Best steam cleaners 2021: our top 10 steam mops, reviewed

Use the best steam cleaners from top brands like Vax, Bissell, Hoover and Kärcher to keep your floors, showers, and even upholstery spotless
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  • If you’re looking for a neat upgrade on your mop and bucket, then it’s time to invest in the best steam cleaner for your needs. A big hit with those who like to make sure their homes are not only clean, but spotless, steam cleaners tend to be a lot more versatile than the best vacuum cleaners.

    Because they clean using high-powered steam, these neat mops are perfect for cleaning and sanitising a whole host of surfaces in your home, not just floors. Even kitchen fixtures, showers and garden furniture and be given a once over with a steam cleaner. Some models also come with attachments to get into a whole load of hard-to-reach spots – like the corner of your shower or behind the fridge. Another big perk of buying the best steam cleaner is that they keep your home free of nasty chemicals as all they need is (very) hot water to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria.

    Black Friday steam cleaner deals – our top five picks

    So if you’re looking to bag a bargain on one of the best steam cleaners then you’ve come to the right place at precisely the right time. It’s Black Friday weekend so you’re guaranteed to find top money-saving deals on some of the best steam cleaner brands on the market. Looking up upgrade your all your cleaning kit? Then our Black Friday cordless vacuum deals page has more great savings.

    Shark S6003UK Smartronic Deluxe Klik N’ Flip Steam Mop: was £149, now £99 at Currys (save £50)
    Our testing team really rated the power of this steam mop, and the double sided floorhead and cleaning pad make it all the better suited to cleaning larger homes. It has a quick heat up time too so you can crack on with your cleaning without having to wait too long.

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    BISSELL PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E: was £159.99, now £99.99 at Currys (save £60) 
    The PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E really impressed us with its thoughtfully designed tool carrier and nifty design, which works in a similar way to a vacuum cleaner.

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    Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B: was £199, now £151 at Amazon (save £48) 
    The Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B is one of our five-star rated products thanks to its large water tank and excellent reach under furniture. It’s got a great capacity for large homes. Dirt, be gone!

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    BISSELL Vac & Steam Hard Floor Steam Cleaner 1977E: was £179.99, now £138.99 at Amazon (save £41)
    This nifty machine steams and vacuums at the same time, ensuring a proper deep clean on any hardwood, ceramic, linoleum, granite and marble surface.

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    Vileda 157171 Steam Mop: was £89.99, now £49.99 at Amazon (save £40)
    Guaranteed to kill 99.9% of bacteria on your floor just by the power of steam alone (no cleaning products), this also features a handy carpet glider attachment to help you refresh carpets, too.

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    What is the best steam cleaner in 2021?

    All of our best steam cleaners have been reviewed by home tech expert Caramel Quin. You can click through to our steam cleaner reviews to see how she got on with them in her own home, complete with pictures and comparisons. Caramel has voted the Vax Steam Fresh Combi S86-SF-C as the best steam cleaner in 2021. Alternatively, if you want something a little more versatile, then the Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B also comes (very) highly recommended. Read on to check out the full reviews.

     

    Best steam cleaners

    1. Vax Steam Fresh Combi S86-SF-C

    Best steam cleaner overall

    Vax Steam Fresh Combi S86-SF-C Steam Mop

    Capacity: 460ml
    Dimensions: H: 116cm W: 31cm D: 30cm
    Weight: 3.7kg
    Power: 1600 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Onboard tools
    • 
    handy triangular brush

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Small fill hole

    This upright steam mop has a triangular floorhead as well as the floorhead, two cloths and carpet glider. You can pop the head off to reveal a medium-sized triangular brush perfect for scrubbing.

    This is a traditional upright steam cleaner with a pop-out handheld in the middle for use with detail tools: squeegee with cloth cover for upholstery, concentrator, scraper and four different brushes. Unusually, there’s onboard storage for six tools on the back of the upright. There’s also a mesh bag for the others and lugs for storing the 8m cord.

    The 460ml tank pops off for easy filling. There’s also a 200ml detergent tank and a bottle of detergent included. We used this with the floorhead and carpet glider to clean the tide marks on an old, colourful rug. It worked to great effect and we only needed to switch to the brush a few times.

    It’s ready to use in less than 30 seconds and when you take your finger off the steam trigger it stops 2 seconds later. Steam is variable and powerful on the top setting. We also liked the fact that it can stand up independently when you need to pause cleaning.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Read our full Vax Steam Fresh Combi S86-SF-C review

    2. Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B

    Best powerful steam cleaner

    Capacity: 2 litres
    Dimensions:
    H 52.4 x W32.4 x D32.4 cm
    Weight: 
    5 kg
    Power: 
    1500 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Large water tank
    • Can clean under low-lying furniture

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Pricey

    The Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B has a large 2 litre water tank that feeds the boiler, but you can pop out the tank at any time for a refill without waiting for it to cool down or even disrupting cleaning.

    The body boasts variable steam control and an anti-calc collector. You can stow the cleaning head and two-part tube when not in use, or to pause, and there’s onboard storage for tools. It comes with a squeegee with cloth cover for cleaning upholstery, plus concentrator, scraper and two sizes of nylon brush.

    The floorhead is an unusual shape: neither triangular nor a rectangle. It comes with a floor glider and one cleaning pad. The floorhead is slim to fit under furniture and has a small brush on the back so you can reverse slightly to scrub stains. It also features a small tank for optional detergent.

    Steam took over one minute to heat up and then can stop and start instantly with a press of the trigger. It’s powerful: the lowest setting is similar to the steam offered by most steam mops, the highest setting is much stronger.

    We loved using the Polti. The controls are excellent, the design is practical and it feels weightless in the hand, so much so that you can lift it to clean tiled walls, windows, curtains and more.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Read our full Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B

    3. Black & Decker 10-in-1 Steam Mop FSMH13E10

    Best lightweight steam cleaner

    Capacity: 350 ml
    Dimensions:
    H: 115cm W: 30cm D: 15cm
    Weight: 
    1.9kg
    Power: 
    1300 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Lightweight
    • Easy to store

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • Short cord

    The design of the Black & Decker 10-in-1 Steam Mop FSMH13E10 is immensely lightweight. It has a great selection of tools and manoeuvrability is easy. It’s also one of the best options in terms of storage, so if you’re short on space, look no further.

    The Black & Decker 10-in-1 Steam Mop FSMH13E10 took just 12 seconds to heat up and start cleaning. You can’t choose different steam levels, so controls are a simple on and off. While it’s great on floors, we did find that tile and wood took a while to dry after use.

    The middle pops out and converts to a handheld. It made quick work of lifting grime from upholstery, tiled walls and more. At this price, it’s a great buy and does more than most steam cleaners.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Read our full Black & Decker 10-in-1 Steam Mop FSMH13E10

    4. Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    Best steam cleaner for speedy cleaning

    Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    Capacity: 300 ml
    Dimensions:
    H: 110cm W: 35cm D: 26cm
    Weight: 
    4.74 kg
    Power: 
    1500 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Wall mount for convenient storage
    • Thoughtful attachment carrier

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • Handheld function is awkward to use

    Pretty much all convertible steam mops have a handheld that pops out of the middle of the upright cleaner. This, however, is designed more like the best cordless vacuum cleaners. You hold the handheld and then add tubes below to clean floors. As a result, it’s nippy but top-heavy. It won’t stand up by itself then and there’s no carpet glider.

    We liked the design and how easy it was to convert back and forth. We loved the plastic tray that clips to the underside and holds all four supplied tools (concentrator, scraper and two shapes of brush). If your steam cleaning is a mix of floors and fiddly smaller things then the Bissell is hard to beat because your tools are always on board and converting is a doddle.

    There are a great many other thoughtful design touches. The fill hole for the 300ml tank is a good size and it comes with a jug. There’s a Velcro strap for stowing the 7.6m cord. There’s also a mesh bag for if you buy additional tools or don’t want to store them on board.

    Cleaning is versatile and the two steam levels are good enough for all uses. It’s not the most powerful steam on test and yet it’s the cleaner we’d pick up and use again and again.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Read our full Bissell PowerFresh SlimSteam 2234E

    5. Shark Klik n’Flip Automatic Steam Pocket Mop

    Best powerful steam mop

    Best-steam-cleaners-Shark

    Capacity: 380ml
    Dimensions:
    61 x 46 x 42 cm
    Weight:
    2.8kg
    Power:
    1200 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Two-year warranty
    • Quick heating time
    • Lots of accessories

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • Big floor pad isn’t great on tough corners

    Uniquely, the Shark’s floorhead and cleaning pad are double-sided, giving you twice the surface area for more cleaning. It comes with a second cleaning pad, too. It’s only designed for cleaning floors, so there are no accessories except a filling jug. We like the way this clips to the pole, so you always have it to hand. There’s space to coil the 8m power cable too.

    There are two steam levels: a button on the front of the body of the cleaner cycles between these and off. It heats up in under 30 seconds.

    On the main side of the pad, you steam clean as normal. The pad is big and rectangular, ideal for cleaning large areas fast. Flip the floorhead back on itself to use the other side, then push the whole machine down to get a powerful steam blast that sprays directly forwards onto the floor.

    After use, squeeze two tabs together on the body of the cleaner and the floorhead comes open, so the cleaning pad falls off into the laundry basket with no need to touch it.

    If you only want a steam cleaner to clean floors, this is powerful and the double-sided floorhead and two cleaning pads mean it can tackle large homes with ease. Check out the best shark vacuums for more options.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    6. Hoover Steam Capsule 2 in 1 CA2IN1D

    Best value steam cleaner

    Hoover Steam Capsule 2 in 1 CA2IN1D review

    Capacity: 350ml
    Dimensions:
    H: 117cm W: 31cm D: 18cm
    Weight:
    3.5kg
    Power:
    1700 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Ergonomic
    • Self-standing

    Reasons to avoid: 

    • Heavy to steer

    The Hoover Steam Capsule 2 in 1 CA2IN1D is an all-rounder. It’s got a design that many in search of the best steam mop will gravitate towards. Our first impression was that it’s an annoyance to assemble it, as you’ll need a screwdriver. It does look great though, and the handle is very ergonomic.

    It comes with a steam hose and a number of accessories, such as brushes and cloths. There isn’t any on-board storage, but the power cord is long, at 7 metres.

    You can pop out the handheld from the back of the Hoover Steam Capsule, and there are three levels of steam controls to choose from. It’s possible to pop off the steam head, leaving a scrubby triangular brush which is amazing at picking up stubborn areas of dirt and grime.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

    Read our full Hoover Steam Capsule 2 in 1 CA2IN1D review

    7. Kärcher SC 2 Upright EasyFix

    Best steam mop for hard floors

    Karcher SC2 Upright Easyfix Steam Cleaner

    Capacity: 400ml
    Dimensions:
    H: 119cm W: 17cm D: 31cm
    Weight:
    2.5kg
    Power:
    1600 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Great on hard floors
    • Slim and nifty design

    Reasons to avoid:

    • No carpet glider

    The Kärcher SC 2 Upright EasyFix is powerful and easy to control. It doesn’t come with carpet attachments, but its ‘stick’-style design is reminiscent of a cordless vacuum cleaner, which is very pleasing for those who love the convenience. You can even clip away the cord so it doesn’t get stuck underfoot.

    In terms of attachments, it’s a little minimal. It just comes with one microfiber pad for the floorhead and a descaling cartridge. There is no spare for when the pad is in the wash, and nothing for carpets either.

    On hard floors it was very effective, with strong steam that lifts dirt with ease. There’s also a descaling cartridge to tackle limescale in tap water: the machine alerts you when it’s time to replace it.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Read our full Kärcher SC 2 Upright EasyFix review

    8. Thane H2O HD

    Best folding steam cleaner

    Best-steam-cleaners-mops-Thane

    Capacity: 450 ml
    Dimensions:
    125cm (H) x 32cm (W) x 28cm (D)
    Weight:
    3.4 kg
    Power:
    1500 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Can fold away nicely
    • Long power cord

    Reasons to avoid:

    • No funnel for the fill hole

    This upright steam cleaner boasts a “why didn’t I think of that” design which folds in half for easy storage in smaller cupboards. Simply squeeze the circles on both sides to fold it. And you can wrap the 6m cord around lugs for storage, even when it’s folded. The curvy green and black design, with colourful lights, is attractive too.

    Assembling it for first use requires a screwdriver to attach the triangular floorhead, which comes with one cloth and a carpet glider. After that, it stays on and you pop out the middle bit if you want to convert to handheld cleaning. The fill hole on the 450ml tank is very small but there’s no funnel.

    The Thane boasts three steam levels but all switches are on the front of the handheld, so you have to reach down to turn it on or off, or change setting. As an upright, you must use the floorhead. The concentrator nozzle and two brushes attach directly to the handheld.

    There’s also a 30-inch extension hose to which you can connect the window squeegee (with cloths to adapt it for garments and upholstery) or duster attachment. The latter was our favourite tool thanks to its “coral” cover with fat, absorbent cloth fingers that pick up dust brilliantly.

    Startup takes around 30 seconds but after that it’s quick and responsive. Aside from a few niggles, we liked the design and it cleaned floors and more well.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    9. Kärcher SC5 Easyfix

    Best canister steam cleaner

    best-steam-cleaners-Karcher-5

    Capacity: 2 litres
    Dimensions:
    43.90 x 30.10 x 30.50 cm
    Weight:
    6 kg
    Power:
    2200 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Removes extremely stubborn dirt
    • Works on carpet
    • 6m cord

    Reasons to avoid:

    • You have to wait for it to heat up

    This premium, cylinder-style steam cleaner is a completely different animal from a steam mop. It does an outstanding job of cleaning so much more than floors and it can keep cleaning for hours. It has a 6m cord and a large 1.5 litre water tank and the water is then pumped into a pressurised steam tank. This means you can refill the machine at any time, even when it’s in use, without pausing your cleaning.

    The only downside of its constant, powerful steam is that you must wait 3 minutes for it to come up to temperature initially. Tools and onboard storage are superb. The 2m hose can be extended with one or both sections of lance, for cleaning floors and high-up or hard-to-reach places.

    Then you can attach various tools. There’s a large, rectangular floor head which comes with two Velcro cloths and a clip-on carpet glider. This steam cleaner also has a large square brush with cloth and large round brush – with space on the Kärcher to stow.

    But there’s more! Lift a flap on the cleaner’s body and you’ll also find a small, round brush for detailed cleaning and a concentrator nozzle. Outstanding selection of steam cleaning tools and storage. The only thing it’s missing that we care about is a window squeegee. However, Kärcher offers a wide selection of accessories if you care about this or other tools.

    Cleaning was outstanding – the floor head is much more than a floor head. It’s on a lightweight lance, so we found ourselves instinctively lifting it up and cleaning the bathroom’s tiled walls, right up to the ceiling. This took two minutes and the room has never been so clean. You could do the same with a mattress. This is steam cleaning in 3D.

    Steam is highly controllable, with a trigger under your finger and a dial on the body. The top setting didn’t seem OTT but dialling it back to its lowest setting was very impressive. Wooden floors were treated gently and were left nearly dry. The Karcher steam cleaner’s tools are equally impressive. We had to dial it back to avoid the bathroom becoming a steam room.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

    10. Bissell Vac & Steam

    Best vacuum and steam cleaner combi

    Best-steam-cleaners-mops-Bissell-Vac-n-Steam

    Capacity: 380 ml
    Dimensions:
    28 x 23 x 118cm
    Weight:
    4.8kg
    Power:
    1600 watts
    Reasons to buy:

    • Easy to fill water tank
    • 3-year-guarantee

    Reasons to avoid:

    • No handheld cleaning tools

    The first rule of mopping or steam cleaning is that you vacuum first. You lift as much dust and hair as possible dry, then use water to lift the remaining grime. It therefore makes sense to have a machine that does both.

    This Bissell does double duty, with a cyclonic vacuum cleaner followed by a steam mop. There are no handheld cleaning tools, it’s just for floors. It’s heavy (4.4kg) but does the job of two appliances.

    Vacuuming is straightforward: stiff brushes help lift dirt but there’s no rotating brush bar. For steam cleaning you just need to fill the 380ml tank and add the fabric pad (it comes with two, one plain and one with lines to scrub dirt, each with a pocket for adding an optional fragrance disc). There’s no carpet glider because it’s really designed for hard floors.

    The cyclonic vacuum is bagless, with a 950ml dust container. There are two steam levels and it takes just under 30 seconds to heat up. There’s an anti calc filter and lugs to store the 7.6m cable when not in use.

    You can use each feature independently but the Bissell Vac & Steam is at its best when you use both at once to save time. You can whizz round the house at double speed if dirt isn’t too ingrained.

    The Bissell is a jack of all trades, master of none. But it comes quite close to mastering both jobs. If you want to vacuum and mop every time it’s well worth your consideration.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    How we test our steam cleaners

    Best-steam-cleaners-mops-B-and-D-lifestyle

    Image credit: Black & Decker

    Our tester Caramel has decades of experience of reviewing technology products, writing for, among others, The Evening Standard, The Express, The Guardian, The Independent, The Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Mirror, The Telegraph and The Sunday Times. She’s long been part of the Ideal Home family, and knows exactly what you’re looking for in a good steam cleaner. And when it comes to steamers, she’s an expert, having tried out the best clothing steamers for this year too.

    With two teenage children and a pet dog to clean up after, Caramel has been able to give each steam cleaner a rigorous test at home over several weeks. She’s looked at every aspect of each cleaner, taking into account its ability to clean, to manoeuvre (taking into account its weight and the reach of its cable), the tools that come with it and therefore its versatility, and how easy it is to control.

    How much should I spend on a steam cleaner?

    The most straightforward steam mops start at £50, but up to £150 is average for a convertible upright. These are steam mops that double as smaller, handheld cleaners. Budget upwards of £300 for a cylinder model with much more steam power.

    What are the different types of steam cleaner?

    Best-steam-cleaners-mops-Dupray-upholstery

    Image credit: Dupray

    Steam mop

    If you only want to steam clean floors, consider a simple machine that doesn’t convert to a handheld. It will be light, easy to manoeuvre and you won’t have to store fiddly tools that you’ve no intention of using.

    Convertible steam cleaner

    A.k.a. 2-in-1 cleaners, these are upright steam mops where the steam generator can pop out from the middle to be used as a smaller, handheld cleaner. They come with various tools for steam cleaning smaller stuff.

    Cylinder steam cleaner

    For the ultimate in powerful, long-lasting steam, get a cylinder cleaner. They generate a constant flow of strong steam that make light work of anything. But they take up more cupboard space.

    What else should I look for in a steam cleaner?

    best-steam-cleaners-Vax (6)

    Image credit: Vax

    1. Variable steam

    If you have wooden floors, avoid models that don’t let you adjust the level of steam. You’ll want to dial back steam to its lowest setting to avoid damaging them. A good steam cleaner can use a small amount of steam, then pick up the moisture with the floorcloth, so the floor is left nearly dry. If in doubt, check with your flooring supplier in case they advise against steam cleaning.

    2. Powerful steam

    At top whack, powerful steam is great for loosening stubborn grime. For example, you can bring old oven grills back to life or finally get bathroom taps squeaky clean.

    3. Steam cleaner tools

    Convertibles and cylinders come with smaller tools as well as a floorhead. Expect brushes for scrubbing and a concentrator nozzle for a precise, powerful jet of steam. A mid-sized cleaning head with cloth is great for furniture and a squeegee is handy if you want to clean windows. If a steam cleaner comes with lots of tools, bonus points if it also comes with a way to store them.

    4. Steam cleaner cord length

    This may matter, depending on where your power sockets are. We found a 4m cord was too short to reach our bathroom.

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