/ Home & Energy

Have you joined the steam cleaning age?

As the interest in steam cleaners starts to take off, these hot appliances could soon be in vogue. Have you bought into this home cleaning product, and if so, just what are you cleaning?

Steam cleaner popularity is on the rise, whether they’re handheld steam cleaners from Karcher or steam cleaning mops from Vax.

According to research by Experian Hitwise, there’s been a 125% increase in ‘steam cleaner’ searchers over the past three years. And as if by magic, our first batch of cylinder steam cleaners has just been shipped to one of our test labs.

But before we put them through their paces, I want to know more about your steamy habits.

Steam cleaners – the Swiss Army Knife of cleaning?

Generally quite adaptable, cylinder steam cleaners tend to come armed with an array of tools and attachments that make them suitable for cleaning many surfaces. Tiles, hard floors, windows, carpets, upholstery and ovens – cylinder steam cleaners can tackle them all.

With so much cleaning potential from just one device, are you using your steam cleaner for everything you can or do you save it for tackling a particular task?

However, so much versatility could cause problems. From our previous tests of steam mops and handheld steam cleaners, we’ve found that reliability can be an issue.

Are steam cleaners built to last?

Quite a few people have fed back on our steam cleaner reviews that they’re having some trouble with them. One of the most common problems is that the device has simply stopped producing steam, as Alan explains:

‘After just a handful of uses it would not heat the water, [and therefore would] not produce steam.’

Another handheld steam cleaner owner said they tried to clean an oven and ‘after an hours use it broke down’.

The other most-voiced complaints include the cloth cleaning pads either falling off the mop when in use or shrinking in the wash. And then there are the handles breaking, or even the bush attachments melting during use, as Simon shares:

‘Very poor results and the attachment brush was ruined after the first go.’

We’ve now built in durability tests into our future steam cleaner reviews, but what problems have you encountered when using your steam cleaner, whether it be mop, handheld or cylinder? And if you haven’t yet bought into the steam cleaner craze (if we can call it that), are you tempted?

Have you bought a steam cleaner?

No, and I have no interest in buying one (32%, 82 Votes)

No, but I'm interested in buying one (31%, 78 Votes)

Yes, but it hasn't lived up to my expectations (21%, 54 Votes)

Yes, and it's lived up to my expectations (15%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 253

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sue butler says:
10 September 2013

I have had my five in one steam cleaner for a couple of months. I was reasonably pleased with it initially but now it hardly generates any steam. Have cleaned nozzle and done all the obvious things. It’s very frustrating.

After several months since my last ( and only post) I decided to get a steammop. I had a steam jet thing but it had not impressed me.

Just before Christmas I bought a Prolex steam mop from B&M stores. It was a modest £24.99 in the sale.

I am very pleased with this product. It doesnt leave the floor wet. Its damp but it dries quickly.
I didn’t spend a fortune on it. It heats up within seconds but cool to the touch.
It stands up without toppling over.
It’s lightweight and very manoeuvrable.
It has 5 absorbent mopheads with it. They are adjustable and machine washable.

It cleans the floor well. My bathroom floor which had some ingrained dirt came up a treat. The tank is large enough to clean for 20 mins. It has a button to control the steam (on and off).
The flex is 5 metres long – enough to reach and move around.
There are hooks to wind the flex round once finished.
The triangular mop head swivels freely and cleans corners.
It also lightly cleans and freshens carpets.

I am very happy. Its not in Which? best buys ( or any buys). Its cheap and cheerful but it does a good job. Thought you all might like to know.

Donna says:
3 April 2014

I recently bought a Vax s3s hard floor advance. Pieced together really well and quick. Filled it up with detergent (comes with it) and water. Waited for the light to say it was ready to use come on which it did straight away. No noise. Nothing coming out the bottom of the mop. Eventually it started to produce a little steam. Mainly soaked the floors, caused streaks and took about 20 mins to dry!! Returned to the shop the following day. After reading most of these reviews im thinking of sticking to a mop and bucket!

I want a steamer for the floor: had two cheap ones that have been no good, there are so many on the market ………I want one that will last, and recognise that it may not be the most expensive but, if it is, I’ll purchase it. One for hard floors and vinyl Recommendations ????? M

I have bought 2 steam cleaning mops (Vax) & found them easy to use & been very pleased with the results. However…..both ceased to produce steam after a relatively short steaming life, definitely will NOT buy another.

I have had two Vax Stick steam cleaner which after about year stops steaming. No real after service so needles to say I will not be buying a third.

I would think these fail the “Durability” requirement of the Sale of Goods Act and give you a claim for redress against the retailer, unless they have been abused or overused. Always worth a try if you can be bothered. I’d like to see more official support to help people who have bought products that don’t last a reasonable time, given their cost.

Meantime, is descaling worth a try? The instructions should cover this.

The only Vax steam cleaner currently on sale has a two year guarantee. If this applies to yours, Carolyn, it should be easy to have it repaired or replaced if you contact the retailer (rather than the manufacturer). I suspect that Malcolm is right and it might just need descaling or other maintenance.

Please let us know the outcome.

Have just given up on my 2nd. steam mop. 1st.was from Scots of Stow the 2nd. H20 X5 widely promoted on the TV shopping channels. Both worked OK for about a year, used approx 3 time a month, & then lost the power to produce steam. Tried descaling the X5 & with patience I never thought I had, it finally started to work again. Next time of use I had to go through the same process again. It worked perfectly for 5 minutes then gave up. I ‘ve had enough, but the wife doesn’t want to go back to a bucket & mop. This could end up in divorce.

Surely you do the floor-cleaning don’t you, Laurence? If not your wife might have grounds . . .

Liz says:
3 June 2017

Vax steam mop just packed up – no steam coming out of it….will now have to search for receipt -if it still exists to try and take back to retailer. Probably out of guarantee now though….considering initial cost – would have been far more cost effective to have stuck to mop and bucket…!!!!!
How can these things just pack up just like that….used it probably 3 – 4 times a year….it’s practically new…!!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Bought one on line and realised it was as light and flimsy as a childs toy. Handle snapped second time of using so used it hand held only to find it wouldn’t turn off any more. Have to use the socket switch. Absolute rubbish for nearly £30. Didn’t do the job in the brief time it did work. Oh well, back to the toothbrush and bleach.