Best steam cleaners for 2021
The best steam cleaners lift stubborn stains without the need for harsh chemicals. But not all models will make your home any cleaner – some struggle to shift even the simplest spills.
To make sure your next steam cleaner really is an improvement on a wooden mop, we've handpicked our favourites from our full list of the , including the best handheld steam cleaner, our top cheap model and the best option for dealing with carpet stains.
We've also found three steam cleaners so substandard, we think you should avoid them at all costs.
Best cylinder steam cleaner
Best steam mop
Best handheld steam cleaner
Best two-in-one steam cleaner
Best cheap steam cleaner
Best steam cleaner for carpets
Table last updated: June 2021.
Three steam cleaners to avoid
There's a lot to like about steam cleaners, but it doesn't include this trio of mediocre models. Each fails to reach the most basic cleaning standards you'd expect from a steam cleaner – no matter how tempting their prices might seem, they're best left on the shop shelf.
Buying a steam cleaner: what to consider
Whatever you're willing to spend on a steam cleaner, here are three things to consider before buying:
1. Cylinder, handheld or steam mop
We test four types of steam cleaner:
- Cylinder steam cleaners are similar to cylinder vacuums (think of a Henry) – they run on wheels, and have a long hose and mop head. They tend to be heavier and bulkier than other steam cleaners, but their large water tanks mean they can steam for longer.
- Steam mops resemble traditional upright vacuums. They're often lighter and more maneuverable than cylinder models, but aren't as versatile – as their name suggests, they're mainly for floors.
- Handheld steam cleaners are the easiest to carry and store – plus they're well-suited to cleaning vertical surfaces and hard-to-reach places. However, their small water tanks mean they need lots of refilling.
- Two-in-one steam cleaners combine an upright steam mop with a detachable handheld unit, so you get the convenience of a handheld steam cleaner without having to bend down to clean floors.
2. Steaming time
We've come across steam cleaners that give you almost an hour of steam, but we've also tested models that stop steaming after just five minutes – barely enough time to clean a shower door, let alone a house.
Based on our test results:
- Cylinder steam cleaners steam for around 35 minutes, with some models capable of lasting 55 minutes.
- Steam mops stay steamy for 15 minutes, but some models stop after just five minutes.
- Handheld steam cleaners give you eight minutes of cleaning time.
- Two-in-one steam cleaners last 12 minutes, although some models can steam for almost 20 minutes.
Some models come with attachments and accessories for cleaning all corners of your home. Look out for:
- carpet gliders
- cleaning pads
- direct steam nozzles
- extension hoses
- flat scrubbers
- grout brushes
- scrubbing brushes
- scrubbing pads
- swivel heads
- upholstery tools