Heats up fast
Powerful steam blast
Awkward to hold
Hose is short
Water tank is small
There are a lot of handheld steam cleaners on the market—and particularly in the under $50 price range. Though it can be hard to imagine that a sub-$100 tool could perform as well as a those at on the higher-end of the scale, we wanted to see what the Bissell Steam Shot was capable of. We put the tiny steam cleaner to work in our home, cleaning the corners of our shower and even steaming some bed sheets. Read on for our results.
Design: Compact, but awkward
The Bissell Steam Shot is as compact as a tea kettle and weighs just 3 pounds. But just as you wouldn’t want to go around holding a kettle, you won’t want to carry this product for long. For a quick spot clean, this handheld device is effective and comfortable to use. But a longer task—like steaming a big garment or deep-cleaning bathroom grout—will leave your arms sore. The connective hose and nozzle are short, and the spray button is on the base, which means you’ll need to use both hands as your work.
Though more demanding steams and cleans can be tiring, the compact nature of this product is also a plus. With only a handful of accessories, it’s easy to store in the box it came in and you won’t find yourself annoyed by the prospect of taking it out and setting it up. It’s incredibly lightweight and small, and water only takes 30 seconds to steam, so you can pull it out of the closet, set it up, and clean a stain or steam a shirt in just five minutes.
Performance: It works, but it’s abilities are seriously limited
The steam cleaner requires little in the way of setup and only takes about a minute to get started. While the steam will kick on after 30 seconds, it takes a full 60 seconds for it to become powerful. 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. Instead of holding down the steam button continuously while we scrubbed tile grout, we blasted it with steam and then scrubbed a bit with the water that was left behind. While the accessories seem moderately durable, we imagine we’ll have to replace them over time because of our reliance on them.
Because the water tank is so small—just 6.6 ounces—we found ourselves being economical with the power button.
For steaming larger garments (like bed sheets), we found this product to be very effective, but tiring over time. Because you have to use both hands, it takes a lot of effort to go over very wrinkly fabric. For cleaning the bathroom, we found this product to be helpful and efficient, but keep in mind that we have a very small bathroom, and we imagine a larger bathroom, with more soiled tile and hardware, would be incredibly tiring to complete. Due to the shape and size of this product, we didn’t find it all that useful in the kitchen but it did loosen dirt and grime on our appliances, which made easier work of scrubbing them down by hand afterward.
Accessories: No frills, but totally efficient
The Bissell Steam Shot comes with a minimal range of accessories, but they’re carefully curated. It comes with an extension hose for hard to reach areas (this is particularly helpful in the shower and for kitchen appliances), an accessory nozzle, a detail brush tool (great for tile cleaning and stove tops), a flat scraping tool (effective on glass surfaces and shower walls), an angle concentrator tool, a grout brush tool, a fabric steamer tool that comes with a cloth cover, and a window squeegee tool that hooks onto the fabric steamer tool (without cloth) for glass and window cleaning. The only thing this steam cleaner is missing is a larger surface attachment, but because holding this product is uncomfortable for long periods of time, we wouldn’t suggest using it on large surfaces anyway.
We found this product to be very effective, but tiring over time. Because you have to use both hands, it takes a lot of effort [to use].
Uses: Portable and safe for a variety of messes
This chemical-free cleaner is safe for use on ceramic, vinyl, laminate, granite, marble, and sealed hardwood. Due to the size of its attachments, it is better suited for small surfaces. It will take a long time to steam an entire bedding kit, though you’ll have no trouble steaming a single garment.
Because the product is so small and lightweight, it’s easy to take out, store, and move around the house. Though the power cord is 20 feet long, the hose that’s connected to the device is only an arm’s length, which limits your mobility to some degree.
If you want to add a steam cleaner to your appliance arsenal, this product is going to be most efficient with small messes. Deeps stains, intense wrinkles, and built up grime and residue can all be tackled with this product, but you might have to go over small areas over and over again. So by small messes, we mean in size, not filth.
Though the power cord is 20 feet long, the hose that’s connected to the device is only an arm’s length, which limits your mobility to some degree.
Price: Affordable and efficient
Retailing for $40, this product’s capabilities justify its price point. Though you won’t be able to tackle large messes very easily—due to the short hose and small attachments—you will be able to spot-treat carpets and maintain small kitchens and bathrooms.
Competition: There’s a lot out there and at every price point
If your price point is roughly $50, you’ll find that most of Bissell’s competitors offer much of the same. Often, low price translates to low-quality accessories, small tanks, and limited run times. If you can increase your budget to $100 or more, however, you’ll find a suite of more powerful devices.
The McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Cleaner will run you $140, but its super-portable body rolls around on four wheels, so you won’t have to hold it as you work. A 48-ounce water tank also delivers 45 minutes of steam, so you won’t have to run to the sink to refill the tank every few minutes. Like the Bissell, the McCulloch also comes with a collection of accessories. These 18 add-ons range from brass brushes and squeegees to microfiber pads and steam jet nozzles. With a 9-foot steam hose and 15.7-foot power cord, the steam cleaner is also exceptionally easy to maneuver. Of course, the cleaner is much larger than the Bissell, so you’ll want to assess your storage space before purchasing it.
Works well, but it’s not easy to hold.
If you’ve got the time and patience to go over small sections repeatedly and refill the water tank, you’ll be impressed with the results. That said, it’s hard to hold, requires both hands, and will likely require a lot of starting and stopping as you give your arms a break every few minutes.
- Product Name Steam Shot Handheld Hard Surface Steam Cleaner
- Product Brand Bissell
- ISBN 39N7A/39N71
- Price $39.95
- Weight 3 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 8.5 x 13.2 x 10 in.
- Color Pearl Wasabi
- What’s Included Steam cleaner, accessory nozzle, extension hose, flat scraping tool, grout brush, fabric steamer, window squeegee, angle concentrator, and detail brush
- Warranty 1-year limited