Sanitise and clean with a portable handheld steam cleaner

Use this handy gadget to spot clean your home, from garments to furniture.

Handheld steam cleaner

by Eleanor Weaver |
Updated on

If you are looking for a way to keep your home clean and sanitary in an environmentally friendly way, then a handheld steam cleaner is the tool for you. The best steam cleaners oust stubborn dirt and bacteria with just the power of hot steam. With one of these in your hand, you can wave goodbye to harsh cleaning chemicals and hard scrubbing. And say hello to enjoying cleaning without strong smells and allergy-inducing irritants escaping into the air.

The best news is steam cleaners kill up to 99.9 per cent of bacteria, and a handheld one makes it much easier to oust dirt throughout your home. Lightweight, portable, and easy to manoeuvre, you can target hard-to-reach spaces and tight nooks and crannies with ease. You can use it on countertops, upholstery, tiles, and you can even steam-clean clothing. If dexterity is an issue, this style of appliance should be much easier to use than a floor steam cleaner or an iron.

Best handheld steam cleaner at a glance:

Best overall steam cleaner: LIUNOVIP - Steam Cleaner - View on Amazon UK
• Best multi-purpose steam cleaner: Beldray 10-in-1 BEL0701TQN Handheld Steam Cleaner - View on Argos**
•** Best budget steam cleaner: Quest Handheld Steam Cleaner - View on Amazon UK**
•** Best for upholstery: Tower THS10 Handheld Steam Cleaner - View on Amazon UK

Want to know more? We've shared everything you need to know about this powerful handheld device further below, including what you should be looking for in the best steam cleaning machine. But for now, here are the best handheld steam cleaners to buy.

Best overall steam cleaner

Amazon customers cannot get enough of this powerful steam cleaner. We love that it can be used for all of your domestic cleaning needs. This versatile piece of kit can be used for everything from your mattress to cleaning your refrigerator. With nine attachments, this is a fantastic bit of kit for getting into nooks and crannies as well as larger spaces.

Customer review: "Its the perfect little steamer I needed for daily cleaning. It has many attachments for daily use. I use it mainly to clean my bathroom and kitchen hood etc. It has made life so easy and I am using less chemicals than before because steam makes it easier to clean the soiled surfaces and takes off dirt easily. I am very pleased."

Pros

  • Comes with a long 2.8m cord
  • Continuous steam for 7-10 minutes
  • 250ML water tank

Cons

  • You need to wait up to 60 minutes to add more water after use

Best multi-purpose steam cleaner

With 1000W steaming power, you can get 10 minutes of continuous steaming from one fill with the Beldray 10-in-1 BEL0701TQN Handheld Steam Cleaner, with a range of accessories to help you target different areas. Use the included attachments to clean hard-to-reach areas, refresh sofas and fabrics, clean windows, ovens, barbecues, grout, tiles, cars, and more. This one is wired with a 4m power cord.

Customer review: "What a kit. What a difference to my home. Can be used anywhere. Brings windows up a treat. My kitchen never looked so good!"

Pros

  • Lots of useful attachments
  • No unnecessary fiddling
  • Removes stains
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Small water tank

Best budget steam cleaner

Available in green and yellow, this multifunctional handheld steam cleaner is compact yet powerful, with 1000W and hot temperatures of up to 135 degrees. With nine cleaning accessories included, clean areas all over your home from bathrooms to kitchens, cooking utensils to clothes. The steam can get deep into burnt-on grease and food spills without the need to scrub away.

Customer review: "I dread having to clean my electric hob. Tried baking powder and soda and all other expensive liquid soaps but nothing. and then I saw an ad about steam cleaning and thought I'd give it a try. OMG, I'll let my photos speak for itself. Everyone should have one in their household."

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Good steam pressure
  • Good for small jobs

Cons

  • The mains socket wire is short 

Best for upholstery

The Tower THS10 produces a powerful steam clean for 10 minutes at a time with temperatures up to 105 degrees that keep furniture free from germs and bacteria. Available in blue or rose gold, this device has been recommended for upholstery specifically, however, it does come with a bunch of attachments and can be used to remove grease and grime across a variety of different surfaces in the home.

Customer review: "Brilliant piece of kit. If doing a big area and need to fill again you have to wait till it's completely cooled down before it lets you refill."

Pros

  • Good steam output
  • 10 minutes of continuous steam
  • Heats up in 3 minutes

Cons

  • Some people found the button stiff

Best handheld steamer for water capacity

Weighing only 1.36kg, the Bissell SteamShot is a compact steam-cleaning machine that is simple and easy to use on a variety of hard surfaces. Beating the competition on water capacity and power cord length - 4.8m - this multipurpose gadget comes with eight attachments, a built-in safety cap and an ergonomically designed steam trigger.

**Customer review: "**I have bought a few 'mini' steamers before but this is the best by far. Good safety features and a very sturdy filling cap on the top along with a good choice of accessories. This holds a decent amount of water and kicks out a very good pressure of steam. Good length of cable too. I can't find any negative aspects with this product."

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Great for small jobs
  • Large water capacity

Cons

  • Steam release button can be difficult to keep held down for long periods

Best for sealed surfaces

With a nine-piece accessory kit, the MLMLANT Handheld Steam Cleaner has the longest runtime of up to 15-20 minutes whilst still being able to cut through grease, grime, and stains with 1000W of cleaning power. This cleaner is best suited for sealed surfaces and includes a safety lock on the handle and a safety cap for added peace of mind for your safety.

Customer review: "The cleaners are great - I bought this one after borrowing one for ages. Really good for moving grease around the cooker. I found it easier to work with a gloved hand with an old tea towel folded over to catch the grease that softens/loosens. A very powerful jets steam and very easy to use. I tend to not make use of all the accessories but the flat blade tool and a cloth works really well on lifting grease off kitchen units and better than spraying loads of expensive chemicals everywhere. Recommended to anyone serious about kitchen cleaning."

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Good price
  • Sturdy

Cons

  • Heavy 

Best for large surface cleaning

Whilst this is technically a steam mop, the powerful floor steamer comes with a handheld steam cleaner, perfect if you've got large surfaces to tackle. This is also the only handheld that comes cordless on our list - the floor mop has a 6m cord, but you can lift and go with the handheld for optimal reach and flexibility. The Smart Steam Control lets you quickly switch to the perfect for the floor or surface you are cleaning, and you can clean for longer - up to 20 minutes.

Customer review: "Easy to use, great results, exactly what I wanted and more. Plenty of attachments, gets into all those nooks and crannies so you know that everything is as clean as you want it to be."

Pros

  • Great for large surfaces
  • Can also be used for the floor
  • Clean steam for up to 20 minutes

Cons

  • Some found the handheld feature slightly awkward

What to look for in your handheld steam cleaner

Corded or cordless

A cordless steam cleaner gives you maximum reach and portability, but you may find the machine a little heavier due to the rechargeable battery. Corded steam cleaners, on the other hand, provide consistent power (you won't need to worry about the battery running out of charge), but you will be limited on reach. The choice is completely up to you, but as you can see from our list, corded handheld steam cleaners are much easier to come by.

Purpose

Before you buy a handheld steam cleaner, make sure it can clean what you require it to, and check the accessories which may come in handy for its intended use. However, it's worth keeping in mind that handheld steam cleaners have a pretty short runtime, so if you're after something more heavy-duty that'll last longer, choose a full-size steam cleaner instead.

Capacity

The larger the tank capacity, the longer the machine is likely to run, dependent on the steam rate. However, keep in mind that the higher the capacity, the more water it can accommodate and the heavier the steamer may be. In this case, make sure the steam cleaner has been designed with an ergonomic handle for more comfortable use and look out for attachments, such as a wand, that'll help alleviate the strain on your back.

FAQs

How does a handheld steam cleaner work?

A handheld steam cleaner works much the same as a standard steam cleaner but quicker thanks to its smaller size and capacity. It boils the water within the tank to emit a hot steam that you can direct via the steam gun in measured amounts to shift dirt, lift stubborn substances, oust bacteria, and sanitise surfaces. The faster the steam is forced out, the better the cleaner will dissolve dirt, and you can check this by looking at the steam rate in grams per minute for each steam cleaner.

What can you clean with a handheld steamer?

As well as being easy to carry around, one of the best things about a handheld steam cleaner is its versatility. The handy cleaning tool can be used to effectively clean kitchens, bathrooms, windows, and textiles with no cleaning agent necessary – the steam does all the work to deliver a deep clean in even hard-to-reach places.

Common uses include:

Sanitising mattresses
Steam cleaning windows, glass, and bathrooms
• Spot clean furniture and upholstery
• Cleaning appliances such as ovens, hobs, and BBQs
• Sterilising countertops
• Defrosting your freezer

Although some steam cleaners can be used on your favourite shirts and dresses, we would recommend getting a clothes steamer cleaner which has been specifically for fabrics.

What should I not steam clean?

You should not use a handheld steam cleaner on painted surfaces, unsealed materials, delicate fabrics such as silk or satin, musical instruments, antiques, nylon mesh window screens, or porous surfaces. If in doubt, check the product information, as this will list what the handheld steam cleaner can clean.

Eleanor Weaver is the Deputy Homes & Garden Product Editor for Yours, specialising in home décor, furnishings and appliances. Having worked commercially on Yours magazine and Yours.co.uk for the past six years, she's previously hosted Yours Live events and loves looking for home inspiration online.

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