Vacuuming and sweeping are important for keeping a home clean throughout a busy work week, but when you have the time, it’s a good idea to steam-clean carpets, upholstered furniture, curtains, mattresses, and floors to kill mold, bedbugs, and any other contaminants. A multi-purpose steam cleaner is designed to rapidly heat water to a temperature that is lethal for lurking bugs and organic growth, which helps keep your home free of irritants.
The best multi-purpose steam cleaner for your home will depend on the type of steam cleaner you prefer, its portability, size, and weight as well as the steam settings. You might also want to look for a combined steam cleaner and vacuum so you can take care of a wide range of cleaning tasks with one device. The list of top products below features several different types of steam cleaners to give you a better idea of what is available before making a decision.
- BEST OVERALL: Bissell Steam Mop, Steamer, Tile, Hard Wood Floor
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: PurSteam Steam Mop Cleaner 10-in-1
- UPGRADE PICK: Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Steam Vacuum
- BEST HANDHELD: McCulloch MC1230 Handheld Steam Cleaner
- BEST CANISTER: Pure Enrichment PureClean Steam Cleaner – 1500-Watt
- BEST STEAM MOP: LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Multi-Functional steam mop Steamer
- BEST VACUUM STEAM CLEANER: Bissell, 2747A PowerFresh Vac & Steam All-in-One
- MOST VERSATILE: BISSELL Power Steamer Heavy Duty 3-in-1 Steam Mop
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner Multipurpose Heavy Duty
- BEST FOR PETS: Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off Pet Steam Mop
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner
For help in the search for a new multi-purpose steam cleaner, look for the type that is most suitable for your home based on size, power, steam settings, and a few other important considerations mentioned below.
Multi-purpose steam cleaners come in several different types based on size, cleaning method, and appearance. Types include handheld steam cleaners, canister steam cleaners, steam mops, and vacuum steam cleaners.
- Handheld steam cleaners are small and portable, making them easier to carry around the home. The small size helps when steam-cleaning curtains and other upholstery. However, handheld steam cleaners cannot clean an entire floor in a timely manner.
- Canister steam cleaners have compact designs with a wheeled tank and an extended steam hose so they can assist with spot cleaning, upholstery steaming, and cleaning small carpeted rooms.
- Steam mops are ideal for cleaning tiles, linoleum, vinyl, and hardwood floors. These lightweight machines are essentially mops with a handheld steam cleaner mounted to the shaft. The steam cleaner pumps hot steam down through the mophead to sanitize the floor.
- Vacuum steam cleaners combine the suction power of a vacuum with the hot sanitizing steam necessary to kill mold, bedbugs, and other organic nuisances. These products do the best job of cleaning large, carpeted rooms and might even come with a detachable handheld unit for steam-cleaning stairs or for spot cleaning.
Cordless vs. Corded
When it comes to choosing a multi-purpose steam cleaner, decide whether you want the portability and versatility of a cordless cleaner or prefer the power and reliability of a corded steam cleaner.
- Cordless multi-purpose steam cleaners operate with a rechargeable battery that typically lasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours. These steam cleaners work well for apartments or for spot cleaning stains, though they might lack the power necessary for cleaning a large carpeted room.
- Corded multi-purpose steam cleaners don’t lack power or run out of juice halfway through a cleaning job. However, a short cord can limit the range of the steam cleaner, while a long extension cord can become a tripping hazard. Corded steam cleaners suit the job of sanitizing houses and can tackle the cleaning of thick carpeting.
The power of a multi-purpose steam cleaner affects the pressure at which the cleaner can produce and dispense steam. It’s also responsible for the suction strength of vacuum steam cleaners, allowing them to suck up a large amount of water, dirt, oils, and grime from deep within carpet fibers.
However, most steam cleaner models don’t include a measurable power rating, so users will need to rely on the maximum temperature of the steam, the time it takes for the water to reach the maximum temperature, and the quantity of water the unit holds to determine the power output of the steam cleaner. The higher the maximum temperature and the shorter the heating time, the more powerful the cleaner, so long as the amount of water is relatively consistent with comparable products.
Using a steam cleaner for upholstery requires a different steam output setting than using the same machine on dense carpet. Find a multi-purpose steam cleaner that has an adjustable steam output and temperature setting so it’s easy to switch between a heavy-duty task, like steaming the living room carpet, and a light-duty job, like spot cleaning a stain.
Lower pressure and low-temperature settings allow users to avoid accidentally damaging sensitive fabrics and flooring, while high pressure and high-temperature settings work best for treating bedbug infestations. As long as the steam reaches a temperature above 113 degrees, bedbugs and their eggs should die on contact, saving the cost of replacing mattresses and other furniture.
The capacity of a multi-purpose steam cleaner tank refers to the amount of water the tank can hold and subsequently heat to produce steam. The capacity of the tank can vary depending on the type and size of the steam cleaner, so it helps to find a product that holds enough water to accomplish regular cleaning tasks.
Since small units typically hold no more than 12 ounces of water, smaller steam cleaners are best suited for spot cleaning, steaming upholstery, and cleaning the stairs. Larger steam cleaners have higher-capacity tanks that can exceed 50 ounces of water. Also, vacuum steam cleaners generally have two tanks: one for clean water and one to hold the dirty water that the vacuum sucks up from the floor.
Weight and Maneuverability
The weight of a multi-purpose steam cleaner directly affects maneuverability, though other features can help to increase maneuverability, despite the weight. Handheld steam cleaners and steam mops commonly weigh less than 15 pounds, so they are easy to pick up and move around.
Larger steam cleaners, like canister and vacuum types, can exceed 20 pounds in weight, which makes them harder to pick up. These products normally have a set of wheels to pull the cleaner across a flat surface instead of carrying it. The length of the hose and the power cord also can affect the maneuverability of a steam cleaner. For larger areas, consider a long extension cord to avoid being limited by power outlet placement.
Vacuums and steam cleaners can include several different attachments that address specific issues around the home, like spot cleaning stains, cleaning stairs, or steaming upholstery. Examples of helpful attachments include scrapers, scrub pads, jet nozzles, extension hoses, and brushes.
- Scrapers primarily remove wallpaper. The steam melts the glue while the scraper removes the loosened wallpaper.
- Scrub pads help to clean stuck-on grime from carpet fibers. While the hot steam provides the heat and moisture, the scrub pads add friction to scrub out dirt and debris.
- Jet nozzles can increase the steam pressure to steam-clean stubborn stains.
- Extension hoses can attach directly to the steam cleaner or link to an existing hose to better reach narrow spaces and add greater range.
- Brushes are common accessories for steam-cleaning upholstery. The brushes remove stuck-on hair, dirt, and debris while the steam sanitizes and kills any organic nuisances, like mold or bedbugs.
Our Top Picks
The best multi-purpose steam cleaner for your needs depends on the type, steam settings, capacity, overall efficacy, and the other critical shopping factors mentioned above. These picks can help you find the best multi-purpose steam cleaner to keep floors and upholstery clean.
This Bissell steam mop can tackle a range of cleaning tasks, including steaming upholstery, cleaning carpet, and sanitizing hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring. It has a built-in spot cleaning brush for narrow and precise steam-cleaning, such as getting into tight corners. Users never need to worry about keeping track of the cleaning brush since they can access it by removing the mop base.
This corded multi-purpose steam cleaner features two steam pressure settings that are easily controlled with a switch on the handle. It weighs just 6 pounds and has a swivel base for easy maneuverability. The tank holds 16 ounces of water. The steam mop can heat the water inside to about 240 degrees, ensuring that the hot steam can kill bedbugs, mold, and bacteria.7
This corded steam mop from PurSteam packs value into the price, with a removable handheld steam cleaner and accessories for taking care of precision tasks like spot-cleaning stains. The handheld steam cleaner also can steam upholstery, clothing, and even windows; it is easier to angle and control than an entire floor-based unit. The steam mop weighs only 2.2 pounds, so it shouldn’t wear on the muscles.
The multi-purpose steam cleaner has an adjustable steam setting that ranges from 20 to 25 minutes of steam-cleaning on the low setting to 10 minutes on the highest setting. This cleaner’s dial doesn’t indicate an actual temperature, so users must estimate its readiness to steam based on time and the product’s minimum temperature of about 212 degrees. It has an 11.5-ounce water tank and takes only 30 seconds to heat water to a steaming temperature.
With its many features, this Bissell Symphony represents a premium multi-purpose steam cleaner designed for vacuuming and steam-cleaning. The model has a bristled base to pick up pet hair, dust, and debris. The vacuum steam cleaner switches easily between steam and vacuum settings for moving effortlessly from steaming the kitchen floor to vacuuming the living room carpet with the touch of a button on the digital control switch.
The corded steam cleaner weighs about 10 pounds and has a 12.8-ounce water tank. It also has a dirt tank and Dry Tank technology, which removes the moisture from collected dirt and hair, keeping the dirt tank completely dry. As a result, disposing of dirt and debris requires simply dumping the removable dirt collection tank.
The handheld, multi-purpose McCulloch MC1230 steam cleaner stands ready for a variety of applications, partly due to its 11 included accessories. It comes with a scraper, scrub pad, jet nozzle, extension hose, and three different brushes. The unit weighs just 3 pounds and features a broad handle that’s easy to grip while sanitizing upholstery, scrubbing deep stains, or using the scraper to remove wallpaper.
This corded steam cleaner has a 6-ounce water tank that takes just under 3 minutes to heat up. Once heated, the steam cleaner provides 10 minutes of continuous steam-cleaning before it needs to be refilled. Users can lock the steam trigger in place so they don’t have to hold the trigger continuously, improving comfort and easily controlling a steady flow of steam.
This Pure Enrichment canister steam cleaner weighs 10 pounds and sits on a pair of wheels so users can pull the entire unit around the room instead of carrying it. The canister has a large 50-ounce water tank. After the cleaner is plugged in and turned on, the larger volume of water takes only 8 minutes to heat up and holds steam pressure for up to 45 minutes.
A trigger switch in the handle controls the steam cleaner. The trigger can lock in place to provide continuous steam, though it doesn’t have any variable settings. To change the spray, pressure, and cleaning function, use any of the 18 attachments and accessories, including a mophead, microfiber mop pads, triangle brush, steam jet nozzle, scrub pad, and more.
The versatile LIGHT ‘N’ EASY steam mop is designed with a smart switch to stop the flow of steam when the mop moves into the upright position and resume the flow when the user tilts the handle and the mop begins sliding forward or backward. It also has a detachable handheld steam cleaner with a touch sensor that responds to the placement of the user’s finger to activate steam without the need to hold down a trigger.
This corded multi-purpose steam cleaner weighs just under 6 pounds and features three different steam intensity settings ranging from high to low. The water tank holds 11.5 ounces of water and takes just 30 seconds to heat up to 212 degrees. It also has a jet steam nozzle, garment brush, and extension hose.
The Bissell 2747A vacuum steam cleaner can serve many purposes in homes with carpeted flooring and large hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors. It weighs just 10 pounds, has a 12.9-ounce- capacity water tank, and features a broad base for rapid cleanup of floors. Dry Tank technology dries collected dirt and debris before pulling it into the dirt collection tank. This leads to easier emptying of the dirt tank after cleaning.
This corded multi-purpose steam cleaner features on-demand steam output controlled with a trigger on the handle. It also has low steam, high steam, and suction functions that set with the touch of a button on the digital controls. Users can choose easily from between steaming the floor or vacuuming the carpet—or both—to achieve the desired cleaning results in their home.
The corded multi-purpose BISSELL Power Steamer can tackle a wide range of projects, including degreasing, steaming cupboards and windows, cleaning upholstery, and steam- cleaning both the interior and exterior of vehicles. It’s designed with a removable base, hollow mop shaft, and a detachable handheld steam cleaner, enabling both the mop shaft and the handheld steam cleaner to help with a variety of jobs.
This steam mop comes with 25 accessories, ensuring users have the right tools for a steam-cleaning job. The accessories include a scraper tool, four brass bristle brushes, a flat surface tool, fabric steamer, window squeegee, and more. It has two steam intensity settings, and the 6-ounce water tank takes only 30 seconds to heat up before it’s ready for use.
Lightweight multi-purpose products like this Depray Neat canister steam cleaner address cleaning of ceramic tiles, linoleum, hardwood, mattresses, and more. With its 9-pound weight and carrying handle, this canister is easy to move around the home and even outdoors. The corded product has a 16-foot power cord, 6.5-foot hose, and 3-foot extension tube to clean hard-to-reach locations and move around the home without constantly changing power outlets.
This steam cleaner has a 54-ounce water tank that takes about 7 minutes to heat up. At the maximum temperature, the steam cleaner produces steam at 275 degrees for a total runtime of about 50 minutes. The 17-piece kit also includes a rectangular floor tool, microfiber pads, a window tool, five nylon brushes, one brass brush, and several more accessories.
The Bissell PowerFresh corded steam mop’s design tackles pet messes with several different attachments intended for cleaning pet hair, scents, and stains from upholstery, flooring, and windows. It includes a bristle scrub brush, a window squeegee tool, a fabric steamer and an extension hose, plus scraping, angle, and grout tools. These attachments work on the handheld portion, not the base, but the tank lifts off easily to create a handheld steam cleaner.
This multi-purpose steam cleaner has a 13.5-ounce water tank that takes about 30 seconds to heat up to 212 degrees. It weighs about 10 pounds, allowing it to be carried around without too much effort. The steam intensity output adjusts between the high or low settings, depending on the amount of pressure needed for the job.
FAQs About Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaners
Before investing in a new multi-purpose steam cleaner, take a look at these frequently asked questions and their answers to learn more about what steam cleaner is most appropriate for keeping your home clean.
Q. Can I put vinegar in a steam cleaner?
White vinegar is a good cleaning agent that can be used in a steam cleaner for cleaning tile floors, linoleum, and vinyl, but vinegar should not be used on hardwood floors because it breaks down the finish.
Q. Does a steam cleaner kill mold?
Steam cleaners can be used to kill mold. They are great for penetrating deep into mattresses, curtains, and other fabrics.
Q. Does steam-cleaning kill bedbugs?
Steam-cleaning is a great way to kill bedbugs and their eggs. When the steam reaches a temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit, contact with it becomes lethal.
Q. What should you not steam-clean?
Many different items and surfaces can be damaged by exposure to hot steam, including water-based paint, cardboard, stucco, brick, marble, silks, thin plastics, and velour upholstery.
Q. How often do I need to steam-clean my floors?
Steam-cleaning can be done once per week as part of your regular home maintenance routine, though many prefer to use a vacuum often and only steam-clean once per month.