Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
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. With 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 refresh your home. They're especially handy for use on the grout between floor, shower, and backsplash tiles.
Many steam cleaners are canister-type models with a large onboard water tank. To use, simply wheel the cleaner within a room and use the included attachments to reach practically 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.
"A rule of thumb is to always stay away from unsealed surfaces, and start small when working with new surfaces," says Lauren Simonelli, Cleaning Expert and Co-Founder of ThreeMain. "Steam cleaners make this otherwise tedious job an easy one to get done."
To help you find the best one for your needs, here are some of the most popular steam cleaners to consider.
Best Overall: McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner
Surface Type: Flooring/appliances/countertops/tile/grout/outdoor furniture | Dimensions: 13.5 x 10.5 x 17.2 inches | Weight: 10 pounds | Tank Capacity: 48 ounces | Heating Time: 8 minutes | Wattage: 1500
Large water tank
Long steam hose
Relatively long heating time
This powerful steam cleaner has a 48-ounce tank and outputs steam at 43 PSI, with a rate of up to 37 grams per minute. The mighty McCulloch takes 8 minutes to heat and offers up to 45 minutes of steam, 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.
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. We especially like this steam cleaner's mobility, thanks to the rolling wheels and almost 10-foot long steam hose. When paired with one of the 18 included attachments, you can reach high areas (like ceilings) or easily access deep crevices (for instance, between appliances).
"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
Best Budget: Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System Pocket (S5003D) Steam Mop
Surface Type: Flooring | Dimensions: 47.1 x 13.8 x 7 inches | Weight: 5.77 pounds | Tank Capacity: 350 milliliters | Heating Time: 6 minutes | Wattage: 1,400
Reusable cleaning pads
Small water tank
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
Best for Tile: Poulan PRO PP270 Portable Power Steam Cleaner
Surface Type: Flooring/carpet/upholstery | Dimensions: 11 x 5.3 x 10.9 inches | Weight: 6.3 pounds | Tank Capacity: 25 ounces | Heating Time: 5 minutes | Wattage: 1,500
Long power cord
Not ideal cord management
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, the steam trigger locks, so you won't have to hold it down while cleaning large areas of tile. The lock 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 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. "While you're cleaning your floor tiles with your steam cleaner, baseboards are also a good area to tackle with a steam cleaner," says Simonelli. "[They're] otherwise often forgotten or tedious to clean on your hands and knees."
This model heats in just 5 minutes, so it'll be ready for your next home cleaning project in no time.
"This steamer is the perfect cleaning tool for families. I love having an effective way to remove stubborn dirt and stains that don’t require any cleaning product or chemicals for my home. When I steam clean, I know I’m killing germs and removing dirt and grime safely."—Deanna McCormack, Product Tester
Best for Carpet: Dupray NEAT Steam Cleaner
Surface Type: Flooring/carpet/upholstery/tile/car interior | Dimensions: 10.5 x 10.5 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 9 pounds | Tank Capacity: 54 ounces | Heating Time: 7 minutes | Wattage: 1,500
Large water tank
Long power cord
Difficult to store
Sometimes expels too much water
The Dupray NEAT Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner includes a floorhead attachment for 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 you can use any towel or microfiber cloth for this purpose.
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 suitable for steam cleaning carpets. It helps eliminate dirt, dust mites, and other unwelcome inhabitants of your carpet fibers and uses no chemicals.
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 freshen up carpeted bedrooms, hallways, stairs, and more.
Best Multipurpose: Bissell 1544A PowerFresh Lift-Off Pet Steam Mop
Surface Type: Flooring/countertops/tile/grout | Dimensions: 13.2 x 11.14 x 44.7 inches | Weight: 10.6 pounds | Tank Capacity: 13.5 ounces | Heating Time: 0.5 minutes | Wattage: 1,500
Detachable handheld cleaner
Relatively small water tank
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 helpful 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.
"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
Best Handheld: Bissell Steam Shot Deluxe Hard-Surface Cleaner
Surface Type: Flooring/countertops/tile/grout/glass/wood | Dimensions: 12.9 x 8.1 x 9 inches | Weight: 3 pounds | Tank Capacity: 6.6 ounces | Heating Time: 0.5 minutes | Wattage: 1,000
Small water tank
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.
This cleaner includes an impressive number of valuable 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.
The Steam Shot has a 6.6-ounce water tank, which is smaller than most steam cleaners, but in keeping with the petite size. As a result, it has a more limited run time, making this an excellent option for quicker clean-ups.
"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
Best for Hard Floors: Steamfast SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner
Surface Type: Flooring/carpet/tile/countertops/wood/upholstery | Dimensions: 15.3 x 12 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 8.5 pounds | Tank Capacity: 45 ounces | Heating Time: 8 minutes | Wattage: 1,500
Large water tank
Relatively long heating time
A steam mop attachment and two microfiber pads make this unit ready to thoroughly sanitize your floors right out of the box. This Steamfast canister cleaner glides across sealed hardwood, laminate, tile, and other hard floors—leaving no residue behind and eliminating dirt in its path.
It comes equipped with a 45-ounce tank for up to 45 minutes of cleaning power. Like all boiler-equipped steam cleaners, you’ll need to allow 8 minutes for the unit to warm up and start producing steam.
"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
Best for Jewelry: Steamfast SF-1000 JULE Steam Jewelry Cleaner
Surface Type: Metal jewelry | Dimensions: 10.1 x 6.1 x 10.5 inches | Weight: 3.6 pounds | Tank Capacity: 12 ounces | Heating Time: 4 minutes | Wattage: 900
Only works with metal jewelry
A steam cleaner for jewelry is an easy, chemical-free way to brighten up jewelry 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 bacteria.
Keep in mind that some stones 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 this way.
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 short bursts. Place your jewelry under the steam nozzle using a set of tweezers and watch dirty build-up and everyday grime disappear.
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.
What to Look for in a Steam Cleaner
Steam cleaners can be used on various 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 specific surfaces. On the other hand, some models can do it all, though they may not be as effective in certain areas as specialized steamers.
Steam cleaners come in many 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 longer and tackle more significant jobs.
Some steam cleaners come equipped with attachments (like scrub tools, grout brushes, and fabric steamers) that will better help you clean specific areas of your home. For instance, grout attachments are smaller because grout can handle concentrated steam, while attachments for fabric are wider because you don't want to soak or burn the material.
How do you use a steam cleaner?
The correct steam cleaner method depends on the specific device and the surface you're cleaning. However, for most surfaces (including carpets, upholstery, hard floors, countertops, and car interiors), you can start by vacuuming to remove dust and debris. Then hold the steamer roughly 6 inches from the surface and use quick, up-and-down sweeping motions until it appears clean. Then allow the surface 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 cleaner. Multipurpose steamers typically feature a handheld design (similar to a canister vacuum) and come with a mop attachment. You can use them on various surfaces, including hard floors, carpet, upholstery, tile, grout, curtains, and car interiors.
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 water only, which, once heated, effectively cleans a variety of surfaces.
What types of accessories should you look for?
Many steam cleaners come with a range of accessories for cleaning various household surfaces. If you're in the market for a multipurpose cleaner, look for an option that comes with a mop attachment, a detailing brush, a grout-cleaning tool, a fabric steamer head, a concentrator tool, and maybe a squeegee (though you can always buy that separately). "[These attachments] help to ensure the steam is properly released on the material, so it doesn't release too much moisture," says Simonelli.
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, fabric-upholstered furniture, and drapes. If you have pets, kids, or an otherwise busy household, you might want to bump it up to every six weeks. As for your floors, countertops, tile, and other hard surfaces, you can use a steam cleaner as often as you'd use a mop or spray cleaner—though you may not want to because it's slightly less convenient.
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. For background, we consulted with cleaning expert Lauren Simonelli. As the Co-Founder of ThreeMain, a subscription-based, eco-friendly cleaning brand, she knows the ins and outs of all that it takes to maintain a clean, healthy home.
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. For this list, she considered each steamer's size and attachments, as well as what type of surface it would be used on. In addition, product testers used several picks on this list and shared insight.