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6 of the best steam cleaners and best steam mops

Andy Vandervell

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A steam cleaner or steam mop is a useful tool to have around the home, particularly if you have lots of hard floors to keep clean. Here is our pick of the best steam cleaners on the market right now.

Every steam cleaner we featured has been comprehensively tested by us – we never include a product we haven’t put through its paces. Whether you want the best steam cleaner for tiled floors, a steam mop for laminate floors or even a steam cleaner for de-mucking grout, one of our selection of the best steam mops will get the job done.

Related: Best Vacuum Cleaners Round-up

Steam Cleaner Guide: Which type should I buy?

This is the first decision you need to make, and it will largely depend on what you want to use your steam cleaner for.

Buy a steam mop if you just want to clean floors. They’re best for hard floors, but some are useful for freshening up carpets and lifting stains from carpets, too. They’re generally cheaper than 2-in-1 steam mops, which can switch into a handheld mode for other tasks.

Buy a 2-in-1 steam mop if you want to clean floors and other surfaces. These more versatile steam mops can be used as handhelds as well, and they normally come with a selection of tools suited to different jobs. This means you can tackle the kitchen tops, bathroom tiles, curtains and plenty more besides, and all with one cleaner.

Buy a cylinder steam cleaner if you find upright steam mops too heavy. While some of the large cylinder steam cleaners are heavier overall, the fact that they’re on wheels means they’re easier to lug about. Most do all the same things a 2-in-1 steam mop will do, while very compact models exist that you can carry on your shoulder.

The other key difference is that cylinder steam cleaners take longer to get ready – normally a few minutes – but the advantages are longer running times and less filling up. Some can even be topped up as you clean, so you don’t have to turn off the cleaner to keep going.

Bissell Vac & Steam
Key features:
  • Steam vac and bagless vacuum in one
  • Built-in fragrance discs and anti-calc filter
  • 380ml water tank and 7.6m cable
The Bissell Vac & Steam is about as advanced as steam mops get. As the name suggests, this is actually a steam mop and vacuum cleaner in one. It probably won’t replace a vacuum cleaner for most people, but it does mean you don’t have to get the main vac out before cleaning the floors.

Vitally, it offers plenty of control – you can steam, vacuum, or do both at the same time. Vacuuming and steaming simultaneously is a great time saver, particularly if you have lots of hard floors. The cleaning results were excellent and fragrance discs leave the room smelling great, too.

The only serious downside is the weight – at 4.6kg it’s quite a bit heavier than most steam mops, although it’s about the same as most small upright vacuum cleaners.

Buy Now at Amazon.co.uk from £149

At time of review the Bissell Vac & Steam was available for £179.99.

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Vax Steam Fresh Combi S86-SF-C
Key features:
  • Steam mop and handheld with 10 onboard tools
  • 260ml water tank, 8m cable
  • Separate detergent tank for extra cleaning power
The Vax Steam Fresh Combi S86-SF-C is a great 2-in-1 that excels in pretty much every circumstance. Moreover, unlike some 2-in-1s, you can store most of the tools on the mop itself, which makes life much easier.

It’s a light and maneuverable steam cleaner and it’s nice and balanced when you want to use it as a handheld. The triangular mop head makes it easier to get into the corners of floors, and means you won’t have to get on your hands and knees to clean tricky crevices.

The excellent selection of tools covers all possible problems – we had no problems cleaning windows or removing mildew from grouting. Both of the tanks – the one for water and the separate one for cleaning detergent – pop off, so you can refill them easily.

Buy Now at Amazon.co.uk from £64.99


At time of review the Vax Steam Fresh Combi S86-SF-C was available for £179.99.

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Polti Vaporetto GO
Key features:
  • Compact cylinder steam cleaner with shoulder strap
  • 750ml water tank, 5-metre cable, 2.7kg
  • British Allergy Foundation approved
We really like the Polti Vaporetto GO. This cylinder steam cleaner is very compact – it weighs just 2.7kg, so you can carry it comfortably using the provided shoulder strap or carry handle. It has wheels for scooting about on the floor, too, and the eight tools are stored onboard for convenience.

The lance is made from three modular poles, so you can adjust the length for what’s comfortable for you. It takes around five minutes to heat up, but once it has you get constant steam for ages.

What seals the deal is how powerful it is. It lifts dirt from floors effortlessly, but doesn’t leave floors too wet. The combination of compact design, performance and reasonable price makes it a standout candidate.

Buy Now at Amazon.co.uk from £69

At time of review the Polti Vaporetto GO was available for £69.99.

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 Kärcher SC1 Steam Stick
Key features:
  • 250ml water tank
  • Heats up quickly
  • 4m cable
  • 1.5kg without accessories
The Kärcher SC1 Steam Stick is a lightweight, versatile steam cleaner that can be used as a steam mop or simply as a handheld cleaner. It comes with a hand tool, small plastic brush, power nozzle and detail nozzle, as well as two 45cm-long tubes and a 110cm hose.

It heats up quickly, making it ideal for smaller jobs, with a full tank coming up to steam in three minutes. The steam itself is powerful but not variable, and it does a great job of cleaning floors. However, since the cleaning head is lightweight, it’s not suited to heavy rugs. Perhaps best of all, it’s more affordable and practical than many of its rivals.

Buy Now at Amazon.co.uk from £69

At time of review the  Kärcher SC1 Steam Stick was available for £99.99.

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Polti Vaporetto Airplus
Key features:
  • 1,600ml water tank and deodorant tank
  • Variable steam
  • 8 onboard tools
  • 6m cable
The Polti Vaporetto Airplus is a compact cylinder-style steam cleaner that comes with a large number of tools, including a concentration nozzle, two angled nozzles, two brushes, a brass brush, a small cleaning head, a window squeegee and three extension tubes.

It takes a few minutes to heat up, but the steam that’s ejected is variable and well-judged. It’s not the most powerful model we’ve tested, but it’s good enough to lift dirt without drenching the floor. What’s more, the Polti is compact and portable, following you around on wheels without making you break sweat.

Buy Now at Amazon.co.uk from £129.99

At time of review the Polti Vaporetto Airplus was available for £129.99

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Vax S6S Home Pro Compact
Key features:
  • 1,600ml water tank and 300ml detergent tank
  • Variable steam
  • 7 onboard tools
  • 6m cable
The Vax S6S Home Pro Compact is another cylinder-style steam cleaner we’ve been impressed by. It comes with three extension tubes, a concentration nozzle, two plastic brushes, metal brush, window squeegee, upholstery tool, detail nozzle and scraper. There’s also a detergent tank built into the handle.

It takes a lengthy 12 minutes to heat up a full tank of water, but in return it packs enough steam for a 40-minute cleaning session. The steam itself is powerful and variable, perfect for lifting ingrained stains, as well as cleaning hard floors and carpets. The triangular cleaning head is also great for getting into corners.

Buy Now at Amazon.co.uk from £109.99

At time of review the Vax S6S Home Pro Compact was available for £139.99

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mothergoose85

February 13, 2015, 1:58 pm

What about that one in the main picture?

andyvan

February 16, 2015, 9:58 am

Fair point. I will add more detail soon. In a nutshell, though, steam cleaners have cloths on the bottom -- just like a mop -- that lift dirt and soak up some of the moisture. They won't leave a floor completely dry, but they're no different to a normal mop in that respect.

Tom Bos

August 8, 2015, 10:49 pm

Good line up. I would have had the Vax steam fresh combi as the top cleaner. It is reliable, effective and as versatile as they come. The Bissell Vac and Steam is fine. It has all the bells and rings and there is nothing as good as a cleaner that saves you time. However its vacuum does not have as powerful suction as an ordinary Henry vac.

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