Our cleaning expert prefers this option for its all-in-one vacuum and steam cleaning capabilities.
Sanitizes hard floor surfaces without chemicals. Scent discs help control pet odors. Includes washable microfiber pads for mopping. Safe on tile, hardwood, granite, marble, and linoleum.
Somewhat bulky and difficult to maneuver. A few users said it stopped working for unknown reasons.
An affordable and capable model that is a parent favorite and proved itself lightweight and maneuverable in our tests.
Equipped with an extra-large reservoir to cover all surfaces in a single cleaning session. Swivel head makes steering and maneuvering easy. Dual-sided design means you have twice the surface area for cleaning. Its reusable pads are machine-washable.
Power cord is a bit shorter than expected, which can inhibit cleaning.
This choice is compact and lightweight and will get an excellent job done at a bargain price.
Kills 99.9% of bacteria and germs with steam power. Only weighs about 6 lbs. Equipped with flip-down easy-scrubber for harder, sticky messes stuck to floor. Options for low, medium, or high steam control. Features swivel steering and an extra-long power cord.
No on/off switch, and the steam isn't as powerful as some would like; you have to let the steam sit for a few seconds on some spots in order to clear them entirely.
An impressive, heavy-duty steam cleaner, according to our cleaning expert.
Great for heavy-duty cleaning and sanitizing with 18 accessories. Hose reaches up to 9 feet for hard-to-reach spots such as ceilings and under furniture. Ample 48-ounce water tank capacity goes the distance.
A few users remarked that the heat doesn't reach a high enough temperature.
This compact design packs a punch and includes a variety of accessories for cleaning hard-to-reach places.
Ideal for small homes. Produces high-pressure mist that kills most pests and eggs. Large 48-ounce tank is easy to clean and doesn't require constant refilling.
No convenient way to store accessories. Power cannot be adjusted. Sometimes leaves water behind on surfaces.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Compared to a typical vacuum, a steam cleaner offers an extra punch when you need to deal with messes. Instead of suction alone, these cleaners use hot, evaporating water to help lift out dirt and grime from hard-to-clean spots like carpets and rugs.
The type of steam cleaner you choose will largely determine how powerful and capable it is. Small handheld cleaners lack power but are more than enough for smaller messes you need to clean up quickly. Larger styles like canister and mop steam cleaners are better suited for routine clean-ups or larger messes that can permanently stain or damage most surfaces.
Steam cleaners, as the name suggests, work by heating tap water past the boiling point, thereby creating steam. No further chemicals are required. The steam is forced through the machine’s nozzle under pressure, and it works to soften and lift away grease and grime, as well as kill germs and dust mites. Many steam cleaners are hot enough to even kill bed bugs, fleas and their eggs, and viruses.
The high heat of the steam sanitizes most hard surfaces, and yet the moisture dries very quickly. This makes steam cleaners excellent for cleaning many items around your home, including the following:
Toilets, tubs, and sinks
Glass shower and tub enclosures
Countertops and cabinets
Grills and stovetops, including the oven, microwave, and burners
Tile, windows, and mirrors
Cutting boards and kitchen appliances
Doorknobs and light switches
The interior and exterior of your car
You can also clean, deodorize, and sanitize many soft surfaces in your home with a steam cleaner. These surfaces include the following:
Because steam cleaners require no potentially irritating chemicals, and because they are very effective at killing many pathogens and removing most allergens, steam cleaners are an especially good choice for households where allergies, reduced immunity, respiratory illness, or asthma are problems.
So if you’ve decided to get a steam cleaner, you’re in good company. Many people use them to keep their homes clean and pristine. But which type of steam cleaner should you get? There are three basic types of steam cleaners designed for home use: handheld, canister, and mop steam cleaners.
Handheld steam cleaners are small and lightweight. Most look something like a coffee pot with a long, pointed spout.
Their small size, portability, and quick heat-up – less than a minute for most units – make them excellent for small cleaning jobs, such as the area around the kitchen faucet, behind the toilet, or along the edge of the stove.
Be aware, however, that you’ll normally have only around 10 to 20 minutes of cleaning time before you must refill the tank of a handheld steam cleaner.
While tap water is usually fine for steam cleaners, if you live in an area with exceptionally hard water, it’s best to use distilled water in your machine to prevent a buildup of salts and minerals.
Most handheld steam cleaners are very affordable. In general, you can expect to pay between $25 and $40 for a quality handheld steam cleaner with a nice array of accessories.
Handheld steam cleaners are great for cleaning hard-to-reach places and tackling small spills and messes. Most come with a range of accessories, such as a fabric steamer, squeegee, scraper, grout cleaner, and detail brush. Their small size makes them easy to store.
The small tank produces only enough steam for a quick cleaning job. Handheld steam cleaners aren’t suitable for cleaning large surfaces, such as a kitchen floor.
With a small, wheeled tank, a long hose, and a range of attachable accessories (mop head, scrub brush, pointed nozzle, angled nozzle, scraper, utility brush), a canister steam cleaner closely resembles a canister vacuum cleaner.
This is the steam cleaner for most jobs around your home, including cleaning floors, showers and tubs, kitchen surfaces, and upholstery.
Generally, the water tank in a canister steam cleaner is large enough to provide steam for 45 minutes or longer, so you’ll have plenty of time for most household cleaning jobs. These devices are easy to maneuver, and the long hose allows you to reach beneath furniture, behind appliances, and into corners.
Most canister steam cleaners heat up in less than 10 minutes, so there is no lengthy wait before you can tackle your chores.
The average canister steam cleaner costs between $100 and $200, although some top-of-the-line units can cost more.
Canister steam cleaners are perfect for cleaning sealed hard floors and other large surfaces throughout your home. They’re also suitable for detailing your car. Most canister steam cleaners come with a nice array of accessories for tackling many different cleaning jobs.
Although not that large, you’ll still need to find somewhere to store your canister steam cleaner when it’s not in use.
Mop steam cleaners, otherwise known as steam mops, resemble stick vacuums and weigh about the same. They make quick work of dried-on food, muddy footprints, kitchen grease, and all the other grunge that so quickly accumulates on your floors. The hot steam also kills germs and sanitizes, so you can really get your kitchen and bathroom clean and odor-free, and your floor will be dry and ready to walk on within minutes.
Typically, a steam mop holds enough water to run for 15 to 20 minutes before needing a refill, so unless you’re cleaning a very large area, you should be able to finish the job on one tank.
Most steam mops come with one or two heavy microfiber pads which wipe up and hold the steam-loosened dirt and grime effectively without smears or pushed-aside mess. As the pads are reusable, you won’t have to spend money on disposable supplies, nor will you need to add chemicals or sticky cleaners to the mop water.
Along with the microfiber pads, some steam mops include scrubbers and grout-cleaning attachments.
Expect to pay between $60 and $150 for a good steam mop.
The steam makes it a breeze to clean up dried or sticky messes, and the floor dries quickly without a sticky or tacky feel. Pads are reusable, and you won’t need any special floor cleaners beyond water. Thanks to its stick-like shape, a steam mop is easy to store in a closet or corner when not in use.
Steam mops are only suitable for use on hard, sealed flooring materials such as tile, linoleum, vinyl, sealed wood, laminate, and stone.
A. Yes. Steam cleaning is not suitable for every surface. Although you can use a steam cleaner on most surfaces throughout your home, you should avoid steaming delicate fabrics, wallpaper and other paper items, unsealed wood, unsealed marble or stone, cork, unsealed concrete, and any other surface that cannot tolerate moisture.
A. Steam is hot enough to kill most household mold and germs, but the effectiveness of a steam cleaner depends on how long and how thoroughly the steam comes into contact with these organisms. Steam cleaners generally do a good job at killing the majority of household mold and germs.
A. Usually, adding anything beyond water to the steamer’s tank will void your manufacturer's protection. Most steam cleaners specifically warn against adding any type of chemical to the water, but some make allowances for vinegar. Check your device’s instructions.