Hand-held Steam Cleaners

A very popular type of steam cleaners for the home is the hand held steam cleaner, or portable steam cleaner. These are light, compact units that tend to look like tea kettles. You can direct the steam directly out from the spout, or use special attachments and hoses that help facilitate certain kinds of cleaning. The thing about these types of steam cleaners is that customers tend to either love them or hate them – there is very little middle ground on these products.


  • If you get one that produces good vapor (around 5% water) and high enough temperatures, it is a great cleaning tool to have around. These types of cleaners are fantastic in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Easy way to sanitize places that have lots of nooks and crannies, like the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Works well to spot clean carpets and rugs.
  • Small, compact, easy to tote around and store.


  • If you are one of the unfortunate to find that you got one that does not produce good vapor (more than 5% water in the steam), then you end up saturating the surface you are cleaning with water. This means constant changing of pads and towels for clean-up.
  • If the temperature is not hot enough, forget about sanitizing, and even cleaning for that matter. Since there are no chemicals to help lift dirt, grime, and bacteria, heat and steam is the only thing that does the cleaning. No heat – no cleaning.
  • Depending on where the button is for making steam, it can get kind of awkward when using hose attachments – one hand on the button, the other stretched out holding the hose.
  • Runs out of water (and hence steam) quickly. Although many people commented on this being a con, it is more a given – the tank is smaller, so you can hold it (after all the name is hand held) so it just goes to follow that it will not last for a long amount of time (really an expectation problem – should have got a multi-function steam cleaner or a hard surface steam cleaner depending upon usage)
  • Can get a bit heavy to carry around if you are cleaning for a long time (again, expectation – these units are meant for small cleaning jobs; should have got a multi-function steam cleaner or a hard surface steam cleaner depending upon usage)


Reviews of different brands of these types of home steam cleaners revealed feelings that ran the gamut on just about all of the different brands. You can pretty much expect around 10% 1 & 2-star reviews with most good products, as expectations don’t always meet with the product’s capabilities or broken products. But for these devices, the averages were not the norm, and were pretty much across the board regardless of brand:

  • 60-75% were thrilled with their purchase (4 & 5 stars)
  • 17-25% were not (1 & 2 stars).

And when you compare these to reviews on floor steam cleaners and multi-purpose steam cleaners, (with right around 10% 1&2 star with the quality cleaners), either people’s expectations of what these little devices could do were way off, or quality control is not very good.

As long as you don’t think these portable steam cleaners are the answer to clean your entire house, you will probably be pleased with how they work. Of course all brands seem to have a low percentage of just ‘bad apples’ where it either didn’t work at the get-go, or something broke.


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Hand Held Steamer Products:

Click the links below to go to review pages about each brand:

Dirt Devil