In this Guide
A good handheld cleaner provides universal cleaning power in a portable package.
We researched dozens of cleaners to find the best ones on the market today. We chose them for their power, versatility, reliability, and user satisfaction. These cleaners can help you clean all over your house, and will make cleaning far less of a chore.
You’ll find our full reviews of all these great handheld cleaners below.
We also have recommendations for:
First, here’s a look at our three favorites!
[comparison_table product1=”reliable” product2=”hoover” product3=”zitronik”]
These days, there are all sorts of options for handheld steam cleaning! That’s good news for shoppers, since there’s a wealth of options and strong competition to drive down prices. However, there are a lot of subpar handheld cleaners on the market. They have small tanks, weak heaters, and too little power to actually clean.
Problem is, they all seem the same from the outside. While many handheld cleaners claim to work miracles, a lot of them just don’t cut it for real cleaning. How do you know which ones one will actually work for you? Read this guide, of course!
Why Buy a Handheld Steam Cleaner?
Handheld steam cleaners are a simple, efficient cleaning tool for your home. A good handheld unit will sanitize surfaces, dissolve sticky messes and blast away stuck-on dirt. They’re great for reaching into cracks and crevices that you can’t reach with a spray bottle and cleaning rag. They can replace many bottles and scrubbers, and tackle messes in the kitchen, bathroom, and more–all without using harmful chemicals!
- They’re a good supplement to a mop
- They’re a great choice for people who haven’t used steam cleaners before
- They’re a universal tool for spot cleaning and light jobs
So, which ones make the grade? Our favorite handheld steam cleaners:
Best Handheld Steam Cleaner Reviews
1. Zitronik PurSteam
The Zitronik is bargain-priced, and provides more than your money’s worth in cleaning capability! While it’s not the best choice for frequent, intense cleaning, it’s great for small jobs around the house, and for sanitizing areas without using harmful chemicals or bleach. This updated model adds better spill-proofing, a more powerful heater, and an extra extension wand!
- The cleaner advertises 15-20 minutes of continuous steam. That’ll get you plenty of cleaning action between fill-ups. It sprays with a simple trigger button. There’s a special funnel and filling cup for getting it ready to go. You won’t have to hold the cleaner under the sink, and you won’t risk overflowing the tank and making a mess.
- This one comes with a full set of 9 attachments. We’re impressed by the array of cleaning tools here, especially for the price. You get pretty much anything you could want, although they are not the most heavy-duty versions. There’s an extended spray wand, a long, pointed spray nozzle, and a general spray nozzle. There’s also a special attachment for cleaning doors and windows.
- We also love the crooked/bent nozzle for reaching behind cabinets, under the stove, behind the toilet, and other hard-to-reach spots. It’s especially good for cleaning accumulated grease around lazy Susans and other rarely-cleaned kitchen fittings.
- The long nozzle is great for cleaning between cushions, into cracks, and in small nooks and crannies.
- The Zitronik also works very well on cars, refreshing fabric on car seats and rugs. Cleaning your car becomes a lot easier when you don’t have to drag a canister behind you.The many nozzles are great for reaching into vents and cleaning all those dashboard crevices.
- It’s particularly good for all those tough grimy cracks between the toilet and the floor, or around your faucets. It can also tackle tile grout, though we wouldn’t really advise cleaning a whole room with a handheld option. We found lots of little uses around the house, like cleaning out coffeemakers, stovetops, and behind the fridge. The power cord is almost 10 feet, giving you lots of range. The brush plate and towel sleeve lets you use the handheld unit like a mini mop on flat surfaces. We love this feature for cleaning countertops, sinks, and showers.
- More than anything, you just can’t beat the price and it’s pretty hard to argue with this product’s value for money.
- It’s a pretty small tank, only 8 oz. It also takes a full few minutes to warm up. Some buyers also found that the machine didn’t produce steam for as long as advertised. That’s obviously limited by the tank, as well.
- It’s not the strongest cleaner in the world. Because the heater isn’t super powerful, the vapor doesn’t come out with as much pressure as other cleaners. It’s not suitable for cleaning a grill, for instance. The heater simply isn’t powerful enough to deal with tough grease or heavy mineral deposits.
- The hose and connections are pretty cheaply built. They’re all plastic, and some buyers said they wore down after extended use.
- The Zitronik is really meant for light jobs. If your house is already fairly clean, and you’re trying to keep it that way, you’ll be fine. However, don’t expect to be able to tackle years of grime with this one.
- There’s no warranty to speak of.
2. Reliable Pronto 100CH
This Reliable machine is our top-quality pick for handheld cleaners. It stands out from the pack in build quality, power, and smart design. It’s much more powerful than other handheld steam cleaners, and has the tools to direct that power for your benefit.
We absolutely love it, and think it’s the best thing short of a canister system! Plus, the handheld format makes it endlessly convenient.
- The Reliable is built much better than many of its competitors. It’s made of tough plastic, with a metal boiler. Overall, it’s sturdier and less delicate than other handheld options.
- For a handheld device, it’s incredibly well-equipped. The Reliable comes with a whopping 15-piece accessory set. The accessories are built just as well as the machine, with wire bristles and cushioned terry cloth mop pads for windows and counters. That’s some very impressive versatility! The brush set is a real standout, with three brushes in all. There are two nylon brushes. They’re color-coded, so you can keep dedicated brushes for different areas. That means you won’t be using the same brush in the bathroom and the kitchen.
- Our favorite feature is the special Aramid fabric cleaning attachment. This is a very nice cushioned microfiber attachment for cleaning clothes. It’s more refined and safe than the competition. We found it worked as well as most steam irons!
- Most other handheld steam cleaners have stiff plastic attachments which can snag and damage delicate fabrics. The Reliable protects and cushions even the most delicate fabrics. You can use it on clothing as well as furniture.
- There’s also a special window attachment, complete with a squeegee! You can use this around the house, as well as for your car. We particularly love it for cleaning windows on microwaves and ovens, which can be hard to get clean with regular window cleaner and a paper towel. Plus, you won’t be using harmful chemicals around food surfaces.
- Most importantly, there’s no shortage of cleaning power. The pressurized boiler tank puts out vapor at 4-bar (58psi) pressure, as much as a full-size canister system! A handy indicator light tells you when you have steam pressure. The added power means that unlike some other handheld units, this can actually clean oven grease, barbecue grills, and blast deep grout. Others have the attachments to handle tough tasks, but don’t have the power to back them up.
- What’s especially impressive about the Reliable is that it’s the only handheld on the market (as far as we know) with continuous steam! That means you can top up with water as you clean, and still keep steaming. The boiler works so fast that there’s no noticeable lag time.
- The cord is also nearly 20 feet – twice as long as the Zitronik’s. We found that’s endlessly convenient when you’re going around the room to tackle different tasks. You can reach everything without having to swap outlets!
- Unlike most handheld units, there’s great warranty coverage. All the parts are backed for a year, and the boiler unit is insured for life!
- It’s expensive. The Reliable is 3X the price of many budget handheld steamers, and comes close to the price of a canister system. Still, we think it’s more than worth the money.
3. Vapamore MR-50
This Vapamore is an excellent little hybrid machine for those who want maximum versatility. It’s no better at steam cleaning than the Reliable, so we’re still giving that model our top slot.
Where the Vapamore stands out is in its combination of a steam cleaner and vac! You can use it to steam and vacuum separately, or to steam a gross spot and then vacuum up the debris! It’s a workhorse which you’ll find lots of uses for.
- LIFETIME WARRANTY - To illustrate our commitment to quality, each machine (not just the boiler) carries a complete lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. We also offer USA based phone and email support.
- THE ONLY HAND HELD STEAMER / VACUUM COMBO - The Vapamore MR-50 is the first and only portable wet / dry vacuum and steam cleaner hybrid of its kind on the market today.
- PET OWNERS BEST FRIEND - The Vapamore MR-50 Steam / Vac has every pet lover in mind! Efficient and effective on all types of pet spills, stains, and soils.
- CHEMICAL-FREE CLEANING - Spills are cleaned instantly with a high temperature 210 degree steam that is 100% chemical-free, protecting your family and pets from harmful chemicals and dirt that lives in old stains and spills.
- DUAL OPERATION MODES - With two operating modes built into one easy-to-use appliance, spills, pet stains, spots, and odors are easier than ever to remove from carpeting, upholstery, and furniture.
- The Vapamore’s small wheels keep it moving easily over a variety of surfaces. They’re more useful than you’d think, and they allow you to work without gouging into a surface or constantly having to readjust your angle. As long as the wheels are making contact, you just roll this thing along your countertops or upholstery and let it work!
- It comes with both a brush attachment for carpets and upholstery and a squeegee attachment for hard surfaces. Between the vacuum and steam features, you can use it to handle small messes just about anywhere. It’s ideal for homes with kids or pets, where there are small “situations” popping up all the time!
- As a steam cleaner, it’s actually quite good. Usually with hybrid gadgets that have multiple functions, at least one doesn’t work very well. Thankfully, that’s not the case here! The Vapamore cranks out real, high-temp vapor.
- You also get the choice of wet and dry steam options, something most handhelds don’t give you. The wet mode works well for soaking areas, such as crusted messes. The dry mode is better for sanitizing and dealing with less thick debris.
- Overall, while the Reliable is certainly better, the Vapamore is generally quite good. It’s an improvement on the Zitronik, even though that model has more attachments.
- It’s convenient to use, in either mode. Of course, you can vacuum right away. When you go to steam, the Vapamore heats up fairly fast, in under 20 seconds.
- As a vacuum, it’s surprisingly handy. This is one of the only wet/dry hand vacs on the market! You can use it for absolutely anything where you have some residual debris to handle. There’s a removable reservoir for debris, so you can just dump everything out when you’re done.
- It’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
- It doesn’t come with nearly as many attachments as the Reliable or Zitronik. This is a good choice for most flat surfaces, but it won’t help you much with things like stovetops or the insides of appliances.
- The power cord is rather short, compared to our other picks. It’s only 10-feet.
- Its vapor isn’t as dry/hot as the Reliable’s, even in the “dry steam” mode.
- It’s on the heavier side of things. Don’t go for this if you have tender wrists!
Top Portable Deep Steamer for Fabrics
Bissell Little Green ProHeat Spot Cleaner
The Little Green is our favorite solution for a portable deep cleaner. Since most steam cleaners can only do basic stain treatment on fabrics, we thought we’d include this handy fabric cleaner. The Bissell uses soap and hot water to deep clean carpeted stairs, upholstery, and car fabrics. We love it for quick spot-cleaning on carpeted floors, as well as small tasks around the house. Since it’s light and small, you can take it anywhere you need it!
- Compact multipurpose wet vacuum delivers thorough deep cleaning (Not a steam cleaner)
- Powerful spray and suction clean and help dry in one step; stores ready to use. Power rating: 9 Amps
- Built in hot water heater for enhanced results; Separate clean/dirty water tanks and dirt collection tank capacity 48 ounces
- Flexible hose, tough stain brush, and spraying crevice tool included. 48 ounces dirty tank capacity
- Ships with certified frustration free packaging. Weight: 13 pounds, hose length is 4 feet. Do not carry the appliance while in use
- It’s super compact and light. The body is built from lightweight plastic, which is at least 50% recycled. The whole thing only weighs about 12 pounds!
- Because it’s so small and light, you can use it as a handheld unit, holding the canister in one hand and the nozzle in the other.
- It comes with two attachments. One is a tough stain brush, with bristles and a 3-inch spray nozzle. It’s perfect for dealing with pet messes. The other is a long crevice nozzle. We like this one for cleaning between cushions, and at the edges of carpeted floors.
- Everything rolls up and stores right on the machine! The cord, the attachments, and everything will be in one neat little package, ready to go. You can also store it ready to use, with clean water and solution ready to use.
- After it cleans, it sucks all the water back up, just like a full-size carpet cleaner.
- Unlike most carpet cleaners, this machine has an onboard heater. That means it’ll clean at up to 25 degrees hotter than your tap will go! The heat also helps deodorize.
- Thanks to the separate switches, you can clean with the heater on or off. This is a great feature, because it lets you choose between maximum cleaning power, like a steam cleaner, and a gentler wash for old or delicate fabrics.
- The included cleaning solution combines cleaner with Scotchgard stain protector. So, after it cleans, it prevents future messes.
- Some reviewers said the nozzle sprayed too widely. An adjustment knob would be a nice feature.
- A few buyers reported problems with leaking when it sits with water in it. It only has a sample bottle of cleaner.
- Some buyers warned against storing it with water. They said that if you don’t use it often, the water can get a bit funky. We’d also recommend cleaning the dirty water tank after each use.
- We found that a lot of problems mentioned in buyer reviews resulted from people not following directions, or not being realistic about what the machine is designed to do.
Which handheld steam cleaner should you buy?
The Zitronik is a good basic introduction to steam cleaning. It’s perfect for newcomers, or buyers on a budget. It comes with a full attachment set, and reasonable vapor pressure. It’s our favorite budget-priced handheld steamer. If you’ve already got a good full-size steam cleaner, it’s a quick and easy solution for those times when you don’t want to haul out the big machine–without adding too much cost.
If you’re going to be cleaning with a handheld steamer more frequently, you might try a more powerful, durable model like the Hoover or the Reliable.
The Vapamore is a great value for people who want the sanitation and cleaning power of a steam cleaner, combined with the convenience and speed of a hand vac. It works well in both modes, and we think you’ll find that it’s a fantastic little workhorse. On the downside, it’s not as versatile a steamer as the Zitronik or Reliable. This one’s not good for much besides flat surfaces.
For the very best in handheld steam cleaners, the Reliable is our absolute favorite. Its smart design, build quality, and overall power stand out from the pack. It’s expensive, but your investment is backed by a long warranty and good customer service. Just don’t expect it to solve all your problems alone.
Even the best handheld cleaner isn’t a substitute for a full-size steam cleaner. If you’re going to be doing intense deep cleaning, or cleaning whole rooms with vapor, you’ll want to check out a full-size steam cleaner.
Overall, when taking into account price, popularity and quality, the best spot carpet cleaner so far is the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Cordless Portable Carpet Cleaner.
Handheld & Portable Steam Cleaner Buying Guide
Decide what you want to clean
Depending on the surfaces and messes you have in mind, you’ll want different attachments.
The most important thing to consider is what you’ll actually be cleaning with a handheld steamer. Obviously, they’re not suitable for cleaning entire floors, but some can handle carpet stains and rug cleaning. Other attachments let you handle grout, grills, or other surfaces.
If you’re just using it to sanitize and clean up stains, you won’t need to think about fancy attachments or bristles. Simply look for something with a nozzle that will fit wherever you’re thinking of applying it. In general, you should get something with a wider nozzle and a tight focused nozzle. Those two tools will get most tasks done easily.
If you’re expecting to use a handheld cleaner on grout, grills, or other tougher spots, you’ll need a more powerful heater, pressurized vapor, and sturdier attachments. Brush attachments will be helpful, too.
Your cleaning goals also have a bearing on how much power you need from your handheld steam cleaner. If you’re going to be blasting hard water deposits, you’ll need a bit more power than you would for cleaning a sink and windows. Bear in mind that if you’re planning to do some hardcore cleaning, it might be a better choice to go for a full-size canister unit with a larger boiler.
Consider your budget
If you’re going to be using a handheld unit as a complement to another steam cleaner, it might make sense to buy a basic model. However, if the handheld steamer is going to be your primary tool for small jobs and spot cleaning, you’ll want to invest in something that’ll last and be powerful enough for all the jobs you have in mind.
Less expensive handheld steam cleaners have shorter warranties, less powerful heaters, and lower steam pressure. Their attachments also tend to wear down much faster.
If you’re looking to tackle whole floors or tough surfaces like grills, you don’t want a handheld steamer.
You want a steam mop or canister system instead.
One common misconception is that the fancier handheld steam cleaners can handle tougher messes. That’s true to an extent, but they’re still handheld units. Even the best handheld tool isn’t meant to clean full floors, or the toughest messes.
If you’re going to be relying fully on a steam cleaner, we strongly recommend considering the bigger ones. And remember, a steam cleaner takes a lot of the elbow grease out of cleaning, but you should still expect to do some scrubbing!
If you’re looking for a whole-house steam cleaning solution, try a canister steamer. They come with a full set of attachments to do everything a steam mop and a handheld unit can do, in one package! They are also more powerful.
If you’re interested in steam cleaning your floors, check out our guide to the best steam mops. We’ve got you covered for tile floors, wood floors, and everything in between!