Reviews

Kiato Handheld Steam Cleaner Review: Can an Unknown Brand Beat a Bissell?

Upholstery steam cleaners refresh fabric, release wrinkles, and lift stains. Find out why this lesser-known brand was my favorite to use.
Katie Barton Avatar
The Kiato handheld steam cleaner next to its box and all included accessories
Photo: Katie Barton for Bob Vila

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Steam cleaners heat water past the boiling point to create steam and release it through a nozzle to clean and refresh various materials. In most cases, the steam reaches temperatures high enough to sanitize. The steam also aids in loosening dirt on fabrics and hard surfaces.

I recently tested eight of the best upholstery steam cleaners, which included handheld, mop, and canister models. I used each steam cleaner multiple times to test versatility. I also evaluated how well each model removed stains by using the steam cleaners on microsuede fabric stained with cooking oil, coffee, chocolate sauce, tomato sauce, red wine, and dirt.

After testing, I awarded the Kiato handheld steam cleaner the “best overall” title. Not only was this model easy and convenient to use, but it emitted large amounts of steam, left fabric looking refreshed, removed several of the test stains, and worked wonderfully to loosen grime on hard surfaces.

Kiato Handheld Steam Cleaner: At a Glance

The Kiato handheld steam cleaner pictured still in its box
Photo: Katie Barton for Bob Vila

Rating: 8.5/10

PROS

  • Emits a large amount of steam and heats up in only 2 minutes and 30 seconds
  • Comes with 10 accessories, including attachments for cleaning upholstery and hard surfaces
  • Lightweight model doesn’t feel heavy or awkward and is enjoyable to use
  • Steam automatically turns off when the button is released, preventing accidental steam blasts

CONS

  • Small 250 milliliter water tank only provides 8 minutes of steam, so it’s not ideal for large jobs
  • Holding the steam-release button can be cumbersome for longer upholstery cleaning jobs

Get the Kiato handheld steam cleaner at Amazon for $56.99.

What is the Kiato handheld steam cleaner?

The Kiato handheld steam cleaner produces steam that reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for sanitizing hard and soft surfaces, softening stuck-on grime, and loosening dirt. It comes with 10 accessories, including a fabric steamer tool, a microfiber towel sleeve, scrub brushes, an angled nozzle, a window-cleaning tool, an extension hose, and more.

The included fabric steamer tool is ideal for releasing wrinkles from clothing, but it also works to refresh upholstery and loosen stains. The additional accessories help clean windows, scrub grout, blast steam around toilets, and sanitize surfaces.

The Kiato is a handheld model, which means it’s easy to use right out of the box and doesn’t require assembly other than securing the attachments. It features a pushdown steam-release button, which I appreciated. The button was easy to hold down, and when I let go, the steam automatically turned off, preventing unwanted blasts.

This steam cleaner emits a large amount of steam, which helps it clean faster than models that emit a lesser amount. It was also more comfortable to use than the other handheld upholstery steamers I tried. The biggest downside is that the tank is small compared to canister models, and the steam only lasts about 8 minutes with continuous use.

A testing board showing the results of many handheld steam cleaners' ability to remove various stains
Photo: Katie Barton for Bob Vila

Is the Kiato handheld steam cleaner good for removing upholstery stains?

Most steam cleaners refresh and sanitize fabric effectively, but using them to remove stains is a different story. I tested eight top upholstery steam cleaners to see if any could lift stains, and I found pretty consistent results across all models.

To perform my stain-removal test, I covered a piece of plywood in foam, batting, and microsuede fabric. I applied six staining substances to the fabric: red wine, cooking oil, chocolate sauce, dirt, tomato sauce, and coffee, then used each steam cleaner to try to remove the stains.

To my surprise, almost all the steam cleaners removed the coffee and red wine stains, but none made a noticeable difference on the oil. The cleaners’ ability to remove tomato sauce, chocolate, and dirt stains varied depending on how much steam the model emitted. The Kiato handheld model ranked high, removing about 70 percent of the dirt and tomato sauce. Unfortunately, it smeared the chocolate rather than lifting it.

Overall, each upholstery steam cleaner’s strength was with refreshing fabrics. I used the Kiato steam cleaner on recliners, mattresses, throw pillows, and blankets. Afterward, each piece looked almost new again.

Is the Kiato handheld steam cleaner high quality?

Kiato is not a big brand name, which can bring up quality concerns. During testing, I expected to like products from the more well-known names the best, but the quality of the Kiato handheld steam cleaner was just as good.

Everything about the Kiato feels well made, from the construction of the steamer to the attachments. The attachments were easy to secure, and I never experienced any steam leakage. Even with a full tank, the Kiato was lightweight and comfortable to use. Best of all, the Kiato emitted large amounts of steam, aiding in stain removal and blasting stuck-on debris off hard surfaces.

Operating the Kiato was similar to the other handheld steam cleaners I tested; I simply unscrewed the safety cap and filled the tank with water. After that, all that’s necessary is to plug it in and wait for it to heat up. When the orange light at the bottom turns off, it is ready for use.

To turn off the steamer, unplug it from the wall and press the button to release all built-up steam. The Kiato has a red spot on the safety cap that sinks when all pressure has been released. I waited for the red spot to sink (about 5 minutes) before emptying the water tank for storage.

The Kiato handheld steam cleaner in use on upholstery
Photo: Katie Barton for Bob Vila

Is the Kiato handheld steam cleaner worth the money?

For those who use steam cleaners often, the Kiato model is worth the money. It’s versatile, capable of refreshing upholstery, releasing wrinkles from fabric, and cleaning hard surfaces such as toilets, grout, dishwashers, ovens, and windows. At right around $60, it’s a mid-priced but high-quality choice.

If you’re unsure of whether you’ll use a steam cleaner often, the Bissell Steam Shot handheld steam cleaner or Steamfast handheld steam cleaner may be good options, as they cost slightly less.

Four upholstery steam cleaners I tested cost more than $135, and the Kiato cleaned almost as well as the most expensive model but was more convenient to use. The biggest downside is the small tank. Those who need a long runtime will benefit from a canister model that can deliver up to 90 minutes of continuous steam.

Should you buy the Kiato handheld steam cleaner? 

I recommend the Kiato model to anyone looking for a versatile handheld steamer. It’s also an ideal tool for those switching to chemical-free cleaning since the steam reaches a temperature of 230 degrees Fahrenheit, which is sufficient for sanitizing using only water.

I found the handheld upholstery steamers more convenient than the canister and mop models. However, they do come with a couple of drawbacks. First, the steam from handheld models doesn’t last nearly as long compared with the steam generated by canister models. For example, the Kiato handheld model provides 8 minutes of continuous steam, while the McCulloch MC1375 canister steam cleaner delivers up to 90 minutes of constant steam. Also, in terms of versatility, steam mops with handheld attachments offer the ability for users to clean their floors—a feature you won’t find in handheld-only options.

The Kiato handheld steam cleaner is best for those who want a model that is convenient and easy to operate. Since it’s lightweight, you won’t need to worry about lugging a heavy canister or mop around. It’s easy to grab, heats up in as little as 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and provides powerful steam to blast away grime and refresh fabric.

Get the Kiato handheld steam cleaner at Amazon for $56.99.

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 including Yahoo!, Realtor.com, and GoBankingRates. 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.

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Katie Barton

Contributing Writer

Katie Barton is a home improvement freelance writer based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. She has been writing for the Bob Vila team since July 2022 and specializes in topics such as cleaning, organizing, and gardening.

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