Are your windows grimy? Kitchen tiles greasy? And when was the last time that you cleaned your mattress?
While everyone knows a steam cleaner makes short work of dirty carpets, a new generation of this appliance can tackle other household tasks, too.
Using high-pressured, scalding steam and a variety of fancy adaptors, they can kill off bacteria and dust mites in mattresses, get creases out of clothes and curtains, and even clean the children’s Lego. Femail tested eight of the most popular and found which are best for particular jobs.
Lauren Libbert tries out eight different steam cleaners on various items around her North London home. She tests the Bissell Steam Shot to get dirt out from her curtains
BEST FOR…GRIMY WINDOWS
Thane H20 HD, £109.99
This versatile gadget easily converts from floor mop and carpet cleaner into a powerful handheld steamer.
It comes with 18 accessories, from brushes and window cleaning tools to scrapers and cloths, which clean every part of your house – including windows.
The handheld unit detached with one click from the main steam unit. I filled the tank with water – it holds 450ml – pressed the ‘on’ button and waited 25 seconds for the steamer to heat up.
Only the hooking of the cloth over the squeegee tool stumped me and I was steaming with frustration by the time it finally worked.
Running it up and down the panes of glass made marks disappear instantly in the blast of steam.
There were a few puddles on the floor, which dried on their own, and when the glass dried – within minutes – there were some light streaks. But my windows were a lot cleaner.
Verdict: Quick to heat up and the results were impressive.
BEST FOR…CRUMPLED CURTAINS
This handheld device looked like a cross between a teapot and a drill. I poured the water from measuring cup into the device, twisted it closed and switched it on.
Simple! Attaching the accessory nozzle, squeegee and cloth was effortless, too, but it took a minute for the steamer to be ready, which tested my patience.
The squeegee ran smoothly up and down the fabric and instantly ironed out crinkles so the curtains draped elegantly.
The device felt heavy – it weighs 1.36kg. I needed a ladder too, as there wasn’t an extension lead. But the results were impressive.
Verdict: Very easy to use with instant results.
Lauren uses the PurSteam 850 Watt Fabric Steamer, priced at £25.99, to get the creases out from her dress
BEST FOR…CREASED CLOTHES
PurSteam Elite travel steamer, £25.99
This looked like a miniature kettle and was as simple as using one – just twist off the top, fill with water and plug it in. It took a minute for puffs of steam to start spouting from the nozzle.
It claimed to work on all clothes, wool, linen and silk – and made light work of my cotton dress, steaming away creases in less than two minutes.
There were a few damp patches, which could have been awkward if I had been in a hurry. And one dress took up half the water.
As a travel steamer, it couldn’t be better. It even comes with a handy drawstring bag.
Verdict: Very handy and efficient to take on holidays or trips.
BEST FOR…GERMY TOYS
Lauren cleans a toy with the Shark S2901 Multifunction 2 in 1 Steam Mop, priced at £69.99
Shark S2901 multifunction steam mop Pocket Lite, £69.99
Shark S2901 multifunction steam mop Pocket Lite, £69.99, currys.co.uk
The box promised 99.9 per cent sanitisation, obliterating bacteria, which is exactly what children’s toys need. A main unit assembles as a stand-up cleaner and it has a separate handheld device, which you detach, for awkward angles.
A flask is provided to pour water directly into the tank. It took just 20 seconds to heat up, and a full tank lasted 20 minutes.
I blasted a mound of Lego and muddy water pistols – and watched as the dirt and grime of goodness knows how many years ran off, creating a giant, filthy puddle. The power was incredible. Very impressive
Verdict: Messy but effective.
Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus, £149.99. Multi-surface kit, £39.99 vax.co.uk
BEST FOR…YELLOWING TILES
Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus, £149.99
Multi-surface kit, £39.99
THIS machine’s tank had separate compartments for water and steam detergent (a 250ml bottle was included), which claimed to neutralise odours and kill bacteria for up to seven days. You fill the tank from the tap, and there are options for cleaning with and without detergent. I used it, but it did seem to go against the ‘chemical free’ benefits of steam cleaners.
The steam cleaner has a Multi Surface Kit, which is sold separately, and includes half a dozen more tools, such as a deep scrub brush, grout brush, window tool and pad. Each attaches to a rotating connector to help you reach awkward crannies. I was amazed to watch the old, yellow grout around my kitchen tiles turn white.
BEST FOR…FILTHY OVENS
Lauren cleans her oven with the Russell Hobbs Steam Clean 11 in 1 priced at £79.99
Russell Hobbs Steam Clean 11 in 1, £79.99
Wow, did this one come with a bag of tricks. There was a jet nozzle, a scraping tool and a round brush. My filthy oven was in for a treat.
It was easy to assemble and took 30 seconds to heat up. I tried the jet nozzle on its own, then the scraper, then the brush.
All were good at removing some more recent stains, but the older, more stubborn marks were still there after 15 minutes – by which time the tank had run out of water, my wrists hurt, and the brushes looked flattened. .
Verdict: Did its best, but some ovens are dirtier than others.
BEST FOR…MITE-RIDDEN MATTRESS
It took Lauren five minutes to clean her matress with the Polti Vaporetto Pocket 2, priced at £89.99
Polti Vaporetto Pocket 2, £45.50
A queasy thought, but apparently a mattress can contain tens of thousands of dust mites, so this steam cleaner had quite a task on its hands with my eight-year-old, mattress, which I’d never cleaned.
I poured water into the handheld unit using the jug provided. It took five minutes to heat up – an age in steam cleaner terms.
I had slotted in the flexible hose to the unit and attached the squeegee tool but when I squeezed the trigger water squirted over the mattress. I used the clever shoulder strap to spread its weight, and soon got the hang of the steam pattern. The mattress took five minutes, and was left a bit damp but presumably beastie-free.
Verdict: Definitely worth the effort.
BEST FOR…DIRTY BLINDS
The Karcher SC3 Steam cleaner, £139.99, removed old stains and made the blinds look fresher and cleaner
Karcher SC3 Steam cleaner, £139.99
I was keen to see if this model from the Rolls-Royce of steam cleaner makers could make my blinds look as good as new – they hadn’t been cleaned since I moved in to my home eight years ago!
The unit came with detachable wheels and a two-metre cable, which made it handy to stretch from room to room.
There were two levels of heat -half and full steam. It reached top temperature in just 30 seconds, and came with a one-litre water tank offering 25 minutes of steam.
Not only did some old stains lift but my blinds looked fresher and cleaner.
Verdict: Great results.