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Work Hotter Not Harder With the Best Steam Cleaners

Nov 16, 2023

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Household chores are a necessary evil because no one wants to live in a pigsty—and, just as you have a specific tool for your gutters and a pre-summer grill-cleaning ritual, it helps to have the right tools to clean your space. Steam cleaners are an extremely effective cleaning tool that can disinfect all of your household surfaces without the use of harsh chemicals.

Using temperatures around 220 degrees, steam cleaners both clean messes and sanitize surfaces—they can kill 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew, allergens, and bugs across a wide variety of fabrics and sealed surfaces.

Comparable to cylinder and upright vacuums, the two main types of steam cleaners are cylinder steam cleaners and steam mops. Both make surfaces not only look clean, but also render them free of bacteria, pet messes, or caked-on spills.

Cylinder steam cleaners have—you guessed it—cylinder bodies with wheels. They’re generally heavier than alternatives, but you shouldn't be worried about weight as the wheels easily glide on hard floors. Cylinder steam cleaners typically offer more attachments than steam mops and are therefore more versatile.

Other bonuses include a higher steam output, larger water tank capacity, and functionality for a greater variety of surfaces, like upholstery and curtains. They do come apart for storage purposes, but are generally more cumbersome to store.

Designed to be used in place of a regular mop for your floors, steam cleaner mops are much more compact and lightweight. Though they have smaller water tanks than cylinders, they’re better designed for small spaces and quick cleanups. Many are suitable only for hard floors, though some come with attachments to use on carpets.

Some options on this list combine the portability of a steam mop with the flexibility of a cylinder steam cleaner. These models typically have lift-off cylinders that separate from the upright mop, which you can use with a variety of attachments to clean more than just your floors.

Consider where you plan to use your steam cleaner and how frequently. Steam cleaner mops are great for those in apartments and smaller abodes because they’re nimble and don't take up much space. They don't come with the bells and whistles of cylinder steam cleaners, but if you just want a more efficient way of mopping, who needs the extra functionality?

For those planning a marathon deep clean of a large home, a cylinder steam cleaner is your best bet. Imagine how tedious it would be trying to get into every corner of an expansive home with just a mop that requires refills and has no attachments to handle couches or drapes.

To select the best steam cleaners, we researched expert sources, referencing the testing by our colleagues at Good Housekeeping to determine what to look out for when shopping for a steam cleaner. We relied on our team's previous experiences with steam cleaner mops and browsed around to see what new models and technologies have recently hit the market as well as what models have performed well over the years.

We selected a variety of steam cleaners and referenced user reviews to ensure they hold up to their promises of a quality clean on different surfaces. Our final pool of products is a list of steam cleaners that’ll have your home sparkling without back-breaking effort or bank-breaking prices.

The Neat steam cleaner gives you a professional-grade clean without having to outsource the job. It offers a high 275-degree steam and large tank capacity that can run for up to 50 minutes. The compact canister with wheels has a 16-foot cord that connects to a 6.5-foot hose for a good amount of reach from wall to machine to whatever you’re cleaning.

Unlike many other models, it effectively cleans surfaces without requiring a specific branded pad or towel; the clip on the mop head allows you to use any towel you own—microfiber is the best—saving you money on buying replacements.

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Neat Multi-Use Steam Cleaner


This "pocket-sized" steam cleaner is great for those in an apartment, condo or small home. It's lightweight and maneuverable with a large cleaning head and impressive tank capacity. It heats up in about 30 seconds and can use any microfiber towel as a reusable mop pad.

The mop head swivels so you can use both sides without changing the pad after dirtying just one side. It's easy to use and store but its small stature also makes it less than ideal for big homes or cleaning jobs. We recommend this for small homes or quick cleaning in a pinch.

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Steam Pocket Mop


The PowerFresh steam mop uses a "lift-off" design that combines the ease of use of a mop with the versatility of a handheld steam cleaner. The removable cylinder and 13 included accessories let you use this machine on almost any surface: floors, tile and grout, kitchen appliances, windows, and upholstery. The lift-off handheld steamer is great to clean the seats and carpet in your car as well.

It heats up fast and customers report it's very user friendly. They say it can be a bit loud, though.

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PowerFresh Lift-Off Steam Mop


If you want your car as pristine as your home, this AutoRight steam cleaner is specifically designed to get every nook and corner of your vehicle. The eight-foot hose gives you reach into your cab to hit seats, door pockets, cup holders, and carpets.

It has a self-storage container on top to hold accessories and the large-capacity tank allows you to detail almost the entire interior of your car without needing to refill.

This steam cleaner can work for small household projects as well but you’ll want something bigger if you want the entire home cleaned. It takes about nine minutes to heat up so keep that in mind between filling.

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AutoRight Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner


This steam cleaner is a powerhouse for continuous deep cleaning. The tank doesn't require a cool down so it can continuously fill with water while you clean, and the system has a built-in decalcification filter to protect it over time.

It heats up in under a minute which we’re very impressed with as most steam cleaners with this large of a tank take well up to eight or so minutes.

It comes with three attachments—a grout tool, a hand nozzle, and a round brush—which is less than other models but enough to give you a well-rounded clean.

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SC3 EasyFix Steam Cleaner


Though it has a relatively long heating time at eight minutes, this McCulloch steam cleaner has a large tank that’ll last up to 45 minutes. Its many accessories can go from the kitchen to bathroom to living room and reach anywhere between the ceilings and floors.

It's also quite mobile with its wheels, carrying handle, 10-foot long steam hose, and 15-foot power cord. It only has one steam setting but has an array of accessories for any task.

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Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner


A popular and compact steam mop, the PowerFresh Deluxe features easy swivel steering and convenient refilling with an included water cup that attaches to the handle. You can switch between three power settings, and also remove the main base to use a spot brush to scrub more difficult or hard-to-reach messes.

Unlike the Powerfresh Lift-off, this steam cleaner comes with a scrubby spot-cleaner for getting those baked-in stains out. It also comes with two washable mop pads for the mop head, one scrubby and one soft, and you can buy scented discs to make your steaming smell a little nicer.

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Bissell Powerfresh Deluxe Steam Mop


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