We Tested the Best Steam Cleaners for Freshening Up Your Space

The BLACK+DECKER 7-in-1 Multipurpose Steam Cleaner is our top pick

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McCulloch MC1275 Steam Cleaner

The Spruce / Kaitlyn Wylde

Steam cleaners are an often underrated appliance that will clean and sanitize solid and soft surfaces in your home without the use of chemicals. You may have been introduced to them through a TikTok cleaning reset video or your best friend who swears by their steam cleaner when facing a sticky spill from snack time. You should consider surface compatibility, attachments, and also the type of steam cleaner you need when shopping. There are canister-style appliances, mops, or handheld gadgets.

In addition, consider what's going to work for your individual home, lifestyle, and upcoming messes. "Look for a steam cleaner that is best suited to the job at hand," suggests Kathy Cohoon, Operations Manager at Two Maids & A Mop, so it's actually going to help you. "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."

We purchased and tested dozens of steam cleaners in The Lab and at home. We timed each cleaner's setup process, evaluated its ability to clean fresh stains on a tile floor and caked-on and sticky stains on an upholstered cushion (if it was designed to do so), and noted the versatility of its features. After all our testing, we came to the conclusion that no steam cleaner is perfect, and you should pair yours with other cleaning tools to tackle messes. However, the BLACK+DECKER 7-in-1 Multipurpose Steam Cleaner is versatile, heats quickly, and is a great option for new users and advanced users alike.

Here are the best steam cleaners, backed by our testing.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: BLACK+DECKER HSMC1361SGP 7-in-1 3-Speed Multipurpose Steam Cleaner

4.8
The BLACK+DECKER Multipurpose Steam Cleaner comes with an array of attachments.

Lowe's

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    4/5
  • Versatility
    5/5
  • Portability
    5/5
  • Ease of Assembly
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    5/5
What We Like
  • Can be used as a handheld or upright steamer

  • Steam glove accessory

  • Heats water nearly instantly

What We Don't Like
  • No agitation tool

  • Some attachments resulted in dripping water

What do buyers say? 81% of 200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Of all the steam cleaners we tested, the BLACK+DECKER 7-in-1 Multipurpose Steam Cleaner stands out as the best choice for anyone looking for this type of appliance. It can clean just about anything thanks to its long list of attachments and flexible design. In our lab, it accumulated 5-star scores in key performance areas like usability, versatility, and portability. It can be used as a mop and handheld appliance. Either way, we had no complaints about the setup process and were surprised that the steam cleaner-steam mop combo heated the water nearly instantly.

To prove its merit as a multipurpose steam cleaner, we tested this machine on hard surface stains and soft surface spills. The overall effectiveness of this steam cleaner proved to be good and worthy of a solid 4 stars. On tile, the cleaner lifted a soy sauce stain in about three minutes—requiring multiple passes, a little agitation, and some excess water to be wiped up. However, the maneuverability of the mop head made up for the extra time we spent treating this stain.

On a soft surface, the handheld iteration loosened a caked-on ketchup stain in about one minute. We found the glove attachment to be the best route for cleaning this mess, but we believe a scrubbing tool would've tackled this task in no time. The performance on a soil stain was pretty unremarkable. Our tester noted it’s probably a better option for freshening up your furniture rather than cleaning serious messes from a couch or upholstered chair. Still, the sheer variety in attachments makes this multipurpose steam cleaner a great addition to your cleaning arsenal.

Price at time of publish: $200

Dimensions: 25.6 x 7 x 12.8 inches | Weight: 6 pounds | Tank Capacity: 19.6 ounces | Cord Length: 20 feet | Heat Time: 20 seconds | Run Time: Not listed | Surface Type: Flooring, appliances, tile, grout, glass, metal, and fabric

The BLACK+DECKER 7-in-1 Multipurpose Steam Cleaner leans against a set of cubbies during The Spruce's test at The Lab.

The Spruce / Tamara Staples

Best Budget: COSTWAY 2000W Multipurpose Steam Cleaner

4.5
The COSTWAY 2000W Multipurpose Steam Cleaner comes with a handling glove

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    4/5
  • Versatility
    4.5/5
  • Portability
    4.5/5
  • Ease of Assembly
    4/5
  • Noise Level
    5/5
What We Like
  • Comes with 19 accessories

  • Large water tank for extended cleaning

  • Quiet operation

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t pivot or swivel well

  • Cloth attachment wasn’t as absorbent as expected

If you want to deep clean just about anything in your home but don't want to spend a ton on a steam cleaner, the versatile COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner is the way to go. It comes with 19 accessories, so you can use it on everything from floors to furniture. Our testing team was most impressed by how quickly the cleaner heats up compared to other picks. Setting up the cleaner also met our tester’s expectations, earning it 4 stars for this attribute.

Our first challenge for this cleaner was the soy sauce test on a tile surface. It took a little less than three minutes to dissolve the spill. Our tester gave it an effectiveness rating of 4 stars, noting that it'll take a pass or two to remove a wet stain, and you may need to use a sponge as well. The machine performed just as well on soft surfaces, lifting ketchup from an upholstered cushion in just one and a half minutes and soil in a mere 45 seconds.

While some steam cleaners can become hot to the touch or drip water, this COSTWAY appliance has none of those shortcomings. The buttons are easy to navigate and in an ideal location. For these reasons, our tester gave this machine 5 stars for usability. This steam cleaner is also powerful but quiet (another 5-star rating); you can use the cleaner while having a conversation or listening to music without struggling to hear over the pressure of the steam.

With 19 accessories, it’s obvious that this steam cleaner is designed to help you clean every nook and cranny in your home, garage, outdoor space, and car. Our tester wished the cleaner head with extension tubes pivoted better. It wasn't a dealbreaker, though. It's just something to be aware of if you have large areas of flooring you plan to clean at one time.

Price at time of publish: $150

Dimensions: 20.4 x 12.4 x 11.9 inches | Weight: 12.9 pounds | Tank Capacity: 51 ounces | Cord Length: 10 feet | Heat Time: 5 to 6 minutes | Run Time: 30 to 45 minutes | Surface Type: Flooring, appliances, countertops, tile, grout, glass, and upholstery

The COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner sits on a tile floor during The Spruce's test at The Lab.

The Spruce / Tamara Staples

Best Mop: Shark S5003D Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System Pocket Steam Mop

4
Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System (S5003D)

Amazon

What We Like
  • Three steam settings

  • Generous cord length

  • Comes with two double-sided cleaning pads

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t pick up hair well

  • Sticky messes require extra attention and effort

The fastest way to steam clean your floors is with an upright, mop-style steam cleaner, like the Shark S5003D Genius Steam Pocket Mop. This steam floor mop is designed specifically for sealed hard surfaces such as tile and sealed hardwood. Our tester put this upright steam cleaner through its paces on three different types of flooring to determine how effectively it cleans. Once you’ve filled the 11.8-ounce tank with water and plugged the mop into a nearby outlet, it's ready to clean in minutes.

During in-home testing, the cleaner performed well on hardwood floors, granite tile floors, and porcelain tile floors. It has electronic steam control, allowing you to select from the three steam settings with just the press of a button. The machine-washable, double-sided pads offer plenty of surface area for collecting dirt and debris. A special steam channeling system ensures that steam is distributed evenly across the cleaning pad, making the most of the 12-inch cleaning path width.

Our tester was very impressed with how much dirt and dust the steam cleaner removed from floors that looked otherwise clean but rated it 4 stars for its effectiveness as it struggled with sticky spots and did require some extra scrubbing effort. Shark includes a Steam Blaster feature that targets steam on especially dirty areas, but in some situations, it still wasn’t a replacement for some very vigorous back-and-forth mopping action. It should also be noted that the cleaner doesn’t handle hair or pet fur very well. It tends to just push it around. If you have pets, you'll want to vacuum your floors first.

Price at time of publish: $130

Dimensions: 47.1 x 11.8 x 11.8 inches | Weight: 6 pounds | Tank Capacity: 11.8 ounces | Cord Length: 25 feet | Heat Time: 6 minutes | Run Time: Not listed | Surface Type: Sealed flooring

What Our Testers Say

"The blackened mop pad is proof that the Shark steam mop really does clean floors. Our one complaint is that we wish that it took less effort to scrub; we really had to push hard to remove anything stuck to the floor."—Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best Heavy-Duty: Poulan PRO PP270 Portable Power Steam Cleaner

4.4
Poulan PRO PP270 Portable Power Steam Cleaner

Home Depot

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    4/5
  • Versatility
    5/5
  • Portability
    4/5
  • Ease of Assembly
    5/5
  • Overall Value
    4/5
What We Like
  • Comes with a squeegee tool

  • Carrying strap

  • Compatible with a multitude of surfaces

What We Don't Like
  • Can't remove built-up oven stains

  • Short run time in actuality

Looking to tackle tough jobs around your home? The Poulan Pro Portable Power Steam Cleaner is designed for big jobs on a multitude of surfaces. Weighing just 6 pounds, it's also easy to carry around with you as you tackle the messes on your oven, car, floors, and even kids' toys.

Our tester noted that the setup process was a total breeze. Heating the water took around seven minutes, and the machine was able to run for 15 minutes, as opposed to the advertised half hour. They started on tile with the handheld steam nozzle and could see dirt being pushed out of the grout. After finishing some tiles, they'd wipe the area with a rag to collect the dirty water that was left over. They said the process "worked like a miracle."

This pick can also be used as a mop, and our tester attached the mop pad to continue their chores. They did note that the canister doesn't come with any wheels but does have a carrying strap that adds to the model's maneuverability and portability. In addition, the Poulan Pro comes with a squeegee tool (which is a rare find!), a variety of brushes, and a tote bag for storing. This makes it a particularly great choice if you're planning to use it and store it in a garage or live in a small space.

Price at time of publish: $119

Dimensions: 10.9 x 5.25 x 11 inches | Weight: 6 pounds | Tank Capacity: 25 ounces | Cord Length: 15 feet | Heat Time: 5 minutes | Run Time: 30 minutes | Surface Type: Carpet, ceramic tile, concrete, granite, hardwood, laminate, marble, metal, porcelain tile, upholstery, and wood

The Poulan Pro Portable Steam Cleaner is used on a tan tile floor in a product tester's home.

The Spruce / Deanna McCormack

What Our Testers Say

"As I cleaned with a slight back and forth motion, I could see dirt being pushed out of the grout. I would do a few tiles, then wipe them with a rag to collect the dirty water. It worked like a miracle."—Deanna McCormack, Product Tester

Best for Carpet: Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner

4.2
Dupray

Home Depot

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    4/5
  • Versatility
    5/5
  • Portability
    4/5
  • Overall Value
    4/5
What We Like
  • Easy to swap attachments

  • Portable and glides easily

  • Can be used with any cloth towels


What We Don't Like
  • Lacks hose storage

  • No indicator for water level

Not all steam cleaners are recommended for use on the carpet due to the available settings or attachments for the appliance. But if you struggle with stains on your carpet or rugs, a steam cleaner offers a way to remove stains with just the power of water. The Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner has what it takes to clean carpets, rugs, upholstery, and more. There are no wheels to maneuver it from room to room, but it only weighs about 9 pounds and has a retractable handle that stows away inside the cube when not in use.

Right away, our tester found this product easy to operate and use. After filling the 40-ounce tank, a glowing icon on the front of the cube turned orange, providing a visual notification that the boiler inside is hard at work. In all actuality, it takes about eight minutes to heat the water, which is one minute longer than what is advertised but isn’t a dealbreaker.

Once the icon turns green, you can use this cleaner on carpet stains, grout lines, or other messes. In our tester’s experience, the triangular attachment with a microfiber bonnet proved to be an excellent tool for cleaning carpet stains. The stains disappeared with just a few passes—“literally in seconds,” according to our tester.

The other attachments included with this steam cleaner make it versatile enough for tackling other trouble zones in your home. Our tester especially liked using the steam lance with the nylon brush for cleaning the shower. The 7-foot hose gives you plenty of reach but unfortunately doesn’t wrap or stow anywhere on the steam cleaner, so hose management was a bit of a challenge for our tester. Otherwise, they gave it very good ratings across the board.

Price at time of publish: $190

Dimensions: 9.5 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches | Weight: 9 pounds | Tank Capacity: 54 ounces | Cord Length: 16 feet | Heat Time: 7 minutes | Run Time: 50 minutes | Surface Type: Flooring, appliances, tile, grout, glass, metal, and fabric

Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner

The Spruce / Lindsay Boyers

What Our Testers Say

"The carpet was left wetter than I expected, sometimes the steam cleaner spits out water instead of steam, and it took a couple of hours to dry completely, but when it did, it looked good as new."—Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester

Best for Tile: Pure Enrichment PEROLSTM 1-Speed Multipurpose Steam Cleaner

4.8
The Pure Enrichment Multipurpose Steam Cleaner has a handle and corner-friendly design

Lowe's

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    4/5
  • Versatility
    5/5
  • Portability
    5/5
  • Ease of Assembly
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    5/5
What We Like
  • Powerful steam output

  • Large water tank

  • Has a triangular mop head and squeegee tool

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks variable steam control

  • Water sprays a bit

Sanitizing tile and cleaning grout lines can seem like a chore, but the Pure Enrichment Multipurpose Steam Cleaner offers an easier way to enjoy fresh floors. Of all the steam cleaners we tested, this model has one of the largest water tanks (it holds almost 61 ounces of water), making it perfect for cleaning many square feet of tile flooring. It also features oversized wheels so it can easily roll behind you on your cleaning conquest, in addition to a handle for better grip when going up and down stairs in your home. It earned a 5-star rating for portability and also for the simple setup process, which took just under eight minutes.

When testing the Pure Enrichment Multipurpose Steam Cleaner on tile and grout, it removed a soy sauce spill in two minutes flat. The large trigger was easy to use, and our tester described its maneuverability as smooth. It should be noted that this cleaner lacks variable steam control, so it’s a better pick for durable tile than for a sealed hardwood floor. However, it did remove sticky ketchup from an upholstered cushion very well. While its performance on dirt was less impressive, it still earned a 4-star rating for its overall effectiveness.

In addition, we loved the triangle-shaped mop head. It proved much more effective for reaching into corners and is a good pick if you’re keen on making every inch of your tile floors shine. Compared to others, this steam cleaner also put out an impressive column of steam—but you’ll want to watch for a bit of spray—and was one of the quietest steam cleaners we tested, earning it another 5-star rating for noise level.

Price at time of publish: $140

Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 13 inches | Weight: 9.3 pounds | Tank Capacity: 50.6 quarts | Cord Length: 16 feet | Heat Time: 8 minutes | Run Time: 45 minutes | Surface Type: Flooring, appliances, tile, grout, glass, metal, and fabric

The Pure Enrichment Multipurpose Steam Cleaner sits on a tile floor during The Spruce's test at The Lab.

The Spruce / Tamara Staples

Expert Buying Tip

"While you're cleaning your floor tiles with your steam cleaner, baseboards are also a good area to tackle with a steam cleaner. [They're] otherwise often forgotten or tedious to clean on your hands and knees."—Lauren Simonelli, Cleaning Expert and Co-Founder of ThreeMain

Best for Hard Floors: Steamfast SF-375W Deluxe Multi-Purpose Canister Steam Cleaner

3.7
The Steamfast SF-375W Deluxe Multi-Purpose Canister Steam Cleaner has wheels so you can easily move it around

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Effectiveness
    3.5/5
  • Versatility
    3.5/5
  • Portability
    3/5
  • Ease of Assembly
    5/5
  • Noise Level
    4/5
What We Like
  • Large mop head with reusable pads

  • Includes 18 attachments

  • Heats up quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Noisier than some other models

  • Requires more effort for cleaning spills and stains

The SteamFast SF-375 Deluxe Canister Steam Cleaner is an easy way to clean hard floors. This canister-style cleaner has a 48-ounce water tank that produces up to 90 minutes of steam. Ideal for homes with many square feet of tile, stone, or sealed wood floors, it offers variable steam levels to treat your floors right. As you transition from one type of hard floor to another, adjust the steam with the controls located on the handle of the steam cleaner. The appliance comes equipped with 18 attachments, as well. However, the mop head with wet-dry cleaning pads is the ideal option for cleaning hard floors.

This steam cleaner earned 5 stars for simple and fast assembly. Once the SteamFast SF-375 was ready to go, we tackled a soy sauce spill on tile and grout. The sponge pad appeared thick but wasn’t as absorbent as we anticipated. After six to eight passes on the floor, the spill disappeared. In total, the process took about two minutes. Though satisfied with the results, our tester did wish it took a little less elbow grease and ultimately gave the cleaner 3.5 stars for effectiveness.

The large surface area of the mop head does give you the ability to clean big rooms with fewer passes, though. The 17-foot power cord and 10-foot hose provide better reach than some other steam cleaners, too. It’s also not the noisiest model on the market, but we also wouldn’t say it’s the quietest. The listing says it sits at 30 decibels, which is about as loud as a ticking clock. We gave it 4 stars for being noticeably noisy but not disturbing to other activities.

Price at time of publish: $190

Dimensions: 9.5 x 19 x 12.5 inches | Weight: 10.7 pounds | Tank Capacity: 48 ounces | Cord Length: 17 feet | Heat Time: 10 minutes | Run Time: 90 minutes | Surface Type: Flooring, grout, and glass

The SteamFast SF-375 Deluxe Canister Steam Cleaner sits on a tile floor during The Spruce's test at The Lab.

The Spruce / Tamara Staples

Buyers Also Love: Bissell 1806 PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop

4.4
Bissell 1806 Power Fresh Deluxe Steam Mop

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Mop head can be separated to reveal brush cleaner

  • Heats up in 30 seconds

  • Comes with two types of cleaning pads

  • Has a tray for optional Fragrance Discs

  • Light and easy to maneuver

  • Water refill cup attaches to handle for easy storage

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't come with attachments for upholstery and other specialized cleaning conditions

If you're looking for an alternative to our favorite steam mop—the Shark S5003D Genius—check out the Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop. It's a favorite among shoppers and steam cleaning enthusiasts.

While we didn't get the opportunity to test the Bissell PowerFresh against the competition, we plan to include this steam mop in future testing. For now, we only have our initial impressions, which is that the PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop is a fantastic lightweight option that may not have wide cleaning versatility but is perfect for anyone looking to keep kitchen floors sanitized.

The PowerFresh excels at delivering quick and maneuverable steam cleaning since it can heat up in just 30 seconds and weighs a mere six pounds. Its mop head can be fitted with either soft or scrubby re-washable mop pads (one of each is included), but even cooler is the ability to detach the mop head entirely, revealing a coarse scrub brush for scouring tougher stains. There are several other small but useful design touches, like an attachment point on the handle for storing the separate water cup used to refill the mop's 19-ounce tank.

Bissell also offers several ways to incorporate fresh smells into your steam cleaning, with a tray in the front where you can insert optional "Fragrance Discs." The PowerFresh 1806 model comes with 8 of these discs. Bissell also sells scented steam mop water separately.

With a 12-inch wide cleaning path and a 25-foot cord, the PowerFresh makes it as easy as possible to steam clean lots of floor space, while the swivel steering lets you easily clean under counters and cabinets. We hope to test out its cleaning abilities under more rigorous conditions in the near future, but already feel confident that the Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop is worth your consideration.

Price at time of publish: $103

Dimensions: 9.5 x 13 x 46 inches | Weight: 6.2 pounds | Tank Capacity: 19 ounces | Cord Length: 25 feet | Heat Time: 30 seconds | Run Time: N/A | Surface Type: Hardwood, tiling, marble, linoleum, and other sealed surfaces

Compare

Overall Rating Effectiveness Versatility Portability Ease of Assembly Noise Level
The BLACK+DECKER Multipurpose Steam Cleaner comes with an array of attachments.
Best Overall:
BLACK+DECKER Multipurpose Steam Cleaner
4.8
4 5 5 5 5
The COSTWAY 2000W Multipurpose Steam Cleaner comes with a handling glove
Best Budget:
COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner
4.5
4 4.5 4.5 4 5
Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System (S5003D)
Best Mop:
Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop
4
Poulan PRO PP270 Portable Power Steam Cleaner
Best Heavy-Duty:
Poulan PRO PP270 Power Steam Cleaner
4.4
4 5 4 5
Dupray
Best for Carpet:
Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner
4.2
4 5 4
The Pure Enrichment Multipurpose Steam Cleaner has a handle and corner-friendly design
Best for Tile:
Pure Enrichment Multipurpose Steam Cleaner
4.8
4 5 5 5 5
The Steamfast SF-375W Deluxe Multi-Purpose Canister Steam Cleaner has wheels so you can easily move it around
Best for Hard Floors:
Steamfast Deluxe Canister Steam Cleaner
3.7
3.5 3.5 3 5 4
Bissell 1806 Power Fresh Deluxe Steam Mop
Buyers Also Love:
Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop
4.4
Final Verdict

After days of testing steam cleaners at home and in The Lab, our top choice for a steam cleaner is the BLACK+DECKER Multipurpose Steam Cleaner which can be used as a handheld steamer or mop and comes with 18 different attachments for tackling a variety of spills and stains. It heats water almost instantly and glides smoothly over hard surfaces, too. Want to spend less? Check out the COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner, which has a large tank for an extended cleaning session and comes with 19 different attachments.

Best Steam Cleaners

Hilary Allison / The Spruce

How We Tested the Steam Cleaners

In order to find the best steam cleaners on the market, we rigorously tested dozens of picks at The Lab as well as at home over the course of several months. In The Lab, we started with the unboxing and setup of each cleaner, timing how long it took to prepare the product for use and whether or not the instructions were clear.

We tested each pick on a tile surface and an upholstered cushion—not testing products on a surface if they were not compatible with it. We rated overall effectiveness after seeing how many passes it took to rid the surfaces of a variety of fresh and sticky spills and stains and noted which models were suited for each kind of task and which ones could handle multiple tasks. After navigating their features and attachments, we rated each cleaner's versatility and usability.

While one machine might have a larger water tank than another, we wondered if that might make it too heavy to use easily. We additionally tested portability and noise level, so you don’t have to. All the same attributes were tested and rated in real-world scenarios for the products that were tested at home, and we judged overall value based on our experience with the product and the price you'd pay for it. After using each of the devices, we analyzed the testing insights carefully to formulate our recommendations.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to test every product on the market (yet!), so we also included a promising recommendation that's earned rave reviews as a "Buyers Also Love" recommendation. We will continue to expand our library of lab-tested steam cleaners in the near future and have clearly noted in the product description for the Bissell PowerFresh Deluxe Steam Mop that has yet to undergo rigorous testing.

What to Look for in a Steam Cleaner

Type

The type of steam cleaner that's best for you depends on what type of cleaning tasks you plan to use it for and your personal preference. Most steam cleaners fall under one of three categories: canister-style appliance, handheld pick, or steam mop.

Of the three types, canister-style cleaners are usually the most versatile by design. They typically include a variety of attachments and a hose that extends the reach of the steam cleaner, allowing you to get into the nooks and crannies of your space. Sometimes, canister steam cleaners will also have wheels or a carrying strap, so you can easily carry the product from room to room.

Steam mops—on the other hand—are typically more portable and comfortable to use and maneuver. They're also a great fit for homes with hard floors, as these picks aren't always designed for cleaning upholstery. While you can find steam mops with a variety of useful attachments—like our best overall pick, the BLACK+DECKER Multipurpose Steam Cleaner—most are fairly simple and a great option for beginners to steam cleaning.

Handheld steam cleaners are great for cleaning detailed areas, like grout, ovens, and sinks. They can direct steam to these areas and are smaller in design, so they can easily be maneuvered into nooks and crannies. For that reason, though, they aren't the best option for cleaning floors and large areas of your home unless you plan on targeting specific spills.

No matter which you pick, plan to use your steam cleaner alongside other cleaning tools, including a vacuum, standard mop, stain remover, or dusting wand. In our experience, this appliance is one of many tools you can and should use to tackle a mess properly.

Compatible Surfaces

Steam cleaning is a powerful way to freshen up many different surfaces, but not all steam cleaners are compatible with hard and soft or sensitive surfaces. The steam output can be too powerful for specific surface types, like flooring that becomes easily saturated.

"Steam cleaners utilize two things that can damage certain materials: heat and water," says Cohoon. "Avoid using steam cleaners on porous surfaces as they can be water damaged." In addition, you will want to "be mindful of using steam cleaners near anything with a water-based paint finished or [on] ultra delicate surfaces like velvet or silk."

Most steam cleaners can be used on tile, grout, bathroom fixtures—like toilets, sinks, and showers—and appliances. Some can also be used on upholstery and carpets, such as the Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner, with the proper steam setting or once you connect the right attachment.

Included Attachments

Attachments expand on what a steam cleaner can clean. Common attachments you will often find in your cleaner's box are a scrub tool, brush, fabric steamer, crevice tool, and a floor head attachment. Much like a vacuum cleaner, you may find that bulkier steam cleaners can include hoses or extension wands to improve the reach of the appliance, too.

When cleaning, keep in mind that some of the attachments concentrate steam, like a steam lance or grout brush. Other attachments are made to diffuse steam to prevent over-saturation or burns. Read the instructions for your appliance ahead of cleaning to learn what attachment can be used on each surface in your home and how.

The BLACK+DECKER Multipurpose Steam Cleaner glides over a cement floor during The Spruce's steam and upholstery cleaner test at The Lab.

The Spruce / Tamara Staples

Standout Features

Rolling Wheels

The addition of wheels to a steam cleaner makes it easier to maneuver the appliance around a room as you’re cleaning. It’s a feature worth considering if you plan to use your steam cleaner for big jobs and don’t want to pick the cleaner up frequently to position it.

Rolling wheels also might make a steam cleaner easier to use if you or someone in your household's mobility is limited or if you need to avoid lifting or carrying the cleaner for an extended distance. (A steam cleaner with a full water tank can get heavy.) You’ll usually find this feature on canister-style steam cleaners that are mainly made for cleaning floors.

Squeegee Attachment

A squeegee attachment lets you use a steam cleaner on mirrors, windows, shower doors, and more. It combines the effectiveness of a squeegee tool used to wipe down smooth surfaces in your home with the cleaning power of steam. If you plan to use your steam cleaner for window cleaning or have a glass shower enclosure, this can be a great accessory to look for when picking out a steam cleaner. However, it is a rare find. (We found it in our best heavy-duty pick, the Poulan Pro Portable Power Steam Cleaner.)

In addition, Katie Berry, a member of The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board, warns that steam can shatter windows on cold days. So, if you opt for this tool and use your steam cleaner on your windows, make sure it's a warm, temperate day.

Pure Enrichment Steam Cleaner

The Spruce / Tamara Staples

FAQ
  • How do you use a steam cleaner?

    The correct steam cleaner method depends on the specific device and the surface you're cleaning. For common surfaces such as carpets, upholstery, hard floors, countertops, and car interiors, though, start by vacuuming any dust and debris. Then, test out the steam cleaner on a small area before you begin steaming your entire surface. Last, use the proper attachment to add steam to an area you'd like to target, following any instructions in your user manual. Let the surface dry completely.

    "Be sure not to overdo it on steam cleaning as you can damage fabrics and materials under the fabric," says Cohoon. "When cleaning, be sure not to oversaturate the material and allow ample drying time to avoid water damage or water marks."

    If you're using the steamer to release wrinkles on clothes, hold the steamer roughly six inches from the surface and use quick, up-and-down sweeping motions until it appears clean. Then allow the fabric to dry completely.

  • What is the best type of steam cleaner for typical home use?

    The best type of steam cleaner for typical home use is a multipurpose canister or mop-style appliance. These steam cleaners can be used on various surfaces with the help of included attachments and steam output levels.

    "A steam cleaner that is easy to clean and rinse after use is always a plus," too, says Cohoon. That way, you can use it regularly without having to put too much maintenance in.

  • Can you put floor cleaning solution in a steam cleaner?

    Generally speaking, you should never put a floor cleaning solution in a steam cleaner as it can corrode the internal components and void the warranty. Most manufacturers recommend using just water. Some upholstery cleaners come with a sample of a brand's solution that'll help fight stains. In this situation, it's always best to use the steam cleaner solution that is compatible with the appliance the brand recommends.

  • How often should you clean with a steam cleaner?

    Using a steam cleaner every three to six months can help extend the life of your carpets, upholstered furniture, and drapes. If you have pets, kids, or an otherwise busy household, you may want to bump it up to every six weeks or so. As for your floors, countertops, tile, and other hard surfaces, use a steam cleaner as often as you'd use a mop or spray cleaner.

    "For high-traffic rooms or cushions, make sure to steam clean once a year, more if there are many visible stains or dirt," advises Cohoon.

COSTWAY Steam Cleaner

The Spruce / Tamara Staples

Why Trust The Spruce?

Having tested dozens of steam cleaners both at home and in The Lab, we considered features, price, design, and real-world scenarios when recommending the best steam cleaners. We scoured product listings, third-party reviews, and user manuals before deciding which products to test. For additional insight, we consulted with Lauren Simonelli, cleaning expert and co-founder of ThreeMain. We also spoke with Kathy Cohoon, Operations Manager at Two Maids & A Mop, who offered insight on what to look for when purchasing steam cleaners and how to use them properly in a standard home.

Erica Puisis is a freelance writer specializing in content about cleaning and home appliances. She's contributed to The Spruce since 2017 and is always looking for new gadgets to make the task easier and faster. For this list, she considered each steam cleaner's size and attachments as well as what type of surface it would be used on. She also considered insights from our thorough testing. 

Marisa Casciano is a senior commerce editor for The Spruce and was in The Lab for our tests. She has first-hand knowledge of how our tests were both developed and performed and how products look, feel, and work in real life.

What Is Spruce Approved?

Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend, and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut. We also pride ourselves on transparency and will always let you know if we received a product for free.