Are you looking for a way to deep clean your home without using chemicals? Steam, yes steam, can do the trick.
Steam cleaners let you harness the power of super-heated water to eliminate bacteria, mold, grime and other nasties from various surfaces.
We put together a guide on what to look for in a cleaner, and we also review the 10 Best Steam Cleaners of 2020.
Short on time? Here are our favorites:
Top 5 Steam Cleaners of 2020
- 1 Top 5 Steam Cleaners of 2020
- 2 4 Most Important Things to Look for in a Steam Cleaner 2020
- 3 Reviews of the 10 Best Steam Cleaners 2020
- 3.1 Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop
- 3.2 Shark Steam Pocket Mop Hard Floor Cleaner
- 3.3 McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
- 3.4 PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner with 9-Piece Accessory Set
- 3.5 Oreck Steam-It Steam Mop
- 3.6 Bissell Symphony Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum
- 3.7 McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System
- 3.8 PureClean XL Rolling Steam Cleaner
- 3.9 LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Steam Mop
- 3.10 O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop with Extra Refill
- 4 Steam Cleaner Buying Guide 2020
- 5 Tips on Using a Steam Cleaner
- 6 FAQs About Steam Cleaners
- Best Mop/Cleaner Combo: Steam Mop Cleaner ThermaPro
- Most Versatile Steam Cleaner: McCulloch MC1375 Canister Steam Cleaner with 20 Accessories
- Best Floor Steam Cleaner: BISSELL PowerFresh Steam Mop, Floor Steamer
- Best Heavy Duty Steam Cleaning Machine: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner Multipurpose Heavy Duty
- Best Cheap Floor Steam Cleaner: Shark Steam Pocket Mop Hard Floor Cleaner
4 Most Important Things to Look for in a Steam Cleaner 2020
- Surfaces It Cleans. Some steam cleaners are designed to clean floors only, others are designed for cleaning small areas. Some will work on a variety of surfaces, large and small.
- Canister Type. One feature to pay attention to is a “continuous fill” tank or boiler. That means there are two tanks, so that when one is empty, you don’t have to refill it immediately and wait for it to heat up again. Another thing to pay attention to is the size of the canister or water tank.
- Accessories and Attachments. The more accessories and attachments a cleaner has, the more versatile it is. Some models have just a mop pad, while others have a range of hoses, brushes, pads and so on.
- Temperature and Water Pressure. The hotter the temperature of the steam cleaner, the hotter the steam. That means the drier the cleaning and the more likely the steam cleaner will be to sanitize and disinfect surfaces. High pressure also translates to a deeper clean.
Reviews of the 10 Best Steam Cleaners 2020
The Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop claims to sanitize and clean a variety of hard, sealed floors using steam alone. The mop claims that it’s able to kill more than 99 percent of bacteria with the steam.
The steam mop heats up in just 30 seconds, making it a good pick for a person who’s on-the-go and who wants to tidy up in a hurry. Since it’s only designed for use on hard floors and surfaces, it’s not a good pick if you’re looking for a carpet cleaner.
Once the steam mop is turned on and heated up, it produces a continuous supply of steam, rather than steam on demand.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Sealed hard surfaces (linoleum, sealed marble, sealed hardwood, tile, ceramic).
- Canister Type: Single, removable water tank.
- Accessories/Attachments: Comes with a soft microfiber pad, a scrubby pad, and spring breeze-scented fragrance discs.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Not specified.
Like the Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop, the Shark Steam Pocket Mop claims to eliminate more than 99 percent of bacteria and other germs. It’s designed for use on hard surfaces, including hardwood floors.
The Shark Steam Pocket uses steam on demand, meaning it won’t be producing a steady supply of steam. You need to push on the trigger button to get steam. That can be a positive or negative, depending on how quickly you work and whether or not your fingers will get tired quickly from continually having to push a button.
The makers of the Steam Pocket don’t specify the exact temperature it heats to but do claim that the steam dries nearly instantly, reducing the risk for water damage.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Sealed hard surfaces (linoleum, sealed marble, sealed hardwood, tile, ceramic).
- Canister Type: Single, removable water tank (holds 450 mL).
- Accessories/Attachments: Comes with a two-sided microfiber pad.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Not specified.
A canister type of steam cleaner , the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner works on a range of surfaces, from floors to grills and from appliances to automobiles. It’s ideal for a person looking for a heavy duty steam cleaner and for someone who doesn’t want to be limited to only cleaning floors.
The McCulloch steam cleaner works on surfaces such as ceramic tile, grout, sealed wood, laminate, and granite. It comes with a total of 18 accessories, making it a truly versatile cleaning tool.
The accessories include a floor mop attachment, a scrub pad, nylon brushes, and a squeegee. The attachments connect to the 48-ounce water tank by way of a 9-foot steam hose.
Since the McCulloch steam cleaner has a tank large enough to provide steam for a full 45 minutes , it’s the ideal pick for someone looking for a cleaner that can handle heavy-duty jobs.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Hard, sealed floors, granite, concrete, appliances, wheels, cars, grills.
- Canister Type: Water tank that holds 48 ounces.
- Accessories/Attachments: 18 accessories: Carrying Handle, Steam Jet Nozzle, 2 Extension Wands, Mop Head, Microfiber Pads, Water Funnel, Measuring Cup, Squeegee, Triangle Brush, 5 Nylon Utility Brushes, Brass Utility Brush, and Scrub Pad.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: 200+ degrees Fahrenheit. Steam pressure is 43 psi. Steam Rate is 33-37 g/min. The steam cleaner heats up in 8 minutes.
If you dream of fluttering around your home, steam cleaning your day away, the PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner might not be for you.
Sure, it’s a hand-held cleaner , which makes it slightly more portable than canister models. But it’s a plug-in model, limiting its use area to within 9 feet or so of an outlet.
That said, the PurSteam Steam Cleaner works on a variety of surfaces. It can be used on materials indoors and out, from cotton and wool carpets to the inside of toilet bowls and from the hubcaps on your car’s wheels to the frame around your doors.
The PurSteam steam cleaner claims to provide up to 30 percent more steam compared to other handheld cleaners. The water heats up within 3 to 4 minutes.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Sealed hard floors, carpets, ceramic tile, granite, washable wallpaper.
- Canister Type: Single water canister, holds 350 mL.
- Accessories/Attachments: Comes with nine accessories including: extension hose, measuring cup, funnel, ironing brush, nylon brush, bent nozzle, ironing brush cloth.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Pressure: 3 bar (43.5 psi). Temperature not specified.
Oreck Steam-It Steam Mop
What sets the Oreck Steam-It Steam Mop apart from other mops on the market is that it comes with several attachments, allowing you to use the mop on more than just floors.
Another thing that sets it apart is that it’s a dry vapor steam cleaner , meaning the tool can heat up hot enough to produce dry steam. That lets you clean a wider range of hard surfaces. The steam mop also works upside down, so you can use it on countertops or walls without the water spilling out of the tank.
One particularly useful feature of the Steam-It mop is that it has universal clips on it. The mop comes with four microfiber mop pads, but you also have the option of using the clips to attach your own towels.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Hard surfaces, such as sealed hardwood, marble, linoleum. Not recommended for fine silks, velour, thin plastics, unsealed hardwood, engineered hard floor surfaces, laminates, ceilings, drywall, and exterior paint of automobiles. Also not recommended for heat-sensitive materials or electronics or items using electricity.
- Canister Type: Continuous steam.
- Accessories/Attachments: Comes with a four-piece attachment kit and four microfiber cloths/mop pads.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Exact temperature not specified, but it is a vapor steam mop.
The Bissell Symphony Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum is perfect for the person who’s looking to kill two cleaning birds with one stone. It combines a vacuum cleaner with a steam mop, meaning it will suck away dust and dirt while sanitizing the surfaces of your floors.
The Bissell Symphony is designed for hard surfaces, so it’s not the solution to everyone’s problems (this one work for people with wall-to-wall carpet).
When using the Bissell Symphony, you have the choice of steam-only, suction-only or a combination of the two. It uses steam on demand, so the mop won’t be putting out a steady stream of steam when it’s turned on.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Hard floors, such as linoleum, granite, marble, sealed wood, and tile.
- Canister Type: Water tank holds 12.8 ounces. Steam on demand.
- Accessories/Attachments: Comes with a mop pad and scrubby mop pad.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Not specified.
McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System
Designed for the tough jobs, the McCulloch Deluxe Canister Steam System heats water up to more than 200 degrees and uses high pressure (58 psi) to clear away grime and dirt from a range of surfaces.
If you’re looking for a canister steam cleaner that works indoors and out, this is the one for you. It comes with a lot of accessories (23) and has a half-gallon water tank. The tank does need some time to heat up but will provide nearly two hours of continuous steam once it’s ready.
If you don’t need quite so much steam or pressure, the McCulloch does give you the option of dialing it back a bit.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Most types of flooring, outdoor furniture, cars and boats, grills, tile, lawn equipment.
- Canister Type: 64-ounce water tank, provides 120 minutes of continuous steam.
- Accessories/Attachments: Includes 23 accessories, including a large mop head, squeegee, triangle brush, large brush, extension wand, scrub pads, utility brushes, and round brushes.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Temperature: 200+ degrees Fahrenheit, Pressure 4 bar (58 psi).
PureClean XL Rolling Steam Cleaner
The PureClean XL Rolling Steam Cleaner has a lot in common with the models from McCulloch, including a relatively large (1.5 liter) water tank and lots of accessories.
It claims to work on surfaces inside and outside and works on more than just hard surfaces. You can also use the PureClean Steam Cleaner on upholstery and carpets. It’s an excellent choice for someone looking for a flexible steam cleaner and for someone who’s looking for something a little more heavy duty than a hand-held model or steam mop.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Sealed hard floors, washable wallpaper, ceramic tile, cotton and wool carpets.
- Canister Type: 1.5-liter boiler, offers 45 minutes of continuous steam.
- Accessories/Attachments: Comes with mop head, two mop pads, steam jet nozzle, extension wands, squeegee, utility brushes, and scrub pads.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Temperature not specified, the steam output is 1.2 oz/min.
LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Steam Mop
One benefit of the Light N Easy Steam Mop is that it can clean more than your floors. It features a built-in hand-held steamer and comes with a flexible extension steam hose.
The steam cleaner’s flexibility makes it an ideal pick for someone looking for a versatile cleaner for light jobs. You won’t be taking the Light N Easy out into the shop or garage, but you can use it in the bathroom, living room or kitchen with ease.
The steam mop has an 11.5-ounce water tank that heats up in just 30 seconds, producing steam that’s 284 degrees Fahrenheit. It has three steam levels, which determine how long it lasts while cleaning. On the lowest level, you can get up to 25 minutes of steam. The highest setting cuts the time in half.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Glass, sealed hard floors, stainless steel, sealed grout and tile, carpeting.
- Canister Type: 340 ml water tank.
- Accessories/Attachments: Scrubbing pad, jet steam nozzle, extension steam hose, mop pad, and hand-held attachment microfiber pad.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Steam is 284 degrees Fahrenheit. Pressure not specified.
O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop with Extra Refill
Sometimes, simple is best. The O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop doesn’t have much in the way of bells and whistles. It promises to eliminate more than 99 percent of bacteria, such as e. Coli. It heats up in 20 seconds. It weighs only five pounds.
And that’s about it for the O-Cedar. But if you’re looking for a simple tool that you can use to clean your floors quickly, this might be just what you need.
- Surfaces it Cleans: Hard surfaces, carpets with the included glider.
- Canister Type: 400 ml water tank.
- Accessories/Attachments: Comes with two microfiber pads and a carpet glider.
- Temperature and Water Pressure: Not specified. Steam production is up to 23g/min on the highest setting.
For more detail on steam mops see our list of the best steam mops of 2020 here.
Steam Cleaner Buying Guide 2020
Benefits of a Steam Cleaner
Why buy the best steam cleaner? Compared to other cleaning options, steam cleaning has numerous benefits. Those benefits include:
- Chemical-free cleaning. Steam cleaners use heated water to remove tough stains or sticky spills from floors. They can eliminate or significantly reduce the need for you to use harsh chemical cleaners at home.
- Less mess. If you’ve ever struggled with a wet, dirty mop and a bucket full of soapy, dirty mop water, you’ll appreciate the relative simplicity of a steam cleaner. If you’re using a mop-style cleaner, you can toss the head in the wash at the end of a cleaning session.
- Kills bacteria/germs. Steam is hot enough to kill most bacteria, molds, and other germs that might be hanging out on your floors or upholstered furniture.
- Combats allergens. If you’ve got allergies, steam cleaning your home is a great way to remove those allergies, helping you breathe easier.
- Less expensive in the long run. Although you do have to pay the initial cost of a steam cleaner, it can be less costly over time, since all you need to operate it is tap water. There’s no need to purchase new bottles of cleaners continually.
- Gets the job done quickly. The steam produced by steam cleaners is effective enough at removing stains that you’ll be able to power through your cleaning chores in less time.
Types of Steam Cleaners
Not all steam cleaners are created equally. In fact, some are specifically designed for certain chores and others for different tasks. The type of steam cleaner you end up buying depends on where and how you’ll use it.
- Steam Mops. A steam mop looks like a stick vacuum cleaner and functions in much the same way. Usually, you’ll find a water tank attached to the handle of a steam mop or incorporated into the body of the mop. At the base of the mop is usually a removable pad. If you’re primarily interested in using your steam cleaner on the floors of your home, this might be the steam cleaner for you.
- Hand-held Steam Cleaners. A hand-held steam cleaner is typically the smallest type of steam cleaner available. They are usually very portable and might be battery-powered. Although you can use a hand-held cleaner for spot cleaning on the floors, they are typically best suited for cleaning upholstery and flat surfaces rather than large areas.
- Canister Steam Cleaners. Sometimes called a cylinder steam cleaner, a canister steam cleaner is one of the largest types of cleaner available . A key feature of a canister cleaner is a separate water tank. Usually, the water tank on a canister or cylinder steam cleaner is much larger than the tank you’d find on a steam mop or hand-held cleaner.
Another critical feature of a canister steam cleaner is the fact that often has a variety of attachments. The attachment selection means you can use the cleaner on different surfaces, such as carpet, upholstery, or hard flooring.
- Vapor Steam Cleaners. Vapor steam cleaners often look like canister or cylinder steam cleaners. The thing that sets them apart from other options is the type of steam they produce. Vapor steam cleaners create “dry” steam. The steam cleaners can heat up the water hot enough so that only steam comes into contact with the surfaces you’re cleaning. That means you don’t have to wait for your floors to dry after using a vapor steam cleaner.
Tips on Using a Steam Cleaner
Safety Tips When Using a Steam Cleaner
If you’ve ever been burned by boiling water or by water vapor, then you know that steam is hot. Even steam cleaners that don’t heat up hot enough to create dry steam still often heat the water to temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s worth paying some attention to your safety and comfort when using a steam cleaner. For starters, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of bare skin that’s exposed while you clean with a steam cleaner. Wear long sleeves and long pants and consider wearing work gloves if you’re going to be cleaning a large area. Depending on where you’re working and how close the steam will be to your face, it can also be a good idea to wear safety goggles.
When you’re finished using the steam cleaner, make sure to switch it off or unplug it. It might sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised how frequently people forget to do so. It’s also a good idea to unplug the steamer before you refill the water tank or when you swap out attachments.
Where You Can Use a Steam Cleaner
While most surfaces can be cleaned with steam, not all surfaces can or should be. Wood is a good example of a surface that might be steam cleaned, but not in all cases.
Usually, wood surfaces that are sealed can be safely steam cleaned without causing damage. A wood surface or floor that’s not sealed is likely to absorb the water produced by the steam and can become warped or damaged.It’s also worth paying attention to the weather conditions when you steam clean, especially if you are going to clean sensitive materials. For example, you can use a steamer to clean glass, such as windows or mirrors.
But glass is fairly sensitive to changes in temperature. If you try to steam clean a glass window on a cold day, you might be in for a shattering surprise.
Otherwise, the majority of the materials in your home can usually be safely and effectively cleaned with steam. Here’s a short list of where you can use a steam cleaner:
- On carpets
- On tile floors
- On sealed hardwood floors
- On upholstery
- On mattresses
- On laminate countertops
- On sealed granite countertops
- On glass
- On patio furniture
- On your car’s upholstery
If you have a vapor or dry steam cleaner, your options for steam cleaning open up a bit. For example, you can typically use a dry steam cleaner on unsealed surfaces, including unsealed wood, marble, and concrete.
Here are a few places and things you don’t want to steam clean:
- Musical instruments
- Delicate fabrics (such as silk)
- Painted walls
- Cardboard or paper-based surfaces
How to Use a Steam Cleaner
Before you use a steam cleaner, whether it is a steam mop, hand-held device or canister cleaner, it’s a good idea to clean up any loose pieces of dirt or debris.
When you’re using a steam cleaner on a floor, start in the corner furthest away from the entrance. If you are using a handheld cleaner to clean a vertical surface, start at the top and work your way down.
Starting far away from the entrance or at the top means that you don’t end up stepping over areas you’ve cleaned and that you don’t have to backtrack and reclean.
It’s a good idea to make sure you have all the accessories and attachments you need to use your steam cleaner at the ready before you get going. If you’re cleaning a large area of floor with a steam mop, you’ll most likely need more than one mop pad, for example.Change the mop pad when it looks dirty or when you switch from one type of floor (such as hardwood) to another (such as tile).
Read more here on how to use a steam cleaner.
FAQs About Steam Cleaners
Can You Use Tap Water in a Steam Cleaner?
Most steam cleaners will work with regular old tap water. If you have hard water, it’s usually recommended that you use filtered or distilled water instead, to prevent the buildup of minerals inside the cleaner.
Can I Use Soaps or Detergents with a Steam Cleaner?
It’s usually not recommended. Steam cleaners are designed to work with water alone. Adding a soap or detergent might mess up the device.
Do Steam Cleaners Really Work?
Yes. Steam is known for its ability to kill nasties such as bacteria and mold. Steam cleaning is also an effective way to kill bed bugs.
Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Steam Clean?
Yes, there are plenty of surfaces that shouldn’t be steam cleaned. Anything that might be damaged by water is usually not a good fit for steam cleaning. That includes unsealed wood and unsealed stone surfaces.
Should I buy a hand-held steamer, a mop or a canister style steamer?
That’s really up to you and your cleaning needs. A canister steam cleaner usually offers the most versatility, but might be more than you need. A mop is great if you only want to steam your floors. Hand-held models are ideal for small spaces since they don’t take up much space in storage.
Why don’t steam cleaners always work on carpet?
People often confuse steam cleaners with carpet cleaners, although the two are pretty different. You can sometimes use a steam cleaner on a carpet, especially if it has a carpet glider. Otherwise, it can be difficult to maneuver the cleaner over a carpeted surface.
Our list of the 10 top steam cleaners, and our steam cleaner reviews are our choice through research and testing. If you have another cleaner you think should be on this list, or if you have a comment on one of the machines in the list feel free to let us know in the comments.