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What features make the best handheld steam cleaner for grout, carpets, upholstery and more? Versatile and effective deep cleaning starts with choosing the right size and tank capacity for your needs. The best handheld steamer models have enough space in their water tanks to handle small cleaning jobs but are still compact enough for tight spaces. For more options that aren’t limited to handheld models, check out this list of the top upholstery steam cleaner models.
Next, the best portable steam cleaner should have plenty of spray nozzle options to fine-tune pressure levels for a wide variety of surfaces. Finally, you might want to consider the right accessory nozzle and brush options that suit your cleaning needs. You might want a variety of attachments such as a fabric steamer attachment or a grout brush for tiled surfaces.
If you have a home with pets, portable steamers are helpful for various tasks that vacuuming alone won’t accomplish. They excel at short, deep cleaning tasks, such as removing the stain from pet messes on carpet, upholstery, or stairs. Although, for tougher pet stains, you’ll need to look into the leading steam vacuum cleaners.
Keep reading to learn more about the best handheld steam cleaner options on the market. Of course, if you need a vacuum cleaner instead, check out our picks for the best vacuum cleaners.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This steaming system comes with a wide variety of attachments to help sanitize and remove stubborn stains from cooking appliances, floors, and walls. The device has an on-demand trigger for controlling the rate of steaming.
The Bissell SteamShot 39N7V steam cleaner is a multipurpose cleaning system for sanitizing surfaces and appliances. It features an on-demand steam trigger for controlling the amount of steam directed at a surface. This device comes with seven cleaning tools, including a jet nozzle. It also features a measuring pitcher for adding water to the tank. However, this device seems a bit underpowered and consequently, the steam is not very hot.
This Bissell SteamShot 39N7V steam cleaner kills germs, so it’s good for cleaning toilet seats, grills, and other kitchen appliances. It ships with three color-coded scrubbing brushes for removing stubborn stains from surfaces. A grout tool comes in handy when cleaning tiled floors and walls. This steam cleaner also includes a flat scraper tool for removing stains from stovetops and ovens. An angle concentrator tool directs steam through narrow openings.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The steamer device produces very hot steam to assist in removing grease and grime. This device takes just four minutes to heat up and works continuously for up to 20 minutes.
The Mosche 350ml steam cleaner uses a 1050W heating system to sanitize surfaces and equipment. This device produces hot steam at hot temperatures of up to 270°F, melting grease, grime, and stains. It works continuously for up to 20 minutes at a time. This cleaning system uses high-pressure steam and is suited to cleaning sealed surfaces and grouts. However, the steam trigger is a bit hard and needs some effort to operate.
This Mosche 350ml steam cleaner heats up fast, taking just 3-4 minutes to get ready for cleaning. The steaming machine comes with a specialty glass cleaning tool, which comes in handy when sanitizing windows and doors. The device also comes with a fabric steamer for apparel. A two-in-one spray cup and round brush clean couches and car seats. This device also comes with an extended nozzle and bend nozzle to assist in directing steam towards hard-to-reach areas.
Award: BEST USER-FRIENDLY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This device has a lockable trigger that offers intuitive operation. It has a child lock and safety cap, so it’s ideal for use in homes with children and pets.
The Comforday 350ml steam cleaner comes with a variety of accessories for cleaning various surfaces. This steam cleaning system comes with a window tool for glass doors and windows. With a 1050W heater, this device produces very hot steam at temperatures of up to 270°F. It has a child lock and safety cap to prevent accidental operation. However, the 350ml tank is a bit small and the steam cleaner may need several rounds of refilling to complete some projects.
This Comforday 350ml steam cleaner comes with a flat-surface tool for cleaning stovetops and walls. Utility brushes scrub away grease and grime from kitchen surfaces. The steaming machine also comes with a cloth steamer for fabric and a jet nozzle for concentrating steam on dirty spots. We love the lockable steam trigger, which simplifies operating this machine. This steam cleaner also comes with a 9.8-inch extension hose for cleaning hard-to-reach spots.
Award: BEST HEATING
WHY WE LIKE IT: This device heats up steam in less than 3 minutes, keeping preparation time to a minimum. It comes with a wide variety of accessories for sanitizing apparel, flooring, and kitchen appliances.
The Kiato 450ml steam cleaner delivers hot steam at temperatures of up to 221°F. It produces steam continuously for up to 8 minutes, allowing users to sanitize cooktops, flooring, and other surfaces. With a 450ml tank, this steaming machine accommodates water for cleaning. This steamer has an LED indicator that alerts users when it’s heating the water. It takes less than 3 minutes to heat the water to help users save time. However, the steam trigger needs a constant force to deliver steam continuously.
This Kiato 450ml steam cleaner has a safety cup to prevent accidentally opening the hot-steam tank. It has a very long 16.4-foot power cord that allows users to move freely around the room during cleaning. This device comes with cleaning tools for glass windows, fabric, and kitchen appliances for wide-ranging use. It also comes with a variety of nozzles for directing hot steam towards hard-to-reach spots.
Award: BEST ATTACHMENTS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This steaming system comes with more than 16 attachments to assist in cleaning apparel, upholstery, flooring, and kitchen appliances. The device is lightweight, simplifying carrying.
The Vapamore Amico MR-75 steam cleaner comes with a wide variety of handy accessories that simplify cleaning. The steam cleaner weighs just 3 pounds, so carrying it is easy. It has a 1000W heating element that provides enough power to produce 210°F steam. This device comes with a carry case to simplify transportation and storage. However, this steam cleaner takes a long time to cool down after steaming, causing delays during refilling.
This Vapamore Amico MR-75 steam cleaner comes with a variety of nozzles for reaching through narrow spaces. It also includes a number of bristle brushes to help with grouts, kitchen appliances, and other surfaces. This device also comes with a fabric steamer for keeping clothes wrinkle-free. The measuring cup that comes with this system helps users precisely fill the water tank. This device also features a squeegee for cleaning windows and other smooth surfaces.
Award: BEST SAFETY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This steaming system has a child lock and safety cap to prevent accidental operation. It operates continuously for up to 8 minutes, helping users to save time.
The Eave 450ml steam cleaner combines the functions of a sterilizer, cleaner, and iron in one piece of equipment. This steaming system features a 16.4-foot power cord that offers freedom of movement during cleaning. It has a safety cap to prevent opening the tank when the device contains hot pressurized steam. LED indicators on the tank alert users when it’s ready to clean. However, the pressure from this device is not enough to cut through very thick grime.
This Eave 450ml steam cleaner provides hot pressurized steam at temperatures of up to 221°F. The device works continuously for up to 8 minutes, making it a good choice for people who clean regularly. A 450ml tank with a 250ml loading limit accommodates water. The steaming device comes with a measuring cup for accurate filling. This device has a child lock to prevent accidental operation. It comes with a cleaning tool for upholstery, windows, clothes, and appliances.
Handheld steam cleaners are versatile surface cleaning tools that use heated steam and suction to dissolve and dislodge grime, dirt, and stains from a variety of materials. They usually have two water tanks and a few different attachments for specialized cleaning tasks, such as tile brushes, rotating brushes, and crevice tools.
Steam cleaners, like vacuum cleaners, employ suction and work to clean similar types of surfaces, but the two types of floor cleaning machines are otherwise very different.
Unlike a vacuum, a carpet steamer uses the power of steam to heat, soak, and loosen ground-in dirt and debris. A handheld pressurized steam cleaner, like a handheld carpet shampooer, may also use a cleaning solution or shampoo to help remove stains.
Steam cleaners and steam mops use a water tank and a jet nozzle that sprays steam onto the carpet or other surfaces. On the other hand, vacuum cleaners only use suction and don’t spray any hot steam, water, or cleaning formula onto surfaces.
Using a steam cleaner or steam mops requires first filling up the water tank and then allowing the machine to heat the water enough to produce steam. Warm-up time varies by model and by type of steam cleaner. Unlike vacuums, most steam cleaners require some surface prep and drying time after each cleaning session.
However, like wet and dry vacuum cleaners, handheld steam cleaning machines produce suction to help remove dirt, debris, and dirty water. They also may have a similar variety of accessories and cleaning tools geared toward particular surface types.
Also like vacuums, portable carpet cleaners can be corded or cordless. Corded models generally have ample power cord lengths, while cordless units rely on rechargeable battery packs. Water tank capacity already limits the run time of a pressurized steam cleaner, so battery life may not be as much of an inconvenience for most portable, affordable steam cleaner models.
A handheld pressurized steam cleaner generally uses a hot water tank, steam nozzle, and electric motor to drive a suction pump to spray a steady or continuous flow onto surfaces. A heating element in the tank heats the water, usually between 270 and 320-degrees Fahrenheit. Heating time varies based on the type of steamer and tank capacity.
The steam nozzle may be incorporated with various attachments, including a flexible hose, straight nozzle, angle concentrator, or extra long extension hose for hard-to-reach surfaces.
Users typically need to hold down a trigger or button for continuous steam output. Depending on the type of steam cleaner, a switch or dial then turns off the flow of steam and turns on the suction. The cleaning job usually entails passing the nozzle, cleaning head, or angle tool over each area at least twice: once for steaming, and once for vacuuming up the water, dirt, and debris. You may have to repeat this process for the toughest stains.
Some types of steam cleaners also employ a drying function that blows air onto the carpet or other surfaces.
As with vacuums and carpet shampooers, the best handheld pressurized steam cleaner models come with a wide range of attachments. Which ones you’ll need depends on the surface types and the types of stains. Most units include a brush tool and upholstery tool for fabric upholstery and low-pile carpeting. Some also come with a scraper tool and harder bristle scrub brush which may be more useful on hard, porous surfaces such as grout and concrete.
Some of the best steam mop vacuums and steam carpet cleaners can eliminate stubborn stains that vacuuming might miss. Thus, if you have carpet in a particularly high-traffic area of the home, or if you have pets and children and find that the carpeting accumulates discoloration and pet stains even after vacuuming, you may want to consider a pressurized steam cleaner in addition to a handheld vacuum for pet hair.
You may also want to upgrade to a new handheld steamer if you need more maneuverability and portability than a standard rolling carpet steamer provides. Typical carpet steam cleaning tools can be very heavy and bulky– some types of steam cleaners weigh nearly 100 pounds when full. Therefore, if you have multi-level carpets or want to steam clean upstairs areas, a portable model with a handheld design may be worth buying.
Newer steamers can help improve your cleaning routine without introducing harsh chemicals or cleaning products into your home. Compared to older carpet steamers, the newest handheld steam cleaners are more compact and versatile and offer more sophisticated attachments to help gently clean upholstery, fabric, and various types of carpet.
Handheld and portable pressurized steam cleaner units have a widely varying lifespan depending on the type of steam cleaner, the power source, and how often the users maintain and clean the unit’s water tanks and filters. In general, most households can expect a similar service life as vacuum cleaners provide, lasting an average of 6-8 years.
Cordless carpet cleaners may have a more limited lifespan due to the inherent limitations of battery packs. However, many newer portable carpet cleaners employ replaceable, modular battery packs shared with other power tools.
Regular filter maintenance and water tank emptying are important for maintaining the performance and lifespan of a pressurized steam cleaner. Depending on product specs and manufacturer recommendations, handheld carpet cleaner filters may need replacement every three to six months, and the water tanks may need gentle cleaning at similar intervals.
Most types of steam cleaners need the dirty water tank and clean water tank emptied after each use. Some may require rinsing or cleaning of various accessories such as the scraper tool, ironing brush, or automatic scrubber tool. Basic attachments tend to be relatively durable, but more complex ones such as a 360-degree rotating nozzle or specialty pet stain tool may need replacement sooner.
Choosing the best carpet and upholstery cleaning steamer can come down to various factors, including what types of surfaces you need to clean, how often you want to do spot cleaning, and how much weight you’re comfortable with. Portable carpet cleaners vary widely in terms of features like size, tank capacity, and power cord length. To pick the one that works best for you, you may want to consider the size of the area you want to clean, whether you’re looking mainly at cleaners for carpet and upholstery or whether you also need to clean tile or hard surfaces like cement or grout, and whether you have any pets.
One factor in choosing the right portable steam cleaner is the surface types you need to clean. Some models do a great job on carpets but come with limited tools for handling areas like tiled shower stalls or countertops, while others have more flexible and versatile attachment options. If you want to clean ceiling fans and other high-up areas, you’ll want to check for features like an extension hose and a long crevice wand.
If you have pets, you’ll want to make sure to use only a type of steam cleaner that doesn’t require harmful chemicals in its cleaning formula. You may also want to look for pet stain removal tools and more powerful steam output to handle stubborn carpet stains better.
If you need to steam clean a large swath of carpet or other large surfaces, you may want to look for a model with a wider cleaning head or a more compact design that makes it more mobile.
Even a compact, handheld pressurized steam cleaner is generally heavier than a comparable vacuum, and the onboard tool storage and clean-water tank add more weight. If you need to clean larger spaces or upstairs areas, you may want to look for a more compact steamer for cleaning those spaces, even if it means reduced tank capacity.