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Updated: 6 Jul 2022

Best steam cleaners 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

Our expert buying guide helps you choose the best steam cleaner – and avoid picking a dud.
Jon Barrow
Mop on kitchen floor

The best steam cleaners take the hard work out of refreshing your floors and surfaces. 

The high temperature of the steam kills harmful bacteria and can eliminate the dust mites that cause asthma and allergies.

Because steam cleaners use steam to wipe away dirt and germs, rather than harsh chemicals, they are better for the environment and your home.

Best Buy steam cleaners for 2022

Here's our pick of the best steam cleaners, including the top handheld model, the best cylinder steam cleaner, along with the cheapest model to ace our tests.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Best cheap steam cleaner

  • 71%
    • best buy

    If you're after a cheap steam cleaner, you'll struggle to top this budget steam mop. At 2.1kg, it's one of the lightest upright models we've tested, so it's no hassle to carry up and down the stairs. There are snags that you can avoid if you're willing to pay more – filling the water tank is fiddly, and it doesn't have a spare cleaning pad – but for fuss-free cleaning, few do better.

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Best cylinder steam cleaner

  • 76%
    • best buy

    If money is no object, look no further than this model. It's the most expensive cylinder steam cleaner we've tested – and the best. It blasts steam at twice the rate of most other models, helping it to lift sticky stains with ease. At 8.5kg, it's not the easiest to carry up stairs and it lacks a glass cleaning attachment. But if performance is more important than cost and convenience, this is the model for you.

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Best steam mop

  • 71%
    • best buy

    This steam mop is straightforward and built to last. It takes just 15 seconds to heat up, which is far quicker than most steam cleaners, and does a good job of removing sticky deposits. However, it's less effective at tackling dried-on stains and you can't put it to use across your home; like most steam mops, this model is only for use on hard floors.

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Best handheld steam cleaner

  • This is the best handheld steam cleaner we've tested, but it still ranks a long way behind the top wheeled models. It's simple to operate and does a decent job on most surfaces, especially tiles and grout. However, it can't be used on floors and only steams for five minutes at a time, so it's not the best option for a deep clean.

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Best two-in-one steam cleaner

  • 71%
    • best buy

    This two-in-one steam cleaner has a couple of quirks: you can add detergent to the water tank to give your home a scented clean (this is rare – manufacturers usually advise against mixing detergent and steam) and it has a scrubbing brush beneath the cleaning pad for tackling deep stains. It does a decent job on most surfaces and, thanks to its multi-purpose design, is easy to manoeuvre around the home. The only snag is steaming time: a full tank gives you just six minutes of steam.

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Best steam cleaner for carpets

  • No steam cleaner can better a carpet cleaner at removing stains from soft floors, but this cylinder model comes close. It has a carpet brush to remove ingrained dirt, and you get 46 minutes of steam: plenty of time to go over areas in need of extra attention. It has 13 other attachments, including a window cleaning head, so you can put it to work across the rest of your home too.

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Not found the right steam cleaner for you? See all our steam cleaner reviews.

Video: how to buy the best steam cleaner

Watch our video to help you decide which type of steam cleaner is right for you.

Which type of steam cleaner should I choose?

Steam cleaners come in three main types: steam mops, handheld and cylinder steam cleaners. 

Meanwhile, two-in-one steam cleaners combine a mop for floors and a handheld steam cleaner for cleaning tiles, glass and other surfaces.

Steam mops 

Steam mops resemble vacuum cleaners. Rather than suck up dirt, they have a pad on the bottom for cleaning floors. 

They’re usually lightweight with a pivoting mop head that’s easy to manoeuvre around obstacles and into corners.

Handheld steam cleaners 

Handheld steam cleaners are easy to carry around and store. They give a concentrated burst of steam through a nozzle and usually come with a range of attachments for different surfaces.

They only have a small water tank, and are designed for steam cleaning small areas – bathroom tiles, kitchen surfaces or hard-to-reach corners, for example.

Two-in-one mop and handheld steam cleaners 

These multipurpose steam cleaners comprise of an upright steam mop and a detachable handheld steam cleaner, and can tackle most steam cleaning tasks. 

The downside is they are often heavier and more expensive than standard steam mops.

Cylinder steam cleaners 

Cylinder steam cleaners are wheeled devices made up of a hose and mop head, plus a main body on wheels that you pull along behind you. 

You can connect accessories to the hose to clean different surfaces. 

A good cylinder cleaner should be able to do all your steam cleaning jobs. 

Their larger water tanks mean they’re able to steam for much longer. Most steam mops produce up to 15 minutes of steam, but cylinders often last three times that long.

How much do I need to pay for a good steam cleaner?

We’ve tested and rated dozens of steam cleaners over the past six years and have uncovered big differences in quality and cleaning power between different brands and models.

The great news is that you can pick up a Best Buy steam mop for around £50, while you need to pay around £100 for one of our two-in-one steam cleaners.

There are far fewer cylinder and handheld steam cleaners on the market. Cylinders can cost more than £250. You can pick up a good handheld steam cleaner for about £30.

Price doesn’t guarantee quality, so check our steam cleaner reviews to find the best for your budget.

Which steam cleaner accessories do I need?

Attachments help you tackle other cleaning jobs around the home, such as window cleaning, refreshing your carpet and even cleaning your car.

You won’t usually get any accessories with a standard steam mop other than machine-washable cleaning pads. 

However, if you’re buying a cylinder or handheld cleaner (either a standalone model or part of a two-in-one device), it’s worth keeping an eye out for the following:

  • Squeegees for cleaning glass
  • Scrubbing brushes to remove embedded grime from grout and tiles
  • Carpet gliders to refresh carpets
  • Cleaning pads for wiping surfaces down
  • Upholstery tool for treating stains and refreshing fabric – these often comprise of a brush or squeegee tool with a cloth/pad fitted over the top
  • Scrubbing pad to make light work of removing grease from ovens

We’ve come across a few models that can be used with detergents. These claim to give extra cleaning power, though the idea of using chemical cleaning agents may put you off.

Best steam cleaner features to look for

You need to consider the capacity of the water tank, heat-up time and steaming time.

  • Heat-up time – how long the steam cleaner takes to start pumping out steam 
  • Water tank capacity – the bigger the tank, the longer your steam cleaner will take before it pumps out steam. And the longer that steam will last.
  • Steaming time – how long you can use the cleaner with continuous steam before it needs refilling with water. 

Steam mops are much faster to heat up than cylinder steam cleaners; the fastest mop is ready to use in less than 20 seconds.

Handheld steam cleaners are light and easy-to-use, but don’t steam for long. Their small tanks mean they can only generate steam for short bursts before you need to stop and fill up.

Is there anything else?

It’s worth checking whether the cleaner can be used with regular tap water. 

Some manufacturers recommend you use distilled water, which can be inconvenient and expensive – but failing to use it may invalidate your warranty. 

A built-in limescale filter can be useful if you live in a hard water area.

Use our steam cleaner reviews to find the right model for your needs.

Popular steam cleaners compared

We've tested all the top models including the latest range of Karcher steam cleaners, plus cheaper options from brands such as Bush.

Below we've listed the key specs and features for some of the most popular steam cleaners. 

Black & Decker FSM13E1, around £58

  • Type: steam mop
  • Steaming time: 16 minutes
  • Weight (full): 2.1kg

This Black & Decker model is a simple, upright steam cleaner. Modestly priced, it's designed for use on hard floors. This steam cleaner lacks the accessories you need to clean other surfaces – such as bathroom tiles or taps.

Read the Black & Decker FSM13E1 review, or buy it now at Amazon or espares

Dupray Neat, around £145

  • Type: cylinder steam cleaner
  • Steaming time: 40 minutes
  • Weight (full): 6.3kg

This is a large, wheeled steam cleaner that you pull along behind you as you clean. It's generously equipped with a wide range of accessories, including a brass brush for heavy-duty cleaning and a fragrance disc to keep everything smelling nice. 

It has a tank large enough to produce 40 minutes of steam.

Read the full Dupray Neat review, or buy it now at dupray.com or Amazon

Karcher SC 1 EasyFix, around £65

  • Type: 2 in 1 steam mop and handheld
  • Steaming time: 6 minutes
  • Weight (full): 2.5kg

This is a combination steam cleaner – you use the small, handheld unit to clean awkward areas, such as around taps, before easily clipping on the long nozzle to tackle spills on hard floors. 

Its small size means that it's easy to use and store, but the small water tank limits the steaming time.

Read the full Karcher SC 1 EasyFix review, or buy it now at Argos, Toolstation, Wickes or Amazon