We Tested the Best Upholstery Steam Cleaners for Chemical-Free Sanitizing

Freshen up your furniture with one of these excellent steam cleaners that sanitizes and deodorizes surfaces without harsh chemicals.

Best Overall

The Best Upholstery Steam Cleaner Option: Kiato Handheld Steam Cleaner

Kiato Handheld Steam Cleaner

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Upholstery Steam Cleaner Option: Bissell Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaner & Sanitizer

Bissell Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaner u0026amp; Sanitizer

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Best for Car Upholstery

The Best Upholstery Steam Cleaner Option: Wagner 925E SteamMachine Elite Portable Steamer

Wagner 925E SteamMachine Elite Portable Steamer

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Editor’s Note: Testing for this article took place in late 2023 and these products remain our current top recommendations for 2024 until we revisit this category. Stay tuned for our 2024 updates.

Steam cleaners use pressurized steam from heated water to clean both soft and hard surfaces. This method requires zero cleaning solutions and chemicals, making it a preferred cleaning procedure for many health-conscious users, as well as those with sensitivities or allergies.

Steam cleaning lifts away dirt and grime from upholstery and other materials while killing germs, bacteria, and pathogens, leaving behind freshened and deodorized surfaces. To find the best upholstery steam cleaner, we tested a number of popular models that we found through extensive product research and used them to steam furniture, car interiors, throw pillows, and other household surfaces. We also put them through a stain test, evaluating how well each model removed six common household stains.

In addition to cleaning upholstery, steam cleaners also function well for sanitizing sealed floors, windows, tile, and other indoor and outdoor applications. Read on to learn about the best upholstery steam cleaner for your home and how we tested each model.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Kiato Handheld Steam Cleaner
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bissell Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaner & Sanitizer
  3. BEST FOR CAR UPHOLSTERY: Wagner 925E SteamMachine Elite Portable Steamer
  4. BEST FOR VERSATILITY: Bissell PowerFresh Pet Lift-Off 2-in-1 Steam Mop
  5. BEST CANISTER MODEL: McCulloch MC1375 Canister Steam Cleaner
  6. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner
  7. BEST FOR SPOT CLEANING: Steamfast SF-210 Everyday Steam Cleaner
  8. BEST ACCESSORIES: Costway Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner With Accessories
Woman steam cleaning the arm of a gray recliner
Photo: Katie Barton for Bob Vila

How We Tested the Best Upholstery Steam Cleaners

We researched the best upholstery steam cleaners with high customer satisfaction in a variety of categories. After compiling our list, we tested each model. Our tests consisted of using each upholstery steam cleaner on furniture, mattresses, and car upholstery to evaluate the ease of use. We then put all models through a more extensive test, assessing how well they could remove six common stains: dirt, vegetable oil, tomato sauce, red wine, coffee, and chocolate sauce.

We assembled a test board consisting of foam, batting, and microsuede fabric attached to plywood. We added ⅛ teaspoon of each test substance to the board and allowed it to dry for an hour. We then used each steam cleaner to remove the stains. If the steam cleaner came with an upholstery steamer and microfiber bonnet, we used it for stain removal. For models that didn’t come with an upholstery steamer bonnet, we relied on the jet nozzle to steam the stain and then dabbed it with a microfiber cloth. These methods were equally effective.

No steam cleaner was able to remove the oil stain, but all had varying degrees of success with the other substances. The biggest factor in stain removal was the amount of steam the machine emitted.

We also evaluated any extra attachments, how easy it was to empty and store each model, and how effective the steamers were for other household surfaces. We assigned and tracked number values for easy comparison.

Our Top Picks

The following products are some of the best on the market for steam-cleaning upholstered furniture. We tested each, evaluating them for their design, water-tank capacities, power options, accessories, and versatility. These steam cleaners can help keep upholstered furniture fresh and clean.

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The Kiato handheld steam cleaner is a 10-in-1 tool designed to tackle hard and soft surfaces, including furniture, car interiors, tile, windows, and carpet. It features a lightweight design and a push-button steam release. It also comes with a 10-piece accessory kit that includes a fabric steamer and a microfiber sleeve to go on top.

This model heats up to 221 degrees Fahrenheit in 2 minutes and 30 seconds. After filling the water tank and securing the lid, you can plug this steamer in and wait for the LED light to go off. The unit is then ready for use. Using the Kiato handheld steamer is as simple as pressing the button to release steam. It automatically turns off when you let go of the button. Although it has a 450-milliliter tank capacity, you will only want to add 250 milliliters at a time.

We were impressed by how much steam the Kiato steam cleaner emitted. We used it to steam a microfiber recliner, clean a mattress, and loosen mineral deposits inside a dishwasher. When we put it up against household stains, it performed well, removing the coffee, dirt, and wine stains. It removed about 70 percent of the tomato sauce and some of the chocolate. Like the rest of the models, it didn’t work on oil.

The Kiato handheld steam cleaner was among the easiest to use, and its small size makes storage simple. It never felt uncomfortable, even when we used it for 15 minutes straight. Since it emits so much steam, it’s ideal for blasting stuck-on debris off hard surfaces.

Read our full review:Kiato Handheld Steam Cleaner

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld steam cleaner
  • Tank capacity: 450 milliliters (250 milliliters maximum load)
  • Dimensions: 7.48 inches high by 5.03 inches wide by 9.84 inches deep
  • Weight: 4.66 lbs


  • Emits large amounts of steam that blast away embedded dirt
  • Lightweight and comfortable to use with easy-to-attach accessories
  • Push-down steam-release button automatically turns off when disengaged
  • Removed coffee and wine stains and left fabric looking refreshed


  • Smaller water tank lasts only 8 minutes when used continuously
  • Holding the steam-release button is cumbersome for large jobs

Get the Kiato upholstery steam cleaner at Amazon.

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The Bissell Steam Shot steam cleaner is an affordable handheld steam cleaner with 10 multisurface tools. The easy-to-attach accessories make it possible to refresh fabric, brush away grime from hard surfaces, clean windows, and scrub dirty grout. It kills up to 99.9 percent of bacteria and germs on hard surfaces.

The Bissell Steam Shot has only one steam setting, which makes it easy to use. Fill the tank with water, secure the lid, and plug it in. The heater warms in 30 seconds, and when the LED light turns off, the steamer is ready to use. It features a steam-release button that powers off when disengaged.

During testing, the Bissell Steam Shot worked well. It emitted enough steam to leave fabric looking refreshed and loosened dirt on hard surfaces for easy cleaning. The one thing we didn’t like was the curved-front design, which caused this model to lean forward slightly when holding it. It felt less stable than models without a curved design.

The Bissell Steam Shot removed wine and coffee stains during our testing. It only removed about 50 percent of the dirt, chocolate, and tomato sauce stains. While it works great for refreshing fabric and cleaning hard surfaces, it’s not our top pick for stain removal.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld steam cleaner
  • Tank capacity: 6.6 ounces
  • Dimensions: 8.5 inches high by 5 inches wide by 9.5 inches deep
  • Weight: 4 lbs


  • The fabric steamer attachment left furniture looking clean and refreshed
  • 10 accessories add to the product’s suitability for many household chores
  • Easy to empty after use, and its compact size makes it easy to store


  • Curved-front design makes this model slightly tip forward when holding it
  • Wasn’t able to remove chocolate, tomato sauce, or dirt stains

Get the Bissell Steam Shot upholstery steam cleaner at Amazon or Bissell.

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The Wagner SteamMachine Elite steam cleaner features a canister design and 20 attachments. Its large 40-ounce water tank provides up to 40 minutes of continuous steam. This powerful steamer can tackle almost any job, from vehicle carpet and upholstery to dirty barbecue grills.

The 8-foot steam hose and wheeled design make this model easy to maneuver. The canister design also features attachment storage, which helps keep accessories from getting lost.

Getting started is as simple as installing an attachment, filling the water tank, securing the lid, and turning the machine on. After about 9 minutes, it produces large amounts of steam that you can control via a trigger. The trigger has two settings: press release or continuous steam.

The Wagner SteamMachine Elite was one of our favorite models due to its ease of use and efficacy. It performed the best in our stain test, breaking down the wine, coffee, and dirt. It also removed about 90 percent of the tomato sauce and chocolate stains.

This model contains a fabric steamer with a bonnet and a carpet glider. We used both to refresh the fabric interior of a truck. We also tested it on hard surfaces, including a toilet. The steam blasted stuck-on dirt from hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Canister steam cleaner
  • Tank capacity: 40 ounces
  • Dimensions: 23 inches high by 19.5 inches wide by 23 inches deep
  • Weight: 8.31 lbs


  • Performed the best in our stain test, removing dirt, coffee, wine, chocolate, and tomato sauce
  • Long hose, wheeled design, and 20 attachments for easy and versatile use
  • Canister features a built-in compartment for attachment storage, preventing items from getting lost
  • Can use the trigger for steam release, or set it for continuous steam


  • Large tank capacity means a longer wait time for steam, taking up to 9 minutes
  • We experienced some water spitting while steaming, causing excess moisture on the fabric

Get the Wagner upholstery steam cleaner at Amazon or The Home Depot.

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This steam-cleaning unit from Bissell is designed with versatility in mind. In its fully assembled form, it functions as a heavy-duty floor mop. Alternatively, you can detach the canister and deploy it along with the extension hose and attachments to steam-clean upholstery, pet beds, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, and a variety of other surfaces.

An included tool bag holds a set of 13 accessories for a broad array of cleaning applications. The included fabric-steamer attachment works especially well with the handheld portion of this steam cleaner for cleansing, deodorizing, and sanitizing upholstery.

Water in the 13.5-ounce tank heats up quickly, producing steam that kills up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. The 25-foot-long power cord facilitates steam cleaning of even the most hard-to-reach places.

For testing, we started by using this steam cleaner as a mop, and it worked well, leaving our floors clean and streak-free. Next, we tested the handheld canister on our stain board using the fabric steamer attachment and dabbing the stain with a microfiber cloth. It tackled the dirt, wine, and coffee stains but wasn’t a match for the chocolate or tomato sauce. The handheld steamer spat water more than other models, preventing the steam from being as powerful or continuous.

Even though this steam mop didn’t perform as well in our stain-removal tests, it did a good job overall. It’s an ideal choice for those who want a versatile steam mop with a lift-off canister. However, folks who want just an upholstery steamer might fare better with a different option.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld steamer and floor mop
  • Tank capacity: 13.5 ounces
  • Dimensions: 44.7 inches high by 11.14 inches wide by 13.2 inches deep
  • Weight: 10.6 pounds


  • Multipurpose cleaning tool; comes with 13 accessories and works on a variety of surfaces
  • Kills 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria; great for homes with kids and pets
  • Easy to switch from mopping to the handheld attachments for easy whole-house cleaning


  • Somewhat small tank capacity; needs refilling during larger cleaning jobs
  • Handheld steamer spat water and didn’t remove stains as well as other models

Get the Bissell PowerFresh upholstery steam cleaner at Amazon, Target, Bissell, or Walmart.

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Thanks to its canister design, this steamer houses a large-capacity water tank that delivers up to 90 minutes of continuous steam-cleaning power. The tank holds 48 ounces of regular tap water, and it heats to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit in under 12 minutes.

The on-demand variable steam-flow system allows users to dial in an exact steam flow from low pressure up to 58 pounds per square inch (psi). Accessing hard-to-reach spaces is easy thanks to an 18-foot power cord and a 7-foot steam hose.

With 20 included accessories, this unit can take on a multitude of house-cleaning tasks. In addition to refreshing upholstery, this steamer works on ceramic tile, sealed flooring, grout, and more.

The McCulloch blasted through dirt, coffee, and red wine stains during testing. It also did the best on oil, eliminating about 50 percent of the stain. Since this model doesn’t come with a dedicated fabric steamer attachment, we used the jet nozzle to steam the soiled areas and then dabbed them with a microfiber cloth. Doing so was effective, lifting dirt and leaving the fabric looking refreshed.

The McCulloch came with a bag for its attachments, which helped us keep everything together. Since the canister is on wheels, it was also easy for us to maneuver. We used the jet nozzle to spray around a sink faucet, and it loosened stuck-on dirt and some of the mineral deposits. This model came with many more attachments, including a mophead. It emitted a large amount of steam, making it ideal for household and heavy-duty jobs.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Canister steam cleaner
  • Tank capacity: 48 ounces
  • Dimensions: 10.5 inches high by 12.13 inches wide by 15.55 inches deep
  • Weight: 10.78 pounds


  • Delivers up to 90 minutes of power, which is enough for most upholstery cleaning
  • Variable steam-flow system with an easy-to-control knob; up to 58-psi steam pressure
  • 20 accessories work on a variety of surfaces; great for tough stains or general cleaning
  • Users can control steam via the trigger or lock it in place for continuous steam


  • Water takes time to heat up; can become frustrating when refilling during long cleaning jobs
  • Using the steamer at its highest power results in a lot of moisture on upholstery

Get the McCulloch upholstery steam cleaner at Amazon or Walmart.

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When it comes to taking on big cleaning jobs, this large-capacity steam cleaner should do the trick. Thanks to the portable cube-shaped unit that combines an impressive 54-ounce water tank, 16-foot-long power cord, and 6.5-foot-long steam hose, the Dupray steamer is capable of delivering 50 minutes of continuous steam with ample maneuverability to reach furniture and surfaces throughout the home. The wheels on this steam cleaner allow for smooth rolling from room to room, and a retractable handle makes carrying this 9-pound unit a breeze.

Water in the tank heats to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, producing steam that kills 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, and pathogens in upholstery, bedding, and other household surfaces.

When we unboxed the Dupray Neat steam cleaner, we were immediately impressed by the quality. The attachments felt well constructed and the fabric steamer’s microfiber bonnet was much thicker than those from other models. We also liked the unique modern aesthetic and the cord storage on the bottom of the cube.

When we put this model to the test, it blasted through dirt, coffee, and wine stains on our microsuede fabric. It did OK on the tomato sauce and chocolate stains, eliminating about 50 percent of the soiled area. We also tested the mop attachment, which glided smoothly across our hardwood floors, picking up dirt and leaving the floors streak-free.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Canister steam cleaner
  • Tank capacity: 54 ounces
  • Dimensions: 9.5 inches high by 10.5 inches wide by 10.5 inches long
  • Weight: 9 pounds


  • Compact and modern design stores easily in a small space
  • Delivers an impressive 50 minutes of continuous steam for tackling large jobs
  • Performed well in our stain test, removing dirt, wine, and coffee from microsuede
  • Mop glides smoothly for easy and streak-free floor cleaning


  • Some water spits out before the steam, which can saturate upholstery

Get the Dupray upholstery steam cleaner at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

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When those everyday oops moments occur, this convenient steam cleaner makes short work of sanitizing household surfaces, including upholstery. The 6-ounce water tank heats up in just 3 minutes, producing 8 minutes of pressurized steam for removing dirt and grime.

Despite its small size—it weighs just 2.6 pounds—this handheld cleaner is surprisingly versatile. Use one of the six included attachments for cleaning upholstered furniture as well as a wide array of hard surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms. A 12.5-foot-long power cord allows for easy maneuverability, while the 28-inch extension hose offers even greater capacity for reaching out-of-the-way surfaces and overlooked crevices.

While it performed the worst in our stain removal tests, this model is still handy for quick fabric refreshes and sanitizing hard surfaces. The Steamfast steam cleaner was able to remove wine, coffee, and tomato sauce from our test fabric but failed to remove dirt, chocolate, or oil.

This steamer is easy to use. It has only one setting, so after filling it with water, all we had to do was plug it in and wait for it to warm up. In addition to steaming upholstery, we used it to steam inside an oven, and it successfully loosened up most of the stuck-on food. The small size makes it easy to store—great for those short on space.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld steam cleaner
  • Tank capacity: 6 ounces
  • Dimensions: 8.25 inches high by 5.5 inches wide by 10.5 inches deep
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds


  • Compact, lightweight unit is comfortable to use and ideal for cleaning tight spaces
  • Includes 6 attachments that are easy to connect and can tackle most cleaning jobs
  • Budget-friendly price point compared to similar options; a good beginner option


  • Runs for only 8 minutes; not suitable for extended use
  • Was the only steamer unable to remove a dirt stain from our microsuede test fabric

Get the Steamfast upholstery steam cleaner at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

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This multipurpose steam cleaner includes 18 attachments for taking on a variety of cleaning tasks around the home. When it comes to cleaning upholstery, the steam jet nozzle and nylon brushes are especially helpful. Functional accessories such as a mophead, brass utility brushes, a scrubbing pad, and a squeegee facilitate cleaning and sanitizing not only upholstery, but also sealed floors, bathroom tile, kitchen appliances, and children’s toys.

The 16-foot power cord and 79-inch steam hose, as well as the wheels, a rolling caster, and ergonomically designed curved handle, offer ample maneuverability for reaching numerous surfaces in the home. In addition to removing dirt, grime, spills, and messes, this steam cleaner sanitizes household surfaces. Unseen and undesirable intruders such as germs, bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and bed bugs are no match for the 226 degree Fahrenheit pressurized steam.

The Costway steam cleaner holds 51 ounces of water in its tank, heating it to produce steam in under 10 minutes. It delivers 40 minutes of continuous steam-cleaning time.

Like the other canister models we tested, the Costway steam cleaner produced large amounts of steam and was better able to power through stains than handheld options. It eliminated dirt, coffee, and wine from our test fabric. While it didn’t completely eliminate tomato sauce or chocolate, it visibly reduced the stained areas.

This model comes with many useful accessories, including a mop and carpet glider. We used the carpet glider to refresh fabric seats and carpet in an old truck and tested the mop on tile floors. The attachments were easy to use, and the mop left the floor clean. We also tried out the trigger that locks in place for continuous steam.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Canister steam cleaner and floor mop
  • Tank capacity: 51 ounces
  • Dimensions: 14 inches high by 17 inches wide by 11 inches deep
  • Weight: 10.8 pounds


  • Multipurpose tool that comes with 18 cleaning accessories to tackle most jobs
  • Unit has 2 large wheels and a 79-inch hose, making it easy to maneuver
  • Includes an organized cable-management system to wind around neatly when not in use


  • Lower steam pressure may struggle with more stubborn stains
  • No indicator light to signal when the steam is ready for use

Get the Costway upholstery steam cleaner at Amazon or The Home Depot.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing an Upholstery Steam Cleaner

Before purchasing an upholstery steam cleaner, it’s essential to consider what your needs are. Manufacturers offer a wide array of types, sizes, water-tank capacities, attachments, and accessories, each with their own benefits and optimal uses. Ahead, learn about the features that may influence your selection process as you search for the best upholstery steam cleaner to suit your purposes.

Unboxed Bissell steam shot with accessories
Photo: Katie Barton for Bob Vila


Steam cleaners that work well for upholstery materials are versatile and capable of taking on many other cleaning tasks around the house. Depending on the type, steam cleaners tackle dirt, grime, and messes on both soft and hard surfaces, indoors and outdoors. Here’s an overview of the types of steam cleaners available on the market, along with information about how they function for cleaning upholstery.

  • Handheld steam cleaners make upholstery cleaning easy as you simply hold the steamer units adjacent to the upholstered furniture and move them along the surface.
  • Vacuum-type steam cleaners facilitate the cleaning of floors and carpets, but many of them feature reconfiguration capability, breaking down into handheld units that work well for upholstery. Users move the handheld units along the surface of upholstery fabric for cleaning.
  • Vapor steam cleaners utilize steam from water heated to at least 240 to 260 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a low-moisture vapor that leaves minimal residual dampness. Vapor steam cleaners utilize higher temperatures than many other steam cleaners do.
  • Cylinder steam cleaners (also known as canister steam cleaners) feature steam hoses attached to the rolling cylinders or canisters that hold large-capacity water tanks for extended steam-cleaning time. Attachments for the steam hoses facilitate upholstery cleaning as you move them along the surface.
  • Garment steam cleaners feature handheld nozzles on the ends of steam hoses that attach to water tanks. The steam loosens and lifts dirt, deodorizes, and freshens upholstery fabrics on furniture as well as clothing.

Size and Weight

Consider how you plan on using your steam cleaner to determine the ideal size and weight. Larger and heavier models offer the capacity for heavy-duty cleaning and extensive cleaning sessions, while small and lightweight units offer the advantages of portability and convenience for quick cleanups.

For example, canister models are considerably larger and weigh more than handheld steam cleaners, but they offer the advantage of large-capacity water tanks that deliver continuous steam for anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes. On the other hand, a small handheld steamer weighs much less than a canister or vacuum type, but it holds less water and produces steam for only a few minutes before it requires refilling.

Corded vs. Cordless

Steam cleaners operate on corded electrical power from standard household outlets. After the electrical power source heats the water in the cleaner’s water tank to above 212 degrees Fahrenheit, creating steam, the pressurized steam is forced through a hose or a nozzle, delivering powerful cleaning action to household surfaces.

Some steam cleaners include extra-long power cords for enhanced maneuverability, allowing you to access hard-to-reach places throughout the home for cleaning and sanitizing. Since steam cleaners draw a large amount of electricity, there are currently no cordless options.

Power and Runtime

Battery runtime is associated with the volume of water held in the steam cleaners’ tanks. Larger water tanks in canister models may produce steam for up to 90 minutes of continuous cleaning. Alternatively, the small water tanks in lightweight, handheld steam cleaners produce enough steam for approximately 8 to 10 minutes of runtime. Of course, the tanks may be refilled as often as necessary for continuous cleaning.

Heating time is another feature to consider. Related to the volume capacity of the water tanks and the power of the heating elements, heating times vary from approximately 30 seconds to 12 minutes. A faster heating time means that the water converts to steam more quickly, allowing you to jump right into the task at hand.

Steam Settings

In the process of selecting the best steam cleaner for upholstery, shoppers may also want to consider their needs for a steamer that is capable of accomplishing other cleaning tasks. Many steam cleaners offer versatility via low-, medium-, and high-steam pressure settings. Users can adjust the settings to facilitate cleaning various surfaces and accomplishing either light freshening jobs or the tough removal of stuck-on dirt, grime, and stains.

Cleaning upholstery requires low to medium steam pressure, depending on the type of fabric and the degree of soil. Delicate upholstery fabric should be steam-cleaned on the lowest steam setting. Thicker, more durable fabric can tolerate a medium steam setting, especially if tough stains and stuck-on messes present cleaning challenges. Manufacturers of some steam cleaners recommend their use on leather upholstery, but you’ll want to check manufacturers’ information before using steam cleaners on leather furniture.

Alternatively, you can adjust the steam pressure settings to medium or high for cleaning hard surfaces. High-pressure steam works well on tile, grout, granite, stainless steel, and sealed flooring. Keep in mind that using a high-pressure setting will cause the steam to run out more quickly, resulting in the need to refill the water tank.

Tank Capacity

Every steam cleaner contains a water tank with a heating element that heats the water above 212 degrees Fahrenheit to produce steam. Handheld units include tanks that generally hold about 6 to 8 ounces of water for steam production. These are lightweight and easy to handle, but they produce steam for only about 8 to 10 minutes before the small water tanks run dry. Handheld steam cleaners are ideal for quick touch-ups and brief everyday cleaning chores.

On the other hand, users sometimes need to tackle cleaning jobs that require extended steam- producing runtimes. For these tasks, larger steam cleaners with increased water-tank capacities fill the bill.

Canister or cylinder steam cleaners feature larger water tanks that usually hold about 40 to 54 ounces of water. Heating the larger volumes of water to build up steam, these types of steam cleaners can deliver up to 90 minutes of continuous steam for extended cleaning sessions.


When steam-cleaning upholstery, you’ll want to maneuver the steam-releasing units over and under the curved surfaces of furniture and into cracks and crevices. For this reason, steam cleaners with long power cords as well as extension hoses with easy-to-hold nozzles make the job easier. Maneuverability is a particularly valuable feature for reaching into a vehicle to clean car interiors, which are susceptible to accumulating dirt and debris.

Some steam cleaners offer power cords up to 18 feet long and steam hoses up to 8 feet long. With these features, you can direct the steam to hard-to-reach places for accurate targeting of dirt and grime.

A canister or a cylinder steam cleaner with a long extension hose allows you to reach into nooks and crannies. Alternatively, a lightweight handheld steamer with a long power cord provides up-close and targeted cleaning power.


Many steam cleaners include attachments to facilitate cleaning a variety of objects and materials. Some common attachments include steam hoses, straight nozzles, angled nozzles, metal brushes, nylon brushes, window squeegees, mop pads, and scrapers.

For steam-cleaning upholstery, nylon brushes, steam hoses, and angled nozzles work particularly well, allowing you to maneuver the steam over, under, and around curved surfaces.

Shoppers looking for steam cleaners that can accomplish a range of cleaning jobs beyond sanitizing upholstery will want to take note of what attachments, if any, are included with each available steam cleaner.


With a steam cleaner, you can clean upholstery without strong detergents, cleaning solutions, or chemicals. Using small handheld steamers or larger units with extension hoses and nozzles, you can cleanse and deodorize even the most hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of upholstered furniture and car interiors. For a healthier home environment, steam-cleaning the upholstery delivers peace of mind by removing germs, mold, bacteria, and bed bugs. The answers to the following frequently asked questions may assist you as you begin to use your new upholstery steam cleaner.

Q. What surfaces can a steam cleaner be used on?

Steam cleaners can be used on both hard and soft household surfaces, including upholstery, clothing, sealed flooring, ceramic tile, grout, stainless steel, and more.

Q. Do upholstery steam cleaners utilize chemicals?

No. The primary reason for using steam cleaners is that the cleaning action comes from pressurized steam created by heated water, which contains zero cleaning solutions or chemicals.

Q. Should hot or cold water be put in a steam cleaner?

Pour cold water into the tank of the steam cleaner. The heating element will heat the water to produce steam.

Q. Does steam-cleaning kill bugs?

Yes. Steam cleaning kills bed bugs on the surface of mattresses and bedding as well as those embedded ¾ inch deep into the fabric surfaces.

Q. How long should upholstery be steam-cleaned?

Hold the steamer nozzle on the upholstered surface to release the steam, but keep it moving. Don’t hold the nozzle in one place so long that the upholstery becomes damp.

Meet the Tester

Katie Barton has more than 10 years of experience in product writing, has tested dozens of cleaning products, and has authored hundreds of articles for major media outlets. Her cleaning and organizing advice has been featured on a variety of popular home and finance websites. She takes an unbiased approach to product testing, using each product multiple times or for several days to determine efficacy. Her goal is to help readers decide which products are worth their hard-earned money and which fall flat.

Additional research provided by Carol Benton.