My feed

Our writers test and research products independently. When you buy through a link on our site we may earn a commission but this never affects our product choices.

Best steam cleaners to buy 2023, as tested by Mumsnetters

From uprights to cylinders and even handhelds, there’s a steam cleaner out there for you and your home. Here's our pick of the best.

By Laura Cooke | Last updated Sep 20, 2023

Best steam cleaners

As most of us know all too well, cleaning and parenting often go hand in hand. The best steam cleaners can make light work of carpets, floors and even fabrics, and are considered household heroes by many Mumsnet users.

Steam cleaners can reach the places where robot mops can't, so when you find out what else they can clean - ovens and taps, we’re looking at you - you’ll be completely sold. To get you started, we've investigated the very best models on the market, taking note of the cleaners our trusted army of Mumsnet users love, alongside options vetted by home experts and tested by MNHQ.

From popular brands like Vax and Shark to the coveted Kärcher, you'll find the most (ahem) esteemed cleaners in our roundup.

To keep on top of household chores, we've also got handy guides to the best vacuum cleaners, the best cordless vacuum cleaners, the best robot vacuum cleaners, the best floor mops, the best carpet cleaners, the best Dyson vacuum cleaners, the best Shark vacuum cleaners, all featuring reviews and recommendations from Mumsnet users.

Read next: Bag a bargain with our roundup of the best budget vacuum cleaners

Best steam cleaners at a glance

1. Best overall steam cleaner: Kärcher SC3 EasyFix Steam Cleaner

Karcher steam cleaner

Price on writing: £159 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Cylinder | Heating time: 30 seconds | Steaming time: 23 minutes | Variable steam? Yes | Water tank capacity: 1L | Cord length: 4m | Weight: 4.6kg | Limescale filter: Y | Wattage: 1900W | Included accessories: Floor cleaning kit, EasyFix and extension tubes, nozzles, brush microfibre floor cloth, cover for manual nozzle, descaler cartridge, accessory storage and parking position, steam hose (from Amazon) | Guarantee: Two years

What we like

  • Large water capacity means a longer steam

  • Comes with a kit for cleaning hard floors

  • Great safety features

What we don't like

  • Some reviewers have found the cord length too short

What Mumsnet users say

"I tried a few steam cleaners before I came to my Kärcher and it's blooming ace. It has various attachments for cleaning work surfaces, upholstery, floors etc and I wouldn't be without it. You really do get what you pay for with steam cleaners, so go for a good one"lavendersgreen)

Our verdict

The Kärcher S3 EasyFix Steam Cleaner is a cylinder model. This means that, rather than an upright steam mop, it's a wheeled cleaner with a cleaning wand, similar to a traditional hoover.

If you're a fan of a good, regular deep clean, the S3 is for you. It has capacity for a lot more water than most and, as a result, has a longer steam time before you need to refill. Other features include an indicator light when the descaling cartridge needs replacing, a hard floor cleaning kit and, vitally, safety valves and locks to prevent any unintended steaming sessions. These extra features, along with the high water capacity and long steam time, are why we have awarded the Kärcher best overall steam cleaner.

We must also mention the Kärcher Window Vac which comes highly recommended by Mumsnetters: “But even better is the Kärcher window cleaner. It is amazing. Just fantastic. Our windows are spotless and take about 30 seconds. No rubbing or shining needed. We have ceiling to floor windows along two sides of a room at the back of the house and they are spotless after years of streaks and looking very grubby.”

Read next: The best vacuum cleaners to buy, as rated by Mumsnetters

2. Best budget steam cleaner: Morphy Richards 720512 12-in-1 Steam Cleaner

Morphy Richards steam mop

Price on writing: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Handheld or upright | Heating time: 30 seconds | Steaming time: 11 minutes | Variable steam? Not specified | Water tank capacity: 380ml | Cord length: 5m |Weight: 2.8kg | Limescale filter: N | Wattage: ‎1500W  | Included accessories: Microfibre floor cloths, carpet glider, extension nozzle, upholstery attachment with elasticated cloth, worktop surface attachment, window cleaning attachment, angled jet nozzle, round brush, crevice brush, plastic scraper, jug and funnel |Guarantee: Not specified

What we like

  • Large water tank

  • Loads of accessories

What we don't like

  • Hard surfaces will need time to dry afterwards

Our verdict

No doubt, handheld cleaners are a lifesaver. The Morphy Richards 12-in-1 Steam Mop is an upright steam cleaner that includes a built-in detachable handheld steamer for those hard-to-reach areas. This function, combined with the mop's all-round efficiency at most cleaning tasks, makes it our most recommended handheld steam cleaner. Another big plus is that it has a large water tank (380ml) without being bulky, so you don't have to refill it as often.

It also includes a similar host of accessories to the Vax Steam Fresh Combi Classic Steam Mop (see below), complete with microfibre cloths and upholstery and worktop surfaces attachments.

Read next: The best floor mops, as rated by Mumsnet users

3. Best upright steam cleaner: Vileda Steam Mop Plus

Vileda Steam Mop Plus

Price on writing: £85 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Steam mop | Heating time: 15 seconds | Steaming time: 28 minutes | Variable steam?: Three different settings | Water tank capacity: 0.4L | Cord length: 6m | Weight: Not specified | Limescale filter: N | Wattage: ‎Not specified | Included accessories: Carpet glider, machine-washable microfibre pad | Guarantee: Not specified

What we like

  • Swiveling triangular head means dirt and grime has nowhere to hide

  • Microfibre mop head is machine washable

What we don't like

  • You may find yourself running out of mop heads - bit these can be bought separately

What Mumsnet users say

“I got the Vileda [...] and I love it. Easy to use, lightweight and great value.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user dragonflyee)

Our verdict

This upright steam cleaner is great value for money. It heats up in only 15 seconds so you can get to work almost immediately, and makes short work of any grime on hard-sealed floors such as tiles, wood, vinyl and laminate.

It also comes with a carpet glider that allows you to clean carpets with ease. Included in the box is a machine-washable microfibre cleaning cloth. We like the triangular head which makes it easy to clean in corners of rooms, and in any nooks and crannies.

Read next: The best cordless vacuum cleaners, as recommended by Mumsnetters

4. Best steam mop: Shark S6003UK Klik n' Flip Automatic Steam Mop

Shark steam mop

Price on writing: £130 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Type: Steam mop | Heating time: 30 seconds | Steaming time: 15 minutes | Variable steam? Yes | Water tank capacity: 380ml | Cord length: 8m | Weight: 2.7kg | Limescale filter: N | Wattage: ‎1200W | Included accessories: Two double-sided machine-washable Dirt Grip cleaning pads, filling flask | Guarantee: Two years

What we like

  • Easy to use

  • Extra long cord

  • Can flip over to a new mop head mid-clean

What we don't like

  • Short steaming time

What Mumsnet users say

“I have the Shark steam mop and really rate it! The heads are a lot thicker than other steam mops and I found it easier to wield.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user melissasummerfield)

“It's easy to get out/fill/put away – the mop head clicks off and is reversible too. I've never mopped floors so much.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user ChishandFips33)

Our verdict

What separates the Shark from its other upright competitors is some impressive fancy features. This steam mop comes with double-sided pads that have 'Dirt Grip Technology'. The 'klik n' flip' feature is being able to flip the mop head to the fresh, clean side, which is efficient as well as satisfying. It also has three different steam settings and a 'steam blaster mode' which uses a concentrated blast of steam to get rid of particularly stubborn stains (baby vom, we're looking at you).

All this contributes to the fact that it “eliminates 99.9 percent of common household bacteria”, according to Shark. It also has one of the longest cords of all the products we recommend (eight metres), if that's important to you.

Read next: The best upright vacuum cleaners, as recommended by Mumsnetters

5. Quickest steam cleaner: Vax S86-SF-C Steam Fresh Combi Multifunction Steam Cleaner

Vax steam cleaner

Price on writing: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Upright and handheld | Heating time: 20 seconds | Steaming time: 15 minutes | Variable steam?: Yes | Water tank capacity: 260ml (Solution tank capacity: 200ml) | Cord length: 7m | Weight: 3.7kg | Limescale filter: Y | Wattage: ‎1600W  | Included accessories: 250ml Vax steam detergent, microfibre pads, carpet glider, hose, metal brush, plastic brushes, window tool, cloth, scraper tool, concentration tool, grout brush, detail nozzle, accessory bag | Guarantee: Two years

What we like

  • Great range of accessories

  • Heats up quickly

What we don't like

  • Smaller water capacity than other steam cleaners on the market

What Mumsnet users say

“I bought my Vax steam mop five years ago for £60 and I love it. I hoover my floors first and then steam them. Any stubborn marks I just keep scrubbing. Sometimes I spray a cleaner on the floor and steam mop over it. I wouldn't use a mop again.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Chocolate1984)

Our verdict

The Vax Steam Fresh is a 15-in-1 upright steam cleaner that boasts a handheld mode as well as 10 accessories – from a grout brush to a scraper nozzle. Mumsnetters even recommend it for cleaning your hob.

If you're short on time or don't want to spend ages on housework, this steam cleaner is a great choice. It heats up and is ready for use in just 20 seconds and, depending on the setting you use, it can leave floors clean and dry within three minutes.  Compared to other similar models, the Steam and Fresh has a smaller water capacity, so you'd need to refill it often. However, it does include another tank which you can add detergent into if you like. It also includes a limescale filter, meaning you can use with any tap water - hard or not.

Read next: How to clean a carpet, according to Mumsnetters

6. Best hard floor steam cleaner: Bissell Vac & Steam 1977E

Bissell steam cleaner

Price on writing: £149 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Vacuum and steam cleaner | Heating time: 30 seconds | Steaming time: 15 minutes | Variable steam? Not specified | Water capacity: 400ml | Cord length: 7.6m | Weight: 4.8kg | Limescale filter: Y | Wattage: ‎1600W | Included accessories: Not specified | Guarantee: Two years

What we like

  • It's a steam cleaner and vacuum in one

  • Quick to heat up

What we don't like

  • Short steaming time

What Mumsnet users say

“It vacuums and steam cleans the floor in one. No more lugging buckets of water or smelly mops. Saved my sanity with a newborn.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user BlueisthenewGrey)

“I love my Vac & Steam. Absolute gem of a gadget. Sucks up the bits and mops the floor. Couldn't be without it.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user BeverlyGoldberg)

Our verdict

Choosing between a new vacuum or steam cleaner? With the Bissell Vac & Steam you don't have to – and it saves on storage too. With one touch you can move between using the cyclonic action hoover to steaming away and, just in case you were concerned with how it works, the dry-tank technology keeps debris dry and separate from the steam at all times.

As a steam cleaner, the specs are similar to the Shark S6003UK Klik n' Flip, with a big tank and moderate steaming time. It is a heavier model though, which is unsurprising due to its vacuuming capability. The vacuum element also has two washable filters – foam and pleated – to trap fine dust and allow clean exhaust air out.

Read next: The best Dyson vacuum cleaners, as rated by Mumsnetters

7. Best steam cleaner for awkward spaces: Shark Floor & Handheld Steam Cleaner S6005UK

shark floor and handheld steam cleaner

Price on writing: £129 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Steam mop | Heating time: 30 seconds | Steaming time: Not listed | Variable steam?: Yes | Water capacity: 500ml | Cord length: 6.5m | Weight: 2.8kg | Limescale filter: Not listed | Wattage: ‎1200W | Included accessories: Concentration nozzle, scrubbing tool, copper brush, crevice tool and handheld surface cleaning pad | Guarantee: Two years

What we like

  • Lots of handy accessories

  • Speedy heating time

  • Generous cord length

What we don't like

  • You may find a long cord gets in the way

Our verdict

Shark vacuum cleaners are a Mumsnet favourite and its steam cleaners are also hugely popular with good reason. There are many of them on the market, but this S6005UK Floor & Handheld Steam Cleaner is a great buy. It’s both an upright and a handheld cleaner so, as well as keeping all your floors sparkling clean, it can also be used to clean hobs, showers, kitchen surfaces, and inside the oven.

It comes with a concentration nozzle, a scrubbing tool, copper brush, crevice tool and a handheld surface cleaning pad to help with every little job you can think of, and it has two automatic steam settings as well as a steam blaster for any really stubborn dirt.

Like the Shark Klik n' Flip, the Floor & Handheld Steam Cleaner boasts 'klik n' flip technology that means when one side of the mop pad gets dirty, you can just flip it over and continue before popping it in the wash. A generous 6.5m cord means you don’t have to worry about unplugging it as you move from room to room.

Read next: The best Shark vacuum cleaners, as rated by Mumsnet users

8. Best steam cleaner for ceramic tiles: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner

dupray neat steam cleaner

Price on writing: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Cylinder | Heating time: 7 seconds | Steaming time: 50 minutes | Variable steam? Not specified | Water capacity: 1.6L | Cord length: 5m | Weight: 4kg | Limescale filter: No | Wattage: ‎1500W | Included accessories: 17-piece set including: microfibre pads, window tool, extension tubes, lance, triangular tool, brushes | Guarantee: Two years

What we like

  • Super-speedy heating time

  • Comes with plenty of useful accessories

What we don't like

  • Heavier than other steam cleaners on our list

What Mumsnet users say

“I recently bought a Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner. I use it mostly in the bathroom where it does a good job on the wall and floor tiles, cutting the effort and the use of detergent. It's brilliant for cleaning out the various plug holes in the house!” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Pipework)

Our verdict

The Dupray Neat multi-use steam cleaner makes very short work of tiles in the kitchen and bathroom, cutting through grease and dirt easily, and deep-cleaning grout lines and even porous tiles.

But it’s a bit of a showstopper in a whole range of situations. If your family has allergies, it’s useful for steam-cleaning mattresses to get rid of bed bugs, and it’s great for furniture, soft furnishings and baby car seats too. The 17-piece accessories kit means you have the nozzle, brush or cloth for every job you can imagine around the home - from cleaning an oven or barbecue, to doing the floors or curtains. Its large tank means fewer trips back to the tap to refill.

The Dupray heats steam up to 135°C and kills 99 percent of bacteria, so it’s also ideal for cleaning around the loo and other difficult-to-reach areas of the bathroom. The heat of the steam means you can sanitise and deodorise as well as simply clean.

Read next: How to clean a floor, according to Mumsnetters

9. Most powerful steam cleaner: Kärcher SC5 EasyFix Steam Cleaner

karcher sc5 steam cleaner

Price on writing: £349 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Cylinder | Heating time: 3 minutes | Steaming time: Not listed | Variable steam? Yes | Water capacity: 1.5L | Cord length: 6m | Weight: 8.66kg | Limescale filter: Yes | Wattage: ‎2200W | Included accessories: Floor cleaning kit, EasyFix and extension tube, nozzles, brush, microfibre floor cloth, cover for manual nozzle, descaling powder, accessory storage, steam hose with gun | Guarantee: Two years

What we like

  • Really powerful

  • Good safety features

What we don't like

  • On the pricey side, but some would argue it's a great investment

What Mumsnet users say

“I love mine! My toilets are all fresh as a daisy now [...] and the shower screen corners are like new. The washing machine drawer no longer harbours black mould and the dishwasher hinges and hard to reach bits have all been blasted clean. Best of all, my chest freezer that was coated in such thick ice the lid wouldn't shut properly is now ice free after being thoroughly defrosted and re-filled within half an hour!” (Vetted by Mumsnet user thenightsky)

Our verdict

A big favourite among Mumsnetters, Kärcher is a leading light in the steam cleaner market and the SC5 is its most powerful model, albeit very pricey.

If you want a steamer that does a lot more than just floors, this is it, killing 99.9 percent of common household bacteria as it goes. While it powers through both hard floors and carpets and rugs easily, it also has attachments that allow it to clean bathrooms, around taps, inside the oven, wall tiles and mirrors, to get every inch of your home sparkling clean with nothing but tap water. The VapoHydro function adds a spray of hot water to your steam clean to help you shift even really dried-on dirt and stains. And a child lock on the steam gun gives you added peace of mind.

Read next: The best vacuum cleaners for pet hair, as rated by Mumsnetters

10. Best steam cleaner for carpets: Polti Vaporetto Pro 95 Turbo Steam Cleaner

polti vaporetto pro 95 steam cleaner

Price on writing: £394 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Cylinder | Heating time: 67 seconds | Steaming time: 46 mins | Variable steam? Yes | Water capacity: 147L | Cord length: 4m | Weight: 5.8kg | Limescale filter: No | Wattage: ‎1100W  | Included accessories: 14 accessories including brushes, nozzle and carpet glider | Guarantee: Not specified

What we like

  • Does a great job on furniture and soft furnishings

  • Long steaming time

What we don't like

  • A bit on the heavy side

Our verdict

Polti has been making Vaporetto steam cleaners for more than 30 years. The cylinder 95 Turbo Flex system has all the good looks and clever design of the originals, but with lots of extras picked up over the years, making it particularly good on furniture and furnishings.

Indicators to show when water is running low and when it’s ready to steam, and an eco function automatically limits the water and energy used to make the machine as environmentally-friendly as possible. The large water tank gives it a really long steam time, so it’s brilliant if you’re really getting stuck into a thorough steam clean. The only downside is that it makes it rather heavy to lift, though it does come on wheels so you can drag it around behind you. If you or your family suffer with allergies, the Vaporetto can help eliminate dust mites from your bed, carpets and soft furnishings.

Read next: Best robot vacuum cleaners, as recommended by Mumsnetters

Best steam cleaners and mops: Editor's picks

Karcher steam cleaner
Best overall

Kärcher SC3 EasyFix Steam Cleaner

Buy now
Morphy Richards steam mop
Best handheld

Morphy Richards 720512 12-in-1 Steam Cleaner

Buy now
shark floor and handheld steam cleaner
Best for awkward spaces

Shark Floor & Handheld Steam Cleaner

Buy now

How does a steam cleaner work?

The water in the tank of a steam cleaner is heated past boiling point, forming pressurised steam. The high temperature of this steam lifts dirt, so it can be wiped away, and also kills harmful bacteria as well as dust mites.

Read next: The best robot floor mops, as recommended by Mumsnetters

How to choose a steam cleaner

It's worth considering whether you want an upright steam cleaner (or steam mop) or a cylinder version. The main considerations are the type of cleaning you do, the areas you want to clean and also your budget.

Cylinder steam cleaners

These are wheeled models (similar to a traditional vacuum cleaner) and are heavier, mainly due to their larger water tanks. They're better for large houses or deep cleans as they can steam for longer and are usually more powerful – but also more expensive. They’re great if you want to spend some time steaming your carpets or curtains or maybe giving the bathroom a really thorough going over to rid it of germs.

Upright steam cleaners or steam mops

These are lightweight and fairly compact in size. They heat up quickly, but are designed for short cleaning sessions like a quick scoot round the kitchen floor.

Read next: The best budget vacuum cleaners under £200

Key steam cleaner features to look out for

Consider first what you mainly want to use the steam cleaner floor, for example, carpets, hard floors, general cleaning or upholstery. It might be that you want it to a bit of everything and that’s definitely possible, but might cost you a bit more.

Working out what you want to use it for most should help you choose between a cylinder, upright or handheld (see above), which will narrow your choice down significantly. Some also have a handheld mode to tackle hard-to-reach areas.

Check that the cleaners you’re looking at have the accessories you want. So for carpets you’ll need it to come with a carpet brush or glider. For doing around taps and in tiny nooks and crannies you’ll need one with a selection of thin nozzles. And if you want to clean an oven with it, something with a hot water shot might be a good option to lift any really stubborn, baked-on grime.

Have a budget in mind. We’d all love a fabulous do-it-all model for £300, but having champagne tastes and Carlsberg purse won’t get you there. Besides, there are lots of really excellent models at around the £50 mark so you should be able to find what you want without breaking the bank.

Factors to consider before choosing a steam cleaner are:

  • Size and weight - look and the dimensions and weight before you buy, and think about where you might store your steam cleaner when not in use.

  • Cost - how much you spend will be dependent on the type of steam cleaner you choose. Steam mops will be cheaper than cylinder steam cleaners, for example.

  • Attachments - think about what type of attachments, such as nozzles or brushes, will be useful to you. Some steam cleaners come with a multitude of accessories to tackle different parts of the home.

  • Water capacity - the larger the water tank, the less you have to refill it. But a big water tank will mean a heavier and more bulky steam cleaner.

  • Pressure and steaming time - this will be an important factor in the type of steam cleaner you choose. The higher the pressure and the longer the steaming time, the deeper the clean you'll get.

  • Heating time - look at the time it takes for your steam cleaner to heat up.

  • Cord length - the longer the cord, the more surface area you can cover, depending on the position of your plug socket.

  • Limescale filter - if you live in a hard water area, such as London and much of the east of the UK, you'll need a limescale filter or else have to fill your steam cleaner with distilled water.

Read next: The best steam irons, according to Mumsnetters

Are steam cleaners really worth it?

Steam cleaners can be good news for those suffering from allergies as most claim to eliminate dust mites. Some Mumsnet users have found using a steam cleaner physically easier than elbow grease, as it lessens pressure on the wrists. The lack of chemicals is also kinder to the environment and household surfaces. And, in general, steam cleaners are known for providing fast and intensive cleaning.

It's worth noting that steam cleaners aren't for everyone. Mumsnetters themselves are divided on the subject and, if you’re planning to use them on your floors, you need to be very sure your floor is suitable as some woods and laminates in particular will ‘lift’ if you use steam on them.

Read next: Are robot vacuum cleaners worth it? Everything you need to know about hands-free hoovering 

What steam cleaner accessories do I need?

Some models of steam cleaners come with a multitude of different accessories and, while they're not all necessary, the variety can be helpful if you're wanting to complete a number of different cleaning tasks around the house.

Think about the requirements you have for a steam cleaner; are you planning to use it for different surfaces? Is it just for pristine floors or do you want to use it on upholstery too? If it's the latter, you may want a cleaner that comes with attachments suited for those awkward spaces around the house.

It's also worth checking if accessory storage is included too, as a handy bag can keep everything neat and tidy in one place.

What's the best steam cleaner to buy?

We think the Kärcher SC3 EasyFix Steam Cleaner is the best steam cleaner to buy. It offers the most in terms of design and features for a reasonable price, and can turn its hand to almost any task. It’s a cylinder cleaner, so if you’re short on space you might instead like to look at the Shark S6003UK Klik n' Flip Automatic Steam Mop.

How we chose our recommendations

Expert guidance

We spent extensive time researching the latest and best cleaners on the market, taking into account household expert opinions, particularly from the likes of Which? who have thoroughly tested almost all the newest models around. We also made notes of which brands had won trusted awards and accolades along the way.

Opinions from real Mumsnet users

Armed with that long list, we turned to the Mumsnet Talk boards and trawled the threads for comments, both positive and negative, from real Mumsnetters who had bought steam cleaners and put them through their paces over the years.

Honest consumer reviews

We also investigated various retailer sites, combing through authentic customer reviews to see what the people who tried and tested each product thought. From this analysis we were able to ensure the steam cleaners we picked were the best of the best, and weigh up the merits and disadvantages of each one.

We compiled all of our in-depth research into a shortlist and from there chose 10 that we thought would offer something for everyone, no matter what their needs or budget.

About the author

Laura Cooke is a Content Editor at Mumsnet, with a special focus on home care content.

Laura started writing Swears By articles for Mumsnet in 2021 and has recently taken over responsibility for floor care and laundry content. She writes buyers guides, including what to consider when buying a robot vacuum cleaner, cleaning articles and tests products, including the Henry Quick vacuum and the Beldray 60m Rotary Airer, to help Mumsnetters make informed choices when it comes to parting with their pennies.

Laura has also written articles for publications including the Daily Mirror, the i, Metro, Stylist and Happiful magazine.

Why you should trust us

In order to provide honest and independent advice you can trust, we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

Times are according to the manufacturer. Weights are calculated when tanks are unfilled.

Prices correct at the time of publication.