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Don't Buy steam cleaners

by Sarah Ingrams

These poor quality steam cleaners and steam mops failed to shift everyday grime in our lab tests – and are easily outdone by a bit of elbow grease.

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Buying a poor quality steam cleaner can make you wander why you ever bothered getting rid of your old mop. The worst models struggle to remove even simple stains such as muddy footprints, instead smearing dirt across your floors and leaving greasy residues on your windows.

Our in-depth reviews can stop you wasting money on duds like these, instead pointing you in the direction of fantastic Best Buy steam cleaners that make cleaning a doddle.

Join Which? now to unlock our steam cleaner Don't Buy warnings on this page. Already a member? Log in now.

What makes a Don't Buy steam cleaner?

Our tough lab tests have found that there's a worrying gap between the best and worst steam cleaners and far too many models disappoint. We've uncovered numerous devices that struggle to clean up even light spills and marks while others leak water or have attachments that are hard to fit and to remove. Many are also poorly built and produce less and less steam each time you use them.

But it's not all doom and gloom - there are some great cleaners out there. Models that shift sticky stains in seconds and which come with all the accessories you need to keep your house sparkling clean. And prices can be surprisingly reasonable so you won't have to break the bank to get your hands on a top-class device.

Unique steam cleaner testing by Which?

Our tests go further than anyone else's to ensure that the steam cleaners we recommend really are the best of the bunch.

We buy and assess new models every year so that we can be sure we're up to date with the very latest devices. And we don't just reveal the best products – we also highlight the low-scoring Don't Buy steam cleaners, so you can avoid buying a dud you'll soon be keen to replace.

Each steam cleaner we review goes through a series of tough tests in the Which? test lab, which are designed to replicate how you use your steam cleaner at home. This way you can be sure that Best Buy recommended models are more than up to the job -and that our tests can weed out the models that just can't shift daily grime.

  • Cleaning power: we measure the time and effort it takes to shift common household spills and dirt from a range of surfaces including tiles, floors, ovens and glass.
  • Shifting grime: steam mops have to power through a hard floor covered with curry paste, pasta sauce and raspberry jam to win our approval.
  • Heat-up time: we time how long it takes until each steam cleaner is fully heated-up and ready to use.
  • Ease of use: we assemble and take apart every steam cleaner to check how easy this is to do. We steer steam mops around objects to see how flexible they are and weigh it to see what you’ll be lugging around.
  • Durability: we use each steam cleaner 30 times and measure the steam output throughout to see if it drops after repeated use.

We've found Best Buy and Don't Buy steam cleaners from the same brands – but it's impossible to know which are which in the shops, unless you've checked our reviews. And it's not always the cheapest models that produce the worst performance – we've found disappointing steam cleaners priced over £100 too.

Find out which steam cleaners are Don't Buys and which are Best Buy by joining Which? today.