Make your cleaning tasks easier, faster, and more eco-friendly with our favorite picks.
Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.
Let’s face it: Unless you’re Rachel Lindsay from season 13 of The Bachelorette, you probably don’t take pleasure in dancing around with your vacuum cleaner all day.
But cleaning your living space is just one of those adult things we all have to do. So how can you make that process as quick and painless as possible? Enter the handheld steam cleaner. Many handheld steam cleaners offer a more eco-friendly and more modern alternative to whipping out the mop and cleaning chemicals. That’s because the only thing you need to get rid of 99.99 percent of the germs and bacteria in your home is steam, heated from plain old water.
There’s a reason bed bug exterminators use steam to eradicate the invasive species from your home. Steam cleaners have extreme heat that can kill germs, bacteria, mold, dust mites, and yes — even pests like fleas and bed bugs.
There are several other benefits to handheld steam cleaners. They’re portable enough for hard-to-reach areas, powerful enough to remove sticky substances, and dry quickly enough to beat plain old water cleaning.
However, if you’re in the market for a handheld steam cleaner, you’ll want to consider several factors. For example, some steam cleaners are meant for deeper cleans, while others are meant for spot removal. Some specialize in fabrics while others focus on hard tiles. There’s also a limit to what you can clean with steam cleaners. Delicate fabrics, walls with paint, and certain types of flooring may warp if you’re not careful about proper usage.
When it comes down to it, you’ll have to decide your primary purpose for buying a handheld steam cleaner. Are you looking to refresh your clothes, removes stains on upholstery, get rid of grout, or find an all-in-one solution? Narrowing down your primary reasons for getting one will help you make the best purchase possible. And hopefully, that’ll mean less time spent cleaning and more time spent doing what you actually enjoy.
Let’s dive into the pros and cons of several different handheld steam cleaners so you can find the best one for your home.
9-piece accessory set • Most affordable • Small • Fast heating • Stands upright by itself
Reviewers have reported it overheating after 10 minutes • Cord could be longer • People with hand pain may hurt from holding down trigger
This handheld option is a great starter for those who aren’t ready to splurge on a big or expensive alternative.
It’s lightweight and portable — even smaller and more compact than some of the other handheld steam cleaners included in this roundup. PurSteam is safe to use on many different types of surfaces, from laminate tiles to washable wallpaper. Additionally, it boats a warm-up time of only 3-4 minutes.
The biggest downsides reviewers noted included the necessity to refill with water more often because of its small size. Some people also noted that holding down the trigger for long periods of time was difficult if they already had pre-existing hand pains.
Overall, though, this budget option has earned an average of four stars out of over 700 customer reviews. As put it in her Amazon review:
“My countertops are white ceramic tiles with white grouting. After a few minutes of steaming my countertops are gleaming and look brand new. Among the many attachments are a window cleaner and a clothing steamer. Customer relations are the best I have ever seen. Emails are answered immediately. Telephone calls are very helpful. There was a problem with my first unit do they sent me a new steam cleaner without my even asking. They didn’t even ask me to return anything. Did I mention that I love my steam cleaner? Makes heavy cleaning much quicker and easier.”
Long handle for easy floor cleaning • Detachable handheld steam cleaner included • Longer-lasting steam times • Easy to maneuver
Handheld directions can be confusing • On the higher price end for mops
Despite any minor problems, this is one of the most powerful, easy, and chemical-free ways to clean your floors (and then some).
2. Light ‘N Easy Steam Mop CleanerDitch the mop water and make cleaning your floors faster, easier, and more sanitary with two different types of handheld products in one.
Unlike handheld-only steamers which would require you to bend down to the ground, the handle makes for easier floor mopping. Its powerful steam usage also lifts grout and other ingrained dirts with more power than your average mop.
The steam mop cleaner has a 20-foot cord, allowing you a fair amount of leeway to move around the place as you clean. It also has a detachable handheld steamer if you don’t feel like lugging the entire mop around with you. That helps to steam clean other surfaces such as pillows, clothes, or other kitchen items.
The water reservoir within the steam cleaner will give you about 20-25 minutes of cleaning on the lowest setting, trumping the refill time of other smaller handheld cleaners out there. Much like the other steamers, you won’t need to add any detergents to clean the floor. The steam kills 99.99 percent of bacteria and helps you eliminate pollutants and chemicals from your floor cleaning routine without sacrificing the cleanliness of your home.
As put it in her Amazon review:
“This steam mop is fantastic! This is my first steam mop and after searching for quite some time both online and in stores I decided on this one because of all the good reviews. I am very happy that I did. I have only had this machine for a couple of days, and I was so excited I started using it the minute it arrived. I love it. It is lightweight yet sturdy, is so very easy to use and does a great job. We have a lot of tile in our home and I was able to clean quickly and efficiently. Cleaning floors has never been so easy. I love that it doesn’t need any harsh cleaners and the floor dries very quickly, no soggy residue, and a very clean floor. The versatility is also a great plus, this little machine can do so much.”
Near commercial-grade power without the price • Longer-lasting steam time than many of its competitors • Highly versatile for just about every type of household use
Almost too powerful – be wary with wallpaper or paint if you don’t want to remove it • No gauge to see how full the tank is with water • Short cord
If you’re looking for a powerful and versatile tool for nearly any kind of cleaning scenario, this is well worth the investment.
3. Wagner On-Demand Steam CleanerThis versatile product works for just about every cleaning scenario you could imagine, without using cleaning chemicals.
Spec not specified
Jet nozzle, Nozzle brushes, Steam plate, Large cleaning brush, Squeegee
For those looking for a generic use, heavy-duty tool, this is likely your ideal pick. The cleaner can last 45 minutes without a water top-up and has a wide range of accessories that support various types of household cleaning. That means everything from barbecue grills to tires, wheels, sofas and bathroom fixtures.
Its long hose and extensions will also make it easy for you to clean around various parts of the house without being limited by the cord. Additionally, if you’re working on a renovation job around your home, you’ll find the features that allow you to remove wallpaper especially helpful. Of course, this feature can be a double-edged sword: its power means you’ll have to be careful with it if you don’t want to accidentally damage heat-sensitive materials.
Overall, reviewers praised Wagner’s on its diverse ability to loosen adhesives and gummy items, sanitize children’s toys, eliminate bed bugs, and get rid of grease and grout. As put in his Amazon review:
“OMG, this thing works. I cleaned grout lines that never been cleaned for the past 5 years and it did the job. Note that the steam is very hot and keeping the trigger on will prevent water buildup in the hose so keep using it to prevent that. I normally don’t advise people to buy things but this steamer is equal to a commercial grade one used at hotels, I know that because I work at a Casino and this outperformed the $2000 one they bought for clean use.”
Made to remove old and difficult stains that get stuck in upholstery • Great for people who have children and pets • Allows you to use additional cleaning products with it
Not as versatile as some other steam cleaners • Not as eco-friendly because it uses cleaners • On the higher price end
If upholstery or fabric is your biggest concern, you’ll find this tool the most useful.
Reviewers with children and pets were especially happy with this product, which helps clean up those daily messes that would usually leave unsightly stains. Yes, think stains like wine, paw prints, coffee, mud, and even — shudder — vomit.
Unlike many of the steam cleaners featured in this article, the Bissell allows you to use additional cleaning products with it. For example, shampooing your carpet to deep clean it and remove odors. Its large capacity tank will also allow you to wait longer than some competitor products to refill with water.
However, you don’t just have to limit it to your couch and carpets. The Bissell SpotClean is also great for auto interiors and stairs, with an attachment tool shaped for the job. As put it in their Amazon review:
“My couch ottoman was disgusting after 6 years of kids, pets, and general living. Final straw was when the cranky old cat decided to puke twice in one night while we were out on it. Ordered the Bissell 3624 and it took care of it with no problem… even after waiting 2 days for it to arrive. Not surprisingly, the dirty water was disgusting […] It did take me a couple of minutes to figure out how to prime the water for the first time, but once it started flowing, it was very easy to use.”
More affordable option for fabric cleaning • Small, portable, and easy to store • Easy to fully clean
Smaller and less powerful than full-sized upright carpet cleaners • Not as eco-friendly because it uses cleaners
If you’re looking to clean smaller carpet areas and not larger ones, this is a great value.
The handheld cleaner features rotating brushes and suction to lift difficult stains from your carpet or upholstery. It’s also much smaller than the SpotClean, making for easy storage. The manual spray trigger allows you to control how much cleaning solution you want to use. And for those who dislike the clean up and maintenance portion, there’s an easily removable brush cartridge.
Much like its full-sized counterparts, you can use upright carpet cleaners to deep clean spots quickly and efficiently. It helps you keep spots off your carpet clean in between those bigger deep cleans.
Additionally, the 18-foot long power cord will allow you to clean as long as you need to. This runs counter to some other cleaners, which will quite literally run out of steam sometimes within 10 minutes. Reviewers were pleased with the Bissell SpotLifter’s ability to clean up after small pet messes, juice spills, and even beer stains.
As put it on her Amazon review:
“I am so glad I purchased this product. My cat leaves nasty hairball messes on my carpet…never the tile.. This happens very often and I haven’t been satisfied with the cleaning processes I’ve tried. I had stains on my carpet and a funky odor in the air.. I started to look at upright carpet cleaners and determined they were too big for my small space. I spotted this little guy and upon reading the reviews, almost didn’t buy it. But the review that spoke to the suction process and how to make it work effectively, swayed me. I love this product! […] The cleanser included with the machine is great. Removes stains and has a nice fragrance. A very, very good purchase for me. Small and efficient.”
More portable than most other hard surface cleaners • Very fast heat up time • Chemical free and more eco-friendly
Only works for smaller spots and not larger ones • Doesn’t perform as well on fabrics
This is designed for people who are looking for a small, portable, and affordable option for hard surface cleaning.
6. Bissell Steam Shot Hard-Surface Cleaner
Accessory nozzle, Detail brush tool, Flat scraping tool, Angle concentrator tool, Grout brush tool, Fabric steamer tool, Window squeegee tool
It also has a faster heat-up time than nearly all its competitors: a short 30 seconds, as opposed to up to four to five minutes for the larger cleaners. Reviewers were very happy with being able to ditch both the mop bucket and harmful chemicals in their bathroom and kitchen cleaning routine.
You won’t be impeded by its 20-foot power cord. It also boasts one of the highest ratios of accessories, including an extension hose, grout brush, fabric steamer, window squeegee, and detail brush. Although the tank capacity isn’t the largest, it works perfectly well for spot jobs and smaller cleaning tasks.
As put it in her review:
“This is my go to from now on as I don’t like to use chemicals to clean. It completely transformed my stainless steel sink, grout, dirty stove, and toaster oven. I also used it to disinfect our toilets. Agreed that for some things it does require some elbow grease, but it makes any job more satisfying and easier. Best purchase I’ve made for the house in a long time.”
More affordable than most other steamers • Portable and easy to bring while traveling • Quick startup time
Not as versatile as other upholstery steam cleaners • Runs out of water fairly quickly
You’ll be happy with this product if you use it what it’s for — but not if you want it to do deep cleaning upholstery work.
The steamer has a short, 90-second heating time, allowing you to freshen up your clothes last minute right before bolting out the door. Its 9-foot power cord will also allow ease of use wherever you are in the room.
Reviewers lauded this product for its portability in travel situations, getting rid of wrinkles quickly, and the fact that it doesn’t take up much space in the home. People were also happy to finally ditch their iron and have something more effective and easy to use.
Additionally, the steamer allows for other fabric care, such as lightweight cleaning of pillows and curtains. However, you’ll be disappointed if you try to use in the same way as the other steam cleaners here meant for spot removal and deep cleans on upholstery. At the end of the day, it’s for removing wrinkles, refreshing, and sanitizing your clothes.
As reviewer put it:
“I previously had a non-portable garment steamer, and it was bulky and took a while to heat up. So I decided to get this on a whim. I am SOOO GLAD I did! It is so easy to use and heats up in seconds. It’s the best steamer I’ve ever used. The reservoir is small, but since the water heats so quickly, I dont mind refilling it when needed. Worth every penny! I am tossing the big, bulky one I had. This works as a total replacement and takes up less space.”