The Best Steam Cleaners of 2024 for Every Job

Clean and sanitize your home the non-toxic way with this handy, chemical-free machine.

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Updated on January 17, 2024

Our Top Steam Cleaner Picks:

Sprays, solutions, powders, oils, gels — navigating household cleaning products can feel like a landmine of potentially toxic chemicals. But you can actually sanitize your home and prevent bacteria and allergens without any chemicals at all; you just need a steam cleaner. These machines don’t get enough credit. Steam cleaners and steam mops are carpet stain fighters, streak-free appliance polishers and can sanitize so many items at home with just simple H2O. Here’s everything you need to know about steam cleaners and the best steam cleaner for every surface and budget. Take a look at our top picks below and see which steam cleaner is the best one for your home.

How Does a Steam Cleaner Work?

Not to be confused with gentle clothes steamers, a steam cleaner is a home appliance that forces water through a hose or an attachment and creates hot pressurized steam. The steam agitates dust and dirt — like teeny, tiny vaper scrubs — to clean a surface, nd depending on the attachment in use, the hose then sucks up the remaining dirt, dust, pet hair etc. with the water.

Steam cleaning is most often associated with carpet and upholstery because the steam is able to penetrate fabric and stains much better than traditional scrubbing and vacuuming, but there’s so much more you can do with a steam cleaner. Steam cleaners are clutch for removing stubborn wallpaper, cleaning baby car seats and high chairs, deep cleaning tile grout and even polishing your stainless steel appliances.

Unexpected Things You Can Clean and Sanitize With a Steam Cleaner:

  • Sink faucets
  • Toilets
  • Mirrors
  • Window and door glass
  • Window and door tracks
  • Kids’ toys
  • Kitchen appliances (with power turned off)
  • Outdoor grill (with power turned off)
  • Mattresses
  • Pet beds and crates
  • Pet toys
  • Outdoor furniture and cushions
  • Water and ice dispensers

What to Consider When Shopping for a Steam Cleaner

Household steam cleaners have been around for decades, but lately, TikTok has made these machines surge in popularity as more people discover the benefits of steam cleaning. Today, steam cleaners range in price from $100-$400, but you can find compact, handheld steam cleaners under $100 and sometimes even under $50.

Size + Style

Size is a huge factor to consider when shopping for a steam cleaner and so is weight because, depending on the water tank size, these machines can get heavy. So while a portable handheld steam cleaner is great for quick kitchen countertop cleaning, it may not be the best model for people with limited mobility. However, larger steam cleaners are typically outfitted with wheels which makes toting the machine around your home a lot easier, especially if you’re working on a larger task such as removing pet hair from a staircase or deep-cleaning a living room carpet. Another option is mop-style steam cleaners which are wet vacuums with the ability to use high-heat steam. These are typically the lightest steam cleaners, but they usually have the smallest water tank as well.

Surfaces + Materials

To determine the best steam cleaner for your home, take an inventory of your surface areas. If most of your seating is leather and your flooring isn’t carpet, you don’t need an XL steam cleaner that specializes in fabrics. Maybe you just need a steam mop for bathroom tile and faucets. Likewise, if you have a large basement or a loft apartment with all-cement floors, it could be worth it to invest in a larger steam cleaner with wheels to cut down on cleaning time.

Alternatively, you may not need a steam cleaner at all. It’s a common misconception that all hard surfaces are OK for steam cleaners, but there are quite a few surfaces that you should never use steam on. Unsealed hardwood flooring is a no-go because the water will warp the wood. Any kind of laminate or flooring with adhesive backing is also a bad idea. While some claim that steam cleaners are fine with it, stone flooring such as marble should be avoided as you can damage and alter the appearance of the marble.

Additionally, not all upholstery and textiles can handle steam cleaners, especially high-heat steam cleaners. Never use a steam cleaner on antique wool rugs as the pile is likely too delicate for both the high heat and the powerful suction of a steam cleaner. As a general rule, avoid cleaning any natural fiber rugs with a steam cleaner because it can cause materials such as sisal and jute to discolor and shrink. Even cotton isn’t the best idea. Though if it’s blended with synthetics, it might be OK. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend steam cleaning cotton rugs. I’d rather have a machine-washable rug.

Spot-Treating vs. Sanitizing

Technically, not all steam cleaners can clean. And a machine that can "deep clean," while a highly marketable phrase, doesn’t always mean it can sterilize. Any steam cleaner can eliminate dirt, stains, pet hair and more, but to actually sanitize a surface and eliminate bacteria, the water needs to be, at minimum, 212 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are shopping for a sanitizing steam cleaner, make sure that the water temperature is hot enough.

If you’re only interested in a steam cleaner for stains and spot-treating, you likely won’t need extreme high heat and warm water steam cleaners will be just fine. Typically, these heat water in the tank 10 to 15 degrees hotter.

Best Overall Steam Cleaner

This little cube checks all the boxes. If you’re a steam cleaner newbie and looking for an all-around machine to tackle all kinds of jobs, you’ll love the Neat by Dupray. It’s smaller and less expensive than the company’s fleet of professional steamers, but don’t let that fool you. This compact, nine-pound machine has 50 psi steam pressure and can heat water up to 275 degrees Fahrenheit for total sanitization. What we really love is the value of accessories, of which there are 17, for the price. There are smaller detailing brushes for grout, a squeegee-esque hose for cleaning glass windows and surface-specific attachments for floors and upholstery.

It’s also incredibly cute and easy to store at just 10-and-half inches wide. However, the downside to this chic minimalism is that you can’t see how much water is left in the tank as there’s no indicator light or window, but Dupray claims the machine will last at least 50 minutes on one tank of water. Many Amazon shoppers say it actually lasts much longer. One recent reviewer said, “I literally did my baseboards, living room walls, all my windows and mirrors, bathtub and toilet and sinks, plus all my tile floors between two days, and it still had steam going. I fill it maybe once after a few uses over the course of a week.”

Best Budget Steam Cleaner

For less than half the cost of the Neat and other steam cleaners on this list, you can snag the PurSteam Steam Mop. This Jack of all trades has a pop-out handheld steamer so you can use it as a mop for floors but tackle small areas, too. It heats water to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an efficient sanitizer for countertops and other surfaces. You’ll need to be efficient when cleaning, however, because the small tank only lasts about 12 minutes on high heat and 25 minutes on low heat, but if you have a small space, such as an apartment or accessory dwelling, this could tackle all your surfaces and tuck away into storage in a flash.

Best Handheld Steam Cleaner

Alternatively, if you’re on a strict budget, this BISSELL handheld steamer is under $50, and fans on TikTok can’t get enough. If you’re outfitting your college kid with apartment essentials, shopping for a baby shower and want to get parents something they’ll actually use or just want peace of mind in the kitchen that your surfaces are clean after cooking, you need to add this steam cleaner to your cart ASAP. At just three pounds, the SteamShot Deluxe is strong and mighty. It can heat water up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, and while this is not the steam cleaner for tackling floors and large furniture, what makes this model such a favorite is the tiny detail brushes and attachments. The scraper tool makes cleaning a microwave a breeze. The angle concentrator tool is perfect for grill racks. At less than seven ounces, the water tank doesn’t last long — only about 10 minutes — so it’s best for small jobs like deodorizing a trash can, sanitizing a highchair or cleaning up a raw chicken leak on the counter.

Best Steam Mop

If you’re ready to ditch the chemical wet pads (and the cost to buy refills), say hello to this BLACK+DECKER steam mop. Beyond traditional mopping, what makes this steamer stand out is the bevy of attachments and accessories, including the SteamGlove. Yes, really. It’s a glove that’s attached to the steam cleaner’s hose for total maneuverability and cleaning control. If you’ve got a bathroom with hard-to-reach areas or prefer more control while cleaning countertops, this glove offers an option most steam cleaners don’t. The garment steamer attachment, while not ideal for more delicate fabrics, is super handy for curtains.

Best Steam Cleaner for Hard Surfaces

We’re big fans of the Pure Enrichment humidifier, and the brand’s steam cleaner is a solid buy, too. If you have bathrooms in need of some elbow grease, you want this steam cleaner. While it does come with several attachments for all kinds of jobs, this steam cleaner was made for hard surfaces such as tile and glass. The mop head and squeegee tackle shower walls in a flash. Unlike other steam cleaners, the accessories kit comes with a scrub pad, which is great for toilets and tubs as well as grimy patio furniture, grills, microwaves and more.

It’s important to note that while impressive in its ability to cut through all kinds of muck, the water is only heated to 208 degrees Fahrenheit, which is short of the minimum to actually sanitize surfaces. But if you’re in need of a first line of defense to cut through the mess or if you prefer to still clean with a sanitizing chemical, this is a great item to have in your cleaning arsenal.

Best Steam Cleaner for Carpets + Textiles

The BISSELL Little Green ProHeat Machine has been around for a while, but it continues to be a popular steam cleaner and is still a top seller for carpet and upholstery machines on Amazon. At more than nine pounds with no wheels, it’s not the best steam cleaner for large jobs, but the Little Green is an incredibly powerful stain fighter. Users swear by it for refreshing upholstered sofas and chairs as well as carpeted entryways and stairs thanks to the nifty 3-in-1 Stair Attachment. This unique triangle-shaped tool allows you to get right up in the corners, along baseboards and into crevices of carpeted stairs so that no area is missed.

Another cool feature the Little Green has that other steam cleaners don’t is the HydroRinse Self-Cleaning Tool which washes out the hose after each use. That feature alone makes this the best steam cleaner for cleaning car floorboards and seats, because there’s always some mystery gunk there, especially if you have kids.

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