Steam cleaners are becoming ever more popular in the home and many manufacturers are attempting to persuade us to spend our hard earned cash by splashing them on our TV screens in the form of advertising.
However, one man’s steam cleaner is another man’s steam mop as the old Chinese proverb says. Yes, it’s no longer as simple as saying you’re going to buy a steam cleaner anymore as there are more than one version available on the market. Here, we’re going to try and differentiate between them and hopefully send you on your way towards the best steam cleaner.
The Standard Steam Cleaner
The standard steam cleaner consists of the usual components that you would expect – a water tank / boiler, a dispensing hose and a number of attachments that fix to the hose to help us perform the cleaning tasks around the home.
Most steam cleaners are general cleaning tools which means there is no one job that they specialise in and they should perform each task equally well, whether that’s cleaning hard floors, upholstery, windows or detail jobs like de-greasing the oven.
Because of this, they tend to be more expensive than the other two types of steam cleaner but you do get a bit more bang to the buck with them as they happen to be more powerful, hold a larger water store – so more steaming time when you use – and can affix a larger number of attachments and accessories.
The Steam Mop
Hot on the heels of the standard steam cleaner is the steam mop. As the name would suggest, their primary role is the cleaning of hard surfaces and they manage to perform this duty far better than the standard steam cleaner. Their clever mop head design allows the mop to glide across the floor while twisting and tilting to avoid obstacles.
Many steam mops today try and double up their usage by having a detachable unit which allows the mop to convert into a handheld steamer. By connecting various attachments to this handheld, they allow the steam mop to tackle the more detailed jobs that their smaller brothers and sister excel in.
However, due to power restraints, even the best steam mop doesn’t perform anywhere near as well (generally speaking) than both the standard steam cleaner or the handhelds models that are designed specifically for that role.
The Hand Held Steam Cleaner
The handheld steam cleaner is, as the name would suggest, a small device that can be held in one hand and is used to for small specific and detailed jobs around the home such as oven or hob cleaning, grout cleaning or cleaning grease and grime from worktops.
Usually very good at what they do, they are obviously limited in a wider range of tasks. Whereas they might be able to remove a spot stain from a carpet, they are totally inappropriate for general carpet steaming or floor mopping.
So which should type should I buy?
That is a question that maybe only you can answer. Obviously, if you’re going to be wanting to include floor surfaces in your steam cleaning device, the handheld variety is a non-starter. So in that case it becomes a toss-up between the steam mop and the standard cleaner.
The standard cleaners are usually more expensive than the steam mops, whereas the steam mop isn’t usually as good at the wider range of tasks despite being billed as 2 in 1 devices (ie, mop plus handheld). The steam mop has one advantage over the standard cleaner, however, and that is their ready to use time – ie, how quick the water boils and allows the mop to be used. This time is usually far quicker than a standard cleaner means it can be used for quick and easy cleaning tasks around the home.
So there you have it – the three types of steam cleaner that are available on the market. Hopefully you’ll have found something of help in this small introductory article.