Kristen Hicks on September 18, 2015 0 Comments Steam cleaners are a relatively new entry in the market of home cleaning. They can be used on any type of floor and provide a deeper clean than many alternatives. For many buyers, one of the biggest appeals of owning a steam cleaner is that it offers a healthier, more green way of cleaning. If you’ve ever worried about all the chemicals in the detergents and cleaning solutions you buy, a steam cleaner can do away with that concern. All you need for it to do its cleaning magic is water. Table of Contents: 4 Types of Steam Cleaners 7 Factors to Consider When Shopping 8 Popular Brands to Consider Steam cleaners are also an attractive choice for consumers that suffer from allergies. Steam cleaning technology lifts and removes dust mites and dirt and uses heat that kills germs, so that it eliminates all those things you can’t necessarily see, but that are there affecting the quality of your breathing air. And it makes taking care of stains easier. You don’t have to get down and scrub at them; for many types of stains, you can simply run your steam cleaner over them to get rid of them. Steam cleaners can even help with eliminating bedbugs – those increasingly common and hard-to-kill pests. The customer reviews we looked at revealed that many people bought them precisely for that purpose in order to avoid having to throw out their furniture and were pleased with the results. 4 Types of Steam Cleaners Steam cleaners can be used for cleaning a variety of surfaces and objects, but some types will be better for particular jobs than others. Recognizing the different uses and features of the main four types of steam cleaners will help you pinpoint which is the best fit for your needs. 1. Handheld Steam Cleaner Handheld steam cleaners are small, portable and fall on the more affordable end of the price spectrum for this type of appliance. The prices will range, but typically fall right around $100, although there are some cheaper models out there. Their compact size makes them extremely easy to work with, as well as store when they’re not in use. This type of steam cleaner is great at getting out small stains in the carpet or quickly clean windows, but they’re not too practical when it comes to cleaning large spaces. They’re small, portable size will come more in handy for counters and hard-to-reach spots than for cleaning floors. Benefits: Most affordable type of steam cleaner. Work great for smaller cleaning jobs. Ideal for cleaning hard-to-reach spots, like corners, drapes and underneath furniture. Easy to store without taking up too much space. Lightweight and extremely easy to use. To Keep in Mind: Not the best steam cleaner for larger cleaning jobs. Doesn’t provide the same level of cleaning as larger steam cleaners. 2. Steam Mops Steam mops are designed primarily for cleaning floors. Resembling the look and feel of a stick vacuum, this type of steam cleaner is upright, easy to handle and lightweight. Steam mops usually include a water tank either in or attached to the handle. This type of steam cleaner is not only easier to use than a traditional mop or swiffer, but is also much more efficient at cleaning and sanitizing your floors. While each model will likely offer different features and accessories, the one thing they all have in common is the steam that kills off germs, bacteria and parasites that may be lurking on your floors. Because it uses steam, instead of harsh chemicals that you later need to clean up, you will spend less time cleaning your floors. Steam mops are also an affordable steam cleaner, typically costing a little more than the typical handheld model. Prices will likely vary based on brand, power, versatility and available accessories. For your average homeowner, this may be the best steam cleaner available. It’s easy to use, eco-friendly and friendly towards the average budget. Benefits: Affordable & eco-friendly. Lightweight & easy to use. Works great at cleaning and sanitizing floors. Takes up very little storage space. Very efficient at killing germs, bacteria and parasites. Don’t have to use detergents or other harsh chemicals. To Keep in Mind: Not the best steam cleaner for counters, corners or other hard-to-reach spots. May require a special feature or attachment for use on carpets. May have to be refilled frequently for larger cleaning projects. 3. Cylinder Steam Cleaner Cylinder steam cleaners, sometimes referred too as canister steam cleaners, are larger than both steam mops and handheld steam cleaners. Because they are bulkier, they may be a little more difficult to store and manage. However, don’t let that scare you, as this type of steam cleaner is very efficient when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing your home. The larger size is mostly due to the larger water tank attached to the unit. This larger tank allows you to complete larger cleaning jobs without having to worry about refilling the unit as often. This type of steam cleaner often comes with different attachments for cleaning different surfaces and, as such, are very versatile. This versatility allows you to use cylinder steam cleaners for floors, counters, and even things like curtains and clothes. The prices will range for these devices, but on average, they are more expensive than both handheld steam cleaners or steam mops. Despite the higher price tag, you will be able to easily clean and sanitize pretty much all areas of your home, unlike steam mops and handheld cleaners. Benefits: Versatile; Can easily be used to clean lots of different areas in your home. Large water tank so you don’t have to fill often. Don’t have to use detergents or other harsh chemicals. Very efficient at killing germs, bacteria and parasites. Lots of attachments and accessories available. To Keep in Mind: More expensive than other types of steam cleaners. Larger size makes it harder to store. Not the best steam cleaner when it comes to mobility. 4. Vapor Steam Cleaner Vapor steam cleaners are similar in form and function to cylinder steam cleaners, with many of the same benefits. This type of steam cleaner usually comes with a wide variety of features and attachments that allow you to easily clean different types of surfaces and objects. The main distinction that makes this type of steam cleaner one of the best to buy is that it provides a “dry” clean. This is notable, because it utilizes high levels of heat to ensure that steam is all that touches the surfaces you clean and no water or dampness is left behind. The dry steam not only makes for a better clean, but it’s preferred among homeowners that don’t want to wait for their floors to dry. They are one of the more expensive types of steam cleaners available on the market, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. But, don’t let that deter you, vapor steam cleaners are one of the best appliances you can have around your home. Benefits: Versatile; Can easily be used to clean lots of different areas in your home. Provides a dry clean so you don’t have to worry about any potential damage from excess moisture. Don’t have to use detergents or other harsh chemicals. Very efficient at killing germs, bacteria and parasites. Lots of attachments and accessories available. To Keep in Mind: Tend to be more expensive than other steam cleaners. Not the best steam cleaner when it comes to storing it. Large size may make it harder to use for some. 7 Factors to Consider When Buying a Steam Cleaner Your reasons for wanting a steam cleaner and how you plan to use it will undoubtedly influence which steam cleaner is best for you. To figure out which steam cleaner makes the most sense for your needs, these are seven of the main factors you should take into consideration. 1. Size and Weight From commercial units to handheld, steam cleaners come in a pretty wide range of sizes, shapes and weight. The overall bulkiness will vary on the type you buy, as well as each individual model. Before you buy a steam cleaner, be sure to look at the dimensions and weight of the unit. Once you know the size and overall weight, think about whether you are willing to push around a large, heavy item, or if you prefer something more lightweight and portable. If you’re not comfortable carrying or pushing around a heavy steam cleaner, that could be a deterrent to ever using it. Another thing to keep in mind, is that whatever model you decide on, you will need to find a place to store it. Before you buy it, make sure that you have enough room for it to sit when not in use. Most homeowners will prefer to keep it out of sight, such as in a closet, when it’s not in use. Do you have enough room for that? 2. Cost Which type of steam cleaner you go with will have a significant influence on the price range you’ll be looking at. Handheld steam cleaners and steam mops can be found at very reasonable prices that won’t feel like a huge investment. Some models of cylinder and vapor steam cleaners can get very pricey, but they’re useful for a wider variety of jobs and could potentially save you money on other cleaning products, as well as save you time in the longrun. Many of the brands priced in the low-to-mid range got really solid reviews in our research, so for the purposes of the average homeowner, an affordable steam cleaner will likely do the trick. But, it all comes down to what you plan on using it for. If you plan on using it frequently, then we’d recommend investing into a slightly nicer unit, instead of simply going with the most affordable option available. 3. Attachments & Accessories Most steam cleaners come with a few basic attachments that you can use on different types of surfaces to help you sanitize different areas of your home. Most brands also offer more attachments and accessories for their steam cleaners that you can buy separately (or may come with some models). If you want a steam cleaner that’s versatile and can be used for a large number of items, surfaces, and spaces, then consider what attachments come with each model, as well as what is available for you to purchase along side it. Make sure, in advance, that whatever you buy will have the functionality or attachments for all the types of cleaning jobs you plan on using it for. What’s the point of buying a steam cleaner that doesn’t let you clean all the areas you want? 4. Water Tank Size Just like an iron, a steam cleaner will only continue to produce steam for as long as there’s water to heat it from. For smaller steam cleaners, that often means having to refill your water tank more often, probably in the middle of your cleaning task. On the other hand, larger tanks will last longer, but they often take longer to heat up, so you’re stuck waiting to get started. Decide which you prefer and keep an eye on the comparison between the size of the water tanks in different models you may be considering. Steam mops and handheld steam cleaners usually have smaller tanks and shorter heat-up times; whereas, cylinder and vapor steam cleaners have larger ones and longer times between refills. 5. Pressure & Temperature Two related issues to consider are how hot your steam cleaner gets and how much steam pressure the product generates. Steam cleaners that have a higher temperature produce dryer steam and higher pressure, which is more sanitary, provides a deeper clean, kills more germs and, ultimately, is more efficient. To make it even more complex, the temperature and pressure level the device can reach is important, but so is the consistency at which it can keep the pressure at. If a unit is unable to consistently maintain the temperature and pressure level, then it will be less likely to cleanse your home as efficiently as you’d like. In most cases, steam cleaners that have higher temperature and pressure will cost more, but if a deeper and dryer clean is important to you then the higher cost will be worth it in the long-run. 6. Noise Levels Steam cleaners are typically quieter than vacuum cleaners, but they all produce some level of noise and some of them can get pretty loud. If you’re concerned about how loud your steam cleaner will be, then consider looking for models that advertise being quieter than usual and check what reviewers say about the noise levels. Some products may list a decibel level in their specs. If this is listed, it will give you a pretty good idea of how loud you can expect the device to be. Unfortunately, only a few of the best steam cleaners list the decibel level in their specs, so you may have to rely on customer reviews to get an idea of how loud your preferred model is. 7. Ease of Use Often lighter models of steam cleaners will be easier to work with than heftier ones, but the larger types of steam cleaners can provide a deeper clean. It’s a conundrum that must be addressed by anyone that buys a steam cleaner. If you’re worried about the discomfort of handling a large or heavy steam cleaner, then sticking with a smaller and easier to use model might be worth the trade-off. However, if you’re really wanting a device that can provide a deep clean, you may have to go with a larger device than you initially anticipated. Extra Features to Look For: Continuous Refill: Some models offer a continuous refill feature, which means they have two water tanks, so you can refill one while you’re in the midst of cleaning for extra convenience. Combination Models: You can find models that mix two types of steam cleaners in one, like steam mops that also have a handheld steam cleaner or a vacuum /steam cleaning combo that also functions as a vacuum cleaner. For those who want to save on storage space in their closet, a two-in-one model may be the smart choice. 8 Popular Steam Cleaner Brands In addition to figuring out which type of steam cleaner is best for you and what factors you should take into consideration, you should also be aware of the reputation of the brands in the market. We looked at the reviews of some of the top brands selling steam cleaners to get an idea of what customers think of them. Below is a quick synopsis of what we’ve found from each brand. 1. Bissell With a historic reputation of creating some of the best vacuum cleaners on the market, Bissell also sells handheld steam cleaners and steam mops that have solid reviews from consumers. Their steam cleaners are pretty affordable and most customers were happy with their purchase. Some did mention that Bissell left more water after cleaning than other steam cleaners they’d used, suggesting they don’t manage the dry clean that higher-cost models and vapor steam cleaners promise. Whether this is a brand problem or user error, it’s worth noting here in this guide. If you’re concerned about extra moisture left behind on wood floors, then going with a model that produces dryer steam is likely the smart choice for you. 2. Hoover Most of Hoover’s steam cleaners are made for use on carpets. They have handheld models as well as upright ones. Reviews for Hoover’s steam cleaners were mixed. We found some models that had predominantly positive reviews, but a lot of cases where someone who bought a Hoover loved it at first, but was disappointed by how quickly it broke or how much maintenance it needed to operate at peak performance. While they have a strong reputation for some similar types of products, such as vacuum cleaners, Hoover seems to have some durability issues when it comes to their steam cleaners. 3. McCulloch At the time of this writing, McCulloch just has one model — Heavy Duty Vapor Steam Cleaner #MC-1275 — but the reviews for it are overwhelmingly positive. Consumers found it easy to use, its cleaning power impressive, and were happy with the value for the price. Handheld cleaners don’t offer the same level of deep cleaning that larger models do, which some reviewers commented on, but in comparison to other portable and handheld steam cleaners, consumers seemed to consider McCulloch one of the best steam cleaners on the market. 4. Reliable Reliable makes high-end vapor steam cleaners, as well as some handheld and steam mop models. The majority of the reviews we came across for their models were positive — they seem to live up to their name. Reviewers found their steam cleaners easy to use, effective and energy-efficient. We did come across a few complaints about durability, but most Reliable models do come with warranties to alleviate some of the risk. 5. Shark Another major brand for vacuum cleaners, Shark also makes steam mops and a portable handheld steam cleaner. The portable version has mixed reviews, but customers that buy the steam mops are pretty consistently happy with their purchase. Reviewers say their Shark steam mops are good for heavy-duty cleaning projects and have convenient attachments for tackling a number of surfaces. Most of their models fall on the more affordable end of the spectrum for steam cleaners, so they are a good value for the price you pay. 6. Sienna Sienna has a wide range of steam cleaner models that includes handheld, steam mops, canister, and vapor steam cleaners. Their models are affordable and the majority of the reviews we found were positive. Consumers especially tend to appreciate the value for the price, and the models from Sienna appear to be a good pick for affordable reliability. 7. Steamfast Steamfast makes steam mops, canister and handheld steam cleaners. Reviews of their models are very much positive and follow the familiar theme that seems to consistently praise the value for the cost. Customers find their steam cleaners easy-to-use, versatile and are impressed with the cleaning job they do. Like other steam cleaner brands, especially Sienna and Shark, reviews suggest a reputation for steam cleaners that combine reliability with affordability. 8. Vaparmore Vaparmore makes vapor steam cleaners, canister and handheld steam cleaner models. Their pricing falls in the mid-range of what you’ll see on the market. The reviews are largely positive, with praise for the attachments that come with their cleaners and the versatility of things you can use them to clean. If you’re looking for a steam cleaner that can be put to many uses, this may just be the best brand for you. Takeaways Before Buying Many homes manage to make do without having a steam cleaner, instead opting for a swiffer or a more traditional mop. But those homeowners that do take the plunge and buy a steam cleaner are usually happy they did. Many cleaning tasks become quicker and easier, you can avoid the chemicals common to many cleaning supplies, and the level of clean is beyond what you’ll get with many other types of cleaning, especially just a wet clothe. One thing that was consistent in the reviews we found was that, while opinions on different models and brands varied, the reviewers were all believers in the benefits of steam cleaning. If you can find the model that’s right for you, you’ll likely join their ranks.