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If you're looking for a chemical-free way to clean and sanitize both solid and soft surfaces in your home, a steam cleaner is an ideal solution. Using a burst of superheated steam, these cleaning tools eliminate dirt, bacteria, allergens, and more. Often used on flooring, upholstery, bathroom fixtures, tile, and other everyday touch surfaces, a steam cleaner offers a quick way to sanitize and refresh your home.
Many steam cleaners are canister-type models with a large onboard water tank. Wheel the cleaner within a room and use the included attachments to reach any surface. Other steam cleaners include portable, handheld versions that fit in tight spaces and steam cleaner mops that are specially designed to refresh sealed floors.
To help you find the best one for your needs, here are some of the most popular steam cleaners to consider.
With powerful steam output and plenty of attachments to address a variety of cleaning needs, the McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner is a versatile option that will meet most household needs. What we especially like about this steam cleaner is its mobility, thanks to the rolling wheels and 9-foot long steam hose. When paired with one of the 18 included attachments, you can reach high areas (like ceilings) or access deep crevices (for instance, between appliances) with ease.
This powerful steam cleaner has a 40 ounce tank and outputs steam at 43 PSI, with a rate up to 37 grams per minute. The mighty McCulloch takes 8 minutes to heat and offers up to 45 minutes of steam, which is great for cleaning sealed floors and grout lines, appliances, kitchen or bath fixtures, upholstery, and more. If you have a cleaning marathon ahead of you, a button on the hose engages continuous steam so you can move freely through your space.
"When used in a small and relatively clean place like a bathroom, this product works well. It’s easy to maneuver in small, awkward spaces—like grimy shower corners—and not having to hold the base saves you energy while cleaning. When used in larger spaces that have messier floors, like the kitchen, this product is less effective."—Kaitlyn Wylde, Product Tester
The cube-like shape of the 10.5 x 9.5 inch DUPRAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner isn’t the only thing that makes it unique. Aside from functioning in all the ways you would expect of a steam cleaner (kitchen clean-up, bathroom duty, wrinkle eliminator), this model is also a good choice for steam cleaning carpets. It’s a great way to eliminate dirt, bacteria, dust mites, and other unwelcome inhabitants of your carpet fibers and uses no chemicals.
The DUPRAY Neat Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner includes a floorhead attachment for covering large surface areas, like your living room carpet or large area rugs. The steam cleaner comes equipped with wet/dry pads that attach to the floor-head, but it’s worth noting that any towel or microfiber cloth can be used for this purpose.
With a tank capacity of 54 ounces and up to 50 minutes of run time, use this steam cleaner to refresh your living room after entertaining or to freshen up carpeted bedrooms, hallways, stairs, and more.
A handheld steam cleaner is a great option for small tasks both inside and outside of the home. The Bissell Steam Shot Deluxe Hard Surface Cleaner weighs about 3 pounds but has a generous 20-foot power cord, giving you plenty of reach to tackle messes in the bathroom or kitchen, or to banish wrinkles from clothing.
The Steam Shot has a 6.6-ounce water tank, which is smaller than most steam cleaners, but in keeping with the petite size of this tool. As a result, it has a more limited run time, making this a great option for quicker clean-ups.
This cleaner includes an impressive number of useful attachments that make the most of its abilities (and minimize some of its shortcomings). These include an accessory nozzle, a detail brush tool, a flat scraping tool, an angle concentrator tool, a grout brush tool, a fabric steamer tool, and a window squeegee tool.
"Because the water tank is so small—just 6.6 ounces—we found ourselves being economical with the power button. While it’s not hard to refill the canister, it is a hassle, so we relied on the included accessories even more."—Kaitlyn Wylde, Product Tester
For an affordable steam cleaner mop, check out the easy-to-use Shark Genius Pocket Steam Mop. With its low price and reusable, double-sided cleaning pads, this mop will save you money in both the short and long term. Its swiveling Genius head delivers three levels of steam to freshen and sanitize your floors. A Steam Blaster option gives you the ability to send a direct column of steam to power through sticky messes or soiled spots.
"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
With two modes of operation, the Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off Pet Steam Mop is a versatile steam cleaner suited for any home (whether or not you have pets). The 13 included accessories include useful tools like bristle scrub brushes, a window squeegee, a grout cleaning tool, a fabric steamer, and more.
This multi-purpose steam cleaner functions as an upright unit with a floor cleaning attachment and stretchy microfiber cleaning pads. The body of the mop detaches for use a handheld steam cleaner, which makes it easy to transition between surfaces and tackling hard-to-read areas. You can opt for continuous steam to clean larger spaces more thoroughly, and the high and low steam settings give you the right power for each task.
Note that the water tank is somewhat tricky to fill due to its angle, but holds 13.5 ounces and heats up in 30 seconds flat.
"What’s great about this product is it’s more versatile than your average steam mop. The body detaches from the handle, which allowed us to use it as a handheld device with several different attachments, including a steam brush, scraper, and squeegee." —Brie Dyas, Product Tester
Shine your tile and clean your grout with this steam cleaner from Poulan PRO. This model is ideal for cleaning tile floors, thanks to the included steam mop attachment. Unlike other cleaners, its trigger locks, so you won't have to hold it down while cleaning large areas of tile. This eliminates hand strain and makes things run quicker. Two included microfiber pads give a thorough clean to sealed floors, including tile, laminate, marble, and more.
If you're looking to clean tile grout lines in the kitchen or bathroom, use the nozzle or included accessory brushes to really lift dirt and grime. A 15-foot power cord helps to ensure that you can reach the corners of your shower or the edges of your kitchen backsplash without having to carry or constantly lift the steam cleaner. This model in just 5 minutes, so it'll be ready for your next home cleaning project in no time.
A steam mop attachment and two microfiber pads make this unit ready out of the box to thoroughly sanitize your floors. This Steamfast canister cleaner glides across sealed hardwood, laminate, tile, and other hard floors—leaving no residue behind and eliminating dirt and bacteria in its path.
It comes equipped with a 48-ounce tank for up to 45 minutes of cleaning power. Like all boiler-equipped steam cleaners, you’ll need to allow a few minutes for the unit to warm up and start producing steam—about 7 minutes in the case of this model.
"The 45-ounce tank is great for cleaning, but it makes it larger overall as a portable cleaner. It’s easy enough to use and move within a room, but it is cumbersome to carry when the tank is full." —Katie Begley, Product Tester
A steam cleaner for jewelry is an easy, chemical-free way to brighten up precious stones and make diamonds sparkle. It’s effective at restoring shine to precious metals, like silver, gold, or platinum. Best of all, the Steamfast JULE requires no chemical solutions, while still eliminating up to 99.9 percent of all bacteria.
So how do you use it? First fill the reservoir with 12 ounces of water to produce up to 15 minutes of steam, either in continuous mode or as short bursts. Place your jewelry under the steam nozzle using a set of tweezers and watch dirty build-up and everyday grime disappear.
Keep in mind that pearls are a no-go for steam cleaning. You should always check with your jeweler if you have any doubts about whether your precious stones are safe to clean in this manner.
For the best steam cleaner on the market, we recommend the McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner. It's a powerful cleaner that comes with plenty of helpful attachments and rolling wheels for easy mobility. If you're specifically looking for a handheld model, go with the Bissell Steam Shot Handheld Hard Surface Steam Cleaner, which is small, lightweight, and affordable.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Having tried and tested several most popular steam cleaners, we took into account the useful features and real-world scenarios when recommending the best options on the market. Erica Puisis writes content about cleaning and home appliances for The Spruce and is always looking for new gadgets to make the task easier and faster.
Surface Steam cleaners can be used on a wide range of surfaces, from upholstery and curtains to floors and grout lines. Depending on how you plan to use yours, you may want to invest in a product that’s specially designed for certain surfaces. On the other hand, there are some models that can do it all, though they may not be as effective in certain areas as specialized steamers.
Size Steam cleaners come in many different sizes, including light, handheld units, and more cumbersome vacuum-style models. Consider the size of the steamer when shopping. Smaller products are more portable and easy to store, but large models can run for longer and tackle bigger jobs.
Attachments Some steam cleaners come equipped with attachments that will help you clean certain areas of your home. For instance, you may come across grout brushes, fabric steamers, detail brushes, and more. These accessories can be a helpful addition if you want to use your steamer for multiple purposes.