Can a steam cleaner kill the coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know to stop the spread of germs

The chemical free approach

Keeping our family and selves safe from coronavirus is our number one priority when it comes to cleaning. But could a handheld steam cleaner be the answer to cleaning our homes safely and effectively?

Related: Aggie Mackenzie from 'How Clean is Your House' says you should do this to protect your home from coronavirus

If a member of your family or household is currently in self-isolation, trying to reduce the spread of the virus to other people in the home is crucial. The current advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (opens in new tab) is to get into a two-step cleaning and disinfecting routine.

living area with grey sofa and curtain

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

While cleaning involves the usual gloves and soap action to wipe away any bacteria or viruses. Disinfecting involves using diluted bleach or a similar household cleaner to disinfect the surface.

However, what about your beautiful navy sofa or brand new curtains? Coronavirus or not, it would break our heart to go at them with bleach. This is where the handheld steam cleaner comes in.

Can a handheld steam cleaner kill the coronavirus?

Heat treatment, such as steam cleaning, has effectively been shown to kill viruses on soft furnishings in the past. The Government (opens in new tab) has advised employing a steam cleaner (opens in new tab) when cleaning COVID-19.

'When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning can be used,' The Government advise on their website.

handled steam clear

(Image credit: Future PLC/Beldry)

In the wake of the norovirus outbreak, cruise ships were also advised to steam clean carpets and upholstery at 70c to prevent infection. To ensure you thoroughly disinfect your sofa or curtains, steam the upholstery at 70c for five minutes.

Steam cleaning can also be used on other surfaces. The Beldray hand steam cleaner comes with 10 attachments. It can be used to deep clean your work surfaces and your sofa, without any chemicals.

Priced at £32.99 on Amazon, it is one of the cheapest multi-purpose steam cleaners available. It is already a favourite with clean-fluencer Lynsey Queen of Cleans, appearing on her Instagram stories.

kitchen tap with handheld steam cleaner

(Image credit: Future PLC/Beldry)

Buy now: Beldray 10 in 1 handheld steam cleaner, £32.99, Amazon (opens in new tab)

However, if you are planning to just use it on soft furnishings, you can pick up handheld clothes steamers (opens in new tab) for £25 to £30.

We must stress that while current advice recommends disinfecting upholstery with a steam cleaner, it advises disinfecting high touch hard surfaces with either bleach, alcohol solutions and household disinfectants.

Related: An expert reveals if Mrs Hinch's favourite disinfectant, Zoflora, protects homes against coronavirus

However, if you're are simply using it as a precaution in the household, you should be safe to deep clean all your surfaces away with steam.

Rebecca Knight
Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.