamer on a particular area for too long, you could wear it down.

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Features

Heat-up time

When you’re ready to clean your grout, you don’t want to have to wait around too long for your steamer to heat up. Some high-end steamers heat up in as little as five minutes; others require as much as 20 minutes to come to temperature. For most people, a model that’s ready within 10 minutes is usually satisfactory. 

Maximum heat

If you want a grout steamer that can disinfect surfaces, choose one that can reach at least 225°F. This temperature allows the machine to remove dirt and grime while killing 99.9% of germs. 

Continuous refill

Depending on the size of the water tank, you may have to refill your grout steamer in the middle of a cleaning job. A model with a continuous refill feature allows you to add water while steaming. Continuous refill steamers have two tanks: one that serves as a reservoir for cold water and one that boils the water to create steam. The reservoir sends water into the boiler tank when the level gets low, and you can refill the reservoir as necessary during cleaning. 

Steam control

Many grout steamers have a volume control for the steam that allows you to control the amount of steam and moisture emitted. Grout that is particularly dirty may benefit from this.

Convertible

While most grout steamers are handheld or full-size models, some actually allow you to alternate between the two designs. You can detach the head from the handle and use it as a handheld steamer, or you can leave it attached to the head and tank for use as a full-size grout steamer. 

Attachments

Some grout steamers come with attachments for specific cleaning tasks: a grout scrubbing brush, nozzle shapes of various sizes, flat pad for mopping, angle tool, flat scraper, extension wand, and more. Check the product specifications to find out what’s included with your purchase.

Power cord

If you opt for a full-size grout steamer, note the length of its power cord. Most people would prefer not to have to move from outlet to outlet. For convenience, choose a steamer with a cord that’s at least 15 feet long.

Auto shutoff

To prolong its life, a grout steamer may have an auto-shutoff feature. The machine automatically turns the machine off when it reaches a temperature that’s too hot for safe operation. Auto shutoff is a valuable feature that can prevent accidents and keep the steamer’s components from wearing out.

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DID YOU KNOW?
A grout steamer that heats to at least 225°F can kill 99.9% of bacteria, including salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus, and yeast.
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Grout steamer prices

Grout steamers vary in price based on type, water tank capacity, maximum heat, and special features. Most cost between $35 and $300.

Inexpensive: The most affordable grout steamers are handheld models between $35 and $60. They have small water tanks with a capacity around 12 ounces and don’t offer a steam control feature. Most of these models don’t get hot enough to sanitize surfaces.

Mid-range: For $60 to $105, you can get a full-size grout steamer with a smaller water tank. These usually hold about 20 ounces of water and offer variable steam control. Most get hot enough to sanitize grout. 

Expensive: The priciest grout steamers are full-size models with larger water tanks. They usually hold at least 40 ounces and offer variable steam control. They get hot enough to sanitize and often include accessories for added versatility. Some grout steamers in this price range are convertible. Expect to pay between $120 and $300 for a model like this. 

Some grout cleaners double as clothes steamers, which you can use to remove wrinkles from your clothing.

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Tips

  • Clean the tile around the grout before using your steamer. Removing dirt and grime from tile surfaces allows the steamer to work more efficiently. 
  • Set up your steamer ahead of time so it’s ready to clean when you are. Even the best grout steamers need at least a few minutes to heat up.
  • If your grout steamer comes with a special grout-cleaning brush, use it. These brushes tend to make the job easier. Just make sure it’s a brush with nylon bristles so it won’t damage the surrounding tile.
  • Hit the grout with steam in a back-and-forth motion. Work slowly to avoid missing spots. 
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A grout steamer that sees consistent use typically lasts three to six years.

FAQ

Q. Can I use tap water in a grout steamer? 

A. It’s usually best to avoid using tap water in a grout steamer because the water could leave behind mineral deposits that affect the machine’s performance. In most cases, you’ll want to use distilled or filtered water — but check the owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. 

Q. Can I clean other surfaces with a grout steamer? 

A.  In addition to grout, you can use your steamer to clean tile, sealed hardwood, vinyl, and linoleum flooring. It can also work on porcelain, bathroom fixtures, shower doors,  and windows. Some steam cleaners are suitable for use on carpet and upholstery. Consult your owner’s manual to find out what you’re able to safely clean.

 

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