If you want to clean and sanitise your home with sparkling results then you'll need the best steam cleaner – or best steam mop, even – by your side. They'll tackle rugs, carpets and other upholstery which have ingrained grim or worked in stains, too. And you'll also find that many come with handy tools for cleaning the windows or bathroom tiles which is all with water and water alone so no nasty chemicals are needed.
We speak very highly of steam cleaners not just because of their versatility but also because they'll banish 99.9% of bacteria in the home which is a (very) welcomed relief, especially at a time such as this. Yet actually getting your hands on a good steam cleaner is not as easy as cleaning with one. The Real Homes team have tested, and carefully vetted, all the models in this guide so we can give you a round-up of the very best steam mops on the market for 2021. Essentially, we've done all the research for you. And all the important factors have been considered – build quality, ease of use, maintenance, storage and price – so you can choose quickly, and wisely.
If you would prefer a vacuum cleaner instead, no worries: head over to our pick of the best vacuum cleaners so you can Spring clean your home with ease.
Best steam cleaner and steam mop 2021
An impressive looking piece of kit, this floor steam cleaner from Kärcher means business and delivers amazing deep cleaning results using just tap water. It heats up quickly and is great for hard floors as well as limescale and stubborn stains around the home. We also love its large water tank and the range of attachments that come with. The only drawback is a short lead and it is heavier than other models on the market.
You can use this steam mop on so many areas around the home – hard floors, ovens, hobs, taps, tiles, sofas, carpets – using the floor and hand nozzles as well as the handy round brushes.
A great idea and perfect for families with young children, this model has a locking system to prevent little ones from getting it started.
Steam flow control
For easy use, the Kärcher model has its steam volume control on the handle, which you can use to suit the type of surface and level of dirt you’re dealing with.
If you have multiple surfaces around the home which could do with a clean and sanitise then we can recommend you buy the Shark Floor & Handheld Steam Cleaner S6005UK. It's one which we have recently reviewed which had some sparkling results on the tiled kitchen flooring and fronts of appliances.
More cleaning possibilities
The Klik n’ Flip floor head means that when one side of the cleaning pad looks a little grubby, you can easily flip it back to reveal a clean side. There's also a steam blaster to help tackle the more stubborn stains on the floors, although this is not a feature available when it's being used as a handheld steam cleaner.
Converting to a handheld
This can happen with just the click of a button. There's a suite of seven accessories which can be easily attached with a push-and-click action. This will mean that you'll be able to clean tiles, inside (and outside) appliances and well as finish off any areas you may have missed whilst cleaning the floors. With no on-board storage, however, you'll need a little bag to keep all these together so you don't lose any.
This model is NOT cordless so using it as a handheld could get you in a slight tangle.
Vileda specialise in cleaning products so it’s no wonder that their steam mop is the business. It’s fast, lightweight and kills 99.9 per cent of bacteria, just like the Shark model above, without the need for chemicals. You can use it on all hard sealed floors such as wood, laminate, vinyl and tile and there’s even a carpet glider for refreshing carpets, too.
Easy to use
As it’s lightweight and comes with a swivel head, tackling awkward corners and objects is simple. It also works for 28 minutes on one tank.
Removes stubborn stains
Using powerful steam cleaning, Vileda’s mop deals with 99.9 per cent of bacteria, making your home ultra clean - ideal for homes with children and pets and those who suffer from allergies.
You are in control with the variable steam setting that enables you to use this mop on delicate flooring, too.
When you want your steam mop to do more than just clean floors, this Vax steam mop is the model for you. Not only cleans floors but it also comes with a handheld reach wand, so you can tackle the tops of cupboards, around the shower and those hard to reach areas with ease.
Tackles grease and grime
Whichever cleaning mode you opt for, this steam mop will break down dirt quickly and easily thanks to the use of detergent rather than just steam, which also leaves your home smelling fresh. You can even use it in the oven!
This one really is multifunctional, as it comes with a handheld reach wand and a number of add-ons that allow you to clean a number of surfaces including ovens, hobs and showers.
Ideal for getting down and dirty with stubborn stains, this function gives you extra cleaning power when you need it.
When space is limited in terms of storage in the home, this Bissell steam mop is an ideal choice. Not only is it slim in design but it also comes with a wall mount so you can hang it up after use. It comes with an extension wand and tool kit for awkward nooks and crannies as well as offering swivel steering to get into tight spaces and grimy areas around furniture.
Use the steam trigger to get just the right amount of steam for the job and tackle a variety of surfaces using the on-board tools and attachments.
Easy to use
This slimline model is so easy to move around and is ideal for smaller homes where a bulky machine would just get in the way. The swivel steering is perfect for tight spaces such as under tables and sofas as well as along edges and kitchen plinths.
Another option from Shark is the Klik N’ Flip S6003UK. It's designed to make cleaning floors even easier thanks to its intelligent operation that delivers a precise, targeted steam clean on hardwood, marble, tile and stone. Simply flip the mop head and you’ll cover twice the area, too – hence the Klik n’ Flip name. It also cleans away 99.9 per cent of common household bacteria, ideal for homes with children or pets.
Twice the clean
The double-sided, machine-washable Dirt Grip cleaning pads allow you to steam clean double the area by simply flipping the mop head. You can release the used pad by clicking a switch too, so there’s no need to get your hands on the grimy pad.
Check out the Steam Blast mode, which delivers a targeted blast of super-heated steam, ideal for removing stubborn stains.
Easy to use
Suitable for all types of hard flooring, this steam mop model is lightweight and comes with swivel steering for easy movement around furniture.
When you want a really multifunctional steam mop, this one from Russell Hobbs has got it all, with 11 functions that can tackle everything from carpets and sealed hard floors to windows, grout and tiles, sinks, shower screens, upholstery, curtains, ovens and hobs. It’s said to kill 99.9% of bacteria so will make your home hygienically clean and give peace of mind to those with young children, babies or allergy sufferers. As well as an upright steam mop, it can also be used as a handheld steamer, too.
Its compact style and lightweight design makes this one easy to carry around the home, including up and down the stairs. The water tank is also removable, which makes it quick and easy to fill up, and it has an anti-scale filter to keep things running smoothly.
Triggered steam flow
You’re in charge of how much and when to inject steam thanks to the trigger design that’s simple to use.
As well as cleaning hard floors, this one can also be used to refresh carpets thanks to the carpet glider that simply attaches to the mop head. You can also convert the cleaner to a handheld design and use the different tools for windows and upholstery.
Cleaning 99.9% of bacteria, this one’s great for allergy sufferers and you can even sanitise mattresses using one of the handy tool attachments.
If you liked the sound of the Polti Vaporetto Pro 75 Flexi Steam Cleaner but want something that's upright, heats up in 30 seconds and easier to store, then you'll want this floor steam cleaner from Morphy Richards. It has an average size water tank, heats up quickly and is available at a very reasonable price. We think it's a great all-rounder for carrying out those chores you hate quickly and easily.
This steam cleaner comes with a small handheld tool for when you're cleaning those hard-to-reach areas. Even better? 400ml of water fit in its see-through water tank that takes the guessing out of run-time. And, it comes with a variety of accessories which can be attached to the handheld steam cleaner for up to 12 uses around the home.
Easy to store
We love the fact its handle folds away allowing for easy storage in small spaces, while it also has cable storage on board for its 5m long cable.
Suitable for a range of surfaces
Of course this machine works on hard floors and carpets, but also worktops, tiles, ovens, BBQs, windows, grout, taps, wheels and more. The cleaning opportunities are endless.
With a fast heat-up time, this second model from Vax to feature in our best steam cleaner guide is a multi-function design that offers 15 features in one. It has a detachable handheld cleaner as well as a 10-piece tool kit and also comes with variable steam control. The detachable handheld cleaner just needs one click and it’s ready. It works on sealed hard floors and leaves them smelling fresh thanks to the detergent, and can also be used on tiles, showers and loads more.
Simply remove the detachable unit with one click and steam clean windows, mirrors, taps, tiles, sinks and bathroom surfaces.
You’re in charge of how much steam to inject into your cleaning and when. The variable steam and detergent controls are easy to use and easy to reach.
Compact scrub brush
A built-in brush pops out when needed to help get rid of tough, stubborn stains from floors and tile grouting.
This steam cleaner from Polti is as easy to manoeuvre as a vacuum cleaner, and works extremely well when deep cleaning floor and carpets. We'd also like to note that although the Polti Vaporetto is more expensive than our best steam cleaner, the Kärcher SC3, it does heat up faster and it's a 4.5 bar steamer, while the SC3 is slightly less powerful at 3.5 bar.
Continuous refill system
This steam cleaner has a continuous refill system to allow you to add more water at any time. This way you you can carry out uninterrupted cleaning whenever you need to. Although you may have to keep unplugging and changing sockets if you're working with a large space, this does still mean less trips to the sink.
Holding a British Allergy Foundation Seal of Approval, this steam cleaner claims to be effective against dust mites. It can kill and remove 99.99 per cent of bacteria, fungi and mould. All with just hot water.
This is the part we love the most – the Polti comes with a floor attachment, the Vaporflexi brush. This allows you to steam clean under furniture with ease ensuring every inch of your home is clean. The machine also arrives with a carpet accessory, a window squeegee accessory, a concentrator tool, a small brush and a few others.
How we test our steam cleaners
Our testers are our appliance experts who, between them, have been testing products for decades. Here at Real Homes, we like to review every single product before it goes into our buyers guides so we know that it really is the best of the best. This hands on experience gives us the confidence that the money spent on the products is money well spent.
You'll see that we have included products from brands such as Shark, Vileda and Russell Hobbs which have all been put through their paces in the same way in our own homes. They've been challenged with cooking sauces and mud on tiled flooring, and countless amounts of stains on upholstery, for a good number of weeks (sometimes months) to help give you and us a full understanding of the product capabilities. We also take into account its ability to clean, manoeuvre, the tools that come with it, how easy it is to control and the price it is available for. We also look out for feedback from other customers to see how it faired in their homes.
Why to buy a steam mop, or steam cleaner?
The floors in our homes need to be kept crumb and dirt free to keep it looking nice and comfortable. While the best mop will tackle hard floors (including wooden flooring), the best steam cleaner will sanitise and make them sparkle.
These handy cleaning devices can kill up to 99.99 per cent of bacteria, fungi and mould. Yep. They can even remove carpet stains, give a new lease of life to your upholstery, refresh your tiles, or other hard flooring, and make your kitchen appliances shine.
Simply put, an upright or a handheld steam cleaner, will rid the need of you ever getting on your hands and knees with a scrubbing brush again. Not to mention the help they can offer when it comes to the dreaded task of cleaning your oven.
How to choose the best steam mop or steam cleaner
Where to buy the best steam cleaner or steam mop
When looking for a new, or replacement, steam cleaner there are a few elements to consider to ensure it is the best steam cleaner for you:
All steam mops are corded, so depending on the size of your house or the amount of plug sockets you have dotted around, be wary of the cable length.
Since these appliances convert water into steam, the size of the water tank is an important feature. Live in a larger home? Opt for a mop with a large water capacity to save having to top it up regularly.
Which is best: steam cleaner or a steam mop?
Steam cleaners come as handheld, mops and cylinder models. Each offers a different type of cleaning, and you can also get a combination of them all if you want to clean different types of surface on a regular basis.
Steam mops are best for hard flooring, cylinders are good for carpets and upholstery and handheld machines are best for reaching small or inaccessible areas.
Heat up time
Waste no time waiting for your mop to heat up, the majority of our picks heat up in just 30 seconds.
A higher wattage won’t necessarily equal better performance so consider all the specifications before making your mind up.
You’ll find that handheld steamers are lighter and easier to use but don’t steam for as long as mops. Mops heat up more quickly and last a lot longer but the exact time will depend on the size of the water tank. Opting for a lightweight steam mop is a smart thing to do, especially if you have stairs in your home. Also, look at the overall design and see if the handle is ergonomic enough for you and if the style of the steam mop suits the way you work.
You can also get a range of attachments for your steam cleaner that open up many more cleaning options, such as upholstery tools, scrubbing pads and squeegees for cleaning windows and appliances, for example.
What is the best steam mop and steam cleaner?
To recap... we've voted the Karcher SC3 Easyfix Steam Cleaner as the best steam cleaner you can buy in 2021. To name a few reasons why: it has a large water tank; it doesn't require detergent; it can clean upholstery and kitchen appliances and it comes with a range of attachments included.
Prefer a steam mop? We wouldn't hesitate to buy the Shark Klik n’ Flip. It comes with intelligent steam controls for a precise, targeted clean and can be used on all types of hardwood floors, as well as tiles.
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