Which is the Best Steam Cleaner? Reviews & Comparisons of the UK’s Top Models

Written by James Hall | 0 Comments| Last Updated: December 14, 2017

Handheld
BISSELL 2635s BISSELL 2635s
  • Power: 1000W
  • Water Capacity: 0.36 litres
  • Weight: 2.3kg
  • Price: £
  • Powerful handheld cleaner with 11 accessories.
Karcher SC3 Kärcher SC3
  • Power: 1900W
  • Water Capacity: 1 litre
  • Weight: 3.5kg
  • Price: ££
  • Versatile and powerful, this is our #1 steam cleaner.
Vax S86-SF-CC Vax S86-SF-CC
  • Power: 1600W
  • Water Capacity: 2.6 litres
  • Weight: 3.76kg
  • Price: £
  • 10 accessories and includes a handheld mode.
Morphy Richards 720020 Steam Cleaner Morphy Richards 720020
  • Power: 1500W
  • Water Capacity: 0.4 litres
  • Weight: 3kg
  • Price: £
  • Provides combination of detachable handheld and powerful steam mop.

 

Steam cleaners are all the rage at the moment – and for good reason. These powerful tools provide an easy and hygienic way to clean your home, and can potentially save you hours of cleaning time each month.

So what makes a steam cleaner different from a vacuum or a carpet cleaner? These machines, as you might have guessed, 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).

This doesn’t mean all models are worth the money though. There are a huge number of models on the market, from major brands (such as Vax and Morphy Richards) to newer companies looking to make their mark in a growing industry. Some models provide exceptional value and can save you cleaning time and reduce frustration. Others, however, are too weak or unwieldy to be anything more than a gimmick.

There’s much more to choosing a cleaner than just the brand too. You also need to consider factors such as the accessories, type, steam power and weight.

Because choosing a steam cleaner can be confusing, we want to help you make the right decision. On this page, you’ll find listed our four best steam cleaners, including our favourite handheld and cylinder models. There is also a guide to choosing the right model, along with the advantages and disadvantages to this exciting cleaning tool. So let’s get started!

Top Four Rated Steam Cleaners

Vax S86-SF-CC Steam Fresh ReviewVax S86-SF-CC Handheld and Steam Mop

If you can’t decide between a handheld or mop, the Vax S86-SF-CC could be one of the best options With both mop and handheld modes, the model is one of the most versatile on the market. It also comes with 10 tools and accessories for tackling a variety of tasks, including tiles, grout and ovens.

Other features of the Vax S86-SF-CC include a unique system for removing stains and dirt, an angular head for cleaning difficult areas and a two year warranty. The machine will even leave a citrus smell behind after cleaning (although it requires detergent which adds to the long-term cost).

So how does it perform? The Vax does a great job at cleaning carpets more thoroughly than you would expect in this price range. We also like how easy it is to clean into corners, due to the shape and mobility of the head.

To summarise, the Vax S86-SF-CC Steam Fresh Combi Classic is an excellent all-rounder and amongst the best steam cleaner models on the market. It’s powerful enough to remove stains and kill up to 99% of harmful bacteria, and comes with a range of accessories such as a washable cleaning pad. Click here for our full review.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 1600W
  • Weight: 3.7kg
  • Water Capacity: 2.6 litres

Key Features:

  • Comes with a built-in handheld steamer for greater versatility.
  • 10 accessories.
  • Two year warranty from Vax.

View Price

BISSELL 2635s Handheld Steam CleanerBISSELL 2635s Handheld

The BISSELL 2635s is a small handheld steam cleaner that delivers a powerful burst of steam. It’s perfect for use on hard surfaces, and has a 4.8 metre cord for extra convenience. The BISSELL 2635s also comes with 11 attachments for cleaning a variety of surfaces.

While it’s never going to be as powerful as full-size steam cleaners, the Bissell 2635s provides surprisingly strong output and performance. The easy-to-use and compact design means it’s straightforward to clean places larger models would struggle.

It’s also a useful model for removing limescale. So if you’re sick of spending hours scrubbing or don’t want to use potentially harmful chemicals, it could be a great alternative.

While the BISSELL 2635s handheld steam cleaning might look like a basic model, the large number of accessories and powerful performance make it an option to consider. It’s not the cheapest handheld steam cleaner on the market, but it’s an excellent choice. Click to read our full review of the BISSELL 2635s.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 1000W
  • Weight: 2.3kg
  • Water Capacity: 0.36 litres

Key Features:

  • Powerful handheld cleaner.
  • Lightweight and easy to use.
  • 11 accessories including a squeegee for window cleaning.

View Price

Kärcher SC3 Multi-Purpose

Karcher SC3The Kärcher SC3 is a multi-purpose cleaner with a variety of features. It heats up quickly, so you waste less time waiting, and has an automatic descaling system to keep it operating effectively.

One of the best things about the Karcher is its versatility. The SC3 can clean almost any surface due to its range of accessories, including the new “Comfort” tool for cleaning floors.  It’s also easy to use, provides great value and will leave a bathroom gleaming.

Other features include a lightweight design (3.5kg) and  a 3.5bar steam pressure output. The SC3 also comes with several accessories, such as a detail nozzle, round brush and hand tool.

To summarise, the Kärcher SC3 Multi-Purpose steam cleaner is an excellent model that provides exceptional value. While there are cheaper options available, the performance and value of this model won’t leave you disappointed. In other words, it’s an easy pick for one of the best floor steam cleaners on the market.

Overview:

  • Price Range: ££
  • Power: 1900W
  • Weight: 3.5kg
  • Water Capacity: 1 litre

Key Features:

  • Powerful and versatile steam cleaner
  • “Comfort” floor tool for cleaning large floors quickly
  • Great value for money

View Price

Morphy Richards 720020 Steam Cleaner ReviewMorphy Richards 720020 Upright and Handheld Steam Mop

Like the Vax listed above, the Morphy Richards 720020 is a steam mop with a handheld mode. Features include the ability to clean a variety of surfaces, such as carpets, grout, ovens and upholstery, and an easy-to-refill design. The cleaner also has a manoeuvrable head to get into difficult areas.

In terms of performance, the 720020 is certainly no slouch. It’ll leave hard floors gleaming in very little time, plus it’s easy to use and relatively lightweight.

The only downside is that it isn’t the most versatile steam cleaner on the market. If you want to clean windows, ovens or other areas that require a specialist attachment, it might not be the best choice.

Still, if you’re looking for a relatively cheap steam mop, then the Morphy Richards 720020 could be an option to consider. It’s not the best steam mop on the market – but, for the price, it provides excellent value. Click for our review of the Morphy Richards.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 1500W
  • Weight: 3kg
  • Water Capacity: 0.4 litres

Key Features:

  • Detachable handheld model combined with steam mop.
  • Powerful 1500W motor.
  • Comes with accessories including a crevice brush and worktop attachment.

View Price

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, these models 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 floor with high pressure, which can remove dirt and potentially kill bacteria and small pests.

However, while 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 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 £20. Steam mops are more expensive, ranging between £50-£100 depending on the brand and features. Cylinders are the most expensive, with the high-end models costing £200+. As always, we don’t recommend buying cheap steam cleaners just so save money – make sure you take into account performance and reliability too.

Cordless or Corded

As with vacuums, you can now buy a cordless steam cleaner. While there is debate about whether cordless models are as effective as corded steam cleaners, there’s no doubt the lack of a cord increases mobility and convenience.

To help you decide, here are the pros and cons of each type:

  • Corded steam mops – these are by far the most common and the connection to mains electricity provides more cleaning power. Corded steam cleaners also tend to be cheaper and never run out of battery. The downside is that the cord can often get in the way, and you may need to switch plug sockets when cleaning each room in your home.
  • Cordless steam mops – as you can probably guess, the main advantage of a cordless mop is the…lack of a cord! This makes it far easier to move the appliance around the home without tripping over or getting tangled. The downsides are that most only have a 15-20 minute battery life and are usually not as powerful.

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 projects.
  • Mop steam cleaners – A mop cleaner has one primary focus: to clean floors. With an upright design and relatively large water tank, they are the “next gen” steam models. Mops also tend to be lightweight and have excellent power, but aren’t as versatile as cylinders. If you need a carpet steam cleaner though, a mop is probably the best option.

Keep in mind that these categories aren’t set in stone. Some cleaners straddle two categories, and the versatility of a product can be affected by the type of attachments that are included.

Steam Power

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.

As 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.

Accessories

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. If you want to get rid of grease (such as inside an oven), a scrubbing pad can do the job.
  • Squeegee. A squeegee is ideal for cleaning glass.
  • Steam Window Cleaner. The perfect attachment for getting rid of smears, dirt and dust from your windows.

Other examples of accessories include built-in detergent dispensers, cleaning pads and carpet gliders for refreshing carpet.

Other Factors

  • 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

There’s no doubt that steam cleaners can be a useful tool to have around the home. But are they right option for you? Or are you better off spending your money on hiring a carpet cleaner? 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. This is especially true for hand held steam cleaners.
  • 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:

Conclusion

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 SC3. The combination of high steam power, fast heating up time and lightweight design provides excellent value.

A-Z of In-Depth Steam Cleaner Reviews

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