Steam cleaners are more popular than ever before —thanks to their versatility and environmental credentials. They can be used to clean just about anything in the average home; from curtains to kitchen floors. And if that isn’t reason enough to buy one, they can also slash the cost of cleaning, as they don’t rely on expensive cleaning chemicals.
But there are many different types of steam cleaner to choose from these days. Certain designs and models favour particular floor types, while others offer the flexibility needed to clean fabrics such as drapes and upholstery.
In order to choose the right cleaner for your home, you need to know what’s out there.
There are four main types of steam cleaner on the market right now:
Steam mops look like upright stick vacuum cleaners. They have a cleaning pad for hard floor types through which steam is delivered. Lightweight, agile and equipped with a range of exciting features and accessories, steam mops are ideal if you have large tiled, vinyl or wood floors in your home.
Handheld steamers are exceptionally versatile and lightweight. They can be stored away easily, and they come with a range of attachments for cleaning everything from sofas to kitchen worktops. If you need to clean hard-to-reach areas (including bathroom grouting, tall window frames and curtains), a handheld steam is probably the best option.
Two-in-one steam cleaners
Two-in-one models combine the best elements of handheld cleaners and steam mops. They look like any other upright steam cleaner, but the water tank is actually a detachable, handheld unit. This is the ultimate solution if you’re going to use the power of steam for multiple cleaning jobs in the home.
Cylinder steam cleaners
A cylinder steam cleaner is very much like a cylinder vacuum. It is a unit on wheels that you pull along as you clean. It has a long hose that comes with a number of attachments, which is ideal if you’re steam cleaning surfaces at height. There’s also a larger water tank — something that will make cleaning particularly large floors easier.
How much are steam cleaners?
This depends on the power, the model, the brand and the functions offered. If you’re looking for a basic handheld steamer, you can probably pick something up for around £30. However, if you want a state-of-the-art steam cleaning system with various settings and a full selection of tools, you should expect to pay between £150 and £250.
What steam cleaner accessories should I look for?
This very much depends on what you’ll be using your steam cleaner for. If you’ll only be cleaning floors, you won’t need a huge number of attachments. However, if you hope to clean many different surfaces and rooms, there are a few accessories that will help you immensely.
- A squeegee attachment for windows
- Brush attachments for tile grouting and walls
- Upholstery tools such as crevice attachments and brushes
- Scrubbing pads
- Carpet gliders — to turn your steam cleaner into a fully-fledged carpet cleaner
What other steam cleaner features should I look for?
Particular brands have their own technologies and ways of doing things. For example, some manufacturers offer exceptionally fast heat-up times — allowing you to start cleaning within seconds of turning on the cleaner. You should also look for the amount of cleaning time each tank provides. If you’re taking on large floors, the bigger the better.
Also, make sure you check whether or not your preferred steam cleaner is suitable for all types of water. Some manufacturers insist on using distilled water only. Using water straight from the tap could invalidate your warranty.
Other features to look for include the ability to blast steam when a little extra help is needed and a swivelling mop head that can be flipped for scrubbing and polishing.
If you have a fully loaded steam mop in your home, you can slash your use of potentially harmful cleaning chemicals and make household chores easier than ever.