Best steam cleaner
Whether it's a steam floor cleaner or a multi-purpose handheld steam cleaner, finding the best one can be tricky. Luckily we've listed some of the best
Five years ago you'd be lucky to find one outside of a commercial cleaning firm, but steam cleaners are now the latest must-have home helper. Forget the antiquated mop and bucket, steam cleaners can tackle everything from wall tiles and hobs to wooden floors and bathroom suites eliminating dirt, bacteria and grease with every high pressure pass.
- Now you can buy a pod coffee maker free from stress around staining!
- Or how about a proper espresso maker?
- Feeling manly? Get a bloody drill, mate.
Most are also detergent-free, using the natural power of steam and a microfiber cloth to do the donkey work. This also makes them an eco-friendly, allergy-happy and cost effective cleaning solution. They're also quick drying so you'll never get penned in the corner of the kitchen waiting for the puddles to disappear.
Which model you choose will depend on the size and style of your home. If you've got wall-to-wall shag pile carpets a handheld steam cleaner for upholstery, bathroom and kitchen will be ideal, while acres of hard floors and tiles will benefit from an upright modern steam mop or cylinder steamer.
Multi-functional models offer the best of both with various nozzle attachments included to clean everything from rugs and carpets to grouting and glass.
Now, let's get steaming…
Steam cleaners are all the rage among the safety-conscious brigade who'd rather not be smearing chemical detergents all over the abode. Steam cleaners are not only adept at removing grime and other ingrained dregs off wooden floors, tiles, grout, ovens, taps and windows, they're also efficient at straightening creases out of curtains and clothing and bringing airborne dust and pet hair to ground. Steam cleaners are also said to kill 99.99% of germs which accounts for roughly .99% more microbe deaths than a bottle of Domestos. Die, you little bastards, die!
Kärcher is a major player in the steam arena. The Teutonic manufacturer's SC3 holds a single litre of water in its 3.5-bar boiler and heats up in 30 seconds flat – and that's quick.
Its anti-scale cartridge automatically decalcifies hard water – handy for urbanites in hard water areas – while its two-level steam control allows for both general use on floor tiles and baths and heavy duty steam-blasting intensity for grubby grout, toilets, taps and oven hobs. It's easy to store, too, relatively light and not too awkward to pull along. And its two-metre steam hose is long enough for all but the most inaccessible areas.
Like every other steamer on the market, the SC3 comes with more tools than you'll ever need, including a general hand tool, a detail nozzle for the removal of last night's boiled over bolognaise sauce, a round brush for the odd carpet mishap and a 30cm-wide hard floor attachment for restoring your tiled flagstone floors to the condition they were in before you ill-advisedly decided to buy a pair of bearded collies. The unit also comes with the usual gamut of terry cloths to soak up excess water so that all that's left is smear-free cleanliness.
If you're in the market for an extremely powerful steam cleaner that doesn't cost the earth, then give this vigorous vaporiser a whirl. It won't let you down.
£136 | Karcher
Polti Vaporetto Airplus
Produced and assembled in Italy, the dashing pull-along Vaporetto Airplus comes with an ample 1.6-litre water tank that should provide around an hour of steam-cleaning power without the need for constant revisits to the tap. And that's a good thing because the lack of a separate water-filling reservoir means having to wait a few minutes before refilling is allowed (an anti-slacken valve prevents opening until the pressure has dropped). Heat up time is a fairly respectable five minutes.
The Vaporetto is exceedingly well equipped to deal with a wide variety of domestic cleaning tasks; it even has a deodorant reservoir that suffuses the room with a pleasant aroma. Tucked away under the burnished orange and white-liveried body is a compartment containing a multitude of little clip-on tools designed for different cleaning jobs. The instruction manual doesn't let on which tool is best for a particular assignment so experimentation is the order of the day. As with all steam cleaners – and indeed most espresso machine's milk frother attachments – the first pull of the trigger produces as much water as steam. So, to prevent spurting water soaking your curtains or making a mess of the oven hob, we advise holding the unit's hose end over a sink or a bucket first. After a few spluttering seconds it'll start producing clouds of ultra fine steam at a sufficient rate of 85 grams per minute.
The Vaporetto does many tasks very well, but don't expect miracles.
£98 | Polti
Thane H20 X5
Great price considering it comes with enough attachments to clean every conceivable crevice; the H2O X5 converts quickly between handheld and steam mop and heats quickly to avoid unnecessary dripping. Not the sturdiest of designs but considering the choice of brush and pressure nozzle attachments, floor scrubbers, clothes steamer, carpet refresher and window cleaning attachments it's a worthy contender.
Price: £79.99 I |Amazon
Vax Steam Fresh Pet steam cleaner
Steam is an impressive deodoriser, but if you've got a house full of pets it can still be hard to get rid of their whiff. This powerful 1600W Vax is supplied with a specialist pet detergent which works with the steam to neutralise nastiness. Combined with the removable pet hair pad and compact scrubbing brush your home should stay smelling sweeter for longer. Like spraying Febreeze, but actually cleaning as well.
Price: £70 I Amazon
Bissell Vac & Steam
Logically this 2-in-1 bagless vacuum and steam mop hybrid shouldn't work. The combination of dust and water just screams icky mess to us, but in practice it works like a charm sucking up the dry dust and dirt before the steam and microfiber pad gives the floor a quick drying clean. We're not claiming it is perfect – wet dirt is impossible to ignore – but it's a great time saver especially as the steam can be used separately.
Price: £145 I Amazon
Polti Vaporettino Lux Steam Gun
A great gadget if you're not sure what colour the grout in your bathroom should be. This compact handheld unit cranks out 3bar pressure and comes with a torture kit worthy selection of intimidating wire brush nozzles and tools to help blast and scrub the grease away. It also comes with all the attachments to spot clean fabrics, great for pet invaded sofas.
Price: £31 I Amazon
Morphy Richards 3-in-1 Sweep and Steam Cleaner
Like the Bissell this can sweep, steam or do both simultaneously to save time. The variable steam settings and trigger operation help you target different floor types and stains while the folding handle makes it easier to shove in the cupboard when you're done choring. Don't expect it to demolish dirt like a Dyson, but for quick tasks it works well.
Price: £48 I Amazon
Hoover SteamJet Dual Head
At 1700W and with a large 700ml capacity it will keep steaming for up to 23min and while it is a bit slow to heat up the results are worth the wait. The clever dual head design incorporates a standard microfiber mop and removable triangular scrubbing brush that gets right into the corners. Additional water filter helps keep it working even in hard water areas.
Price: £50 I Amazon
Black & Decker FSMH1621
Pre-heats in just 15 seconds so there's no faffing about on cleaning day and with the pull-out Steambuster handheld unit you can do the floors and blitz the kitchen, bathroom and windows without breaking stride.
Comes with an idiot proof control panel – just choose the picture of the floor you're cleaning and press for the correct level of steam – and 180⁰ pivoting head for fast manoeuvring around and under furniture.
Price: £115 I Amazon
Home-Tek Light ‘n’ Easy Handy Steam Mop
It was only a matter of time before someone powered up the sponge and unlike the typical handheld steamers that blast their way through grease this altogether gentler mop-style design makes quick work of large tiled surfaces, bathroom suites and kitchen hoods and hobs.
Need a bit more poke? The trigger gives an extra blast of steam to shift the grime. Intending to clean an oven or your stables? Move on.
Price: £20 I Amazon