Steam Cleaner Buying Tips

McCulloch MC-1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
McCulloch MC-1275 — A very popular budget steam cleaner.
Steam cleaners (also known as vapor cleaners) are cleaning devices that make use of steam to clean, dry, and sanitize floors/surfaces. Cited as an example of green cleaning since these appliances do not require the use of harsh chemical cleaning solutions.

Steam cleaners are becoming more popular because of their effectiveness and the steam’s ability to kill bacteria. In some cases they even disinfect without the use of chemical disinfectants!

Please note: A 1-minute video demo can be found at the bottom of this page.

Here’s a list of features to carefully consider when shopping for a new steam cleaner:

1. What’s the tank capacity?

The tank capacity is an important factor that determines for how long the user can use the steam cleaner at a time. Larger tanks (around 50-ounce) allow users to steam clean for around 1 hour without interruption (provided of course that the cleaner can keep the water hot for that period).

You should also take note that most steam cleaners have controls that adjust the steam amount and pressure, and the more steam they use, the more frequent you will need to refill and reboil.

2. How long does it take to get the steam ready?

One of the things that most consumers will want to know is whether or not the steam cleaner can boil the water fast and become ready to use in a short time. Some models need only a few minutes, while some others may need up to 30 minutes.

3. Is there a steam ready/boiling indicator?

Most steam cleaners have an indicator light that warns the user when it’s ready to be used. The light will go on or off (depending on the model) when the water is boiling. This is a common feature in most steam cleaners on the market.

4. How long does the steam last before it needs to reheat?

Now, this is one of the most important features. When compared to cleaning with chemicals, steaming is definitely healthier but also takes more time. You may spend 10 minutes steaming a surface that could be cleaned with chemicals in under a minute.

Therefore, it is essential that the steam cleaner offers at least around 1 hour of continuous usage in order to be effective.

5. How much pressure it provides?

And this is the second most important thing: How much steam pressure does it provide? In some models, you will find the actual wattage (1500 Watts, etc.) in the product description field. However, some will not offer this information. You can find the steam pressure it provides in other users’ reviews.

A steam cleaner that offers more pressure will be able to clean any surface faster than less powerful units.

If the model you are looking at has multiple user complaints about steam pressure, you may want to look at a better model.

6. How does it perform on different surfaces?

People use steam cleaners to clean upholstery and a variety of hard surfaces including bare floors, wooden floor, windows, walls, etc. It is hence essential that the steam cleaner performs well on all those surfaces. If it has a steam control switch, it will be very likely that it performs equally well on all those different surfaces.

However steam cleaners should not be used on soft plastic, untreated wood, or painted surfaces because of the combination of pressure and heat.

7. Is it good on removing hard stains?

This is an important question that should be studied carefully (Hint: Read users’ reviews/comments). Can the steam cleaner remove oil stains, darkened grout, soap scum, etc? And more importantly, can it do that without damaging the finish on furniture, etc.?

8. Is there a steam control switch?

Different stains and surfaces require different steam pressures. The pressure you’d use to remove stains from your hard floors could damage your drapes or furniture, etc.

It’s essential that the steam cleaner has a steam control switch that allows users to adjust the pressure based on what they are cleaning.

9. How good are the attachments?

In addition to different steam pressures, different surfaces will also need different brushes. Hard floors for instance will require a different attachment than highly polished furniture.

Make sure you check all the attachments that come with the steam cleaner and all the advantages they bring.

10. Is there a water level indicator? Does it sputter water or only steam?

This is a very important safety feature. It allows the user to see how much water is left in the steamer and know when to refill.

If this feature is missing, the users can encounter serious hazards as the machine can boil dry. Hence, if the model you are looking at doesn’t have a water level indicator, you may want to check out another model that does.

One of the problems people encounter with steam cleaners is that sometimes (some models) tend to sputter water and leave the surfaces wet, and creating a mess. You can read up some users’ comments/reviews to see if there are such complaints.

11. Is it lightweight? Is the cord long enough?

A lightweight steam cleaner will be easy to move around and provide significant convenience. Likewise, the length of the cord is a factor that affects the mobility.

12. Can it be used to remove wallpaper?

Some users will want to use their steam cleaners to remove wallpapers. Most decent models offer this ability and have special attachments/settings for that purpose.

Best Steam Cleaners:

Best Overall: McCulloch MC1375 Canister Steam System

    MC1375

  • Large 48 oz. water tank heats up in under 12 minutes and provides up to 90 minutes of continuous steam
  • 20 versatile accessories including floor mop attachment for use on sealed flooring surfaces
  • Extra-long 18-foot power cord
  • 10-foot steam hose
  • Variable steam control, up to 58 psi, for blasting away tough grease and grime
  • Naturally deep cleans and sanitizes without the use of harsh chemicals
  • Learn more

Best High Capacity Model: McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System

    McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System

  • Large 64 oz. water tank
  • Heats up in 12 minutes (to over 200ºF)
  • Provides up to 120 minutes of continuous steam
  • On-demand variable steam control with 4 bar (58 psi) pressure
  • 23 versatile accessories including floor mop attachment
  • 10-foot insulated hose
  • Extra-long 18-foot power cord with integrated corp wrap and on-board storage to conveniently store accessories
  • Learn more

Best Value Buy: McCulloch MC-1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

    MC-1275

  • Heavy-duty with 1500 watts of steaming power
  • Requires no chemicals
  • 50-ounce water-tank capacity
  • Heats up in 8 minutes
  • Provides up to 45 minutes of continuous steam
  • Lightweight
  • Locking steam button
  • Long flexible hose, 10 feet
  • Long power cord, 12 feet
  • Lots of included accessories
  • Learn more

Best Budget Buy: Steamfast SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner

    Steamfast SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner

  • 1500-watt cleaner
  • 45-ounce water tank heats up in 8 minutes, provides up to 45 minutes of continuous steam
  • 15 versatile accessories including a steam mop attachment for sealed flooring surfaces
  • Steam-on-demand trigger with continuous steam locking switch
  • 6.5-foot steam hose
  • Weighs 8.42 lbs
  • Learn more

Video Demo – A Steam Cleaner in Action:

The steam cleaner in this video is: McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam Cleaner. Video will play for approximately 1 minute.

See more steam cleaners