A steam cleaner is a household appliance that can be used to clean a variety of surfaces and items, ranging from carpets and floors to upholstery, mattresses and countertops. There are different types of steam cleaner which suit these different roles, and a steam cleaner for carpet or other flooring is probably the most common.
A steam cleaner pushes tiny steam molecules into the pores of a surface to push out any dirt and debris. It’s a way of cleaning that avoids use of harsh chemicals, so it’s an eco-friendly option and ideal for people with allergies. It sanitises and cleans, using only water.
A commercial steam cleaner is a larger machine which you may consider hiring for occasional use, but if you want a machine on hand that can give you a better result than your regular cleaning regime, there are plenty of wallet-friendly options for your home. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites, and given some more detail of the factors to consider when you’re making a selection.
Best Steam Cleaners
|1||SHARK Klik N' Flip Steam Cleaner||
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Best For Higher Budgets2Karcher SC4 EasyFix Steam Cleaner
Best For Higher BudgetsKarcher SC4 EasyFix Steam Cleaner
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|3||Hoover SteamJet Cleaner||Buy On Amazon|
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Best For Low Budgets4VILEDA Steam Cleaner
Best For Low BudgetsVILEDA Steam Cleaner
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Best Overall5Black + Decker 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner
Best OverallBlack + Decker 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner
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1. SHARK Klik N' Flip Steam Cleaner
- Mop style steam cleaner designed for sealed hard floors
- Eliminates 99.9% of common household bacteria
- Double sided microfibre pad helps speed up the drying time
- Steam Blaster mode to deal with tougher, stuck on dirt
This lightweight steam mop makes light work of cleaning sealed hard flooring surfaces, such as tiles. The swivel steering makes it easy to move around the floor, navigating around and under furniture.
The mop head has a double sided microfibre pad, which helps trap dirt and also helps absorption of moisture to allow floors to dry quicker. There are three steam settings (High, Medium and Low), and steam is distributed evenly through the mop head for a smear free finish.
There’s also a Steam Blaster mode which can be deployed to tackle tougher, stuck on dirt. The large water tank gives over 10 minutes of cleaning time, so there’s less stopping for refills. Overall, this is a good option for hard floors, but this can’t be used for carpets or other surfaces.
- Three steam settings
- Steam is distributed evenly through the mop head
- Swivel steering makes it easy to move around the floor
- Extra large water tank gives over 10 minutes cleaning time
- Some users report build quality issues
- For hard floors only - not suitable for other uses
2. Karcher SC4 EasyFix Steam Cleaner
- Versatile machine with a range of attachments for different cleaning tasks
- Kills 99.9% of common household bacteria
- Powerful 3.5 bar pressure
- Can be used on hard surfaces including floors, sinks, mirrors and windows
The Karcher SC4 EasyFix is a versatile machine that comes ready with a range of accessories to carry out a variety of cleaning tasks.
The powerful 3.5 bar pressure steam kills 99.9% of common household bacteria on hard surfaces, so this is great for a deep down clean, especially if anyone in your household has allergies.
You can clean a variety of hard surfaces ranging from floors to mirrors and windows, by simply switching the various accessories.
The water tank is detachable for easy refilling as you go. We thought the child safety lock on the steam gun was a good extra feature, and most importantly, we were impressed with the cleaning results.
- Detachable water tank for easy refilling
- Takes four minutes to heat the large water tank
- Steam gun has a child safety lock
- Microfibre floor cloth can be added and removed without touching the dirty surface
- Storage of the accessories could be better thought out
- Some of the parts can feel a little flimsy
3. Hoover SteamJet Cleaner
- Easy to switch between use as an upright mop and a handheld device
- Rapid warm-up time
- Variety of accessories for different cleaning tasks, even ovens and grills
- Lightweight and compact for easy storage
This Hoover Steam Mop is a budget option if you’re looking for an appliance that can carry out a wide range of cleaning tasks.
The core of the product is a handheld device which houses the refillable water tank and the control panel. A range of accessories are supplied which can quickly turn this into an upright floor cleaner, or you can add one of a variety of brush heads or other accessories to clean anything from an oven or grill to grouting between tiles, stuck-on grease on kitchen surfaces or mouldy areas around showers and baths.
This versatility is very useful, and the product is lightweight and compact which makes it easy to use and to store. However, there are quite a few build and quality issues reported by users which is a note of caution.
- Variable steam control
- Washable floor pad
- Up to 15 minutes use with one tank of water
- Useful cone brush for cleaning grout between tiles
- There are a number of reported quality issues
- Steam output can be unreliable
4. VILEDA Steam Cleaner
- Can be used on both hard floors and carpets
- Easy to manoeuvre around and under furniture
- Triangular head design allows you to get right to the edge of your floor
- Kills 99.9% of bacteria on hard floors
This steam mop cleans hard flooring surfaces in rapid time, as it heats in just 15 seconds. The lightweight mop pivots well to manoeuvre around the floor and under furniture, and the triangular head makes it easier to get right to the edge of your floor surface, and into corners.
You can add a carpet glider attachment over the microfibre pad to refresh carpets. There are no other accessories, so this product is strictly a floor cleaner.
A jug is supplied to refill the water tank and one 400ml tank will give you up to 28 minutes of use, making cleaning easy. Some customers have commented that the parts can feel flimsy, so you probably can’t expect too many years of use.
- Heats up in just 15 seconds
- Lightweight at 2.2kg
- One 400ml tank will give up to 28 minutes of use
- Jug provided to easily refill the water tank
- Some users complain of a flimsy build quality
- For use on floors only, no other attachments or accessories
5. Black + Decker 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner
- Can be used to clean hard floors and a variety of other surfaces in your home
- Upright mop plus a detachable handheld unit
- Includes a range of accessories for different cleaning tasks
- Wearable SteaMitt accessory allows you to wipe surfaces clean using the power of steam
This Black + Decker model can be used as both an upright mop and a handheld unit. The mop has a 180 degree pivoting head so it’s easy to move around the floor, reaching under furniture.
As a handheld unit it has a large number of attachments to tackle a range of cleaning tasks. The SteaMitt accessory is worn like a mitt, allowing you to wipe dirty surfaces using the power of steam for a deeper clean.
The six metre cable gives excellent range for using the machine all over your home, and there are three steam settings to deal with a range of surfaces.
There’s even an attachment to let you steam clothes. This is a good all-rounder, although some users comment that the accessories vary in their effectiveness.
- 6 metre cable for excellent cleaning range
- 180 degree pivoting head makes this mop easy to manoeuvre around furniture
- Three steam settings for different surfaces
- Microfibre cover can be used on squeegee attachment to steam clothes
- The different accessories receive mixed reviews on their effectiveness
- Some users comment that the upright product won’t stand on its own
Steam Cleaner Buying Guide
There are a wide range of steam cleaners on the market and many of them offer multiple functions. We’d recommend the best approach is to select a steam cleaner based on the primary task you want it to perform, with any other features providing an extra bonus.
Handheld Steam Cleaner
Handheld steam cleaners are ideal for cleaning surfaces in your home above floor level – anything from kitchen countertops, shower tiles or even ovens and grills.
They are small and portable units, similar to a handheld vacuum cleaner, which typically come with a variety of attachment accessories to complete different cleaning tasks, ranging from a microfiber cloth to targeted brushes. Some upright steam cleaner products are built around a handheld unit which can be detached and used separately.
Steam mops are probably the most popular type of steam cleaner for the home. The advantage of using a steam cleaner for floors is that steam provides a more powerful and deeper clean than using a simple mop and bucket, removing a significant amount of bacteria from hard surfaces.
The steam does the hard work, and there’s no chemical residue left behind.
Vapor Steam Cleaner
A vapour steam cleaner works in much the same way as a regular steam cleaner, however water is heated to a higher temperature, so there is a far lower moisture content in the vapour dispensed from the machine.
Cylinder Steam Cleaner
Cylinder steam cleaners are larger and heavier as they have a higher capacity water tank. This also means they take more time to heat up. The benefit is that they have a more powerful steam output, and will also tend to be provided with a range of attachments.
Depending on your choice of steam cleaner, you can use a machine to carry out a wide range of cleaning tasks.
The more versatile models come with a variety of attachments specially designed for different surfaces and types of cleaning, ranging from brushes to clean grouting between tiles removing mould or stains, to accessories which can clean upholstery. Here are some of the most common applications for a steam cleaner.
Steam cleaning can be a simple and convenient way to clean a range of upholstery. Using attachments on your steam cleaner you could clean spills or general dirt from a sofa, curtains or even mattresses.
Steaming can help refresh fabrics and remove any trapped odours, though you should also check the fabric is suitable for steaming first.
Floor cleaning is the primary function of many steam cleaners on the market. Steam mops are designed for use on sealed hard floors, such as tiles, though some can also refresh carpets. Steam helps lift bacteria and dirt from the floor, giving a deep clean. For a more thorough carpet clean, you can also use a carpet cleaner.
A steam cleaner can help to refresh rugs, lifting the pile and giving a fresher fragrance.
If you have a handheld steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment, this can be used to refresh your car seats and even the floors. It’s always best to hoover first to remove dirt and any debris, followed by steam cleaning.
Power and Pressure
In general terms, the more powerful steam cleaner you use, the more effective the cleaning job will be. A high pressure steam cleaner more forcefully dispenses steam to better lift dirt and bacteria from the surface you’re cleaning, and this can particularly help if you’re tackling stubborn stains or stained grouting between tiles, for example.
When selecting a steam cleaner you’ll want to think about the most convenient size, both to use and to store. A small steam cleaner should be lighter and easier to move around, but a large model could be more powerful and be capable of holding a larger water tank.
Larger models make sense if you have a larger home and need a cleaner that can deal with cleaning up after kids and pets. If you have a smaller house or flat and want a steam cleaner for a regular refresh, a small steam cleaner will probably answer your needs.
If cleaning floors is your main concern, focus your attention on selecting the best budget steam mop. These vary in price but you can certainly find a model from a reputable brand for around £60. Larger steam cleaner models which perform multiple tasks are usually upwards of £100.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many steam cleaners have an upholstery attachment which connects to a handheld unit. To clean a couch, simply select the appropriate steam setting on your machine (check the instruction manual for details) and pass the attachment over the couch, a section at a time to cover the entire surface.
Allow the couch to dry thoroughly before you use it.
To clean upholstery, select the most appropriate attachment and connect it to the handheld unit of your machine. You should pass the attachment lightly over the fabric, using the most appropriate steam setting. It’s always best to check your machine’s instruction manual to determine what this is.
How to clean an area rug depends on your machine. Some machines had an additional attachment which you place over the top of the head you’ll use for hard floors. Other machines have a dedicated attachment for rugs. Check the instruction manual for your machine for details.
Steam cleaners can be bought from a wide variety of stores, ranging from online outlets such as Amazon to DIY stores, electrical appliance specialists, department stores and supermarkets. Online outlets allow you to easily compare prices, but you may be able to test the weight and manoeuvrability of the machine if you buy in store.
A steam cleaner is a great addition to your collection of household appliances, especially if you have kids or pets. It can achieve a deeper clean than a simple mop and bucket on hard floors, and many models come with attachments that can make easy work of cleaning other areas of your home.
If you want a simple mop which can clean your floors only, the Vileda Steam Mop does a great job at a good price point. For a more versatile machine with a greater range of uses, we’d suggest the Karcher SC4 EasyFix which cleans a wide range of surfaces, from tiles to mirrors and windows.