Portable Steam Cleaners
Reviews & Buying Guide

Comparison of the best portable steam cleaners for residential homes. How to buy a handheld steam cleaner, features, pros and cons, pictures and videos. Reviews of a Shark, McCulloch, Wagner, Bissell and other popular manufacturers.


Where to use

Portable Steam Cleaner MonsterMonster Steam Cleaner

Portable steamer or vapor steam cleaner is the small and compact cleaning tool for clothes, carpets, floors and car that can clean, sanitize and deodorize very easily and efficiently while leaving surfaces virtually dry.

Most small steam cleaners, Shark brand is a good example, are equipped with the interchangeable quick-release hand tools that are designed to clean flat surfaces, also hard-to-reach and tight spaces. Smaller models are designed as handheld steam cleaners, great for spots and surfaces, while other, larger ones with wheels are ideal for floor cleaning.


Based on the application and available features, you can find portable steamers as:

  • Handheld steam cleaner is the real representative of portability, designed for spots and household surfaces and usually not for floor cleaning due to the smaller attachments and shorter cleaning time.

  • Home steam cleaner is the most versatile type, usually equipped with the floor brush and cloths, extension wands, have wheels for easy transport and can clean many surfaces.

  • Floor steam cleaners clean and sanitize flooring surfaces such as tiles, sealed wood and linoleum. You can find them as steam cleaner mops and home cleaners equipped with cleaning attachments.

  • Travel steamers are very small devices, made mainly for travelers.

Top sellers

How portable vapor cleaners work

Vapor steam cleaning originated in Italy.

Small and portable steam cleaners are equipped with an internal boiler that heats water and then releases the pressurized steam or vapor through a nozzle. This way the steam looses the bonds of grime and dirt naturally. You can use, and is recommended by manufacturers, a clean cloth to remove dirt, by wiping the steamed surface off before it gets dry.

Most portable steam cleaners, such as handheld travel and garment steamers do not use suction, as larger carpet cleaners or floor steam cleaners. They simply expose the material with the light mist. As the steam coming out is on a high temperature, it is recommended to expose the surface for a few seconds in order to sanitize it properly. Vapor steamers actually offer a chemical free cleaning solution.

Common uses of portable steam cleaners

As there are variety types of steamers, buy one wisely. Use floor steam cleaners just for floors, portable clothes steamer for clothes and when traveling use travel steamers... use it only for what it is designed for.

As different materials react differently on high temperature and moist, use the manual to see where the steam cleaner can be used. If not sure, always test on a small area first and for a short period of time.

Examples where to use vapor steam cleaners

  • Portable steam cleaners can be used on sealed hard surfaces to clean and sanitize without the use of chemicals.
  • Ceramic tiles, hardwood floors, marble, linoleum...
  • Clothes (not made of the delicate materials).
  • Carpet.
  • Walls.
  • Use the steamer to sanitize around the sinks and taps.
  • Appliances - exterior surface only.
  • Furniture.
  • Bedding, mattress, drapes and blinds.
  • Garden tools.
  • Boats.
  • Doors and windows.
  • Inside of the car, including upholstery and carpets.
  • For bed bug infestation, bacteria and viruses.
  • Portable steam cleaners are great for allergy sufferers against dust mites and mold.

Examples where not to use

  • Freshly painted, waxed or polished surfaces.
  • Do not use it on wallpapers and self adhesive vinyl.
  • Materials that cannot withstand the moist and high temperature, soft plastic, for example.
  • Antiques.
  • Not recommended for leather.
  • Do not use portable steam cleaners on unsealed flooring and untreated wood.

Buying tips and what to look for

Handheld steam cleaner has the much smaller capacity that the larger wheel-mounted unit, and the steaming time is shorter, usually up to 10 minutes. Bigger units, equipped with the wider nozzles, wand extension, can clean larger areas for up to an hour.

This is why steamers with a larger boiler are user preference. Smaller units or handheld are easy to move and transport, you can carry them from one room to another without the hassle, and clean every part of your home. Large and bulkier models are harder to move around and reach areas, such as sofas or cars.

More expensive portable steam steamers are faster and more effective as they generate more steam with the higher temperature. High temperature steam... i.e. over 200 F helps in destroying dust mites, mold, viruses, bacteria... or sanitize dirty areas. They are also equipped with better material, such as stainless steel boiler vs. plastic one on the cheaper models, pressure gauge, steam control and a lot of multi-purpose attachments...

Buy a steamer which has a stainless steel or aluminum boiler as they are more durable. If the water tank can separate from the unit, better. Fast start up time means you can clean it sooner.

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