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Steam cleaners are amazing for cleaning everything, from your couch to your grill, and even your hardwood floor. You can use it at home, at work, in your car, and almost everywhere else. Steam cleaners are one of the best ways to clean and sanitize your surfaces and will eliminate bacteria and germs, even getting rid of bed bugs, without the need for harmful chemicals.
If you own a car or a house, work in areas that frequently need to be cleaned, or own a pet, then a steam cleaner is what you need.
Say goodbye to dirt, grime, stains and, of course, bed bugs!
- 4 Types Of Steam Cleaners
- Important Features To Consider
- Size And Weight
- Heat-Up Time
- Attachments & Accessories
- Water Tank Size & Continuous Refill
- Steam Pressure, Temperature & Volume Control
- Noise Levels
- Ease Of Use
- Our Top Picks
- The Best Handheld/Portable: Vapamore MR-75 Amico Steam Cleaner
- The Best Commercial/Professional: Dupray Hill Injection Commercial Steam Cleaner
- The Best Heavy-Duty: McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System
- The Best For Hard Floor & Tiles: Light ‘n’ Easy All-In-One Steam Mop With Detachable Handheld Unit
- The Best For Cars: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner (Heavy-Duty)
4 Types Of Steam Cleaners
While there are many brands of steam cleaners, and numerous steam cleaners available from each brand, there are really only four types of steam cleaner (well, four types which are worth knowing about).
- handheld cleaners for portability,
- steam mops for targeting floors,
- cylinder cleaners for larger areas,
- and vapor cleaners for extra heat and less moisture.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Handheld Steam Cleaners
Handheld steam cleaners cannot be beaten if you are looking for portability. They are small and portable, and this usually translates into affordability too. For $100, you can get a high-quality handheld cleaner for your home or car.
But what can it do?
Handheld cleaners are perfect for cleaning small areas or removing stubborn stains.
You can clean windows with them, reach hard to get areas, revitalize curtains, and get under furniture.
These compact cleaners store easily in a small space, are lightweight, and are extremely intuitive. They may not be the best cleaner for larger areas, and they do not provide the same level of cleaning as larger steam cleaners, but they get smaller jobs done with ease.
Steam mops are your best friend when it comes to cleaning your floors at home (or anywhere else, for that matter).
A steam mop looks like a stick vacuum and handles much the same way.
There is a place for the water, usually a large tank, a handle at the top, and an applicator at the bottom.
This type of steam cleaner is perfect for cleaning your floors at home. It is much more effective than a mop, cleans more bacteria, eliminates more germs, deals better with stubborn stains, and generally cleans more than a mop will.
Without having to use any chemicals, you can clean and sanitize your hardwood, linoleum, laminate, and tile floors.
Steam mops are generally on the more affordable end of the steam cleaner spectrum, are eco-friendly, and take up little storage space in your home. You can even add special attachments for use on your carpets.
Cylinder Steam Cleaners
Cylindrical steam cleaners, or canister cleaners, are for your larger jobs. They are known as cylindrical cleaners due to the large cylinder (or canister) which holds the water. The more water you have, the more steam you can produce without having to stop to refill.
They may be bulkier than the previous two steam cleaners on our list, but they are perfect for large areas and tough jobs.
You also have the bonus of this type of steam cleaner coming with multiple attachments, so you can tackle almost any job, from floors and furniture to cars and grills.
Cylindrical cleaners are a little more expensive, on average, when compared to mop and handheld cleaners, but that is the compromise for being able to do a larger cleaning job. Much like the other cleaners on our list, they clean without the need for chemicals, sanitize the area, and kill bacteria.
If you have a large area to clean or lots of furniture, then a cylinder steam cleaner is the perfect tool.
Vapor Steam Cleaners
Steam cleaners use steam to clean (that much should be evident by now) and, while vapor steam cleaners use steam, they use it at such a high heat that there is less water touching the surface of the area to be cleaned.
With traditional steam cleaners, the area is left a little wet, and you have to let that dry out. With a vapor steam cleaner, all that is touching the area is pure steam vapor without all the moisture. The vapor cleaner uses a dry clean, leaving the surface almost bone dry after use, and negating the need for dry time.
For this reason, many homeowners prefer a vapor cleaner as they can clean carpets and floors and replace the furniture immediately, or clean their car seats and use them right after.
Unfortunately, there is always a trade-off when it comes to such versatility. These are among the most expensive steam cleaners.
You get more versatility and no dry time, but you have to pay a little more.
Again, there is no need for chemicals, and the vapor steam cleaner will kill bacteria, treat tough stains, and help you to get rid of bed bugs.
Important Features To Consider
You know your steam cleaner types, but there is so much more to think about within that. Let’s take a look at the vital steam cleaner features to consider.
Size And Weight
The size and weight will depend mainly on the size of the water reservoir. The larger the water reservoir, the larger the unit will be. The size and weight are also affected by the features of the steam cleaner. The more features you have, the heavier and bigger it will be.
Think about what you need to use the steam cleaner for, and how much space you have to store it. If you have the space and need the features, then go big. If you want the features but do not have the space, then you may have to compromise and go a little smaller than you want to.
You don’t just get steam instantly (unless you have a volcano in your backyard or something like that). With a steam cleaner, the heat-up time is important and, again, this can be a trade-off.
Larger machines can take longer to heat up unless you are willing to spend a little more. Smaller cleaners may not be able to do as much, but they can generally heat up quicker. If your steam cleaner is for large jobs, the heat-up time is not a problem but, if you want it to treat stains and spills, then a quicker heat-up time can be essential.
Most steam cleaners heat up in 7-15 minutes. Most of the time, this will not be an issue, but it can slow you down if you want to treat new stains. No matter which steam cleaner you opt for, always wait for it to heat up fully before using it.
Attachments & Accessories
One of the benefits of having a steam cleaner is that you can clean a variety of surfaces and items. This is made more apparent by the included accessories and attachments with your steam cleaner. Most will come with some attachments, some can be bought separately, or you can pay more for a cleaner with lots of accessories and attachments.
Know what you are buying your steam cleaner for, and make sure that it is up to the task. You should also plan in advance. If you have the option of a cleaner with an accessory that you may use at some point, then it could be a worthwhile investment.
Water Tank Size & Continuous Refill
The size of your water tank will dictate how long you can steam clean for before you have to stop and refill. If your tank empties, then you will have no more steam. A smaller tank means that you have to fill it more often but does save space and gives you more portability. A larger tank means that you can steam clean for longer but also means a bulkier machine.
The size of the tank will depend on what you are using your steam cleaner for.
Another option to think about is a continuous refill tank. Instead of having one tank, there are two. As you are using the first tank to steam clean, the water from the second tank is being filtered into the first without any heat loss. This means that you can continually fill the second tank without having to wait for the steam cleaner to heat up between fills.
Steam Pressure, Temperature & Volume Control
The higher the temperature of your steam cleaner, the hotter the steam, and the dryer your area is left after cleaning. A higher temperature also means a more sanitary clean, and more bacteria killed (you too, bed bugs).
The pressure matters too. More pressure usually translates into higher temperatures and a deeper clean. More pressure and a higher temperature usually cost more, but they are worth it.
A nice control to have on your machine is for the steam volume. This allows you to change the steam pressure easily, and transition from surface to surface with relative ease.
While steam cleaners are quieter than vacuum cleaners, they do make some noise. If you do not care about the noise level, then go for any make and model. If you are in an area where volume matters, then it can be nice to invest in a quieter cleaner.
Most models will tell you how loud or quiet they are, but there is no better way to check the volume, in our opinion, than to check the product reviews (we already did that for you). Most people will let you know if the steam cleaner is unbelievably loud or quiet. If there is no mention of the noise level, then it most likely falls somewhere in the middle.
Ease Of Use
You want a steam cleaner, you want to use that steam cleaner, and you want to be able to use it easily. What more do we need to say?
Well, if you want ease of use, then the handheld and mop cleaners will have less functionality and are more intuitive to use. They are also easier to handle and move than the larger cleaners. Check the box and product information for the features. The fewer features, the easier you will find the steam cleaner to use.
If you are technologically minded, then go for as complicated a steam cleaner as you want, and enjoy all of the features and benefits.
It does not matter what you are buying, we all want a great deal. A steam cleaner is an appliance, so you should expect to invest a little in it.
If you are looking for something on the cheaper end, then handheld steam cleaners and steam mops will not set you back a lot of money. You can also go more expensive and opt for a cleaner which can deal with tougher stains and has more additional features.
No matter which steam cleaner you go for, we always recommend investing in quality.
Within each category, there will always be cheap and enticing options. As with everything on this site, we would push you in the direction of durable steam cleaners. Choose quality and only pay once.
Our Top Picks
It is all very well thinking about what you should look for in a steam cleaner, but what about the cleaners themselves?
Related Article: 7 Ways To Use Your Steam Cleaner Like A Pro
Well, we have scoured the steam cleaner world, leaving no stain unturned, and found some of our favorites. Here are the best steam cleaners split up by category.
The Best Handheld/Portable: Vapamore MR-75 Amico Steam Cleaner
This steam cleaner is as small as they come while still getting the job done. Amico is Italian for ‘little friend,’ and this steam cleaner is about to become your best little friend with what it can do.
It produces 210-degree steam. Those bed bugs are not going to know what hit them. Not only will your bed bugs be running for their lives, but stains, dust, grime, mold, mildew, and germs will too (if those things could run). There is almost nothing that you cannot clean with this nifty machine, and the portability is its biggest benefit. It can get in and around pet cages as easily as it can steam clean your grill. The thing that we like the most? It can get your grout looking like new in no time.
The handheld steam cleaner weighs in at only 3.5 pounds, meaning that you can use it for extended periods of time, has a 6.7-liter capacity, only takes 4 minutes to heat, and has 1000 Watts of power.
With a lifetime warranty, this compact steam cleaner can go anywhere with you and will be with you for a long time.
The Best Commercial/Professional: Dupray Hill Injection Commercial Steam Cleaner
This is the steam cleaner which just keeps on going. If you need to clean large areas, have large cleaning jobs, or need to move from one area to another without waiting for the steam cleaner to heat, then this is the machine for you.
With the dual-tank system, you never have any downtime. Fill one tank as the other is emptying, and never be without steam again. Add to that an adjustable steam control, and you have complete control over the amount of steam which you are using.
An integrated 20oz detergent tank means that you can tackle the toughest stains and jobs. With steam cleaners, you can clean most areas without detergent but, when the going gets tough, the tough add detergent.
This steam cleaner heats up in 8 minutes, and then you can go for as long as you want. You get up to 347 Fahrenheit of steam cleaning power, and a 15’ cord for those larger areas. A digital interface makes it easy to track everything about this machine, including the temperature, pressure, and any issues or problems.
This is a commercial-grade machine and comes with a 27-piece heavy-duty accessory kit. The steam cleaner is quick, durable, powerful, and has the ability to clean almost anything.
The Best Heavy-Duty: McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System
Heavy-duty steam cleaners do not come much more heavy-duty than this. You only need to look at the canister steam cleaner to see that it is one of the most durable on the market. It is also one of the most powerful.
With 4-bar pressure, this steam cleaner will not only clean the dirt and grime but will blow it away. For all those tough stains and problem areas, like your car seats, outdoor grill, grout, and stubborn stains, this steam cleaner will blast through all of them.
There is a large 64oz tank, which takes 12 minutes to heat up, but does provide 2 hours of continuous steam cleaning. You can get through even the toughest jobs in that time. With 23 separate accessories, you also have the versatility to tackle every job, no matter now big or how small.
We like the extra-long power cord and the variable steam control. Between the two of them, they give you the versatility to move from job to job, adjusting the pressure as you do, and not having to unplug and plug back in as frequently.
The Best For Hard Floor & Tiles: Light ‘n’ Easy All-In-One Steam Mop With Detachable Handheld Unit
Everyone has floors (we are pretty sure about that) and that means that everyone needs a way to clean their floors. Well, this is it. It does not matter if you have laminate, hardwood, tile, carpet, or linoleum, this steam cleaner will deal with it all. And, if you have pets in your home, this steam cleaner will rise to the challenge.
This is a steam mop, and one of the lightest and most functional on the market. One issue which is common to steam mops is their weight, especially as you are transitioning around your home. This one is light, easy to use, and functional. Clean all of the floors in your home with ease.
There are three steam settings, allowing you to move from lighter dirt areas to higher traffic areas with ease. With so much functionality and versatility, this may be the best steam cleaner ever for a home with pets.
You can detach the steam canister to turn this mop into a handheld canister, and there are multiple attachments to deal with garments, furniture, and other areas. If you have pets and babies in the home, then this steam cleaner is perfect. It will deal with pet messes, hair, baby vomit stains, and more. In fact, people may not know that you have pets or a baby if you use this cleaner to clean.
The Best For Cars: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner (Heavy-Duty)
Cars are often overlooked. We often clean the exterior of our vehicles, but the interior is a different matter entirely. We brush out the surface crumbs, but how regularly do we really deep clean our seats and floor?
This steam cleaner is the percent thing for sanitizing the interior of your car. It will clean, disinfect, sanitize, degrease, and deodorize all at the same time. It does not need ay fancy chemicals, doing all of this with the high-heat steam which it produces.
The steam cleaner has a generous water capacity and will give you steam for 50 minutes, enough time to clean the entire interior of your car. It only takes 7 minutes to heat up, and the steam is so hot that it will leave your car seats almost dry when done.
The rolling wheels help you to take the steam cleaner anywhere, and the long power cord allows for that too. The 2-meter steam hose lets you get into those problem areas where other steam cleaners cannot reach. The best part about this steam cleaner? Along with your car, you can tackle your floors and furniture at home too. There are 18 attachments, giving you the versatility to tackle almost any surface.
With a 2-year warranty, this is a steam cleaner which you will be using for years.