best steam vacuum

What is the Best Steam Vacuum, best steam cleaner for carpet and best steam cleaner handheld for you? 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 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.

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.

best steam vacuum

Best-rated carpet steam cleaner

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner Machine

Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner Machine$179$220 now 19% off4.3 stars, 16,762 reviews

Over 9,000 customers gave this Hoover carpet cleaner a five-star review, including one reviewer who used this during a “fecal nightmare” involving his Great Dane. “This cleaner scrubbed like there was no tomorrow. I had to do a little more than the manual recommended passes but not only do I not see any evidence from the crime committed, I can lay my face on the crime scene and SMELL NOTHING,” he reports. Few reviewers had such dramatic stories, and it’s still effective for smaller, more mundane experiences. One customer has two messy kids — “a 2-year-old chocolate milk junie and a 6-year-old food-spilling champion” — and this machine helped make their carpet look so much better. “‘Wow,’ that’s what my wife said when she first saw the carpet after I finished.” While he felt the “steam” option was a “gimmick” at first, he changed his mind after testing it out: “I feel it helps the carpet dry faster.”$179 AT AMAZON

Best-rated (less expensive) carpet steam cleaner

Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner

Hoover PowerDash Pet Compact Carpet Cleaner$100$110 now 9% off4.4 stars, 7,732 reviews

“Holy moly! It picks up a CRAZY amount of deeply embedded debris, dirt, stains, and hair,” says one customer who runs a doggie day care and boarding service out of her home. Her “carpet sees high traffic regularly and potty accidents on occasion from the puppers,” and this Hoover cleaner made a big difference in managing the problem. “You can’t deny the results when cleaning out the dirty water tank either,” she says, now with a spotless carpet. Nearly 600 other customers also call out how lightweight this cleaner is. One describes it as “the same size as a Shark vacuum,” which is our best-rated vacuum pick, so it’s not as bulky as some other carpet steam cleaners. While it may not have the same power as some of the more industrial picks, she says she doesn’t “mind the smaller size.” But another customer says the smaller size doesn’t affect how powerful it is. “The amount of cat hair this thing sucks up is insane,” she says. “I freaking love this thing. It’s small but extremely powerful. It snaps together easily to fill and change water.”$100 AT AMAZON

Best automatic carpet steam cleaner

Hoover Smartwash Automatic Carpet Cleaner

Hoover Smartwash Automatic Carpet Cleaner$199$250 now 20% off4.6 stars, 3,864 reviews

This carpet cleaner is “automatic,” which means that instead of having to press any buttons, all you have to do is push it forward to clean and push it back to steam. And lots report that this makes cleaning much more simple. “This thing flat out works,” says one customer, who adds, “The dry-only mode is the key to success,” so you should always “use that mode after rinsing — nice slow passes and your carpet will dry out in no time.” Another customer almost didn’t buy it because of the automatic feature — “I wasn’t sure how it would work compared to how I used my old machine,” he says — but after testing it out, he reports, “In practical use, it has been great and requires less thought.” If you need any assistance, he also shares his “technique”: “I like to pass over an area with the soap in place. I pull the soap dispenser and do a second pass with just clean water to rinse more of the soap off. I then switch to water extraction mode and do a final pass to suck up as much water as possible so it dries faster.”$199 AT AMAZON

Best portable carpet steam cleaner

Bissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Bissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner$110 now 16% off4.4 stars, 3,964 reviews$92

Many of these carpet steam cleaners are bulky, but this Bissell cleaner is designed to be portable, so you can easily move it between each room. And while it won’t work for large carpeted areas, customers say it’s great for cleaning upholstery and area rugs. “I was hoping this more portable version would save me the hassle of taking the big machine out for small jobs,” explains one customer. Within just a few weeks of use, he says it’s “taken the milk and snack stains out of my carpets in seconds, removed a pet accident completely with no odor or stain remaining, and removed stains from my car’s seats and carpets that I couldn’t get out no matter when I tried.” Another perk of the portable size is that it’s easy to store. “I can have it out and ready to go in a matter of seconds and storage is just as quick. By far one of my favorite cleaning tools,” one reviewer says.$92 AT AMAZON

Best carpet steam cleaner for spot cleaning

Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner

Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner$129$160 now 19% off4.4 stars, 6,606 reviews

Much like the portable Bissell cleaner above, this Bissell SpotClean isn’t a full-size carpet steam cleaner, but customers say this one is a bit more heavy-duty, especially when it comes to deep, difficult to remove stains. In fact, nearly 800 customers take this steam cleaner by its name and use it to spot clean. “Um, this is AMAZING. I shouldn’t be this excited about a vacuum, but I really am,” writes one customer. She lives in a small apartment and doesn’t have room for a large, bulky machine, so she needed something very efficient. This fit the bill: “All the spots and stains (from a variety of wine spills, food spills, cigarette ash, dissenters of my no-shoes rule) are gone, and the carpet looks basically BRAND NEW.” Another customer is “incredibly stunned by the quality of cleaning this machine does.” He needed to “remove pet stains and odor from a heavily used section,” and this steam cleaner did the job and was lightweight enough to move from spot to spot. Plus, it comes with a “small bottle of professional cleaning solution to be added into the water.”$129 AT AMAZON

Best professional carpet steam cleaner

Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine

Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine$399$430 now 7% off4.8 stars, 5,412 reviews

“Probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made,” says one reviewer, who says this is their second steam cleaner. “This thing smoked the hell out of the Hoover consumer carpet cleaners by a landslide.” And over 500 more reviewers describe this carpet steam cleaner as “professional” — some even say it’s better than a professional cleaner. “If you own a home with carpets, this is a must own,” says one customer who calls this a “rare product that exceeds expectation.” He used to use a professional service but decided to save some money for the long run and buy a cleaner himself. And as it turns out, “The professional service used before didn’t do near the job this machine did,” he says. Some worry about the price, but he assures it is worth it. “While $300-$400 for one seems like a lot, it is a great investment since these have a long warranty and rentals cost about $30 PER DAY at many places. This machine will pay for itself and still look brand new unlike those gross dirty rental units with who knows what germs and filth residue hidden within.”$399 AT AMAZON

Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

A comprehensive guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy a new vacuum.

Getting Started

Deciding on the perfect vacuum for your home can be tricky. There are a lot of styles, functions and high-tech features to choose from. So which one is right for you? This guide has been created to make your vacuum shopping experience as easy as possible. So let’s dive in!.Shop Vacuums


There are a few different types and styles of vacuums that we are going to address in this buying guide. We are sure you will find just the one to fit all of your cleaning needs.

Upright Vacuums


This style of vacuum is going to be the most popular type of vacuum that can be found in many households today. It’s the best go-to vacuum for removing dust and dirt from carpeting, and is able to clean large areas of carpet quickly. They also work well on area rugs and hard floors.However, it is good to note that not all upright vacuums can be used on hard floor surfaces, since doing so might cause damage to some floors and vacuums. If this is an important factor it’s smart to do research on the brand of vacuum you are looking into, to make sure it works well on hard floors too. A brush on/off switch is recommended, as it will help protect the finish on bare floors.Some other things to look for when deciding on your upright vacuum are onboard attachment, bag-less or not, and the weight of the unit. Upright cleaners come in a variety of styles and sizes, each varying in weight. Some uprights include edge cleaning, which picks up dirt under the entire area of the head. This is a helpful feature especially when cleaning wall-to-wall carpeting. Suction control is another useful feature to look at when cleaning draperies and upholstery.Shop Upright Vacuums

Canister Vacuums


Canister Vacuums are portable and easy to use. They are well suited for people who clean a variety of surfaces but are most popular for those who have little carpeting and like to vacuum their hard surfaced floors. They tend to be lighter than other vacuum designs, plus they have a highly maneuverable power head that can reach tight spots with ease.Canister vacuums have the motor and bag in a separate unit, which is usually mounted on wheels to help with maneuvering. The canister itself is connected to the vacuum head by a flexible hose. By using a revolving brush system or brush agitator, it can dislodge dirt particles from the carpet so they can be picked up easily; this comes in handy when picking up things like pet hair. Without a built-in revolving brush, canister vacuums use straight suction to clean. Most canister vacuums have a bag that needs to be replaced, however there are bag-less models available, which eliminates the additional cost of buying dust bags.Bottom line, this style is perfect for vacuuming hard-to-reach spots and furniture; it’s also great for cleaning cars and drapes as well.Shop Canister Vacuums

Handheld & Stick Vacuums


These types of vacuums are the smallest and lightest options available, they are often cordless and operate on batteries. They also offer lots of convenience when it comes to a variety of cleaning tasks around the house.Handheld vacuums are perfect for cleaning closets, vents, blinds, upholstery or car interiors, and made mostly for above-the-floor cleaning. They’re best used for tasks such as cleaning up small spills, getting cobwebs out of corners or vacuuming dirt out of windowsills.Stick vacuums are very similar to upright vacuums. The design is the same, but stick vacuums tend to be a lot lighter in weight and usually do not come with any attachments. If you have a multilevel home, a stick model vacuum is great to keep on the second floor and eliminate the need to carry your main one up and down the stairs. Not to mention, there are certain models out now which have been designed with handheld features, making it easy to clean stairs, ceiling fans and more.Shop Handheld & Stick Vacuums

Robot Vacuums


Robot cleaners are completely hands-free, battery-operated vacuums. They seek out and suck up dirt, debris and dust from carpets and hard surface floors. They are a great choice for light, daily cleanings and extremely popular with pet owners, allergy sufferers, busy households, or just anyone who wants their floors to stay constantly clean.A robot vacuum is self-propelled and programmable, so you don’t have to do any extra work when it comes to vacuuming. These nifty gadgets use sensors to avoid obstacles and stairs, while smart enough to still easily clean underneath furniture. If you’re someone who simply does not have enough time to vacuum regularly, a robot vacuum can help you solve this problem.Shop Robot Vacuums

Commercial & Garage (Wet & Dry) Vacuums

Wet & Dry

Commercial and garage vacuums are often referred to as shop vacs. They offer extra power when it comes to professional-sized messes. These vacuums are the perfect type when it comes to cleaning up things such as sawdust in basements, dirt and water in garages, or any other mess, wet or dry. Many labor workers use them on job sites as they can handle that kind of debris. To choose the right commercial or garage vacuum, one must think about how they will use it and where it will be stored.Smaller models will be easier to move around, but they will not be able to handle larger messes.Shop Commercial & Garage (Wet & Dry) Vacuums

Carpet/Steam Cleaners

Carpet/Steam Cleaners

Carpet cleaners come in a variety of different styles ranging from uprights to portable spot cleaners, even smaller handheld carpet cleaners, all of which are capable of cleaning and disinfecting furniture, drapes or rugs.Even if you vacuum your carpets pretty regularly things such as dirt, pet dander, bacteria and dust mites remain deep in your carpet’s fibers. To fix this issue, carpet cleaners use moisture and heat to loosen the dirt and stains that a regular vacuum can’t suction. Not to mention, they can also disinfect carpets by killing unwanted germs. If you’re looking for a deep clean, a carpet cleaner is your best bet.Steam cleaners have become very popular in recent years because they are considered the healthy and “green” alternative to cleaning. Many steam cleaners look like upright vacuums, they have a large tank that dispenses hot water with a cleaning solution, while another tank holds the dirty water. If you or anyone in your home suffers from allergies and chemical sensitivities, a steam cleaner is a healthy way to deep clean a variety of surfaces without aggravating allergy symptoms. You and your family can live healthier and breath better by using a steam cleaner on a regular basis.Shop Carpet/Steam Cleaners

Central Vacuum Systems

Central Vacuum Systems

Central vacuum systems are the most durable options available. Although they may be a bit more expensive up front, the lack of maintenance and longer lifespan often make up for the cost and then some. Unlike traditional vacuums, the motor and collector of a central vacuum system is installed into the home, typically in the basement or garage. From there, vacuum piping runs through walls, crawlspaces, or other out of the way areas of the home to floor or wall-mounted inlet valves in a handful of locations around the house. By attaching a hose to these inlets, like those used by canister vacuums, you’re able to vacuum all of the areas of your home without lugging around a heavy canister or upright vac. The hoses are typically 30 feet long, allowing you to vacuum multiple rooms from a single inlet. These systems also offer all the same kinds of attachments you’d find on traditional types of vacuum cleaners, from wands to crevice tools to pet brushes.Installing a central vacuum system offers a number of benefits over traditional models. In addition to their longer lifespan, central vacuum systems also provide far greater suction capabilities when compared to other types of vacuum cleaners. More powerful motors translate to greater cleaning potential, allowing you to pull more particles out of thick carpets or upholstery. Central vacuum systems are also significantly quieter than their portable counterparts. Without the motor roaring next to you as you clean, the only sound is that of fast-moving air. Additionally, central vacs promote cleaner air quality by extracting and containing dust particles, allergens, and other contaminants, whereas other types of vacuum cleaners can end up releasing their smaller particles back into the air, often when being emptied.There are a handful of qualities to look for when deciding between central vacuum systems. First and foremost, you want to be sure to use a trusted brand. While you may save a few dollars opting for a cheap system, you’ll likely end up paying more in the long run with service calls and/or a shorter lifespan. For the best indicator of suction strength look at the Air Watts specification, with higher numbers signifying stronger suction. You also need to make sure the system offers enough suction to cover every corner of your home. Choosing a model that boasts a coverage area greater than the square footage of your home is a good idea as these numbers are calculated with perfect conditions in mind.Lastly, you’ll need to decide between bag systems, those that use filters, a hybrid of the two, or a cyclonic system. Bagged systems use a bag inside their collector canister to contain debris. Although they don’t require outside venting, using a vent will reduce noise and odor. Filter systems similarly don’t require venting but benefit from it. These systems use one of a handful of filter types to protect dirt from contaminating clogging the motor, filing a canister or bag that needs to be emptied every three to six months. Cyclonic systems are the only ones that require outside venting. Most of the dirt is captured with the canister with a small percentage of tiny particles venting outdoors. Hybrid systems, those that use filters and bags are a great choice. They help keep the motor running clean and offer an easy to dispose of container for debris.Shop Central Vacuum Systems

Useful Features to Consider

Before settling down and picking a vacuum that will work best for you, take a look as some additional features that may be important or become important long-term:


Bag-less designs probably offer the utmost convenience by allowing you to simply detach the container unit from the vacuum. You can then quickly dispose of any dirt inside, without having to pull out and replace a bag. However, bag designs are still nice because they can usually keep dust contained a lot better, since the bag itself seals the dust away. This prevents any further messes from occurring when cleaning out your vacuum. Not to mention, if allergies are a concern the bag is definitely a smarter choice.

Multi-Surface Flooring

If you have a combination of hard surfaced floors and carpets, or lots of hard floors, a multi-surface vacuum is the best way to go. Multi-surface vacuums allow you to turn the brush roll on and off, so you can avoid scratching your hard floors when transitioning from carpets.


Filters are a must-have for anyone who is sensitive to dust or pet hair, as well as allergic to pollen. HEPA filters are considered to be the best because they remove particles such as dust, dander and allergens from the air. Some vacuum models feature a filter that needs to be replaced regularly, while some have started to include reusable filters that allow you to remove, clean and replace the same filter as necessary. Reusable filters would be the ideal kind to use, as they are a great money-saving option.Shop Vacuums

Vacuum Accessories & Attachments

If you’re looking to do more than just vacuum the floors around your home, you may need to consider certain vacuum accessories and attachments. In order to properly clean drapes, sofas and chairs, dust shelves, and get to all the nooks and cracks in your home, you’ll need the right attachments.A crevice tool is great for cleaning corners and tight spaces. A dusting brush can be used to gently dust shelves and tables, as not to scratch them. An upholstery tool is perfect for vacuuming your furniture without causing any damage. Turbo brushes can offer a deeper clean for longer carpets.

The Main Vacuum Types

There are five primary shapes of vacuum cleaners, each performing a slightly different function, although some combine those forms in order to provide more bang for your buck. Being aware of the expectations you have of your vacuum cleaner can help you more intelligently and decisively pick one of the following.

1. Handheld

Handheld vacuums are perfect for getting those painfully hard-to-reach areas that desperately need a cleaning. The most common example for use is in vacuuming cars, since, as the name suggests, this model can be held in only one hand. Its versatility makes it a dream for suctioning up dirt and debris in a variety of tight places, but it would not serve well for general flooring cleaning, which would take a long time to clean with a handheld. This type of vacuum cleaner comes in all sorts of different forms with equally different price tags.

2. Canister

Canister vacuum cleaners are a happy medium between the upright model and the stick model. They are powerful like the upright cleaners, but feature a slender frame, like the stick cleaners. In this case, a separate canister is attached to a long wand which can be used to maintain not only carpeted areas but also bare flooring as well. This style of vacuum cleaner tends to be one of the most expensive options, given its technologically-forward and multi-functional design.

3. Upright

These cleaners are perhaps the most popular and sought-after forms of vacuum cleaners. When you imagine a vacuum cleaner or see one advertised in media, the image you picture is probably that of an upright machine. These models provide the most powerful clean-up for your house, and offer the comforting benefit of usually easy-to-understand functions and accessories, since most people have used an upright vacuum cleaner at least once in their lifetime. Most models provide settings that allow these vacuum cleaners to be used not only on carpeted surfaces but also bare floors.

4. Stick

While perhaps the least powerful of the vacuum models, stick vacuums have a knack for getting into narrow places and doing a tremendous job on hardwood floors, area rugs and light carpeting. This type of vacuum features a long stick-like handle and a slender construction. The slimness of this model makes it a perfect addition to any closet space, as it tucks neatly into most corners after its purpose has been served.

5. Autonomous / Robot

Robot vacuum cleaners have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, mainly due to the fact that they require little effort on your end. These vacuums are able to roam freely around your home, sucking up any small mess in its way. They not only save you time, but they are also able to reach places that larger vacuums wouldn’t be able to, such as under the couch. One main drawback of robot vacuums is that they typically come at a steep price.

Vacuum Cleaners

Location, Location, Location

Do you have primarily hardwood floors throughout your house? Are these floors covered with area rugs, or are they bare? Is your home filled with wall-to-wall carpeting? These are considerations you must make before taking the leap and purchasing your very own vacuum cleaner.

Bare Floors:

If you have bare floors, you’re better off with models that provide a number of attachments and which don’t have quite as much heft as some of the others. Using a regular upright vacuum on flooring like hardwood poses a number of problems, which includes scratching your smooth and coveted floors and being counterproductive by scattering debris across their surfaces. Some upright vacuums do provide settings that function better on non-carpeted areas, but for the most part your best bet would be with a model like the canister vacuum, which can also take care of your area rugs if you have any. These vacuums usually come with a bare-floor brush, which makes keeping your floors squeaky clean and scratch-free a piece of cake.


On the other hand, if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s definitely worth considering a model with different advantages than a vacuum cleaner suited for hardwood flooring and tiling. You won’t need to worry about scratching the surface of your carpet, and in fact, you’ll want something powerful that pulls up all the lingering debris from the carpet strands. In this instance, an upright cleaner is a great way to go. There are all sorts of extra conveniences that upright vacuums have recently come out with, including a dirt sensor which makes sure you get that last speck of grime.

Know the layout of your flooring and what sorts of surfaces you’ll be dealing with to ensure your needs will be met with your new vacuum cleaner.

To Bag or Not To Bag

The general consensus is that, whether you have a bagged vacuum or a bagless vacuum, your house will be clean either way (as long as you keep using it). However, there are a few small differences that may make or break your decision to buy one or the other.


If you or any of your family members are sensitive to allergens or have asthma, the bagged vacuum is probably more for you. Dust exposure is minimized when the bag is emptied and most bags are guaranteed to trap all but .03% of the dust and pollen in your carpeting. You do have to replace the bags on a regular basis, although these are typically available at most supermarkets.


If you are environmentally-minded and prefer to not have to deal with replacing bags, the bagless vacuum is more for you. These vacuums usually have a see-through canister which gives you perfect access to seeing how full the vacuum is, which can help you determine when you need to empty it out.

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