Types of Steam Cleaners

Different Types of Steam Cleaners

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The steam cleaner has become the hottest topic in most media outlets, magazines, and the internet at large. Although they’re relatively new in the home cleaning arena, the clever combination of heat and high-pressure steam to disinfect and sanitize a variety of surfaces has allowed this appliance to offer a healthier and greener way of cleaning your space. However, if you have ever thought about the reason behind this incredible cleaning application, then you’ll realize that one factor that has played a pivotal role in its success is the various types of steam cleaners that are available.

Now, just as its name suggests, a steam cleaner is a generic name that represents cleaners that vigorously eject steam at high temperatures of around 100°C to kill over 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, mold, and dust mites on the surface or deep into the fabrics of your carpet, couches or garments. This mechanism has emerged as a “green” and eco-friendly alternative for allergy suffers or homes with kids. So, to remove persistent stains from your space while keeping your family safe, here are 6 types of steam cleaners you might opt to consider.



A Brief History of the Steam Cleaner

The steam cleaning technology has been harnessed for the last 150 years as an effective way of removing stubborn greases and oils from heavy machines, car engines, ships, and railways among other areas. From the 1960s, the technology recorded a stunning breakthrough after a successful attempt by Italian boiler manufacturers to use steam vapor as a cleaning method.

Around 30 years ago, European and United States manufacturers realized the potential of steam cleaning. This allowed them to discover a way of using hot steam to sanitize and sterilize surfaces since hot steam had the advantage of quickly dissipating leaving the surface clean and disinfected. Although this technology was popularly used in high-risk regions such as hospitals, it rapidly gained widespread popularity beyond the industrial settings.

From 1994, the Hot Water Extraction (HWE) method, commonly known as “steam cleaning” was discovered and was later adapted in most residential homes as an effective way of cleaning carpets, tiles, grouts, and upholstery.


How Does a Steam Cleaner Work?

For you to understand the benefits of using a steam cleaner, it’s virtually important that you first understand the working mechanism of this crucial household appliance. The best thing about steam cleaners is the fact that, though they’re available in several types, most of them work pretty much the same.

So, everything starts when you pour fresh water into the in-built tank. From there, an internal boiler or electric valve takes over by heating the water to high temperatures of around 120 – 150°C within 30 seconds. Once the water gets super-hot, a dedicated command is all that’s needed to eject the pressurized water vapor through the available nozzles into the respective surface for sanitization and effective cleaning.

Other than the jets and the boilers, most steam cleaners today come with dedicated microfiber cloths and pads. Now, these microfiber cloths serve two functions. One, they trap the pressurized water vapor to prevent it from dissipating into the air when cleaning. Secondly, by loosening the fabrics of your couches, carpets, rugs, and cloths, the microfiber cloths take over by getting deep into the crevices to remove dirt, bacteria, mold, mildew, bedbugs, and allergens from your space.


Benefits of Using Steam Cleaners

Now that we’ve discussed the working mechanism of steam cleaners, we will now get straight to discuss some of the undeniable reasons that will convince you to buy this household cleaning appliance to clean your surfaces, upholstery, curtains, and clothes.

  • It Has Disinfecting Power: The high heat produced by steam cleaners is a huge advantage if you’re looking to sanitize and disinfect your space. Since the water is heated to high temperatures of up to 120°C, the pressurized water vapor produced is enough to kill over 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in your home.
  • Its Eco-friendly: If you’re looking for a greener and eco-friendly way of cleaning your home without exposing your family to hazardous chemicals, then using a steam cleaner is the best bet. Thanks to their effectiveness, these appliances are able to clean your surfaces without leaving behind any chemical residues, stains, or irritating smells.
  • Saves Money: With a steam cleaner, you don’t have to shop for multiple cleaning products. Since they use steam that has a quick drying time, you will not risk damaging your hardwood floors, couches, or curtains as there’s no water involved.
  • They Clean Deep: If you’re using chemical cleaners and a hard bristled brush to scrub tough stains, there’s a high chance of damaging your floor. This is quite the contrary when using a steam cleaner as what you’ll need to do is to press a button to free pressurized steam through the jets. This steam alongside a microfiber pad is the one responsible for deep cleaning your surfaces.
  • Versatile: Other than being used for cleaning your floor, steam cleaners are versatile enough to handle a variety of cleaning chores such as cleaning your mattress, couches, furniture, cushions, curtains, and your car’s seats.
  • Odor Killers: The last benefit of using a steam cleaner is the fact that they offer the perfect way of killing odors. This allows them to kill mold, germs, and bacteria that cause foul odors in your home. This is a great step for homes with pets, kids, and allergy sufferers.


Different Types of Steam Cleaners: Their Uses & Benefits


Steam cleaners come in different variations. Each variant is designed to accomplish a particular cleaning task depending on your economic needs. So, in this section, we will get down to our main discussion where we’ll discuss the different uses and benefits of each steam cleaner to help you pinpoint the best appliance that fits your needs.


1. Handheld Steam Cleaner

Handheld steam cleaners are some of the most sort-after types of steam cleaners in the market. The first obvious reason is the small compact sizes that make them quite easy to work with. Another reason is the fact that the majority of these models are cordless. This allows you to maneuver easily around the house to clean some of the most profile areas such as windows, grouts, extractor hoods, crevices on the walls, and areas around the gas stove.

Since their small sizes cannot allow them to clean large areas, these steam cleaners can work perfectly well in spot cleaning small stains on your carpet, couches, curtains, and car seats. Other than cleaning, portable steam cleaners are highly affordable meaning you won’t have to spend a lot of cash just to get one. Their small size also makes them very easy to store in profile areas meaning you won’t have to congest your space just to store them.


  • Due to their small sizes, these steam cleaners can be used for cleaning several outdoor items such as garden tools, tables, cushions, and furniture.
  • In the bedroom, you can use the handheld steamer to toss out bedbugs and mites from your mattresses and cushions.
  • In the bathroom, you can use this appliance to effectively remove mildew, mold, and hard water stains from your faucets, mirrors, and bathtubs.
  • In the kitchen, a handheld steam cleaner can be used to effectively remove grease build-up stuck on the microwave, stovetop, refrigerator, and the countertop.


  • Handheld steam cleaners are portable and easy to carry with just one hand.
  • They provide an affordable way of steam cleaning your home.
  • The best for cleaning hard to reach areas such as round corners and beneath the furniture.
  • They’re very easy to store.


2. Garment Steam Cleaners

One similarity between the handheld steam cleaner and the garment steamer is that they fall in the same category of portable steam cleaners. The only difference is that the garment steam cleaner is specifically designed for steaming garments to keep them fresh and wrinkle-free. Since their first use, garment steam cleaners have gained widespread popularity due to their safety. Unlike an iron box, a garment steamer is safe enough to remove wrinkles from delicate fabrics without burning them.

They’re perfect when used on soft delicate fabrics such as satin, jersey, silk, and polyester. They also happen to work faster and are more effective since the steam produced is designed to get deep into the fabrics to remove wrinkles. Other than being a garment steamer, this appliance is known to accomplish a multitude of chores within the house such as cleaning and sanitizing your surfaces.


  • The garment steamer can be used to decrease your cooking areas to remove any grease build-up. This is an excellent alternative to using harsh chemicals and detergents.
  • If you own an old freezer that’s too cold to do its job, then you can consider using a garment streamer to defrost and meltdown the icy build-up. It also allows you to freshen up your fridge by removing spills and stains.
  • If you need to sanitize your countertop without using harsh chemical cleaners, then a garment steam cleaner can be effective enough to remove any germs, viruses, and bacteria.
  • In case your upholstery, such as your curtains, mats, carpets, and furniture need to be refreshed, then you can consider using a garment steam cleaner to take care of tough dust and grime.


  • They’re effective in removing wrinkles from your garments.
  • Unlike iron boxes, garment steam cleaners don’t get into contact with your clothes making them safe.
  • Their portability makes them effective when used to clean other areas such as your car’s seats, couches, and beneath the furniture.


3. Steam Vacuum Cleaner

Also known as a vapor steam cleaner, a steam vacuum cleaner is another portable cleaning appliance that does a great job of sanitizing and disinfecting your carpet, rugs, floor, and upholstery. One of the main distinctions that make this steam cleaner the best is the high level of steam it utilizes to clean your space.

The first step of using this appliance is to fill the container with water up to its maximum level. At this stage, you’re free to add your favorite soap to leave your home with a nice fragrance during the steaming process. Once you’re done, plug the machine to a power outlet to let the heater boil the water to the required temperatures.

Once there’s enough heat, a steam vacuum cleaner will allow you to use the handle with various attachments depending on the surface you’re cleaning. Since it produces high levels of heat, a vapor steam cleaner will allow you to clean and sanitize your couches, rugs, cushions and other upholstery just like any other handheld steam cleaner.


  • Since they produce high levels of heat, these steam cleaners are best for mopping tough stains such as heavy mud and grit from your carpet and hard floors.
  • By adjusting the jet steam settings, you can easily clean and sanitize a wide range of surfaces including all floor types.
  • Steam vacuum cleaners can be used with tap water mixed with soap. This is a great idea if you’re looking to clean your car’s seats as the steam will leave a nice fragrance in your car.


  • Since the steam produced is dry, you won’t have to worry about damaging your surfaces with excess moisture.
  • This steamer can be used alongside various attachments. This is great if you’re looking to clean a variety of different areas within the house.
  • Just like the rest of the steamers, a steam vacuum cleaner is effective in killing germs and bacteria.
  • This steamer is compact making it easy to store.


4. Cylinder Steam Cleaner

Sometimes known as canister steam cleaners, cylinder steam cleaners are larger as compared to popular handheld and steam mop cleaners. Just as their name suggests, these cleaners are cylindrical and their heavyweight is caused by the bulky water tank they have to bear. Although they’re quite heavy, their weight shouldn’t scare you as this is what makes them effective in cleaning and sanitizing your home.

Now, the heavy water tank of this steam cleaner allows it to accommodate heaps of water for cleaning purposes. It also consists of multiple attachments that can be interchanged when cleaning different surfaces. Just to mention, if you look at this steam cleaner closely, you’ll realize that it resembles the vapor steam cleaner in terms of uses and benefits. However, there’s one notable underlying difference that sets these two steamers apart. That is, while the vapor steam cleaner uses dry steam to clean your surfaces, the cylindrical steam cleaner uses moist steam which means you’ll need to expose your carpet, mats, or rugs to direct sunlight to dry up.

Finally, cylinder steam cleaners are pricier when compared to handheld and steam mops. You’ll, therefore, have to spend more if you’re looking to invest in one.


  • Since they’re so big, these steam cleaners are the best for cleaning large floor surfaces.
  • Secondly, they come with multiple attachments that make them quite versatile in cleaning a variety of surfaces.
  • They also have long handles that make it easier for you to clean walls, ceilings, nooks, and crevices.


  • Although they have large water tanks, you don’t have to keep refilling them with water during the cleaning process.
  • The amount of steam they eject is enough to kill bacteria, germs, and parasites from your home.
  • Multiple attachments allow high versatility.


5. Steam Mops

Another type of steam cleaner you need to learn about is the steam mop. Now, if you’re only focused on cleaning your floors, then this type of steam cleaner is the perfect choice for you. Why is it so? Well, while most steam cleaners allow you to add different attachments; this one uses a unique steam mop technology that’s nothing less than sheer brilliance.

The working mechanism of this steam cleaner is similar to traditional brooms and mops only that it has added the steam cleaning technology in its formula. Depending on the model, this steam cleaner can have a separate water tank or have it attached to the handle. During its operation, water is first heated to very high temperatures of about 250°F to produce steam.

This steam is ejected via the jets beneath the handle which dampens the mop pad in the process making it easier for you to clean the floor. This working mechanism enhances efficiency as this steam cleaner not only wipes your floor but also utilizes the hot steam to kill germs, bacteria, and other parasites lurking on your floor. Steam mops are affordable, eco-friendly, and highly reliable when it comes to cleaning different types of floors.


  • Since steam mops have long upright handless, they’re well suited in cleaning beneath the furniture and in profile areas.
  • Secondly, the mop pad attachment used on these steam cleaners makes it easier for you to clean hard floors such as tiled, marble, and laminated floors.
  • Similar to other steam cleaners, the steam mop doesn’t just clean your floor but it also goes a mile further to sanitize and disinfect the surface.
  • Due to the advantage of the mop pad attachment, this steam cleaner can easily clean tough stains making it the best for homes with kids and pets.


  • When using a steam mop, you don’t have to use any toxic detergents or harsh chemicals.
  • Its upright characteristic makes it easier for you to store this steam mop in profile areas.
  • The combination of steaming and mopping technology allows this steam mop to kill germs, bacteria, and parasites.
  • This steam mop is very light and easy to use.


6. Commercial Steam Cleaners

One disadvantage of using conventional products for cleaning your surfaces is that they’re superficial meaning they only clean the top layer of your surfaces. However, if you’re using a steam cleaner such as a commercial cleaner, the steam generated is so hot to penetrate the pores of various fabrics for effective cleaning.

Unlike most other steam cleaners, the commercial steam cleaner has a large tank that holds a lot of water enough to accomplish a large cleaning project. The boiler size is large and the amount of steam generated is so immense. There are numerous accessory attachments to take advantage of which make it easier for you to clean large floors, bathroom surfaces, kitchen upholstery, bedrooms, and mattresses among other items.

When investing in a commercial steam cleaner, one thing you need to know is that some models are pretty noisy. These cleaners can also be a hefty investment so you need to take into account the high cost of purchasing them.


  • Just as their name suggests, commercial steam cleaners are the best for cleaning restaurants, hotels, offices, schools, and hospitals.
  • The hot steam generated is enough to clean and sanitize large surfaces such as sidewalks, metals, conveyor belts, driving, and parking lots.
  • They can also be used to disinfect large surfaces


  • One benefit of using a commercial steam cleaner is that it allows you to clean a wide space in an environmentally friendly way. This eliminates the use of harsh chemicals that can be potentially hazardous to people with respiratory illnesses.
  • Apart from just cleaning large surfaces, a commercial steam cleaner allows you to go further to disinfect your space.
  • Since the steam generated has only 5% of water, the steam cannot cause any damages to your surfaces.



In conclusion, in case you’re wondering whether to take the traditional mop or the steam cleaning route, then this guide has offered you everything that’s needed to make an informed decision. Ordinary cleaners leave your house smelling pleasant due to the ordinary cleaners used in cleaning. On the other hand, steam cleaners leave a fresh clean smell in your home thanks to the steaming technology that eliminates bacteria, odors, mildew, mold, and other allergens.

Now, steam cleaners come in different variations depending on the type of cleaning task they’re intended to perform. So, whether you’re cleaning a small space, a large commercial space, or your garments, this guide has discussed 6 types of steam cleaners that will make the ultimate difference.

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