Steam cleaner reviews: FAQs
How much do I need to pay to buy a decent steam cleaner?
How much you'll need to spend depends on what type of steam cleaner you want to buy. There are three main types - steam mops, handheld steam cleaners and larger cylinder steam cleaners.
Steam mops vary in price from £30 to £100 but you don't have to pay a lot of money to get a decent floor steam cleaner. Our full reviews have uncovered some Best Buy steam mops for much less than £100.
Handheld steam cleaner
You can buy a handheld steam cleaner costing as little as £20 or as much as £100, and our tests have uncovered big differences between models at all price points in this bracket. Some models were poor at cleaning, so do check our individual handheld steam cleaner reviews before you consider buying one.
Cylinder steam cleaner
Cylinder steam cleaners can cost anywhere between £70 and £400, but many models have proved pretty poor when we tested them. Our test results suggest that paying the bigger price tags will get you a better steam cleaner - read our full cylinder steam cleaner reviews to see our in-depth ratings.
What are the differences between the different types of steam cleaner?
Steam mops are designed for steaming floors, to lift grime more quickly and effectively and to kill bacteria on the surface too. Like a traditional mop they have a long handle and some have a swiveling head to make cleaning easier.
Handheld steam cleaners deliver a concentrated burst of direct steam through a nozzle. They are best for loosening grime in small areas and usually come with a range of attachments to help you clean different surfaces such as tiles, windows and upholstery.
Cylinder steam cleaners, which look like a cylinder vacuum cleaner, come with attachments that can be used for mopping floors and for a wide range surface cleaning tasks. A well equipped model should be able to do all of the jobs of handheld cleaners and mops combined.
Handheld cleaners aren't great for cleaning large areas such as floors, but often come with hoses to help you reach tight spaces.
Watch our steam cleaner video buying guide to find out more about the types of steam cleaner.
Is a steam mop any better than a traditional mop and bucket?
Both get the job done, but a top-scoring steam mop gets good results with less effort. However, poorer-scoring models really make you put your back into cleaning, so arguably you might as well opt for a mop and bucket – a cheaper and more lightweight solution – over an ineffective steam mop. You can find out the top-scoring steam mops and the best and worst steam cleaners in our reviews area.
How wet will a steam cleaner leave my floor?
In general we’ve found that the mops with the highest steam output are the ones that leave the floor the wettest, and each of our individual steam mop reviews show a star rating for exactly how wet they leave your floor.
Mops that leave floors fairly dry score five stars and mops that leave the floor damp score three stars. Those that leave the floor quite wet score just one star and cannot be Best Buys.
Regardless of the mop you choose, the longer you steam clean for, the wetter your floor will be at the end of the job.
How much does it cost to use a steam cleaner?
Electricity use doesn’t vary much between the different steam cleaners we’ve tested and they aren’t particularly energy hungry. You’ll use just over 1p worth of electricity to mop a large kitchen.
Is the water tank capacity important?
Yes. How much steam cleaning you can do with a full water tank will affect the time it takes you to get the job done.
The mops we’ve tested with the smallest tanks are capable of steaming for less than ten minutes, while the best steam for just under an hour. If you have large rooms to clean, choose a steam mop with a larger tank capacity.
The average cylinder steam cleaners will produce steam for around 30 minutes, but twin tank models are available that allow you to refill as the product steams, so it can continuously produce steam for as long as you need it to.
How much do replacement cleaning pads cost?
This varies depending on the steam cleaner you buy, but as a rough guide expect to pay about £2 or so for each new cleaning pad for a mop.
Typical prices are £4 to £6 for a three-pack of replacement pads – but costs for replacement pads for some models are higher. For example, two replacement pads for a Black & Decker steam mop cost £9.
Regardless of the model you choose, shop around, and multi-packs can offer savings.
Can I clean with just water or do I need to use detergent?
All our test results are based on cleaning using water (steam) only, unless specified in the review.
Some models have a detergent dispenser - more common with mops and cylinder models than handheld steam cleaners - so you can add detergent to take on particularly tough stains or to refresh your floors.
However, if you choose a Best Buy steam mop detergent isn’t necessary - they offer great cleaning results just using the water in their tanks.
Are all steam mops suitable for everyone?
Our Best Buy mops all have a fixed handle height and will be suitable for most people.
However, if you are particularly short or tall, or want to share the mop with someone who is a different height to you, you might want to consider a model with an adjustable handle height.
All our Best Buys offer comfortable handle grips for a variety of hand sizes. Take care with other mops, in some cases they are really only suitable for people with small hands.