5 Best Handheld Steam Cleaners (2017) – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Written by James Hall | 0 Comments| Last Updated: November 6, 2017

Looking for a handheld steamer but not sure which to buy? After many hours of research, here's our list of the best handheld steam cleaners in the UK.

A guide to the best handheld steam cleaners in the UK

It's not an exaggeration to say that steam cleaners have transformed home cleaning. Whether you need to clean grout, floors, carpets or windows, the strong burst of steam can cut through dirt and grease. They are also one of the most versatile home cleaning appliances.

Not all steam cleaners are convenient to use for every job though. Steam mops, for example, are mainly designed to tackle floors. Regular steam cleaners are more versatile, but often have bulky bodies and unwieldy hoses.

For this reason, handheld steam cleaners (just like handheld vacs) have become a popular choice.

Handheld steamers deliver a highly concentrated burst of steam via a small nozzle. They are portable and easy to use, so  are great for cleaning awkward locations. Handheld steamers also tend to be cheaper than full-size alternatives.

There are some obvious drawbacks to handheld cleaners though. The smaller size can reduce steam power and makes them unsuitable for cleaning large areas. Some of the cheaper options are also unreliable and, frankly, not worth the money.

With that in mind, we've put together a list of the best handheld steam cleaners. Each of these models provides excellent cleaning performance in relation to their price. If you're looking for a great handheld cleaner for grout, windows or almost anywhere else in the home, you've come to the right place!

Why Buy a Handheld Steamer?

Before we get to the recommendations, let's take a look at why you might want to choose a handheld steam cleaner over steam mops or full-size cleaners.

  • Great for Small Jobs. Handheld steamers excel at small cleaning jobs. If you need to clean kitchen surfaces, bathroom tiles or small windows, for example, they are the best choice. They are also great for sanitising kitchen surfaces or cleaning in tight crevices.
  • Convenient to Use. As handheld cleaners can be held in one hand, they are easy to use for cleaning awkward locations. They are also lightweight.
  • Multi-Purpose Attachments. Many handheld steam cleaners come with a range of attachments. This allows you to clean a variety of surfaces quickly and efficiently. Examples of attachments include cloths, brushes and squeegees.
  • Easy to Store. The compact design of a handheld steam cleaner means they don't take up much cupboard space. If you're struggling to find extra storage space in your home for another appliance, then a handheld could be a great choice.
  • Cheap. As you would expect, smaller steam cleaners are less expensive than full-size alternatives.

It's not all good news for handheld steam cleaners though - there are some drawbacks too.

The compact size of a handheld is a downside as well as an advantage. This is because the concentrated steam nozzle is impractical for cleaning large areas of floor. While a handheld model is convenient for spot cleaning, they aren't designed for cleaning an entire carpet or stairs.

Along with a smaller burst of steam, handheld models also have a smaller capacity. This means they don't provide steam for as long as larger models. The upside is  the reduced capacity also minimises weight.​

A minor drawback is that there are fewer portable steam cleaners on the market. This reduces choice and competition. Brands such as Vax, VonHaus, Hoover and Bissell all offer handheld options though, so there are still some great choices.​

It's also important to have realistic expectations of a handheld steam cleaner. While the best models provide a powerful burst of steam, for the toughest cleaning tasks you're better off with a full-size model. For smaller jobs, however, nothing beats the convenience of a handheld steam cleaner.

How to Choose a Mini or Portable Steam Cleaner

It's important to know what to look for in a handheld steam cleaner. While the models listed below provide great value and cleaning performance, there might be an option that suits your house and requirements better than the others.

Here's a quick run-down of what to look for when buying a handheld steamer:

  • Water Tank Capacity. Even the best handheld steam cleaners have a small water tank compared to full-size models. The larger the tank, the longer you'll be able to clean for before needing to refill it.
  • Heat Up Time. Most handheld steam cleaners heat up relatively quickly, but it's still worth checking the heat up time. We find that the longer a steam cleaner takes to heat up, the less likely you are to use it in the long run.
  • Power. The more powerful a steam cleaner is, the easiest it'll cut through tough grease or stubborn stains. If you're going to be using the cleaner on grills, grout or other difficult locations, make sure you choose a handheld model with a focused and powerful steam output.
  • Brand. We usually recommend buying steam cleaners made by brands with established reputations. This doesn't guarantee quality, but makes it more likely that you're buying a powerful and reliable steam cleaner. Some examples of (generally) trustworthy brands include Bissell, Black & Decker, Beldray, VonHaus, Hoover, Morphy Richards, Karcher and Vax - although not all these brands produce handheld models.
  • Attachments. The best handheld steam cleaners usually come with a range of attachments for various jobs. Examples include squeegees (for glass), brushes (for getting rid of grime and stubborn dirt) and scrubbing pads (for oven grease). Make sure you know the areas you want to clean around the home, so you can buy a steam cleaner that meets your requirements.
  • Price. Handheld steam cleaners are cheaper than mops or full-size cleaners. Even so, it's important know how much you want to spend before you start looking. They generally range from £20-£50, although price doesn't always equal quality.

As we always say at Spotless Vacuum, the most important thing is to choose a model that meets your requirements. If you're going to be using the steam cleaner on thick grease and grime, it's worth spending extra on one with a more powerful steam output. If you just need a steamer for the occasional spot clean, a cheaper option might do the job just as well.

5 Best Handheld Steam Cleaner Reviews for Portable Home Cleaning

ImageProduct NamePowerWater TankWeightPrice RangeRead More
Bissell 2635s Steam Shot1000W0.36 litres2.3kg££View Price
VonHaus Multi-Purpose1050W0.25 litres1.5kg£View Price
Hoover Steam Express SSNH10001000W0.4 litres1.6kg££View Price
Vax S4 Grime Buster1200W0.26 litres1.6kg££View Price
Comforday Handheld Steam Cleaner1050W0.24 litres1.8kg££View Price

Listed below are five of the best steam cleaners on the market at the moment. We've researched dozens of cleaners to find the top model, while considering factors such as steam power, heat up time, capacity, versatility, attachments and price.

1. Bissell 2635s Steam Shot

Our top pick for a handheld steam cleaner is the Bissell 2635s. It's an easy-to-use model with several accessories for tackling a variety of cleaning jobs. The Bissell is also available for a great price, so it was an easy pick for our #1 spot.


The Bissell 2635s Team Shot is a powerful handheld

Bissell 2635s Steam Shot

  • Wide range of accessories including window squeegee and grout brush
  • Relatively long 4.8 metre power cord
  • Surprisingly good performance considering the price and size

What makes the Bissell stand out from the rest though? The first thing is that it comes with a wide range of attachments. These include an extension hose, window squeegee, brush tool, scraping tool (which is great for removing gum or wallpaper) and a grout brush. There's also a fabric steamer, which is useful for getting rid of wrinkles in drapes or thin curtains. Whether you want to use the steamer for furniture, showers or windows, there's a tool to make the job easier.

The 2635s also provides reasonable power considering its compact design. It can't rival full-size models for steam power, but does a decent job at cleaning hard-to-reach areas.​ It's also effective at removing bathroom mould and black marks on grout, which is a common reason people buy a handheld steam cleaner.

As you would expect from a small handheld steam cleaner, it has a relatively small 360ml tank. Be prepared to refill it often - especially during longer cleaning tasks.​ On the upside, the steamer generates steam right up to the point when the tank is empty, which isn't the case for many cheaper models. There's also a 4.8 metre power cable, which is relatively long and allows you to clean in the bathroom without needing a shaver adaptor.

There are a few downsides to the 2635s though. While its useful for getting into crevices, we find the nozzle is too big to clean in the tightest places. It's not powerful enough to remove all limescale and grout marks, although it does a good job of getting rid of the worst.​ At 2.3kg, it's also a bit heavier than most handheld steamers.

The Bissell 2635s handheld steam cleaner is an excellent choice that provides great value for money - as long as you have realistic expectations. It's not an industrial steam cleaner, so it struggles with larger jobs and you'll need to refill the tank regularly. Despite these issues, it's surprisingly effective at cleaning grime, grease and dirt.


2. VonHaus Multi-Purpose

The VonHaus Multi-Purpose is a true all-rounder when it comes to cleaning your home. With a range of accessories, it's great for everything from cleaning mould to removing grease on a gas cooker. It has a slightly smaller water tank than the Bissell, but is available for a cheaper price.


The Von Haus Multi-Purpose is designed for a variety of uses around the home

VonHaus Multi-Purpose

  • Very lightweight and mobile
  • Range of tools and accessories
  • Not quite as powerful as the Bissell but cheaper

Let's start with the attachments, as the versatility of the VonHaus is one of its main selling points. It comes with a window tool, round brush, angled brush (for getting into tight spots) and a mini mop. Like the Bissell, the VonHaus handheld steam cleaner also includes a flexible extension hose for tackling crevices and other tricky locations.

With a 250ml water tank, the VonHaus only lasts eight minutes before needing to be refilled. This is long enough for most spot cleaning tasks, but for removing black marks from grout or limescale from bathroom taps you'll need to refill it multiple times. A small steam cleaner is always going to have this issue, but it's worth keeping in mind.​

​When it comes to cleaning performance, the VonHaus is versatile but not quite as powerful as the Bissell. It can remove patches of limescale and grease, but don't expect it to completely clean a bathroom or kitchen. For spot cleaning, however, it does a decent job.

An advantage of the VonHaus is its lightweight design. At just 1.5kg, it's noticeably lighter than the Bissell, so you won't get tired while using it.​

So who should buy this over the Bissell? If you're happy with a 3 metre power cord (compared to the Bissell's 4.8 metres) and the smaller water tank, the VonHaus is an excellent choice that's available for less. For a larger cleaning radius and bigger water tank, spend a bit more and get the Bissell. We also think the Bissell provides stronger cleaning performance, so it's better suited to tough tasks.​


3. Hoover Steam Express SSNH1000

Another excellent handheld steam cleaner is the Hoover Steam Express SSNH1000. It's a mid-range model with a 1000W motor, lightweight design and 2-minute heat up time. It also has one of the largest water tanks we've seen from a steam cleaner, so it can be used for longer before needing to be refilled.


The Hoover is a 1000W handheld steam cleaner

Hoover Steam Express SSNH1000

  • Lightweight design
  • Relatively large 0.4 litre capacity
  • Range of accessories

The Hoover Steam Express has been designed to be lightweight and easy to use. It still packs a punch though, so if you want to remove grease or grime without expensive cleaning products it's a great tool to have around the house.

Like most handheld steamers, the Hoover comes with a number of accessories. These include a copper brush, angled nozzle and shovel plate. There's also a clothing mouth, which is useful for steaming fabric.

While its 4 metre cable isn't quite as long as the Bissell, it's long enough for most tasks. An advantage is  the 0.4 litre water tank is bigger than most handheld models and the steaming time is up to 12 minutes per tank. It also heats up and is ready to go in around 120 seconds, so you don't need to wait long to use it.​

In terms of cleaning performance, we don't think the Hoover can quite match the Bissell. It's great for simple tasks, but struggles on tougher grime and dirt. The water cap is also difficult to unscrew, which is frustrating.​

Despite these issues, if you're looking for a small steam cleaner without spending too much money, the Hoover is a solid choice. It's lightweight, easy to use and has a relatively long run-time before needing to be refilled.


4. Vax S4 Grime Buster

If you're looking for a steam cleaner that's particularly good at refreshing fabric, the Vax S4 Grime Buster is a good option. It's a versatile steamer that's relatively good at cleaning, although it's not the easiest to use.


The Vax S4 Grime Buster is a popular handheld steamer

Vax S4 Grime Buster

  • Great for removing creases from fabric
  • Relatively good cleaning performance
  • Not as easy to use as other steam cleaners

The S4 has a trigger system for activating steam. There are three steam options, so you can adjust the output depending on the surface, and it's suitable for a variety of household jobs.

As you'd expect from a Vax handheld steam cleaner, the S4 does a good job at most cleaning tasks. It's quick to clean glass, mainly due to the squeegee, and can get rid of marks on grout and tiles.

It's important to have reasonable expectations though. While it can remove marks from tiles, it can't match a full-size steam cleaner. It's also likely to struggle with tough jobs such as cleaning oven grease. In other words, don't expect the S4 to completely replace a cloth and elbow grease, but it can make cleaning a lot easier.​

One area the Vax excels at is getting rid of fabric creases. If your curtains are looking like they need ironing, the S4 can quickly remove the worst creases.

There are some downsides to the S4 though. The first is that it's not the easiest handheld steamer to use.​ It's hard to empty the water tank when you're done, even when turning it upside-down. We also think filling the tank is more difficult than it should be.

Another issue is the quality of the tools. The brush won't last long when used on rough surfaces, and it can be costly to replace it. ​

While the Vax deserves a place on our list of the best handheld steamers, it's hard to recommend it over the Bissell or others on this list. If you need a steamer for fabric creases, however, it does an excellent job.


5. Comforday Handheld Steam Cleaner

We usually recommend buying a mini steam cleaner from established and well-known brands, as these models tend to be more reliable. An exception is the Comforday Handheld Steam Cleaner, which provides reasonable cleaning power and a long 20-minute run-time. It's also a versatile option that's available for a great price - although it's not powerful enough for harder jobs.


The Comforday is a multi-purpose model

Comforday Handheld Steam Cleaner

  • Basic steam cleaner with a range of attachments
  • Reasonable price
  • Not enough power for hard jobs

Like most handheld steam cleaners, the Comforday is lightweight and easy to use. With a power of 1050W, it emits highly pressurised steam, which should kill bacteria while removing dirt and grime from the home.

As you would expect, the Comforday comes with several accessories. These include a long spray cup, brush plate, funnel, round brush and window cup. This allows it to be used for a range of household tasks, such as cleaning curtains, bathrooms, windows and even outdoor furniture.

There are some fairly major drawbacks to the Comforday though, which is why it's not further up our list. While it produces a lot of steam, the pressure is low so it's not the most effective at cleaning. The range of accessories mean it's a versatile choice, but probably not powerful enough for the toughest jobs.

Like the Hoover, the Comforday's tank cap is also difficult to remove. Considering you'll need to refill it regularly, this is a frustrating. The steam button is also difficult to use, which is an annoying oversight.

In summary, if you need a relatively cheap handheld steam cleaner and the Comforday has all the attachments you need, it might be worth considering. It's not powerful enough for tough jobs though - and the design means it's more frustrating to use than it should be.

A steam cleaner cleaning tiles

Advantages of Steam Cleaning

Now you know which handheld steam cleaners provide the best value for money, let's take a quick look at why you would want a steam cleaner in the first place.

  • Environmentally Friendly. Steam cleaners are a great way to clean your home without using harsh chemicals. As they only use steam to kill germs and remove dirt, they are also environmentally friendly.
  • Child-Friendly. As steam cleaning doesn't use chemicals, it's healthier for children. Steam cleaning is also safer for pets, as it doesn't use detergents that could potentially cause skin or lung irritation.
  • Versatile Cleaning. There aren't many home cleaning appliances that can match the versatility of a steam cleaner. Most come with a number of accessories, so they can be used to clean everything from mould in the garage to grease in the oven. Steam mops and full-size cleaners are also great for cleaning both carpets and hard floors.
  • Cost Efficient. A steam cleaner might be initially more expensive than other cleaning products, but once you've bought it the running costs are low. Aside from electricity, you don't need to buy additional products or replacement chemicals.
  • Allergy Relief. Highly pressurised steam is thought to kill both dust mites and bacteria. This is great for allergy sufferers. 

Summary and Quick Pick

A handheld steam cleaner can be a useful tool to have in the home. Whether you need to remove limescale, clean windows or cut through oven grease, the best portable steam cleaners can make quick work of most jobs.

It's vital to have realistic expectations though. Even the best handheld steam cleaners can't match the power of full-size models, so they may struggle with the hardest jobs.​ They also have small water tanks that need to be re-filled regularly.

Even so, ​there are some great handheld steamers on the market. Our favourite is the Bissell 2635s Steam Shot. It's a versatile option with strong cleaning performance for a handheld, long power cord and a wide range of accessories. If you need an all-round cleaning tool that doesn't cost a fortune, it's hard to go wrong with the Bissell.

Do you have any questions about choosing the best handheld steam cleaner for your home? Or do you think we've missed a model that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!​

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