Steam mops can be used for hard floors such as tiles and some models have variable steam control making them suitable for laminate and wood floors as well. Some models are detachable allowing you to clean hard to reach surfaces.
Cylinder steam cleaners are more versatile and are suitable for not only mopping floors but for cleaning kitchens and bathrooms. Cylinder steam cleaners tend to offer longer steaming times than steam mops due to their larger water tanks, but they are not as quick to use. They can come with a variety of tools that allow you to clean grouting, ovens and floors, as well as steam creases out of clothes and curtains.
Handheld steam cleaners are cheaper and more portable. They come with a variety of tools for doing jobs around the home, however they have relatively small tanks which need re-filling more often.
The capacity of steam cleaners is measured in litres (l). Higher capacity steam cleaners mean that you need to refill them less often.
Cylinder steam cleaners have the largest capacities, making them ideal when you have a large surface to clean. However, this also means they can take longer to heat.
Although steam mops have smaller capacities, they will also heat up quickly. Many also have removable water tanks, so you can fill the tank directly from a tap without needing to use a cup and funnel.
The steam time is the time the steam cleaner can produce steam for before it runs out of water and needs refilling and is directly linked to water capacity.
Handheld steam cleaners have smaller capacities and so can only produce steam in short bursts and will need refilling more often. This makes them suitable for spot cleaning and other short tasks.
Larger steam cleaners such as cylinder cleaners generally have longer steam times thanks to the larger capacity of their water tanks. This means you can use them for longer without needing to refill them.
The heating time is the time it takes for the steam cleaner to heat up and be ready to use.
The time it takes for a steam cleaner to heat up depends on the type of the cleaner. Many steam mops heat up quickly in as little as 20 seconds as they provide steam on demand. A cylinder steam cleaner can take around 6 to 8 minutes to heat up as it uses a pressurised steam chamber. The benefit of this is it provides high power steam more consistently.