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Steam cleaners you should avoid revealed by latest Which? lab tests

Looking for a new steam cleaner? Choose carefully, as our latest tests have uncovered three Don’t Buys

Steam cleaners you should avoid revealed by latest Which? lab tests

Our latest tests have revealed three Don’t Buy steam cleaners, all of which consistently struggled to clean surfaces and were tricky to use. We sent four models to the lab, with prices ranging from £28 up to £100. 

Steam cleaners are designed to take the hard work out of washing down your floors and surfaces, while killing harmful bacteria and eliminating dust mites without using harsh chemicals. But pick the wrong model and you could end up with an expensive, glorified mop.

Price won’t dictate quality, either. We’ve found Don’t Buys that cost more than £120 and Best Buys for less than £100.

In our tough lab tests, we put steam cleaners through their paces on smooth and textured floor surfaces, cylinder and handheld models are also tested on tiles and grout, glass and crevices, and we also put cylinders through an additional carpet stain test.

Our extensive tests mean you can trust our reviews to tell you which steam cleaners are worth buying, and which aren’t.


Scroll down to find out more about the steam cleaners on test, or head to our best steam cleaners to find out which models get our seal of approval.


Latest steam cleaners on sale

Comforday Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner, £37

Comforday Multi-Purpose Handheld Steam cleaner WH11904-0170-00
  • Type Handheld steam cleaner
  • To be used on household surfaces and small areas of upholstery or carpet
  • Steaming time 11 minutes

Given the ‘bestseller’ title on Amazon, Comforday’s reasonably priced offering comes with a squeegee, upholstery tool, plastic brush, two nozzles and a plastic extension hose, along with a jug and funnel to help you fill the water tank.

The steam output can’t be adjusted and the maximum steaming time is only 11 minutes, so you’ll need to work quickly if you’ve got lots to clean. But a short steam runtime shouldn’t really matter if it’s powerful and efficient enough to blast through grime.

Find out how it fared in lab tests in our Comforday Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner review.

Hoover CAD1700D Steam Cleaner, £99

Hoover Hoover Steam Capsule CAD1700D_WH11904-0167-00
  • Type Steam mop
  • To be used on sealed hard floors and carpets
  • Steaming time 20 minutes

This is an upright steam mop from Hoover. Made with detachable floor pads and a ‘glider’, it’s designed for cleaning floors and carpets, but won’t work for high-up surfaces such as windows.

With continuous steam output and three different levels, it’s great for jobs that might take a little longer – but that’s only if it can do its core job well.

Get our expert opinion on whether this model is worth buying – see our Hoover CAD1700D Steam Cleaner review.

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Pifco Handheld Steam Cleaner, £28

Pifco Handheld Steam Cleaner _WH11904-0169-00
  • Type Handheld steam cleaner
  • To be used on windows, taps, sinks and small areas of upholstery
  • Steaming time 12 minutes

This compact handheld steam cleaner is the cheapest model we’ve ever tested. It uses a trigger to produce the steam and only has one output level.

Made for steaming windows, upholstery, sinks and taps, this purple and white steamer really stands out – but is it all show and no go?

Read our independent Pifco Handheld Steam Cleaner review to discover what our tough tests revealed about this steam cleaner.

Hoover Steam Capsule 2-in-1 Steam Mop, £100

Hoover Steam Capsule 2-in-1 Steam Mop CA2IN1D_WH11904-0166-00
  • Type 2-in-1 steam mop and handheld
  • To be used on sealed hard floors, carpets, windows, high up surfaces and upholstery
  • Steaming time 13 minutes

This versatile, 2-in-1 upright steam cleaner comes with an impressive collection of accessories, including a machine-washable microfibre cloth, several metal and plastic brushes, and a ‘glider’ for cleaning carpets.

You can detach it so it’s handheld and the output can be set to high, medium or low.

This hoover sounds great on paper, but did it deliver in our tests? Read the full Hoover Steam Capsule 2-in-1 Steam Mop review to find out.

How much should I pay for a good steam cleaner?

We have expert steam cleaner reviews of more than 50 currently available steam cleaners with prices ranging from just £28 right up to £750. But our independent lab tests have proven that price does not guarantee quality.

In fact, one of our Best Buy steam cleaners costs as little as £100 and you can get a quality handheld model for around £30.

Cylinder steam cleaners are typically more expensive because they are designed for various jobs and have a larger water tank, but they can be bulky, heavy and hard to store.

Not sure what type is best for you? Head straight to our steam cleaner buying guide for more info.

Steam cleaning windows

How do steam cleaners work?

There are four main types of steam cleaner; handheld, steam mop, a 2-in-1 that combines a handheld with a steam mop, and a cylinder. They all essentially work in the same way – by heating water until it boils, creating steam.

The hot steam is then able to get into cracks and crevices, loosening dirt and grease without having to use harsh chemicals.

The high temperature also means they can kill bacteria. In fact, manufacturers typically say that steam cleaners will kill 99.9% of common household germs and bacteria, such as salmonella and E coli.

Want to get the best out of your steam cleaner? Here are our expert tips on how to use a steam cleaner.

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