Steam cleaners are a highly versatile tool for deep-cleaning a wide range of surfaces, including flooring, upholstery, bathrooms, kitchen surfaces and even windows, mirrors and car interiors. They work by applying steam to the surface at high pressure, which helps to lift dirt and grease and shift stubborn stains. Most steam cleaners need no detergent, just using the power of steam alone to get the job done. There are lots of different types of steam cleaners on the market, so this guide aims to help you choose the right kind for your needs.

Things to consider when looking for a steam cleaner

  • As with most electricals, the power of a steam cleaner is measured in watts (W); the higher the wattage, the more powerful the cleaner

  • Steam cleaners have a water reservoir included, which you fill with water in order to create the steam. The capacity of these reservoirs will dictate how often you’ll need to refill your steam cleaner

  • As steam cleaners use electricity to function, you need to consider the length of the power cord provided with your steam cleaner. For larger rooms, you may need to use extension leads to ensure your steam cleaner can reach every area that you want to clean

Steam mops

Steam mops are lightweight floor cleaners that can be used on hard floor surfaces, such as tiles, laminate or vinyl, but many also come with attachments for freshening up carpets and rugs too.

They look similar to conventional mops, but instead of needing a bucket, they have a water reservoir instead. They generate steam to the head of the mop (which are usually machine washable) and use that power to clean the floor quickly and effectively. Some have swivel-heads that are specially designed for getting around corners, furniture and into the nooks and crannies that can be difficult to get to.

They usually heat up in just a few seconds, so are ready to use almost straight away, and depending on the size of the water reservoir on a particular model, you might need to refill them every 10-20 minutes of mopping.

Handheld steam cleaners

Handheld steam cleaners are ideal for cleaning small areas or getting into really fiddly areas. They are a great way to clean kitchen tiles, hobs, bathroom surfaces or windows.

They often come with a range of attachments for different uses, including steam cleaning curtains and furniture, so are ideal if you want to use in the car as well as the home.

One thing to bear in mind is that handheld steam cleaners will usually have fairly small reservoirs for water, so will need to be refilled more often.

Multifunctional steam cleaners

If you want the best of both worlds when it comes to steam cleaners, you might want to look for a multi-function model that offers both steam mop capabilities and also converts into a handheld device, offering a lot more versatility.

The added functionality can make these multifunctional steam cleaners a bit heavier than steam mops that have a single purpose, but they are still much more lightweight and easy to store than most standard vacuum cleaners.

Most multi-function steam cleaners come with a wide range of attachments and accessories, from spare mop heads to upholstery brushes or even window squeegees.

Cylinder steam cleaners

This type of steam cleaner is usually similar in size and appearance to a standard cylinder vacuum cleaner. They are ideal for high-use situations where large amounts of flooring need to be cleaned regularly.

They have large water reservoirs (in the cylinder section), which makes them considerably heavier and larger than the other types of steam cleaner. However, it does mean that they need to be refilled much less often than other lightweight models.

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