Not sure which steam cleaner to buy? Here’s our list of the best steam cleaners in the UK, along with tips for choosing the right model for your home.
Top Pick: Kärcher SC 3 EasyFix
- Best Steam Cleaners
- How to Choose a Steam Mop or Cleaner
- Advantages And Disadvantages Of Steam Cleaners
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Page Update History
Steam cleaners are powerful tools that provide an easy and hygienic way to clean your home. They can potentially save you hours of cleaning time each month – but only if you choose the right model!
There are a huge number of steam cleaners on the market, from major brands (such as Vax, Shark, and Morphy Richards) to newer companies looking to make their mark. Some models provide exceptional value, but others are too weak or inconvenient to be anything more than a gimmick.
On this page, you’ll find what we think are the four best steam cleaners in the UK, including our favourite handheld and cylinder models. There’s also a guide to choosing the right model, along with the advantages and disadvantages of this type of cleaning tool. So let’s get started!
Best Steam Cleaners
- Excellent steam cleaner that's been our top pick for a while
- Versatile and effective for cleaning around the home
- Great balance between price and performance
- Sometimes leaves floors quite wet
- Capacity is too small for cleaning large areas without refilling
The Kärcher SC3 is a multi-purpose steam cleaner with a variety of features. We’re big fans of this steam cleaner, as it provides the versatility of a cylinder model for a great price. It also has a number of useful features that make it a convenient option.
For example, we like that it heats up in just 30 seconds, so you waste less time waiting. It also has an integrated descaling cartridge to keep it operating effectively and prevent steam drop-off. Perhaps most importantly, the 3.5 bar steam pressure is highly effective at removing both bacteria and debris without needing cleaning chemicals.
One of the best things about the Karcher is its versatility. Unlike many steam mops, which can only clean floors, the SC3 can clean almost any surface due to its range of accessories. These include a hand nozzle, floor nozzle, and round brushes. We also think that it’s easy to use, provides great value, and will leave a bathroom gleaming.
Other features include a lightweight design (3.1kg without accessories) and enough steam pressure output to tackle limescale and dirt. The SC3 also comes with a 1-litre boiler capacity and a straightforward design.
There are some downsides to the SC3 EasyFix though. You need to be careful when using it on certain types of flooring, as it can leave the floor quite wet after use. We also don’t think it’s as convenient as some of the other models on this list, although that’s to be expected from a cylinder steam cleaner.
Another issue is that the capacity probably isn’t enough for cleaning large areas in a single session. This is less of an issue with the quick heat-up time, but for big homes, you might want to choose a cleaner with a larger capacity.
To summarise, the Kärcher SC3 EasyFix steam cleaner is an excellent model that provides strong value for money. While there are pricier options available with more features, we don’t think the performance and value of this model will leave you disappointed.
- One of the most versatile steam cleaners on the market
- Great for cleaning almost every type of surface
- Comes with a huge set of accessories
- 300ml capacity isn't as big as we would like
If you’re looking for a combination steam cleaner, then the Polti Vaporetto SV460 is our top recommendation. It’s a versatile model that’s effective for cleaning almost any surface. We also think it provides excellent value for money.
Let’s start with the basics though. The Polti is a steam mop with a handheld mode. The handheld option is perfect for spot cleaning or detailing jobs, while the mop makes cleaning floors much quicker.
We like how lightweight the Polti is for a combination model. At just 2.4kg, it’s convenient to use, comfortable to hold, and easy to manoeuvre across floors. Other features we like include the adjustable steam, very fast heat-up time, and easy-to-use buttons.
One of the great things about this stream cleaner is the range of included attachments. There are 17 in total, including various brushes and nozzles for cleaning different surfaces. The cleaner feels sturdy and well-built, so we think it’ll last a long time.
The Vaporetto also does a brilliant job at cleaning. The powerful steam and well-designed nozzles make it effective for most jobs, whether you’re cleaning hard floors with the mop or other surfaces with the handheld.
A minor downside to this model is the 300ml capacity. This isn’t tiny for a steam mop, but is less than you would get in a cylinder steam cleaner and means you’ll need to refill it during longer cleaning sessions. However, it heats up quickly, so this isn’t a major issue.
In summary, we think the Polti Vaporetto SV460 is an excellent combination steam cleaner. It’s versatile, easy to use, and provides strong cleaning performance.
- Solid choice if you only need to clean floors
- Good value for money
- Not suitable for above-floor cleaning
- Much less versatile than others on this list
If you don’t need the latest features, and only want to clean your floors, then the Black+Decker FSM13E1 is one of our top recommendations. It’s one of the cheapest steam cleaners on the market, but it still does a good job and provides excellent value.
Let’s start with the biggest issue with the Black+Decker FSM13E1: it can only clean floors. Unlike combination steam cleaners, it’s only a steam mop, so it can’t clean above-floor surfaces, windows, mirrors, or other areas of the home.
The good news is that it’s great for cleaning floors. So, if you need an affordable steam cleaner that’s suitable for vinyl or tile flooring, then it’s hard to beat the Black+Decker for this price. But if you need a versatile option, then go for another steam cleaner on this list.
Other things we like about the Black+Decker include the relatively lightweight design, simple control, and fast heat-up time. It also has a 380ml water tank, which is slightly bigger than many of the other steam mops we’ve reviewed.
So, if you need an affordable steam cleaner for floors, then we think the Black+Decker is the best on the market at the moment.
- Useful for small cleaning jobs
- Convenient and lightweight
- Can't match full-size steam cleaners when it comes to cleaning performance
- Small water capacity
The BISSELL 2635e is a small handheld steam cleaner that delivers a powerful burst of steam. We think it’s perfect for use on hard surfaces, and has a 5 metre cord for extra convenience. The BISSELL 2635e also comes with 9 attachments for cleaning a variety of surfaces.
While it’s never going to be as powerful as full-size steam cleaners, we think the Bissell 2635e provides surprisingly strong output and performance. The easy-to-use and compact design mean it’s straightforward to clean places larger models would struggle.
It also comes with a relatively long cable and an “on-demand” trigger system. Some people may find it annoying to hold down the trigger when cleaning, but this increases the effective run-time and ensures you get the most out of each refill.
Of course, a handheld steamer is never going to match a full-size model for cleaning performance – so it’s important to have realistic expectations. The 2635e has a much smaller water capacity, so it’s only designed for small jobs. It’s also not as powerful as bigger models.
Even so, while the BISSELL 2635e handheld steam cleaning might look like a basic model, the accessories and powerful performance make it an option to consider. It’s not the cheapest handheld steam cleaner on the market, but we still think it’s an excellent choice.
Note: The 2635e has replaced Bissell’s previous 2635s. Click to read our full review of the original BISSELL 2635s.
How to Choose a Steam Mop or Cleaner
Before you start searching for the best steam cleaner it’s important to understand how to choose the right model for you.
As the name suggests, steam cleaners heat up water quickly (similar to an iron) and then use it to clean and kill bacteria and dust mites. The steam is applied to the surface with high pressure, which can remove dirt and potentially kill bacteria and small pests.
However, as there are hundreds of models available, there’s a huge variation in performance. So it’s vital to know what you’re looking for before you buy. Here’s an overview of the main factors to consider.
Your Budget and Requirements
The amount you’re willing to spend is the first decision to make. While price isn’t the only factor affecting the quality of a machine, more expensive options tend to offer more features, greater cleaning power, and a larger number of accessories.
The amount to spend depends on the type you want to buy (see below for more details). Handheld models are the cheapest, and you can buy a decent model for as little as £50. Steam mops are more expensive, ranging between £50-£150 depending on the brand and features. Cylinders are the most expensive, with the high-end models costing £200+ (or much more!)
As always, we don’t recommend buying cheap steam cleaners just to save money – make sure you take into account performance and reliability too.
Type of Cleaner
There are, broadly, three types to choose from. Each is suitable for different tasks, so don’t assume steam cleaners for carpets will also be the best option for cleaning windows. The three categories are:
- Handheld steam cleaners – Small and portable, handheld models excel at cleaning kitchen surfaces, bathrooms and other small areas. They are inconvenient for large areas of carpet or hard floor though.
- Cylinder steam cleaners – Cylinder models hold more water than handhelds, so you’ll spend less time refilling them. The trade-off is that cylinders are usually heavier and not as mobile. Many cylinders come with a hose, attachments and tools to increase versatility though – so they can tackle a wider range of cleaning tasks.
- Mop steam cleaners – A mop cleaner has one primary focus: to clean floors. With an upright design and manoeuvrable cleaner heads, they are great for cleaning larger areas of floor quickly. Mops also tend to be lightweight and have excellent power, but they aren’t as versatile as cylinders. If you need a carpet steam cleaner though, a mop is probably the best option.
There are also combination steam cleaners. These are typically steam mops with a handheld mode, which makes the cleaner more versatile.
Just as suction power is a vital consideration for vacuums, power is something you need to consider when choosing a steam mop, cylinder, or handheld.
At a basic level, the combination of temperature and pressure affects how much power is provided. And, as a general rule, the more power the more effectively the product will be able to clean.
It’s worth keeping in mind that a steam cleaner is not designed to replace a carpet cleaner. While they are great for cleaning small areas, for a deeper and more powerful clean a proper carpet cleaner is required. This is why most models are said to “refresh fabric and carpet” rather an actually clean it.
Attachments and tools can increase the versatility of the machine beyond just a floor cleaner. They can allow you to clean windows, the interior of your car, or other areas that a steam cleaner on its own may not be able to handle. Here are some examples of accessories you may want to consider:
- Upholstery tool. An upholstery tool makes it much easier to refresh furniture material or remove stains from fabric.
- Scrubbing pad or brushes. If you want to get rid of grease (such as inside an oven), a scrubbing pad can do the job. Scrubbing brushes are also great for cleaning grout.
- Carpet tool. These accessories are specifically designed to clean carpets more effectively.
- Squeegee. A squeegee is ideal for cleaning glass without leaving streaks.
- Steam window cleaner. The perfect attachment for getting rid of smears, dirt and dust from your windows.
- Weight. Are you planning on cleaning for extended periods? If so, then a lightweight model (with a large water capacity) is probably the best choice.
- Water Capacity/Steaming Time. The steaming time, or the amount of time the cleaner can be used before being refilled, is set by the water capacity and efficiency. This is an important factor to consider, as some models can provide as little as 10 minutes steaming time.
- Heat-up Time. The heat-up time is how long a model takes to go from “off” to “ready to clean.” Cylinders take a lot longer than steam mops – the latter can often be used in less than a minute.
- Warranty. Warranties offer peace of mind, and also provide an insight into the confidence a manufacturer has in their product.
- Brand. While a brand name doesn’t always guarantee quality, there are some that have a better reputation for steam cleaners than others. The top brands for steam cleaners include Morphy Richards, Black + Decker and Vax.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Steam Cleaners
There’s no doubt that steam cleaners can be a useful tool to have around the home. But are they the right option for you? Or are you better off spending your money on a different tool? Here are some advantages:
- They excel at removing grease, bacteria and dust mites from a home. The pressure and temperature allows a steam cleaner to kill many types of bacteria.
- Most don’t require detergent which saves money compared to carpet cleaners.
- They also loosen dirt without leaving behind potentially toxic chemicals.
- The high-pressure expulsion of steam from the machines is great for removing stains.
- Many are versatile, and can be used on upholstery, hard floors and carpets.
- Some models provide multiple functions, such as vacuum cleaner or window cleaner.
And some disadvantages:
- Steam cleaners don’t provide the deep clean of a carpet cleaner – they only “refresh” carpets.
- The high pressure nature makes them unsuitable for some surfaces, such as cardboard, wood or antiques.
- There are many available, which can make it hard to choose the right model.
If you want to see a steam cleaner in action, check out the video below. The video uses a Karcher cleaner, but gives a good idea as to how these appliances work:
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Any surface that can be damaged by water or heat should not be cleaned with a steam cleaner. Examples of unsafe surfaces include water-based paint, unsealed flooring (such as hardwood or limestone), flooring with gaps, delicate fabrics, and porous surfaces.
You should always check the instructions for your steam cleaner before using it on a new surface.
This depends on your budget and requirements. Price isn’t always a good indication of quality, so we’ve found some excellent steam cleaners for less than £100. For the very best models, you should expect to pay significantly more though.
There are generally three categories of steam cleaners: cylinder, steam mops, and handheld. Some models also combine features of more than one type.
Steam mops are best for cleaning large areas of the floor, but they often lack versatility when it comes to above-floor cleaning. However, you can get multipurpose cleaners that function as both a handheld cleaner and steam mop.
Handheld steam cleaners are convenient but have small water tanks, so they are only suitable for small areas.
Cylinder cleaners are the most versatile, as they typically have a head, hose, and multiple accessories, but they are bulky and less convenient.
Steam cleaners use high-powered steam to kill bacteria and dust mites, loosen grease and remove dirt. They don’t provide the deep clean of a carpet cleaner, but are far more versatile as they can be used to clean windows, hard floors, ovens, grout, tiles and much more (with the right attachments).
Steam cleaners have taken the home appliance world by storm over the last few years. They provide a hygienic and quick way to clean almost any surface, and can refresh carpets too.
The main problem when trying to buy the best steam cleaner is the quantity of options. That’s why it’s important to consider your budget and requirements before you start looking – otherwise the choice can become overwhelming.
In this section of the site, we continuously add reviews from all the top brands. So if we haven’t reviewed the mop or cleaner you’re considering buying, check back regularly for our latest reviews.
If we had to choose our top cleaner, it is currently the Kärcher SC 3 EasyFix. The combination of high steam power, fast heating up time and lightweight design provides excellent value.
Page Update History
12th July 2023
Minor updates and swapped to new Spotless Vacuum design.
8th November 2022
Added the Polti Vaporetto SV460 replacing the Vax S86-SF-CC. Also added the Black+Decker FSM13E1 replacing the Morphy Richards 720020. Updated the buyer’s guide.