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Best steam cleaners: 10 of the best steam cleaners you can buy

Designed to blitz away bacteria, steam cleaning could be the answer to keeping our homes safe, clean and germ-free. Heat treatment has been shown to be effective at killing viruses like Coronavirus. The Government advises using a steam cleaner to disinfect items that you can’t launder or clean using regular detergents, such as soft furnishings, upholstery, mattresses, and other surfaces used by multiple people. Steam cleaners are an excellent solution for eliminating bacteria on a range of surfaces including sealed floors, tiles, ovens, windows; with some even able to clean and freshen up carpets. Steam cleaning requires nothing more than water from your tap, and you won’t need detergents or harsh chemical products. What is the best floor steam cleaner to buy? Best steam cleaner: Kärcher SC5 EasyFix Premium Steam Cleaner.Best steam cleaner for carpets/joint runner-up: Polti Vaporetto Pro_95 Turbo FlexiJoint runner-up: Shark Klik n’ Flip Automatic Steam Mop S6003UKBest budget steam cleaner: Vytronix 10-in-1 Multifunction Steam Mop STM01Best cylinder steam cleaner: Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_BBest multi-purpose steam cleaner: Beldray BEL0698 12-in-1 Flexi Steam CleanerBest steam cleaner for hard floors: Shark Steam Lite Steam Mop S3255UKBest steam cleaner for accessories: Vax S86-SF-C Steam Fresh Combi What should I look for when buying a steam cleaner? There are three main types of steam cleaner, so it’s worth thinking about what you’re going to want from yours before you buy. read also: talking toilet papaer Steam mops These tend to be more compact and lightweight, easy to set up and ready to use in a matter of seconds. They work like a normal mop but with more cleaning power. They have a water tank attached to the handle, and should heat up in about 20 seconds. They'll need refilling more often than cylinder cleaners, though. Many come with a swivel head, making it easy to manoeuvre and reach under furniture and kitchen appliances. While they’re best at cleaning sealed hard floors, many steam mops can also refresh carpets and rugs when used with the necessary attachment. Most of the mops in our top ten can double up as handheld units, unless otherwise specified. Cylinder steam cleaners Cylinder models are usually heavier but have wheels to move them around the home. They tend to have the same functions as two-in-one mops, but with a more powerful steam output along with higher capacity water tanks that need refilling much less often. They often have several attachments that you connect to the hose and can clean a wide range of areas. There are some models that you can use on upholstery, but others won’t be suitable. Look for one with variable steam for greater versatility. Two-in-one steam cleaners These act like a regular steam mop, but with the added benefit of a detachable handheld component. They've got more tools for different jobs that you can use to clean bathroom tiles, kitchen tops, and other washable surfaces. They can do the same cleaning tasks as cylinders, but with a smaller water tank capacity and lower power output. The handheld element is great for quick tasks, like cleaning the hob, the base of your oven or tiles. Key features to look out for In addition to accessories, there are some extra features you may wish to consider. Water tank capacity The smaller the water tank, the more often you’ll have to top it up. The larger the tank, the longer it’ll take to heat up before it’s ready to use, but it will last longer. Cylinder models tend to have large capacities, with some holding up to two litres, while steam mops tend to have somewhere between 250-450ml. It’s also good to note whether the tank is detachable and easy to fill at the tap, or if you need to fill it with a jug. Time to heat up full tank How long a steam cleaner takes to heat up before it starts pumping out steam when filled with cold or room temperature water is largely determined by the size of the tank. This may be as little as 20 seconds for a steam mop and two minutes for a cylinder.This can vary greatly between models. Variable steam All but one of the models in our top ten have variable steam settings, be it an adjustable control dial or buttons for different settings. But don’t be put off if there’s only one setting. If you’re only using the cleaner for quick and simple tasks, it should still get the job done just as well. What steam cleaner accessories do I need? The majority of steam cleaners come equipped with accessories that can be attached to the cleaner to tackle a variety of jobs. With standard steam mops that don’t have a detachable unit, like this Shark model, the only extras that come with these are often limited to one or two additional cleaning pads for the floorhead. However, with cylinders and two-in-ones, you’ll get the likes of scrubbing brushes, scrapers and grout cleaners for super-thorough cleaning. Plus attachments for specific surfaces: upholstery tools, ironing attachments for curtains and squeegees for windows and glass. Some models come with detergent – for an appealing fresh scent, rather than extra cleaning power. How we test steam cleaners At the Good Housekeeping Institute We clean ceramic tiles, vinyl floors, inside an oven, gas hobs, windows and, if applicable, carpet with each steam cleaner we test. We make sure to use them in the same way you would at home. The best steam cleaners can do all these tasks without a problem. For steam mops, we test them on hard flooring, noting how long it takes to remove food stains and muddy deposits. We look at how easy the mop is to move around awkward areas, and if the floor is shiny and streak-free after cleaning. With cylinders and two-in-one models, we also test their attachments. We remove dried food on the hob, clean tiles and grouting, brighten windows and glass shower doors. We use the scrubbing brushes, the window squeegee and the carpet attachment to clean muddy footprint marks. We also look at whether the controls are easy to navigate, how quickly the cleaner heats up and if the attachments are easy to fit. We check the design too, assessing if the cleaner has variable steam and if there are a good range of tools. 1 Best steam cleaner Karcher SC5 EasyFix Premium Steam Cleaner Karcher's most powerful steam cleaner is a large cylinder model, coming with ample accessories to cover most household cleaning tasks. We found it straightforward to put together, and the high-capacity 1.5-litre water tank, and 0.5L steam boiler water reservoir mean you won’t run out of steam quickly. Given the size of the water tank, it heats up in a surprisingly speedy three minutes and has a great range of variable steam. It scored top marks cleaning for ceramic tiles without causing any further mess, and left vinyl flooring shiny without us needing to scrub. It also left windows spotless and they dried fast. This one scored almost top marks on our oven and hob cleaning tests. However, it did produce a lot of steam quickly and with that came excess water, which meant some mopping up between cleaning. That said, we think this is a small price to pay when weighing up its cleaning performance. Key SpecificationsType: CylinderWater tank capacity: 1.5L + 0.5LWeight: 6kgCord length: 6 metresWattage: 2200WVariable steam: YesAccessories: Small and large round brushes, detail nozzle, extension tubes, decalcifying powder sachets Karcher SC5 EasyFix Premium Steam Cleaner Review (Score: 93/100) 2 Best steam cleaner for carpets/joint runner-up Polti Vaporetto Pro_95 Turbo Flexi This versatile cylinder model with variable steam settings includes a useful “turbo steam” function for when you need more power. The handy display unit lets you know when the 1.3L water tank is ready to go, taking under five minutes. It also lets you know when it needs refilling. It has a lot of attachments, and also comes with a carpet accessory for sanitising and refreshing carpets and soft furnishings. All the accessories fit on board the machine, so you can take them with you around the house for convenience - plus the whole setup will take up less storage space than some. We were very impressed with its cleaning performance. It did especially well when cleaning carpets, ceramic tiles and sealed floors, removing muddy stains with ease. The bristles from the brush at the back of the floorhead worked well at scrubbing more embedded dirt from the carpet. This helped to soften and lift dirt away without affecting the carpet fibres. We found when cleaning smaller surfaces, most notably ovens and hobs, the steam caused dirt to splatter on surrounding areas. And this meant we spent more time cleaning. But, if you’re looking for a durable and efficient all-in-one, this is a great investment. Key SpecificationsType: CylinderWater tank capacity: 1.3LWeight: 5.8kgCord length: 3.75 metresWattage: 1100WVariable steam: YesAccessories: 3 x small nylon brushes, small brass bristle brush, detail nozzle, carpet glider, 2 x anti-limescale sachets, 2 x microfibre protection covers for brushes Polti Vaporetto Pro_95 Turbo Flexi Review (Score: 86/100) 3 Joint runner-up Shark Klik n’ Flip Automatic Steam Mop S6003UK This steam mop from Shark boasts three variable steam settings, so you can be sure it'll tackle the toughest clean-ups. The water tank heats up in under 30 seconds and emits steam through the floorhead once it gets to the desired steam setting. The dual-sided touch-free pads mean you can flip the cleaning cloth over on to the other side for twice the cleaning area per pad. And you can release them and reload with a fresh cloth at the press of a button. The cleaning performance on hard floors was impressive, scoring just shy of top marks at cleaning up our vinyl flooring. It dried quickly and the cleaner left it shiny. It was also able to reach under furniture and kitchen appliances with ease. The steam blast feature activates a direct blast of concentrated steam for those stubborn stains. The cleaner feels light and well-balanced in use, and the only downside is that it’s designed for use on hard and sealed floors only. If you need it to clean more areas, you may prefer a model with more accessories or detachable handheld unit. Key SpecificationsType: Mop onlyWater tank capacity: 0.35LWeight: 2.8kgCord length: 8 metresWattage: 1200WVariable steam: YesAccessories: 2 x double-sided cleaning pads for floorhead Shark Klik n’ Flip Automatic Steam Mop S6003UK Review (Score: 86/100) 4 Best budget steam cleaner Vytronix 10-in-1 Multifunction Steam Mop STM01 This great value steam mop is lightweight, compact and ideal for common spills or big clean-ups. The cleaner is ready to use in around 20 seconds and there is a good range of variable steam options. We did find the steam output was hard to control; once it reaches the output you've selected it takes a few seconds to register before reducing. It scored very well across the board in all our tough cleaning tests, though, leaving tiles shining and easily lifting dried-on stains on vinyl flooring. It cleaned our gas hob quickly too, and the results on the oven were similar although it took a bit of extra scrubbing on tougher dirt. This cleaner also did a good job on windows but we noticed it left quite a lot of streaks behind. We loved how comfortable it is to hold and it's not bulky. Key SpecificationsType: Mop/2-in-1Water tank capacity: 0.45LWeight: 2.8kgCord length: 6 metresWattage: 1300WVariable steam: YesAccessories: Medium brush, carpet glider, grout cleaner, scraper tool, ironing attachment Vytronix 10-in-1 Multifunction Steam Mop STM01 Review (Score: 85/100) 5 Dupray Neat Multi-Use Steam Cleaner DUP020WUK This cube-shaped steam cleaner from Dupray is neat and stylish, with a lot of functions and accessories. It’s a powerful machine that reaches steam temperatures up to 135C with a steam output of 120g/min. There is only one steam setting, though, and it's a bit too powerful for lighter cleaning jobs. The cleaner is heavy too, weighing 5.6kg with a full tank of water, and it also takes more than eight minutes to heat up a full tank of water. If time isn't an issue, it’s a worthy investment for its cleaning power and the range of jobs it tackles. We were especially pleased with its window cleaning ability. It blasted away embedded dirt without much effort, drying fast and leaving the glass shiny and smear-free. It cleaned vinyl flooring with just as much ease, and the swivel floorhead made it easy to get into awkward areas. It is too bulky to be able to clean underneath appliances though. We did find it less efficient for oven cleaning - while it softened and lifted dirt away with ease, it caused a lot of splattering of food deposits around the oven. Key SpecificationsType: CylinderWater tank capacity: 1.6LWeight: 4kgCord length: 4.9 metresWattage: 1500WVariable steam: YesAccessories: 5 x nylon brushes, 1 x small brass brush, 2 x extension tubes, 1 x cleaning pad for floorhead, 1 x microfibre protection cover for brushes, 1 x fragrance sachet, 1 x travel adapter plug Dupray Neat Multi-Use Steam Cleaner DUP020WUK Review (Score: 85/100) 6 Best cylinder steam cleaner Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B The generous two-litre water tank of this cylinder model heats up in a quick two minutes. It cleans not only hard flooring but it can also sanitise carpets and rugs. Its floorhead is designed to reach into corners and you can use the bristle brush at the back to scrub stubborn dirt. It's flexible and we were able to reach under areas that otherwise would be tricky to get to. We found the range of steam made light work of cleaning a range of surfaces. It's good at cleaning hard flooring and leaves it looking shiny, without streaks. It also cleaned up our windows, oven and gas hob. But when using the small round brushes for cleaning the oven and hobs, they did get dented and damaged after only one use. We also found the hose quite heavy, and this sometimes interfered with our cleaning. The cleaner claims to be suitable for carpets, but we found it didn’t do as well as we expected. That said, if it’s freshening up you’re looking for, it works well enough. And on all other surfaces, it proved itself as an efficient machine. Key SpecificationsType: CylinderWater tank capacity: 2.0LWeight: 5kgCord length: 4 metresWattage: 1500WVariable steam: YesAccessories: 1 x scraper, 1 x floor protection cover for small brush, 2 x extension tubes Polti Vaporetto Smart 100_B Review (Score: 83/100) 7 Best multi-purpose steam cleaner Beldray BEL0698 12-in-1 Flexi Steam Cleaner This versatile cleaner is one of the top two-in-one products we've tested and it impressed us as both a steam mop and handheld steam cleaner. You can adjust the variable steam with the round dial, and we found a full tank of water heated up in less than 20 seconds. While the detachable handheld unit covers a range of cleaning tasks, we found it heavy at the wrist after a while. We would recommend it for quicker clean-ups rather than for doing everything in one go. We found it worked well at cleaning ceramic tiles, gas hobs in particular. It also earned a high score for oven cleaning performance, although the more ingrained dirt on the oven base required scrubbing and we needed to mop up afterwards. It did leave some streaking too. On hard floors, it collected all residues of dirt and manoeuvred around the room with ease. The overall strong performance makes this one good value for money. Key SpecificationsType: Mop/2-in-1Water tank capacity: 0.33LWeight: 2.4kgCord length: 5 metresWattage: 1300WVariable steam: YesAccessories: Small wire brush, detail nozzle, grout cleaner, scraping tool, upholstery tool, filling flask, funnel Beldray BEL0698 12-in-1 Flexi Steam Cleaner Review (Score: 82/100) 8 Best steam cleaner for hard floors Shark Steam Lite Steam Mop S3255UK Shark’s compact cleaner is designed to clean sealed hard floors. The swivel steering is great for moving around furniture, and the fin-shaped floorhead allows you to get into corners and edges. You can customise the steam output by mopping faster to produce more steam. Also, the ‘steam blaster’ feature emits a concentrated blast of steam by pumping the handle. We were impressed that the tank heats up in less than 30 seconds and can be easily topped up using the included filling flask. The cleaning performance on our vinyl flooring was impressive, requiring no scrubbing to remove dirt. It left our floor shiny and quick to dry. It did leave some minor streaks behind which we found needed only another few sweeps to remove. There are no other controls, even an on/off switch, so the cleaner will continue to steam unless switched off at the mains. Overall, we rate this steam mop and find it the ideal replacement for a mop and bucket in homes with hard floors. Key SpecificationsType: Mop onlyWater tank capacity: 0.25LWeight: 2.1kgCord length: 6 metresWattage: 1050WVariable steam: YesAccessories: Filling flask Shark Steam Lite Steam Mop S3255UK Review (Score: 80/100) 9 Best steam cleaner for accessories Vax S86-SF-C Steam Fresh Combi This powerful steam mop with variable steam from Vax allows you to tailor the steam output to the floor type or soiling level you're cleaning. The small water tank heats up in under 30 seconds and you can fill the detergent tank to leave surfaces smelling fresh. It delivered good results when cleaning the hob and hard floors, but was less effective on stubborn grease in the oven. It also left floors dry within seconds. It has a wide range of accessories that make it versatile. When using it on carpets, it refreshed and lifted the carpet pile but didn't deep clean, so it’s useful if you want to freshen them up rather than clean. The water tank was a little tricky to fill but it’s removable and you can fill it at the sink. Key SpecificationsType: Mop/2-in-1Water tank capacity: 0.26L + 0.2LWeight: 3.7kgCord length: 8 metresWattage: 1600WVariable steam: YesAccessories: 3 x scrubbing brushes, metallic brush, carpet glider, 2 x detail nozzles, grout cleaner, scraper tool, window cleaning tool, detergent bottle, accessory storage bag Vax S86-SF-C Steam Fresh Combi Review (Score: 79/100) 10 Karcher SC1 Premium Steam Cleaner This sturdy steam mop is Karcher's most compact steam cleaner. It converts into a useful handheld for versatility too. The water tank heats up in a somewhat slow three minutes, but if you don’t mind the wait it’s well worth it for the results. On test, we found it impressed on all surfaces. It made windows clean, shiny and streak-free, did a great job of making the gas hob spotless, and made vinyl flooring sparkle. Using it as a handheld is straightforward – you add the included extension tube to the handheld unit to use as a mop. If you have a large surface area of hard sealed flooring to clean, we found it a little heavy to manoeuvre for a long time, though. It’s better suited for smaller sections of flooring. Unfortunately, there's no variable steam or a light to let you know when the steam is ready, so it takes a bit of guessing to know when it's ready to go. Key SpecificationsType: Mop/2-in-1Water tank capacity: 0.25LWeight: 1.5kgCord length: 4 metresWattage: 1200WVariable steam: NoAccessories: Small round brush, detail nozzle, detail nozzle, extension tube, cleaning pads for floorhead, accessory storage bag Karcher SC1 Premium Steam Cleaner Review (Score: 78/100)

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