Steam is an amazing thing for cleaning with. Without having to turn to harsh chemicals, steam can clean grout, kill germs, remove stubborn stains, get a hard floor to look amazing and even tackle dirty windows. With the best steam cleaner, you’ll never look back and you’ll have a sparkling house in a fraction of the time it would take using elbow grease.
At Trusted Reviews, we’ve reviewed every single major steam cleaner and we continuously get new products in for review to keep this list up-to-date. As we put every product through a variety of real-world tests, you can rely on our choices: we list the best cleaners that have been tested; we don’t just list products based on best-seller lists or user reviews.
We’ve selected a range of different steam cleaners and steam mops below, catering for every use and budget.
The best overall steam cleaner is the Karcher SC5 easyFix Premium Steam Cleaner
Steam cleaner type: Cylinder | Dimensions: 439 x 301 x 305mm | Accessories: Floor cleaning kit, EasyFix + extension tube (2 × 0.5 m), hand nozzle, detail nozzle, round brush (small), microfibre cover for manual nozzle | Water tank: 1.5-litres | Steam pressure: 4.2bar
- Staggering steaming power
- Very fast hard floor mopping
- Good tool selection with storeage
- Great VapoHydro cleaning
- Easy to carry
- High price
- No squeegee window tool
- Cable too short (5.9m)
Yes, it’s expensive, but there’s a good reason for that: the Karcher SC5 easyFix Premium Steam Cleaner is the best cleaner that we’ve tested. With its near 2-litre capacity, 2kW+ heater and powerful VapoHydro mode, this is a steam cleaner that can handle everything.
Variable steam control power lets you control the SC5’s output, so you can tackle more delicate jobs. It’s the VapoHydro that really grabs attention: this mode mixes water with steam, giving a kind of pressure-washer action.
Karcher provides accessories for almost every job. There’s an Easyfix floor mopping head complete with washable microfibre cloths and a carpet glider. A large square brush gives you power for tough cleaning. And, a detail nozzle which takes a small round brush, small detail brush and power nozzle. In fact, the only thing missing is a window cleaning tool.
On all surfaces from hard floors and carpets, to tiles and window sills, the SC5 proved itself to be a powerful performer, shifting stubborn dirt. And, it can do it at speed; in fact, we’ve never seen a steam cleaner that can clean a hard floor so quickly.
For all-round cleaning ability, the Karcher SC5 easyFix Premium Steam Cleaner is the ultimate choice.
Read our full Karcher SC5 easyFix Premium Steam Cleaner review
The best steam cleaner and vacuum cleaner is the Bissell Vac & Steam 1977E
Steam cleaner type: Steam mop and vacuum | Dimensions: 439 x 301 x 305mm | Accessories: Floor head (carpet and hard floors) | Water tank: 380ml
- Vac cleans in front of steam mop
- Fast heat-up time
- Good run-time per tank
- Decent-length cable (7.5m)
- Limited suction power
- Average steam power
- No pivot on head
The Bissell Vac & Steam 1977E is a fantastic time-saver, vacuuming and cleaning at the same time. We loved the original, and now the 1977E model has had a small update and now comes in a fetching blue colour. As a standalone steam cleaner or a standalone vacuum cleaner, this model won’t win awards; yet, the combination of the two features produces some powerful cleaning results.
With a 400W bagless vacuum cleaner and 1100W steam heater, small particles are sucked up before the microfibre pad steams the floor and picks up stains. For well-trodden areas in your home with hard floors, the Bissell Vac & Steam 1977E can effectively halve your cleaning time. Bissell recommends three passes for a dirty area and that worked well, picking up dust and removing stains.
The downside of the system is that it’s not very flexible, and it’s neither a good vacuum or a flexible and powerful steam cleaner. Still, it’s the combination of parts that is important, and the Bissell Vac & Steam 1977E delivers on hard floor cleaning.
Read our full Bissell Vac & Steam 1977E review
The best steam mop is the Shark Klik n’ Flip S6003UK Steam Mop
Steam cleaner type: Steam mop | Dimensions: 1190 x 110 x 100mm | Accessories: Floor head | Water tank: 330ml
- Powerful, fast steam cleaning
- Double-sided pads
- Effective steam blast
- Good range of steam levels
- Sturdy and well made
- Doesn’t stand up on own
If you’re looking for a steam floor mop to quickly clean up hard floors, the Shark Klik n’ Flip S6003UK Steam Mop could well be the model for you. This well-priced steam mop is focussed on floor cleaning, shipping with a double-sided mopping pad that clips to the bottom of the mop. It’s a huge mop, making short work of floors, as you can clean large areas with a single swipe.
Cleverly, the Klik n’ Flip head can flip over partway through a clean, giving you the clean side of the pad to keep cleaning with, without introducing a lengthy changeover. Cleaning performance was excellent, with the Shark Klik n’ Flip S6003UK Steam Mop tidying up mud on a tiled floor with ease, and picking up everyday kitchen stains: the steam blast function is particularly useful for cleaning up tougher stains.
Easy to use, easy to move and brilliantly priced, the Shark Klik n’ Flip S6003UK Steam Mop is the best steam mop that we have ever tested. If you’ve got lots of hard floors, this is a great model to buy.
Read our full Shark Klik n’ Flip S6003UK Steam Mop review
The best cylinder steam cleaner is the Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B
Steam cleaner type: Cylinder | Dimensions: 290 x 270 x 400mm | Weight: 5kg | Accessories: Mop head with microfibre pad and carpet glider, squeegee tool with microfibre cover, two small round brushes, curved nozzle, scraper tool and two extension tubes | Water tank: 2-litres | Steam pressure: 4bar
- Large water tank
- Easy to fill
- Heats up quickly
- Powerful steaming
- Unclear steam dial
- Bulky for small jobs
If there’s one problem with cylinder steam cleaners, it’s that you have to wait for most of them to cool down before you refill and continue cleaning. Not so with the Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B, which has a removable water tank, so you can fill it as many times as you need to complete your cleaning job, all without any cool-down time.
This makes this cylinder steam cleaner a great choice for large and difficult jobs; indeed, its bulk means that it’s not an ideal tool if you only want to tackle smaller jobs or just mop floors.
Although the controls are a little confusing on this model (the steam dial goes from min to max, but it’s not clear where about you are in the range), performance is mostly excellent. The Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B coped well with our tough floor challenge, brought grout back to life and easily managed to clean up a hard floor.
There are tools to tackle most jobs, but only one mop pad in the box is a little disappointing. That said, for the price, this is an excellent choice and the continuous cleaning makes it brilliant for large jobs.
Read our full Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B review
The best 2-in-1 steam cleaner is the Hoover Steam Capsule 2in1
Steam cleaner type: Steam mop and handheld | Dimensions: 1170 x 305 x 176mm | Weight: 3.5kg | Accessories: Mopping pad, carpet slider, triangular brush, large metal brush, small metal brush, round brush, curved nozzle, conical tool, hose, window squeegee, small cloth | Water tank: 0.35-litres | Steam pressure: Not disclosed
- Easy to use
- Lots of accessories
- Powerful cleaning
- Fiddly to use the hose
- Best for shorter cleaning jobs in handheld mode
If you want a steam cleaner that can do everything, the Hoover Steam Capsule 2in1 is a great choice. It looks and acts like a steam mop, and it is: you get two microfibre cloths, a lift-out brush, and there’s a carpet slider, so you can tackle everything from hard floors to carpets with ease. Cleaning performance was very good on hard floors and, use the cleaner on minimum steam, and your floors come out quite dry.
The trick with this cleaner is that you can lift-out the handheld section and use the selection of tools for detail cleaning, such as for grout, windows and ovens. You get a lot of steam pressure on maximum (although you get a lot of water run off), and can tackle most jobs. The minor issue is that the steam cleaner goes through cycles, so you get a burst of steam for a few minutes and then the system has to refresh.
It’s also a little fiddly to hold the handheld unit’s trigger in, so longer jobs can be fatiguing. However, as a maintenance cleaner, preventing the build of stains and mould, this steam cleaner excels. Overall, you can get cleaners for bigger jobs on this list, but if you’re after a well-priced mop that can turn its hand to smaller jobs, the Hoover Steam Capsule 2in1 is a great choice.
Read our full Hoover Steam Capsule 2in1
The best handheld steam cleaner is the Hoover Steam Express
Steam cleaner type: Handheld | Dimensions: 260 x 220 x 120mm, 1.6kg Accessories: Crevice, detail and scraper tools, 80cm hose, metal and round brushes, window/upholstery tool with textile pad | Water tank: 400ml
- Great variety of tools
- Steam volume hard to regulate
- Cable could be longer
If you don’t have large areas to clean and just need a steam cleaner for close-up jobs, the small and well priced Hoover Steam Express could be for you. Little larger than a water sprayer, this handheld tool comes with all of the accessories to clean up smaller areas in your home. You even get an extension hose, which makes it a bit easier to get into gaps or reach up higher.
Testing around the home, with the accessories, we managed to clean up limescale around a tap, clean grease off of an oven rack, get marks off a chair and even clean a shower screen. There’s plenty of steam from this model: in fact, sometimes the shot of steam is a bit too powerful and objects can be left quite wet. When we cleaned our shower screen we had to be careful not to drip hot water onto ourselves.
With lots of accessories and its low price, the Hoover Steam Express is a great choice if you don’t need to tackle bigger jobs; if you do, then look elsewhere on this list for a cleaner that can also manage hard floors.
Read our full Hoover Steam Express review
- Best overall steam cleaner: Karcher SC5 easyFix Premium Steam Cleaner
- Best steam cleaner and vacuum: Bissell Vac & Steam 1977E
- Best steam mop: Shark Klik n’ Flip S6003UK Steam Mop
- Best cylinder steam cleaner: Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B
- Best 2-in-1 steam cleaner: Hoover Steam Capsule 2in1
- Best budget handheld steam cleaner: Hoover Steam Express
Steam cleaner tips
Do you need a steam mop or a steam cleaner?
A steam mop is designed specifically for hard floors, with a microfibre cloth used to pick up dirt and steam pushed through the cloth to clean and remove dirty. A steam cleaner is different, as it has different attachments for different jobs: nozzles and brushes for detail cleaning, window cleaning accessories and more. The latter is better for tackling jobs around the house, but a steam mop is more convenient for everyday use. If you want a balance, you can get models that convert from a mop to a handheld unit for occasional detail jobs.
Should you use detergent with a steam cleaner?
Steam cleaners don’t have to use detergent, and use clean water and steam alone to remove stains. This makes them more gently cleaners in some regards, as you don’t have to use harsh chemicals to remove stubborn stains. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use chemicals in the normal way. For example, for cleaning floors and surfaces, using traditional detergent and disinfectant makes sense, although you can then use a steam cleaner afterwards for dealing with some stains. Likewise, you should still clean with cleaning products for the deepest clean, letting the steam cleaner handle deeper jobs.
What size water tank do I need?
The larger the tank of water you have, the longer the steam cleaner can keep cleaning. This is more important on some models than others. Many models have a refillable water tank that you can remove and top up when you like. These ones heat water when its pumped from a tank, effectively giving you continuous cleaning. For these models, the size of the tank isn’t so important, as you can get water when you need it. If you have a cleaner with a built-in tank where all of the water is heated at the same time, you have to have a cool-down time (up to 20 minutes or so) before you can refill and use them again. For these models, it’s important to have a running time that will last for the length of job you have, so that you don’t have to pause in the middle of cleaning.
What accessories do I need?
Steam cleaners, bar standalone steam mops, will come with a variety of attachments for different jobs. Largely, these are there to make specific tasks easier. Each accessory works by changing how steam is directed, such as a thin nozzle to help push steam towards tile grouting, or by providing a tool to help clean, such as a wire brush for cleaning an oven. Tools can do both, such as an upholstery brush that directs steam over a wider area and gives you a brush to agitate the upholstery and loosen dirt. When you buy a steam cleaner you should think about the jobs you want to do and make sure that your chosen model has the right accessories.
Can you use a steam cleaner on all surfaces?
Steam is generally safe to use on most surfaces but there are some exceptions to this. As you’re using water, using a steam cleaner on an unsealed surface isn’t recommended. And, surfaces that may react badly to a lot of water, such as solid wood flooring, may not be suitable, as you could get swelling.
The situation is worse if you apply steam directly to the surface but also applies with steam mops. Although mop heads will absorb most of the heat of the steam, they can still get very wet, which is no good for many surfaces. For dealing with hard floors, we recommend that you buy one of our best hard floor cleaners, instead.
Can a steam cleaner kill bed bugs?
Steam is an effective way to kill bed bugs and their eggs, thanks to the high temperatures proving lethal. If you’re worried about an infestation, then steam cleaning soft furnishings can help. Make sure that you use the upholstery attachment and/or mattress accessory to clean. You should move slowly over the area, taking at least 30 seconds before moving the steam head in order to deliver a killing dose of steam. Make sure that you cover all areas, and press the steam head into crevices and around the bed; for mattresses, cover the sides and underneath, too.
Can a steam cleaner kill coronavirus?
Karcher commissioned research that showed that enveloped viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, can be killed by high temperatures. Spot cleaning for 30 seconds at maximum steam level was enough to kill the virus. This shows that cleaning close-up is required to be effective, so cleaning with a burst of steam can be a good secondary way of disinfecting surfaces, although cleaning with detergent should always be done. Steam can be good on surfaces that are otherwise hard to clean, such as curtains and upholstery.
Using a steam mop is slightly different, as the microfibre cloth absorbs some heat. Steam mops will remove dirt, bacteria and viruses, but the pad should be cleaned at a high temperature in a washing machine to disinfect it after use. In short, then, a steam cleaner can help disinfect surfaces but should be used as an additional tool after traditional cleaning.