Best steam cleaners 2024 UK – 14 best tried and tested buys

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Best steam cleaners 2024 UK – 14 best tried and tested buys

This article was updated in January to include the newly tried and tested Bissell Steam Shot cleaner.

The best steam cleaners help keep our homes sparkling by blitzing bacteria off all manner of floors and surfaces. Heat treatment only requires tap water, meaning you can also steer clear of harsh chemical cleaning products.

Plus, they’re ideal for disinfecting items you can’t launder or clean using regular detergents, such as soft furnishings, upholstery and mattresses.

To help you decide on the best one for you, the Good Housekeeping Institute has tested every type of steam cleaner, from mops to handheld models. They can be an investment, but given their cleaning capabilities, it’s undoubtedly worth it.

These are our top-rated steam cleaners for your home:

If you’re replacing an existing steam cleaner, there are plenty of places for you to safely recycle your old one. Find your nearest electrical recycling point, or read our guide on how to donate or dispose of your appliances and tech for extra guidance.

The majority of steam cleaners come equipped with attachable accessories suited to an array of household chores. Standard steam mops that don’t have a detachable handheld unit usually only come with additional cleaning pads.

Cylinders and two-in-one mops, meanwhile, tend to feature extra tools such as scrubbing brushes, scrapers and grout cleaners for a super thorough finish. Other attachments for specific surfaces may include upholstery tools, ironing attachments for curtains and squeegees for windows and glass. Some models come with detergent, but this merely provides a fresh scent, rather than extra cleaning power.

The Good Housekeeping Institute tests every steam cleaner on ceramic tiles, vinyl floors, inside an oven, on gas hobs and on windows, using them in the same way you would at home.

We use steam mops on hard flooring, noting how long it takes to remove food stains and muddy deposits. We also look at how easy it is to move the mop around awkward areas and judge whether the floor looks shiny and streak-free after cleaning.

With cylinders and two-in-one models, we also test their attachments. We use the scrubbing brushes to remove dried food from the hob and clean tiles and grouting, and we put the squeegee to work brightening windows and glass shower doors.

Finally, we consider whether the controls are easy to navigate, how quickly the cleaner heats up and if the attachments are easy to fit.

For an outstanding mop steam cleaner, look no further than this Polti model. Its flexible joint helps you clean under furniture and kitchen appliances, and its long 7.5-metre flex means you won't need to keep switching plug sockets. The water tank heats up in just 15 seconds, but note that it takes several seconds longer to emit steam, even when the ready light is on.

There's a variable steam dial and we found the trigger switch on both the stick and handheld unit handy. It's fitted with an anti-calc filter too, and there's the option of adding freshener to perfume the steam when cleaning and refreshing surfaces.

Performance-wise, it fared impressively on hard and sealed floors but not quite as well on carpet. The built-in bristles at the rear of the floorhead efficiently scrubbed stubborn grime off vinyl, but the bristles on the included round brush started to bend after tackling particularly stubborn food remnants.

Kärcher's most powerful steam cleaner is a large cylinder model that comes equipped with ample accessories to cover most household cleaning tasks. We found it straightforward to assemble and quiet in use.

There's no need to worry about running out of steam before you finish your floors, thanks to a high-capacity 1.5-litre water tank and 0.5-litre steam boiler reservoir. The tank heats up in a surprisingly speedy three minutes and offers a great range of steam outputs.

It scored top marks for cleaning ceramic tiles, and it left vinyl flooring shiny without the need for scrubbing. Our windows were spotless and dried quickly. And it only dropped a couple of marks in our oven and hob cleaning tests.

The main downside was that it produced a lot of steam quickly, and with that came excess water, which required some mopping up while still cleaning. But this seems a small price to pay given its all-round excellent performance.

This upright steam cleaner proved to be another reliable pick from Kärcher. An indicator light tells you when it’s ready to go, and you can choose the amount of steam required based on whether you’re cleaning wood or stone flooring.

It lifted staining from vinyl well and impressed getting rid of soap scum from our tiled floor. Its swivel design at the head made manoeuvring the mop easy, allowing for extensive access underneath cupboards.

Refilling is effortless too, thanks to the well-designed water tank that’s easy to remove. The Velcro cleaning pads are also nifty; you can wash them in the machine and reuse. It has a calc filter, but we’d have appreciated a hose extension for reaching awkward spots. That said, for hard floors you can’t fault it.

This multitasking design could fall into several categories – it's a vacuum, mop and hard floor cleaner in one. But as the steam function is its main USP, we’ve included it here. And it certainly impressed – it was expert at lifting stains from hard flooring and it picked up dust well when vacuuming, too. Even our carpets were nicely refreshed (although it doesn’t rival a dedicated carpet cleaner for deep cleans).

It has a small water tank, so you may need to refill mid-clean if you’re tackling a large area. Note too that when cleaning patches of dried mud, we found large blobs sometimes clogged the suction tube. But testers found this all-rounder lightweight and simple to use. It also has some clever design features, including an LCD screen to assist with any troubleshooting and a smart mode that will set the correct settings for you.

Finally, it’s self-cleaning, so when you put it away, not only is your flat sparkling but so is the MACH V1 Ultra – ideal!

Heating up in just 30 seconds, this is the ideal cleaner if you’re tight on time. The head is connected to the body of the mop via a ball joint, offering maximum manoeuvrability. Converting it to a handheld is easy too, should you need to access hard-to-reach spots. Plus, its water tank is divided to hold both water and detergent.

It proved a real all-rounder, dropping just one point on ceramic floors and showing sparkling results within 30 seconds of cleaning. It was equally impressive on the hob – ours was cleaned in 20 seconds – and reliable in the oven and on vinyl floor. Our flooring was a little wet after use, but it’s a great model for fitting in a speedy clean.

Putting in a strong performance, this affordable model was the highest scoring handheld steam cleaner we tested. Its strong jet of steam cut through burnt-on grime with ease, and it cleaned our hob within 30 seconds, after just 50 seconds of heat up time. It doesn’t have any variable settings, but the thumb trigger was responsive, so you can tailor the steam bursts to the task at hand.

It’s easy to store and comes with an array of attachments – including a squeegee head for the shower and an angled nozzle. You can even convert it into a clothes steamer by using the accompanying steaming cloth cover.

Unsurprisingly for a handheld, it’s not one to use for large areas, and you will have to wipe away water after cleaning. But for something lightweight that’s adept at smaller tasks, this is ideal.

If you're struggling to clean awkward spaces properly, this steam cleaner can help – once you get past the fiddly assembly that requires a screwdriver, that is. It has an extra-long flex, allowing you to clean all surfaces from one plug socket, and the mophead is easily manoeuvrable, turning into corners and tilting to reach under furniture. It comes with lots of useful tools and you can order more online, but we'd have liked a window squeegee and carpet glider in the box.

Its multiple steam settings include a steam blast feature for eradicating embedded floor stains, but there's no way of telling when the steam is ready until it starts emitting. The mophead detaches at the press of a button, no handling required, but the cloths shrunk when we washed them according to the manufacturer's instructions.

It's not freestanding and the handle isn't telescopic, but it can also be used as a handheld. It's a reliable choice if you've got a lot of cleaning and little time to do it.

This super affordable steam mop from Russell Hobbs is a lightweight, multi-tasking buy. It heated up quickly and performed well when cleaning tiles and freshening up carpets. On vinyl and sealed wood floors, it effectively tackled lighter stains such as tea, but testers found it struggled with mud.

It reached all the awkward spots, and the water tank produced ample steam for most cleaning jobs, but if you’re tackling a bigger area, you may need to refill it. It comes with detailed instructions to help you achieve sparkling results and the machine washable mop heads are easy to remove.

Dropping just one mark in our vinyl floor test, this steam cleaner will serve you well if you’re looking to keep your kitchen and bathroom flooring fresh. The floor head’s polygonal shape makes cleaning corners effortless too, and the built-in brush is handy if you need to scrub stubborn staining.

The water tank can hold up to two litres of water, so it can get heavy, but luckily its handle was comfortable to use. You can store tools on board, and we found it compact so you won’t need to free up too much cupboard space.

This handheld steam cleaner may be smaller but it’s no less powerful. It made light work of cleaning tough, burnt on stains in our oven test, taking just over two minutes to get it looking spick and span. It had no problems cleaning a dirty hob and tiled flooring either, plus the eight different attachments ensured awkward spaces were handled with ease.

As with any handheld cleaner, it was harder to cover large areas of flooring and you have to manually wipe away the dirty water during cleaning; however, it comes with several high-quality microfiber cloths that are perfect for the job. Our testers also found there was a little bit of dirt splatter when it came to using the small crevice tool.

These issues feel minor in the grand scheme of things, though. It’s easy to set up, compact, simple to use, and has excellent pressure; plus, it heats up in one minute, so you can get to tackling any pesky stains straight away.

This Shark steam mop offers three steam levels, so you can select the necessary setting for each task. Plus, its instructions offer comprehensive guidance on which to use and when.

Its 350ml water tank heats up in under 30 seconds, but there's no indicator light to tell you when it's ready. It cut through dirt quickly with its double-sided floorhead proving particularly useful for stubborn stains. It’s easy to deploy too – simply flip it over for twice the cleaning area per machine-washable pad, before pressing the button to release and reload touch-free.

Unlike most of the versatile designs we’ve tested, this can only be used on hard floors, but its cleaning performance was solid. Reaching under furniture and kitchen appliances was easy too and its long cord helped when moving around. It felt heavy, however, and it’s not freestanding. One to buy if you’ve got extensive hard flooring at home.

This budget steam mop scored full marks for cleaning ceramic tiles and windows. It didn’t splatter dirt around, and comes with ample attachments including an effective squeegee, making it a versatile buy. We found the brush came loose a few times when scrubbing the oven, though.

Its floorhead rotates for flexibility in use, and the hose bends in half so you can store it compactly. The cleaning cloths shrank slightly in the wash, but given its low price and reliable performance, this is something we’d forgive.

This versatile cylinder model with adjustable steam output boasts a useful “turbo steam” function for banishing stubborn stains. The handy display unit shows you when the 1.3-litre water tank is ready (in about six minutes) and when it needs refilling. All its accessories fit onboard the machine for convenience, too.

It was particularly good at cleaning ceramic tiles and sealed floors, removing muddy stains with ease. We also tried out its carpet capabilities, and it didn’t disappoint; the bristly brush at the back of the floorhead successfully scrubbed embedded dirt, softening and lifting grime without damaging the fibres.

It did splatter some dirt when cleaning smaller surfaces such as ovens and hobs, and it's bulky. Plus, a shorter flex means you may require an extension lead for larger spaces. These small issues aside, if you’re looking for a durable and efficient all-in-one, it's a worthy investment.

If you want a grab and go steam cleaner, then this is a good buy. Attaching its cleaning cloth is easy, and a six-metre long cable makes navigating your home easier. It has a sizeable water tank and it’s lightweight, too.

Testers liked the way the mop head pivots, and found it good at freshening carpets and cleaning wood floors. It removed staining from vinyl too. But if you often deal with a lot of muddy foot or paw prints, it’s not so reliable, struggling to lift heavy amounts.

Its handle isn’t telescopic either; however, you can remove the handle from the body for easy storage, making it well suited to small and big homes alike.

There are three main types of steam cleaner. To help you choose the right one for your home, here’s all you need to know.

Steam mops Compact and lightweight, steam mops are easy to set up and use. They work like regular mops but are much more powerful cleaners. Their handles have built-in water tanks that heat up in about 20 seconds. They'll need refilling more often than cylinder cleaners (below) as they're smaller, but this makes them far easier to manoeuvre around your home. Many come with a swivel head for reaching under furniture and kitchen appliances.

Though best at cleaning sealed hard floors, many steam mops can also refresh carpets and rugs when used with an attachable carpet glider. That said, generally, they can only tackle the lightest of soiling. If your home is heavily carpeted, we’d suggest opting for a dedicated carpet cleaning machine.

Most of the mops in our list are two-in-one models that also double up as handheld units for cleaning hobs and tiles.

Cylinder steam cleaners Cylinder steam cleaners tend to be heavy, but they have wheels to minimise the need for lugging. They usually offer the same functions as two-in-one steam mops, only with a more powerful steam output and a higher capacity water tank that needs less frequent refilling. They often come with multiple attachments that connect to the hose and tackle a range of household tasks. Some models can be used on upholstery but others won’t be suitable.

Handheld steam cleaners Like a handheld vacuum, these mini steam cleaners are more portable and lightweight, making them the perfect cleaning companion for harder-to-reach areas including tiles, taps, showers and windows. They can even be used to kill bacteria living on your toilet seat. Note they aren’t as suitable for larger areas of flooring, and they don’t mop up residual water as they go, so you’ll need to dry manually.

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 hold up to 450ml. Note whether the tank is detachable and easy to fill at the tap, or if you need to fill it with a jug (these are sometimes included). Time to heat up a full tank How long a steam cleaner takes to heat up before it starts pumping out steam 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, but exact timings can vary greatly between models.

Variable steam Many models on our list offer variable steam settings, be it an adjustable control dial or buttons. However, if you’re only going to be using your machine for quick and simple tasks, one steam mode should get the job done just as well.

Hannah is our homes editor, specialising in reviewing the latest kitchen appliances, cleaning products, mattresses and bedding, and crafting equipment. Hannah has written about hundreds of products, from air fryers to smoothie makers to pillows, and is committed to finding the most reliable and best value for money buys.

Hannah is also interested in sustainability in the home and has completed a course with the University of the Arts London in sustainable textiles, so she can help cut through the noise on what’s green and what’s not. Hannah has an MA in Magazine Journalism and has previously worked as a freelance lifestyle and women’s sports journalist, working for Stylist, Sky Sports and more.

Hannah has also previously worked in a florist and can normally be found caring for her house plants or sewing something new for her home or wardrobe.

Megan is the Good Housekeeping Institute’s homes writer. She loves diving into the latest product releases to find the very best buys on the market.  When she’s not writing about the newest gadgets and gizmos for your home and garden, you’ll find her cooking, running and exploring London’s foodie hotspots – or trying to make friends with every dog she passes.  Megan has an MA in Magazine Journalism and has previously written for Stylist, Glamour, TimeOut, SquareMeal, and YOU magazine. You can find Megan on Instagram @meganlouisegeall and on X @megan_geall

Blossom is our Senior Homes Tester. Passionate about finding the best home products and appliances for our readers, she has tested everything from blenders to pizza ovens. Blossom enjoys delving into the intricacies of products and refining testing protocols for hundreds of items. Innovative items like robot vacuum cleaners and wine coolers are among her favourite tests to date, and her most notable accomplishment is toasting 360 slices of bread in a determined bid to find the best toaster. In her free time, Blossom openly admits to being a music geek and indulges her creative side through crocheting, baking, singing and writing.   

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Best steam cleaners 2024 UK – 14 best tried and tested buys

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