Steam cleaner test
Find your personal favourite among the best steam cleaners!
In our steam cleaner test, we offer an independent assessment of various steam cleaners with the aim of making your choice easier.
Where hoovers fail and conventional cleaning with a bucket and cloth is too time-consuming, steam cleaners come into play. Hot steam, which is released with pressure onto the surface to be cleaned, can remove heavy dirt in the household and make the workload very bearable.
How a steam cleaner works
A steam cleaner heats water and releases the resulting steam onto the objects to be cleaned by means of a tube and hose, which look similar to a hoover.
The surfaces to be cleaned should therefore be waterproof. The cleaning should be done without any chemical additives.
Furthermore, the surfaces should not be very temperature-sensitive, otherwise they could be affected. Depending on the temperature and the pressure of the emitted steam jet, different degrees of dirt can be removed. The coarsely loosened dirt can then be wiped off with a cloth or similar.
Steam Cleaner Types
Steam cleaners can be differentiated into 3 different types according to their design and function. On the one hand, there are the so-called floor steam cleaners, which look like a kind of hoover due to their large body. These devices are the most powerful variant among the steam cleaners and take the main position in our steam cleaner test.
There are also the so-called steam brooms, which lack the large body. For this reason, these steam cleaners are lighter and therefore easier to handle. However, the mobility advantage comes with a disadvantage: the tank range. The tanks are located directly on the handle or guide rail and are smaller in volume.
The third type of steam cleaner is the hand-held steam cleaner, which is hardly larger than a small watering can and somewhat similar in appearance. They are predestined for the quick cleaning of small areas. However, the steam pressure is lowest with these devices, as they are not equipped with a steam pressure boiler like the larger models, but with an instantaneous water heater. As the name suggests, the flow heater and water tank of hand-held steam cleaners are located on the handle. From there, the steam output can be conveniently controlled by hand pressure. In our steam cleaner test, you should find something for every purpose.
Features of good steam cleaners
A good steam pressure washer is environmentally friendly and consumes little water and energy, even with tougher dirt. It has attachments that allow it to loosen dirt even in hard-to-reach places. It is also safe and well-made to prevent accidents, such as scalding of the skin, in the best possible way. This can usually be tested or verified by means of test seals, e.g. from TÜV.
Of course, its cleaning performance must also be adequate.
Furthermore, a steam pressure cleaner should be able to be put into operation quickly and its handling should be simple. The tank volume should be sufficiently large and the heating time should be as short as possible. In general, the larger the surfaces to be cleaned and the more comfort you expect, the more you will have to dig deeper into your pockets.
Why you should buy a steam cleaner
Thanks to several attachments, a floor steam cleaner can be used for the cooker in the kitchen, windows and walls. In addition, some models in the steam cleaner test can even be used for ironing.
Another advantage is the ecological cleaning, because no chemicals are needed. This is particularly interesting for allergy sufferers or households with small children.
Furthermore, even the narrowest joints and crevices can be cleaned with narrow attachments that can never be reached by hand. In addition, with sufficient hot steam pressure, even harder dirt such as limescale deposits, grease, urine scale and paint can be removed.
Children and pets can come into contact with the hot water in the tank and get burnt.
In some steam cleaner tests, there are devices that can be opened easily when extremely hot and the hot water then sprays up.
In addition to the risk of burns for humans and animals, some sensitive materials are also at risk. Parquet and laminate are particularly susceptible, as the steam can penetrate the cracks and cause the parquet to warp or the wax layers to peel off. The glue in PVC floors can also come off due to the hot steam.
Steam cleaners and the topic of safety
In general, steam cleaners are now very safe to use. There are many, new models that are equipped with all kinds of safety mechanisms. However, I cannot say enough that it is still prudent to take some basic precautions before using your machine.
Before using your brand new steam cleaner, you should read the instruction manual thoroughly.
You should also understand which surfaces to clean and how. Some materials are simply not suitable for steam cleaning. This doesn’t just mean the obvious things, like electronics, but also things like marble, laminate flooring and untreated wood. If you’re not sure whether your floor or surface can be steam cleaned, consult the instructions. If your instructions still raise questions, then you can research on the internet. Make sure that you can steam clean your surface without causing damage.
Also, make sure that pets and children are kept away from the appliance at all times. While the steam coming out of it might look harmless to children, it is actually always hot and can cause burns.
If you follow these basic safety precautions, then you can be sure that your best steam cleaner will not only do its job effectively, but that it will also work safely.
If you want to be as safe as possible from potential burns, you should purchase a system with a pressurised boiler and separate water tank or a continuous flow heater. Otherwise, hot water may spray towards you when you refill the boiler. Furthermore, there are steam cleaners that reduce the risk of danger through certain safety mechanisms, e.g. by only opening the tanks when the water has already cooled down. In the steam cleaner test, we present models with a flow heater as well as with a separate water tank.
Possible uses of steam cleaners
Steam can be used to clean waterproof surfaces such as tiles, stone floors or PVC. Oiled parquet can also be cleaned, but after some time it loses care substances that have to be added again manually. Laminate floors can only be maintained in the long term if care is taken, as there is a risk of steam penetrating the cracks and causing the parquet to buckle.
When most people think of the best steam cleaners to use, they mainly focus on their linoleum floors and carpets. However, these are only two things that can be cleaned with this amazing machine. If you only focus on these two areas, then you are missing out on some amazing applications that you can pursue with your steam cleaner.
Most people take their steam cleaners into the kitchen to clean the linoleum, or to clean the grout on the tiles. However, you can also use them to clean the sewers, degrease the kitchen bonnets, get stubborn stains out of wine glasses or coffee cups, and even remove limescale from the coffee pot.
It can also be used in the bathroom. However, this does not only mean tiles. You can use a steam cleaner to clean the bathtub or sink, to remove stains from the toilet bowl and also to clean the shower curtain.
Some devices are also used in the garden. They can be used to clean garden tools, clean the windows, as well as to remove algae stains from treated wooden decking and concrete surfaces. Some people even use them on their garden furniture.
By now you have probably realised that there are about a thousand ways to use these cleaning tools.
You can use your device to detail the exterior of your car. You can clean the tyres and rims and even remove dirt from your headlights. What’s more, you can use the steam cleaner in the interior to clean your floor mats.
The correct handling of steam cleaners
Steam pressure cleaners, even though they are becoming increasingly rare, can have shortcomings in terms of safety. Therefore, handle them with care and caution. Furthermore, steam pressure cleaners can quickly lead to displeasure and annoyance among beginners. However, when used correctly, the devices are faster than any cleaner with a mop.
It is important to remember that different surfaces need to be treated with different cleaning attachments, otherwise disappointment will quickly set in. The price for the energy consumption of a steam cleaner is usually compensated by not needing cleaning agents.
In the steam cleaner test, we have made sure to present you with devices that are easy and uncomplicated to use.
These are the selection criteria you should look for when buying a steam cleaner
The most obvious criterion is probably the size of the steam cleaner. Steam cleaners come in a variety of different sizes and each one offers different advantages and disadvantages. If you live in a flat, then you will probably want to buy a steam broom. These are small and can easily be stored in a cupboard or pantry. Still, their cleaning power is solid. They are also easier to manoeuvre than larger floor steam cleaners, which makes them comfortable to use when cleaning floors.
However, if you have a larger home, you’ll probably want to buy a floor steam cleaner. While the water tank of a steam broom often needs to be refilled for larger areas, the tank charge of a large floor steam cleaner lasts many times longer. With a 2-litre tank, you can produce steam for up to 2 hours.
Another advantage of large appliances is that they often come with more attachments. With steam brooms, you will probably have to reorder once or twice.
The size of the steam cleaner you want to buy depends on the area of the living space. However, this is not the only selection criterion. You also need to think about what functions you need. Should the sole purpose be cleaning the floor or do you need special functions?
Cost is also a criterion to consider. If cost is a factor, functions & features should be weighed well against price.
Finally, it is advisable to obtain experience about individual devices and their manufacturers.
What does a good steam cleaner cost?
Depending on the surfaces you want to clean with a steam cleaner, costs of at least 50 euros should be expected. Good handheld steam cleaners that are suitable for smaller areas can be purchased for such a price. However, the steam brooms in this price segment turned out to be unsatisfactory
in the steam cleaner test, as they only did what they were supposed to do to a limited extent. The Vileda Steam, which is available for about 60 euros, did very well in the steam cleaner test and probably has the best price-performance ratio.
If large areas are to be cleaned, only a floor steam cleaner comes into question. The SC models from the manufacturer Kärcher performed particularly well in the steam cleaner test. If you only want to clean large areas sporadically, you can get by with a budget of about 80 euros. If, however, large areas are to be cleaned regularly, only steam cleaners from 150 euros upwards come into question. The performance of cheaper devices was insufficient in the steam cleaner test and frustrated when larger tasks were tackled.
Which steam cleaner to buy?
Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference which steam cleaner is used. Small areas can be cleaned quickly with hand steam cleaners, medium-sized areas with steam brooms and large areas are best cleaned with floor steam cleaners.
When choosing a manufacturer, you should go for well-known brands. Based on the results of the steam cleaner test, we recommend Kärcher and Vileda Steam. Other well-known brands are Vapor, Dirt Devil, Clatronic and Clean Maxx.
Seal of approval
You can recognise a good steam pressure cleaner by the fact that it has a GS seal. Certificates testify to safety in handling & workmanship. There are also some seals that confirm the functionality. For example, all steam cleaners from Kärcher are equipped with a seal from the renowned Enders laboratory for medical diagnostics in Stuttgart, which states that the devices remove 99.99 % of all household bacteria.
Where should you buy a steam cleaner?
We recommend the online retailer Amazon in our steam cleaner test. Amazon offers many advantages when buying a steam cleaner:
- high reliability
- secure payment
- fast shipping
- very good service
- largest selection of steam cleaners
- (almost) no shipping costs
How to test
The most heavily weighted criterion in the steam cleaner test is the cleaning quality. This includes the steam pressure as well as the length of time the cleaner can be used. In addition to workmanship and handling, safety is also meticulously checked. We hope that our steam cleaner test has helped you to choose your individual steam cleaner.
What we have also honoured in the steam cleaner test is a fast delivery in a decent packaging. In addition, a good service also includes a comprehensible and comprehensive instruction manual.
Another evaluation criterion is the power consumption, which should correspond to the manufacturer’s specifications.
A guarantee of more than 2 years is also an indication that the manufacturer has confidence in its product and relies on quality.
What we did not like at all in the steam cleaner test were devices without child safety locks. The best and safest are removable water containers that have a level indicator
How to use a steam pressure cleaner correctly
Normally, a steam cleaner can be put into operation very quickly by taking a look at the operating instructions. Nevertheless, we will give a brief outline in the steam cleaner test:
After the steam cleaner has been assembled according to the manufacturer’s instructions, water is filled into the tank and the heating phase begins. How long the heating phase takes depends on the tank volume and the manufacturer. As a rule, it is between 30 seconds and 15 minutes. You can tell that the process is complete when steam comes out of the nozzle opening. If only drops of water come out, the water is not hot enough. The higher-quality devices have a display that shows when the necessary temperature has been reached.
It is best to fit the appropriate attachment in advance, as you can quickly burn yourself on the opening. With the hose, on the other hand, there is no risk of burning as it remains quite cool.
So your steam cleaner has a long life ahead of it
If you regularly read steam cleaner reviews, you will certainly notice reviews of appliances that break down very quickly. Even the devices of well-known manufacturers. However, in many cases this is not due to the poor manufacturing standards of these machines, but from users who do not value something like care & maintenance. Like anything that is used regularly, it needs to be properly maintained to work as efficiently as possible and live as long as possible.
With the aim of extending the life of your steam cleaner as long as possible, here are some tips.
Keep the inside of the appliance clean
Every steam cleaner should be rinsed regularly with hot water.
Some manufacturers require the components to be washed by hand, but the vast majority can be thrown in your washing machine. Just make sure you don’t add liquid fabric softener. You should further not use dryer balls if you should dry them in the dryer.
Keep the outside of the appliance clean
All external surfaces of your steam cleaner should be wiped down regularly. Be sure to clean the bristles on the attachments by rinsing them under running water to ensure that all debris is removed.
Always make sure that you rinse the tanks of your appliance with water and let them dry after each use. If possible, you should rinse out all openings and let them air dry before using them again.
Do not use hard water or softened water
If your tap water is hard, you should not use it. Instead, use a mixture with distilled water. Nothing damages a steam cleaner faster than hard water deposits forming in its tank and tubes. You should also not use tap water if you have a water softener system installed. The sodium can destroy your steam cleaner in no time.
Descale your system
If you use hard water in your steam cleaner, which is not advisable in pure form, then you should decalcify it regularly. You can use one of the commercial descaling products on the market or use a solution of baking soda and clean water. Just be sure that all actions, according to the instructions, do not cause any damage.
Steam cleaner tips for handling
- Use steam cleaners that do not need to be descaled. This not only saves money, but also protects the environment.
- The cleaning cloth over the steam nozzle should be changed regularly. Only a clean and absorbent cleaning cloth ensures optimal cleaning results. If you do not do this, most of the dirt will be spread on the floor again.
- Inexperienced users should practise changing the cloth before using the machine. While working, the nozzle is hot and can burn you if you use it incorrectly.
- Units without a refill tank may only be refilled when they have cooled down. Otherwise, a dangerous fountain may occur while pouring.
- You can protect yourself from heat and steam by wearing gloves.
- The adhesive in PVC flooring can be loosened by a steam cleaner. It can also cause unsightly discolouration. Therefore, test a sensitive floor in advance.
- In the case of parquet and laminate, there is a risk that the steam will penetrate the cracks and cause the floor to curl.
- Upholstery and carpets are completely unsuitable for steam cleaners, as they do not remove the dirt and can even make it worse.
- Electrical appliances must also never be treated with steam cleaners, because the dangers of moisture in connection with electricity are life-threatening.