December 27, 2020

Best Carpet Steam Cleaner: 2021 Buyer’s Guide

For many homeowners, the ability to steam clean a carpet is a total luxury. But why? The best carpet cleaner can easily remove built-up stains, bacteria, mites, and dirt using little to no chemicals. But if you’ve never purchased a carpet steam cleaner before then you may not know much about the features to look for or what the benefits are of using a steamer, opposed to a standard carpet cleaner.

That’s where I come in. I have tested many of the most popular models of steam cleaners on the market and I’ve narrowed it down to six that are heavy-duty and can get the job done. I’ve also created a buyer’s guide that includes all of the features you need to look for to ensure you purchase a steamer that can handle the type of carpet you have and the number of carpeted rooms in your home. If you have carpeting in every room then you’re going to need a heavy-duty model that can handle running for more than 15 to 20 minutes.

Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of the models that made it onto my must-have list, their top features, and how they rated.

Carpet Steam Cleaner Comparison Chart


Top Pick

COSTWAY Carpet Steamer
• Canister
• 19 Accessories
• 10 ft. Cord Length
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Wagner Spraytech Steam Cleaner• Canister
• 8 Accessories
• 6 ft. Cord Length
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PurSteam World's Best Steamers
• Steam Mop
• No Accessories
• 8 ft. Cord Length
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McCulloch Steam Cleaner
• Canister
• 18 Accessories
• 15.7 ft. Cord Length
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LIGHT 'N' EASY Steam Mop• Steam Mop
• 4 Accessories
• 6 ft. Cord Length
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Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner• Canister
• 18 Accessories
• 16 ft. Cord Length
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COSTWAY Multipurpose Carpet Steamer

Top Pick

Our Rating: (5/5)

This two-thousand-watt steam cleaner comes equipped with a high steam temperature at two hundred and twenty-six degrees, which is significantly higher than competing models in this price bracket. It also comes with a four-bar pressure rating and a fifty-ounce water tank, which means fewer interruptions when you’re cleaning. The built-in child safety lock prevents little ones from turning on the steamer. The included nineteen accessories will allow you to clean your entire home, including carpets and upholstery.


  • Includes nineteen accessories
  • Powerful motor
  • Large water tank
  • Built-in child safety lock


  • Short cord
  • Weight of the cleaner can make it difficult to bring the appliance up a flight of stairs


This model features flexible wheels that will allow you to easily transport it from room to room, although bringing it up the stairs can be a challenge, considering its weight. The ten-foot power cord can also be problematic if you have a larger home. The two extension tubs can help and work to increase the cleaner’s mobility. This appliance is a great buy for larger homes, but you will need to use an extension cord for bigger spaces. Overall, the included accessories make this model very versatile and handy for a wide range of cleaning jobs around the home.

Wagner Spraytech Wagner Carpet Steam Cleaner

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model offers a max temperature of two hundred and twelve degrees and comes with a water tank that can hold up to forty-eight ounces of water, so you won’t have to stop often to refill the tank. This steamer can be used on carpets, to remove wallpaper, on hard surfaces such as the kitchen floor and the countertops, and more. Versatility is where this appliance shines. The machine comes with a variety of attachments that you can use to clean hard surfaces, upholstery, or use the wallpaper plate for your next DIY project. This steamer comes with two extension wands, two brushes, one jet nozzle, a large cleaning brush, a squeegee for windows, a steam plate, funnel/measuring cup, and a cleaning brush towel.


  • Includes nine attachments
  • Large water tank
  • Versatile
  • Low price


  • Heavy


This model is versatile, affordable, and can be used for so much more than just your carpets. This is a natural chemical-free way to keep your home and carpet looking and smelling great and can be put to use for a wide variety of DIY projects around home, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.

PurSteam World’s Best Steamers

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This lightweight steam mop can clean any surface in your home. It’s designed to clean both carpets and hard surfaces and comes with a flexible hose that allows you to reach all of those hard to access spaces. This model is designed to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria, and all without the use of harsh chemicals. It features three adjustable modes that allow you to choose different steam levels. The small eleven and a half-liter water tank means you may need to stop often for a refill, which can be a drawback for some potential buyers. The mop is safe to use on any type of surface including carpet, ceramic tile, marble, tiles, vinyl, and hardwood flooring.


  • Lightweight
  • Kills 99.9% germs and bacteria
  • Comes with a two-year warranty
  • Affordable
  • Three steam models


  • Small water tank


If you’re looking for a lightweight, compact alternative to higher-priced canister-style carpet steamers, then you’ll love how this model handles your floors, and the different steam modes to choose from. This steamer is a great choice for small homes and the homeowner on a tight budget.

McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model comes with a two-year product warranty and a large capacity tank that can hold up to forty-eight ounces of water. The lockable steam trigger is a must-have if you have small children in the home since it prevents unwanted users from pulling the trigger to emit steam. The steamer can be used on carpet, tile, hardwood floors, upholstery, curtains, and much more. It includes eighteen accessories including a squeegee, scrub pad, brass brush, nylon brush, mop pads, floor mop, large brushes, and more.


  • Includes eighteen attachments
  • Large water tank
  • Two-year warranty
  • Lockable steam trigger


  • Heavy
  • Short cord


Unlike competing models, this steamer comes with an extra-long cord that measures in at just under sixteen feet. The steamer’s hose measures in at nine feet, providing plenty of reach, making this a great model for larger homes. The bigger than average water tank, variety of attachments, and overall quality make this model a steal for the price.

LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Multifunctional Steam Mop

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Offering an impressively fast heat-up time of thirty seconds, this is one of the leading models of steam mops on the market, and possibly the most versatile. The smart switch will drop the mop into an upright position to halt the steaming process, while the main portion of the mop can detach from the base, turning it into a handheld steamer that you can use to clean your upholstery, tight spaces, the stairs, and more. This model can be used on a variety of surfaces including carpets, vinyl, tile, hardwood, upholstery, and even glass.


  • Detaches and turns into a handheld steamer
  • Fast heat-up time
  • Low price
  • Versatile


  • Small water tank


This versatile, lightweight steam mop allows you to get to those hard to reach places, can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, and comes with several attachments including a bonnet pad, jet nozzle, grout cleaning brush, and a microfiber pad, allowing you to use this steam mop to clean your entire home.

Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner

Our Rating: (4/5)

This steamer is designed to deodorize, degrease, and clean any type of surface. It features a high water temperature capability of two hundred and seventy-five degrees and provides up to fifty minutes of cleaning time per use, with a water tank that has a capacity of fifty-four ounces. The cord measures in at sixteen feet, so you won’t have to worry about using extension cords or finding an available outlet. This model is covered by a two-year product warranty and comes with eighteen accessories including floor tools, microfiber pads, a window tool, lance, extension tubes, brass brush, microfiber cloth, triangular tool, microfiber bonnet, and a fragrance disc.


  • Includes eighteen accessories
  • Sixteen-foot cord
  • Large water tank
  • Lightweight design


  • Long tank heat-up time


Equipped with a longer than average cord, higher temperature capability, and a lightweight design that allows you to easily transport or take this steamer up the stairs, this model offers more bang for your buck and features the type of durable design that can easily handle cleaning larger spaces.

Carpet Steam Cleaner Buyer’s Guide

This type of steam cleaner utilizes water vapors that are heated and forced into the carpet fibers in order to remove dirt and built-up residue. The dry steam function collects any of the loose and debris and dirt in order to create a carpet that’s clean and luxuriously soft. Because these cleaners are more environmentally friendly, they have gained popularity in the past few years. You don’t have to use any harsh chemicals or cleaning products. Instead, you’ll use plain hot water to get the job done.

“Not only do you get a healthier kind of clean, but the steam kills bacteria and viruses as well as other germs and microorganisms.” -AchooAllergy.Com

If you’re online right now looking for the perfect steam cleaner for your home, you may have found it it’s not as easy of a task as you initially thought it would be. There are many factors that you need to take into consideration before you settle on the right model. When shopping for a steam cleaner you’ll need to take into consideration how heavy duty the machine is, how long the cord is, and how many rooms you need to clean. This is in addition to any attachments you may need and the size of the rooms themselves.

Like any type of appliance that’s designed to clean the home, finding the perfect model to suit your unique cleaning needs can take some research. This guide will go over many of the important features that you need to have in order to ensure you end up with a carpet steam cleaner that’s built tough and designed to last.

For the best carpet cleaner, the features to look for include:

  • Water heat up time
  • Temperature capability
  • Steam production
  • Weight
  • Size
  • Internal boiler
  • Pressure gauge
  • Price
  • Steam locking mechanism
  • Accessories and attachments

Before I go over these features in-depth, first, let’s take a look at the many benefits this typeof carpet cleaner has to offer.

Carpet Steam Cleaner Benefits

professional set

I know you’re probably tired of staring at your dirty carpets that are desperately in need of a cleaning. You may have tried using a standard carpet cleaner which made the carpets look much worse than before you started. Steam cleaning is a great option that most homeowners are unaware of. The power of steam can take your old matted and filthy carpet and turn it around in a matter of minutes. There are many benefits associated with using a steam cleaner as opposed to a standard carpet cleaner. Below I’ll go over many of the benefits that these types of carpet cleaners have to offer.

  • Just like the type of carpet steam cleaners that the professionals use, the models included in my top 6 line up are powerful and designed to remove dirt, grime, and any hidden allergens and pollutants.
  • Did you know that a dirty carpet can hold pollutants that come from a variety of sources? This can include dead bugs, cockroach allergens, and pet dander.
  • Steam cleaning your carpets can also remove foreign particles that have been tracked inside from the outdoors or your place of work.
  • A carpet can absorb and later release volatile organic compounds from cigarette smoke, paint, and other sources.
Steam cleaning is the most effective way to lift dirt, debris, and pollutants from your carpet, without the use of harsh chemicals
  • A significant amount of pollutants can be released into the air in your home just from your everyday activities. Additionally, young children who play on the carpet are more susceptible to come into contact with these harmful pollutants in the carpet.
  • According to the EPA, proper maintenance and cleaning of the carpet in the home is critical in order to maintain a healthy environment. Additionally, cleaning your carpet with a steamer can help to protect indoor air quality, remove contaminants, prevent mold growth, and gets rid of allergens and pollutants.
  • Steam cleaning your carpet can also get rid of dust mites, which is another common allergen. Dust mites are microscopic and they’re in every home. They can be found in soft fabric toys, curtains, bedding, mattresses, furniture, and the carpet. Dust mites thrive in warm and moist environments. They eat flakes of human skin, animal dander, bacteria, fungi, and pollen. Their protein and waste products are what are classified as allergens. Their everyday activity will release these microscopic particles that you and your family will breathe in. This can worsen existing allergies. In order to minimize dust mites in your home, prevention is the best method. Using a steam cleaner after vacuuming at least twice a week can help to significantly minimize the dust mite population in your home.
  • Another major benefit of using a carpet steam cleaner is the fact that it can get rid of mold. Mold produces allergens that can trigger certain types of allergic reactions. Carpet is at a high risk for mold growth. In order to grow, mold needs oxygen, moisture, and a surface that it can grow on. In order to prevent mold growth keeping your carpet clean and dry will be crucial. When it snows or rains it’s very easy for moisture to be tracked into the home and settle down into the carpet fibers. During this time of year, steam cleaning your carpets at least once a week can help to prevent and effectively treat mold growth.

Additionally, when standing water occurs because of a spill or leak, the exposed carpet must be cleaned and promptly dried in order to prevent mold growth. This will include the padding, bottom, and top of the carpet.

in order to retain the plushness, and beauty of your carpet, deep cleaning it with a steam cleaner once a month can significantly extend the life of your carpet. This will be especially important in high traffic areas where carpets tend to wear out the fastest. Because of this, you’ll need to keep up on deep cleaning before your carpet becomes excessively soiled. Dirt and debris can grind away at the carpet fibers which is what shortens its life. Over the course of several days and weeks, the soil and debris are pushed deeper into the carpet fibers especially in high-traffic areas. This type of deep-down dirt and grime can be very expensive to have professionally cleaned. By maintaining your carpet using a steam cleaner once a month you can prevent the need for costly carpet cleaning services while extending the life of your carpet.

One of the biggest benefits of using a carpet steam cleaner is the fact that it can restore your carpet. If you’re thinking of having your carpet replaced but you simply can’t afford it, having your carpet steam cleaned can make all the difference in terms of texture and appearance. Although if you are dealing with excessively dirty carpet you can expect to repeat the steaming treatment one to two additional times in order to achieve the desired results.

Types of Carpet Steam Cleaners

There is a total of four different types of steam cleaners that you should consider.

The heat that’s produced from a steam cleaner can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses


The first type is a handheld model that is lightweight, highly portable, and compact. This style of steamer can be used on a wide variety of surfaces however, if you have large carpeted areas in the home then I recommend purchasing a more heavy-duty model. Yet, this type is perfect for those spills and pet accidents in the home.


The steam clean carpet mop is another type of cleaners that specializes in hard flat surfaces such as hardwood and tile flooring. However, many of these models come equipped with a steam attachment that’s specifically designed for carpets. This type is a great option if you have only one or two carpeted rooms in the home.


A canister or cylinder steam cleaner is the most popular option. This style of steamer is much larger than the steam clean carpet mop or handheld steamer and is designed to handle large carpeted areas. Its size is due to the large quantity of water held in its water reservoir. The size of the reservoir means fewer refills during a cleaning session. This will allow you to clean several rooms before needing to refill the tank. However, due to its larger size, it can be harder to store and difficult to transport. Yet, it’s a great heavy-duty model to have in the home if most rooms in the home are carpeted.

Vapor Steamer

carpet cleaner

The last and final type of steam cleaner available is called a vapor steam cleaner. By far, this is the easiest type to use although most models are rather large. This steamer is a very versatile and an appliance that’s user-friendly and can be used on both dry flat surfaces and carpet.

Other Important Features

Below, you’ll find a list of other important must-have features to look for in your new steamer.

Water Heat Up Time

Each time you refill the water reservoir it can take time for the internal boiler to bring the water up to the correct temperature. Some models can take longer than others. If you’re in a hurry and always short on time, then you’ll want a model that has a reputation for a faster heat up time. Fortunately, many of the latest models can heat up the water reservoir to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 60 seconds

Temperature Capability

Temperature is another feature that you’ll want to pay attention to. Some models are only able to heat up the water to 150 degrees. In order to kill harmful bacteria, mildew, allergens, and mold growth you’ll want a model that comes with an internal boiler that’s able to heat the water up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the steamer can efficiently and quickly kill microscopic bugs, their eggs, bacteria, dust mites, allergens, mold, and more.

Steam Production

Steam is what allows these carpet cleaners to work their magic. You want a model that can easily, quickly, and consistently produce steam. It’s also a good idea to find a cleaner that allows you to adjust the steam volume. The ability to control the volume of steam will prevent a user from going overboard with the steaming process when unnecessary. Doing so can leave you with soggy carpets that are difficult to dry thoroughly. As you know by now, carpets that are left wet can quickly lead to mold growth.

Weight and Size

There are many models of steamers on the market to choose from, each of which will come in different weights and sizes. Since you’ll be lugging this machine around the home and possibly up and downstairs you will need to pay attention to how much the model weighs and its dimensions if you’re tight on storage space.

Heavy-duty steamers can take up plenty of space in the home. Additionally, some models have a place to store the power cord and come with a variety of accessories. Make sure the model you choose is not only heavy-duty and tough enough to handle air cleaning needs, but it should also feature a compact design that will allow you to store it easily when not in use.

Internal Boiler

an internal boiler mechanism is another important feature in a steam cleaner. You want a boiler that’s made out of resilient materials that are rust-proof. Low-priced models usually contain boilers that are made out of plastic which doesn’t usually last very long with heavy-duty use. Compared to stainless steel boiler parts, plastic models are unable to heat up quite as fast. The boiler in the steamer you choose should be made out of aluminum or stainless steel for increased durability.

If you want to wait half an hour between refills, make sure that the model you purchase comes equipped with a continuous fill boiler. This style of boiler will allow you to refill the tank as often as you need, so you won’t have to sit around and wait for the boiler to cool down before you refill it.

Pressure Gauge

Of course, safety is a priority. For a safer steamer, make sure the model you choose comes equipped with a pressure gauge. The gauge is designed to alert the user when it’s safe to remove the boiler cap in order to refill the water reservoir. It will also alert the user when ready to get back to cleaning. The safety cap allows the user to let out steam before they remove the cap so that they do not burn their skin upon removal.


The type of steamer you choose can also heavily depend on your budget. Smaller handheld models or the steam cleaner mops are much more affordable than the heavy-duty steamers that are designed for larger homes. A higher-end, larger model will offer more functionality and a longer lifespan as well.

Steam Locking Mechanism

In order to make steam cleaning your carpets faster and easier look for a model that comes equipped with a locking mechanism for the steam. A model that features a steam button that you have to hold down for a long period of time is not ideal, especially if you have several rooms to clean. A steamer that produces constant pressure for the steam is a better option since it’s designed with efficiency in mind and will do a better job of steaming your carpets compared to models that use inconsistent pressure. A steamer with a variable control setting will allow you to distribute the cleaning power that you need for each area in the home. Models that offer this type of functionality are also much easier to maneuver.

Accessories and Attachments

Many of the leading models will come equipped with extendable accessories and longer hoses which can allow you to clean different surfaces and areas that are difficult to access. A longer cord will also allow you to move around freely as you clean without having to switch from outlet to outlet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Dry Carpet Cleaning Better Than Steam?

Dry carpet cleaning provides deep down cleaning power and requires the use of cleaning products that will pre-treat fibers in order to break down dirt and debris prior to cleaning. These types of cleaning systems are more affordable than steam cleaners and feature a faster drying time because they use less moisture. However, they do not have a reputation for durability and are not often used on older stains or carpets that are excessively dirty.

What is the Best Method to Clean Carpets?

The best way to clean your carpet is to steam clean it. Why? Because steam cleaning your carpet can remove more than 90% of bacteria and dirt. While dry cleaning your carpet can also be effective, it’s a better option for new stains and smaller spaces.

What is the Difference Between a Carpet Shampooer and Steam Cleaner?

A carpet shampooer is considered a surface cleaner. This means that it is only able to clean the upper portion of the carpet, and it’s unable to reach deep down into the carpet fibers to remove old dirt, debris, bacteria, and allergens. A steam cleaner is designed to provide a deep clean and works by extracting dirt, debris, and more, from the bottom of the carpet fibers for a more efficient and effective cleaning.

Why Do Carpet Stains Reappear After Cleaning?

There are a couple of reasons that carpet stains can pop back up after you’ve cleaned your carpet. Wicking is what happens when a liquid penetrates your carpet and reaches to the padding and backing. Even though the surface of the carpet has already been cleaned and the spot is not visible to the naked eye, the fibers will work as a wick and reabsorb the spilled liquid, causing the same stain to reappear at a later time.

Final Thoughts on Selecting Best Carpet Steam Cleaner

By now, you’ve learned everything you need to know about steamers, how they can benefit your home, what type of power they have to offer, and even why they’re a much better option than a traditional carpet shampooer. The best carpet cleaner should come equipped with all the attachments you’ll need and enough power to handle cleaning and maintaining the carpet in your home. The right type of cleaner for your home will depend on the addition of your carpet, how much carpet you have in your home, and even the type of contaminant you’re dealing with. The 6 models in my lineup all rated high for durability, power, and efficiency. I’m confident that you’ll be able to find the perfect steamer for you, your budget, and your household by following the tips in my guide and taking a closer look at my top six product recommendations.


About the author 

James Wong