The 7 Best Steam Cleaner Picks of 2023, According to Cleaning Experts
Looking for a way to naturally disinfect everything from your home to your car? Discover the best steam cleaner to get the job done.
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The best steam cleaner is an effective method of disinfecting your home. Unlike mopping, which uses cold water, or various other traditional carpet cleaners that use a solution to remove stains and grime, steam cleaners use heat to deep clean instead of chemicals, says Kathy Cohoon, the owner of Two Maids. “The steam’s heat can kill bacteria, and germs, dissolve dirt, sanitize carpets and more with little dry time,” she explains.
Steam cleaners are versatile tools that can be used on numerous surfaces, including pet messes. “They preserve the integrity of grout and porous tile, and are not as labor intensive as manually scrubbing,” says professional cleaner, Amy Landers.
A big plus for steam cleaners (versus other portable carpet cleaners) is that they’re safer for your family and the environment. “Because steam cleaners require only water and heat for a naturally clean home, you can say goodbye to buying and storing chemicals,” Cohoon says. However, she advises not going overboard with steam cleaning, as you can damage fabrics and materials under the fabric.
For high-traffic rooms or cushions, Cohoon suggests steam cleaning once a year, “more if there are any visible stains or dirt.” She adds, “Be sure not to oversaturate the material and allow ample drying time to avoid water damage or watermarks.”
Ready for a spic and span space? We rounded up the best options to clean and sanitize everything from your home to your car.
The best steam cleaners
- Best overall: Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe
- Best budget: PurSteam 10-in-1 Steam Cleaner
- Best for carpet: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner
- Best compact: Shark Steam Pocket Mop
- Best for bathrooms and kitchens: Bissell SteamShot
- Best portable: Wagner Spraytech AutoRight
- Best for upholstery: Dupray Tosca Commercial Steam Cleaner
Best overall steam cleaner
Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the best steam cleaner, a sentiment Mary Farrell, the home & appliances writer for Consumer Reports, confirms. “The Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe is a great buy,” she says about the steam mop combo. “It performed well in our tests at cleaning ceramic tile, and is really convenient and easy to use.”
A detachable SpotBoost Brush helps tackle difficult, stuck-on messes with ease, and the included measuring cup makes refilling the water tank a snap. In just 30 seconds, this steam cleaner is warmed up and ready to use. This is a purchase you can feel good about because a portion of the proceeds goes to Bissell’s homeless pets foundation.
Other perks? It is equipped with a 25-foot cord, two types of scrubbing pads and has two steam rates (high or low). More than 14,000 Amazon shoppers give the gadget a perfect five-star rating, with many users noting it’s the best steam cleaner for grout, including professional cleaner Kellsie Zapata.
One happy customer, Nicole Denning, agrees. She writes: “So easy to use, cleans amazingly! Maneuvers well in tight/small spaces. Cleans evenly and the pad is nice and thick. Easy to change the pads. Love the scrub brush option! Works great for cleaning grout! The extra-long cord is nice. Great price. Can’t live without this!”
- Highly rated by professionals and customers
- Reasonably priced
- Ideal for cleaning bathrooms, including tile floor and grout
- Special brush to help with tough, sticky messes
- For hard surfaces only
Best budget steam cleaner
PurSteam 10-in-1 Steam Cleaner
The PurSteam 10-in-1 Steam Cleaner is a “simple, effective, steam cleaner at a great price point,” Cohoon says. The under-$70 workhorse, the top-selling steam mop on Amazon, cleans for up to 25 minutes on the lowest heat setting and is safe to use on a variety of surfaces, including hardwood floors, vinyl, tile, marble, ceramic and porcelain.
Another impressive feature? A built-in handheld steamer detaches, Cohoon points out, to tidy upholstery, mirror and glass—or even to get wrinkles out of clothes. The unit comes with multiple attachments, including three brushes, a scrape tool, a window squeegee and an angled nozzle to freshen every inch of your home.
“This device is a great option for all types of flooring, especially my vinyl,” writes Amazon reviewer, Monica Andrea Moreno. “I use it once every week and the floors have acquired a clearer appearance and smell very clean.”
- A wallet-friendly 10-in-1 cleaner for every type of surface
- Comes with multiple attachments
- Includes three replacement pads
- The cord is 15 feet 9 inches long
- Transforms into a handheld steamer
- The high setting offers just 12 minutes of clean time
Best steam cleaner for carpet
Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner
Looking for the best carpet steam cleaner? Cohoon, and thousands of Amazon shoppers, recommend Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner. It lasts for up to 50 minutes of continuous cleaning and comes with 17 accessories to sanitize everything with precision. “The cleaner uses a powerful amount of heat (up to 275 degrees!), which leaves surfaces extra clean,” says Cohoon. “This steam cleaner also heats up in seven minutes and comes with a two-year limited warranty,” she adds.
Zapata says the Dupray is easy to move around since it has wheels, is easy to store and easy to set up and take apart. In addition to cleaning carpet and hard flooring, it works to disinfect grout, kitchen appliances, furniture and mattresses. Some people even use it to remove wallpaper.
The multi-use device boasts more than 13,000 five-star ratings, including one from Jerson Esteban who writes: “This little block is a monster at cleaning. It literally works on everything. Walls, leather couches, windows, doors, you name it. I also have sensitive skin and eczema so it’s really nice not dealing with chemicals. Also saving us money on harsh cleaning products. 100/10 would recommend.”
- Kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses from carpet
- Also works on hard flooring
- Comes with a 17-piece accessory kit
- It isn’t cordless
Best compact steam cleaner
Shark Steam Pocket Mop
The Shark Steam Pocket Mop stows away effortlessly alongside your mop, broom and vacuum-mop combo. The swivel head can flip over to use more of the same cleaning pad to get the job done. This compact choice includes the steam mop, two washable microfiber pads, a filling flask, a quick-release swivel cord wrap and a rectangle mop head. Plus, the 18-foot power cord lets you move freely from room to room.
Grace Reynolds, the founder of Handmaid Professional Cleaning Service, says this pocket mop is great for lifting grease, grime and hard water and Amazon reviewers agree.
“I first mopped all of my floors the regular way. I wanted to see if this steam cleaner would pick up more dirt,” writes verified purchaser Cheryl Grace. “Well, it did! Both sides of the mop pad showed dirt. My floors are spotless and it’s fast!”
- Has a non-bulky design
- Large mop head for large surfaces
- Affordable price point
- Attachments sold separately
Best steam cleaner for bathrooms and kitchens
Cohoon selects the Bissell SteamShot as the best handheld steam cleaner for cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. The lightweight pick weighs less than four pounds and heats up in just 30 seconds. For such a small device, it boasts a lot of “cleaning power” she says, noting it lasts for 10 or 12 minutes at a time.
It comes with various multi-surface tools, all designed to penetrate inside cracks and crevices. It removes dirt and grime from a variety of surfaces, including small appliances, faucets, grout and even stuffed animals. Satisfied shoppers use it for everything from removing old paint and tape residue to cleaning wood floors.
One happy customer writes, “This Bissell may be little, but it can handle big jobs. I’ve lived in my house for two years and have been wanting new kitchen flooring because it looks so dingy. Not anymore. I used the SteamShot on the floor and it is looking like new.”
- Handheld steamer ideal for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens
- Multiple attachments to penetrate inside small and hard-to-reach spaces
- Lightweight and portable
- Safe to use around kids and pets
- Not large enough to clean bigger surfaces, like an entire carpeted floor or area rug
Best portable steam cleaner
Wagner Spraytech AutoRight
If you’re looking to buy the best portable steam cleaner, choose the top-selling Wagner Spraytech model on Amazon. This versatile cleaning tool is designed to clean cars, including seat upholstery and cup holders as well as other surfaces inside your home.
The compact cleaner easily moves around on wheels and features an eight-foot steam hose, allowing you to reach all those hard-to-access areas. Additionally, it includes 12 accessories, such as a crevice tool, straight adaptor, jet nozzle and various brushes.
“This steam cleaner has revolutionized how I keep my home free from bacteria and germs,” writes five-star reviewer Hector Molina. “The slim design of the mop makes it effortless to maneuver around furniture and other hard-to-reach places. What I appreciate most about this steam cleaner is that it does not require harsh chemicals, making it an eco-friendly option. It’s well worth the investment; your floors and surfaces will look and feel refreshed after using it.”
- Built-in carrying handle makes transport easy
- Rolls around on wheels
- Preheats in nine minutes and provides 40 minutes of steam
- Self-contained storage holds the included accessories
- Designed to clean automobiles but also works for household cleaning
- Wallpaper removal tool sold separately
- Better for smaller jobs, not necessarily floors
Best steam cleaner for upholstery
Dupray Tosca Commercial Steam Cleaner
When cleaning upholstery, particularly valuable pieces of furniture, it is advisable to consider investing in a commercial-grade steam cleaner. Our top pick for the best upholstery steam cleaner and best steam cleaner for furniture is the Dupray Tosca. The easy-to-maneuver appliance offers an impressive selection of 25 accessories, including brushes, a plunger, a scraper and window and floor tools, providing you with everything necessary to clean virtually anything in your home or car.
The machine heats up in just eight minutes, and you’ll get 90 minutes of run-time per tank of water. Don’t be afraid of the price tag. Reviewers maintain the highly efficient cleaner is “worth every penny.”
Verified purchaser S.M. Vincent raves: “Packs quite a punch. My tile floors look brand new again. The grout lines are white again and the tiles sparkle. Cleaned our couch and now looking to find things to clean. Removed years of grease on our toaster oven. Next up are our pavers.”
- A commercial-grade steamer perfect for home upholstery cleaning
- Comes with 25 accessories
- Cleans for up to 90 minutes per tank of water
- Lifetime warranty on the stainless steel boiler
- Quick heat-up time
- Digital display with active temperature and maintenance reminder
- Pricey, but reviewers maintain it is worth the investment
What to consider when buying a steam cleaner
Cohoon suggests looking for a steam cleaner that is easy to clean and rinse after each use. And, you need to consider the job at hand. “Cleaning lots of carpeted spaces? Find one that has a big water tank. Just steam cleaning a couch every year or so? Look for a more compact model that won’t take up too much storage space,” she says.
Types of steam cleaners
- Handheld: These types of steam cleaners are an ideal tool for a deep clean, says Cohoon. “Especially in homes with small kids or pets where stains may be a major issue,” she adds.
- Vapor: This type of steam cleaner uses vapor, Cohoon says. Unlike traditional steam cleaners that produce wet steam, vapor steam cleaners produce drier steam with very low moisture content.
- Cylinder: A cylinder steam cleaner consists of a water tank and a heating element that generates steam, which is then released through a nozzle or cleaning attachment. They typically have a long handle resembling a traditional mop and are usually designed for floor cleaning.
How we found the best steam cleaners
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
Is steam cleaning better than mopping?
Whether steam cleaning is better than mopping depends on the cleaner you use and the area you are working on. According to Cohoon, steam cleaners generally make stain removal easier in the majority of cases. It all depends on the type of floor and the level of dirt and grime present.
High-temperature steam can kill bacteria and germs, and remove dirt and grime more effectively than mopping. However, steam cleaning can damage certain types of flooring, such as unsealed hardwood or laminate. Also, it may not be able to remove certain types of stains, such as oil or paint. Mopping is generally safe for all types of floors, but it may not be as effective as steam cleaning in killing germs.
What should you not steam clean?
There are a few surfaces that should not be steam cleaned, including:
- Wood: High heat and moisture from hot steam can cause warping or damage.
- Unsealed flooring: Steam can penetrate the surface of unsealed hardwood or laminate floors and damage them.
- Delicate fabrics or upholstery: High heat and moisture can cause shrinkage or damage.
- Painted or waxed surfaces: Hot steam can strip away the paint or wax or cause the surface to bubble.
Cohoon explains that steam cleaners can cause damage to certain materials due to two factors: heat and water. She advises, “To prevent water damage, avoid using steam cleaners on porous surfaces.” Additionally, exercise caution when using steam cleaners near items with a water-based paint finish or delicate fabrics like velvet or silk.
Where does the dirt go when you steam clean?
“The dirt and substances are fully broken down and disintegrate because of the heat and vapor,” explains Cohoon. With some devices, dirt is absorbed into disposable or reusable cleaning pads that can be easily removed and washed or disposed of after use. Others may have a built-in system, such as a filter or reservoir, to collect and separate the dirt from the steam.
- Kathy Cohoon, owner of Two Maids
- Mary Farrell, home and appliances writer for Consumer Reports
- Amy Landers, professional cleaner at Boss Lady Cleaning Hacks
- Kellsie Zapata, professional cleaner at Zapata’s Cleaning Services
- Grace Reynolds, founder of Handmaid Cleaning
With additional reporting by Pamela Brill.
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