High-end vapor steam cleaners costing $600 or more may be worth the price for consumers who need heavy-duty cleaning power. These high-powered steam cleaners expel steam at a higher pressure, up to 66 pounds per square inch (psi), and at temperatures up to 295 degrees Fahrenheit, which is higher than budget models. This is appealing to consumers who clean frequently or want to quickly kill microorganisms. Additionally, unlike budget models, these pricier steam cleaners typically possess boilers made of more durable and rust-resistant aluminum or stainless steel. Consumers can also expect a larger water tank for extended cleaning time and more attachments and features, such as a pressure gauge, steam volume control and low-water light. One downside to these advancements is a bulkier, heavier machine.
The 1,700-watt Ladybug 2300 with TANCS (*Est. $1,700) receives enthusiastic expert and owner reviews as the best steam cleaner. It combines high heat with proprietary thermal accelerated nano crystal sanitation (TANCS) technology to kill microorganisms -- disinfecting better than other residential steam cleaners. This can be particularly important for people who suffer from allergies related to dust mites and mold. According to the manufacturer, the TANCS technology converts minerals in tap water into crystals that disrupt the cell membranes of microorganisms. Unlike lower-priced models, this system allows ordinary tap water, rather than distilled water, to be used without encountering problems with mineral buildup. In fact, this model's one-year warranty extends to eight years on the boiler.
At AllergyBuyersClub.com, a retail site that specializes in allergy products, editors name the Ladybug 2300 with TANCS Best in Category, primarily because it has been lab tested and certified as a non-chemical disinfectant. Three owner reviews at this site give it the highest rating for quality, value, effectiveness and reliability. However, one owner notes that this unit is rather noisy and awkward to maneuver. It also receives a perfect rating from owners at Sylvane.com.
The Ladybug vapor cleaner looks like a canister vacuum with casters for mobility. It has a large water reservoir with a 58-ounce capacity, which provides about 15 more minutes of steam time than budget-priced models. In addition to more steam power and cleaning time, the water reservoir and boiler tank are separate, which allows water to be safely added at any time during cleaning without waiting for the boiler to cool down. Of course, separating the units makes for a heavier machine -- the Ladybug 2300 weighs 6 pounds more (before adding water) than lower-priced machines.
Advanced features on the Ladybug steam cleaner include a low-water indicator light and signal, fingertip controls for regulating steam volume, and a pressure gauge. It comes with 10 attachment tools, including a jet nozzle, floor brush, triangle brush, brass brush, three nylon brushes and two squeegees. Other accessories include two extension wands, a cloth for the floor brush and a funnel for adding water. A variety of other attachments are available at an additional cost through Advanced Vapor Technologies (the manufacturer).
The WhiteWing Steamer (*Est. $600) is a less expensive option, but with more features than most budget-priced steam cleaners. The WhiteWing is only sold through AllergyBuyersClub.com, where editors rate it 4 stars out of 5. Testers say it's a solid machine that worked well in cleaning mattresses, grout, an oven and mold on a painted ceiling. Although the manufacturer claims its 64-ounce capacity offers up to two hours of continuous steam, testers recommend it for intermittent cleaning because its pressure eventually drops and users have to wait for it to build back up.
We also found reviews at AllergyConsumerReview.com, which appears to be a sister site of AllergyBuyersClub.com. Seven testers evaluate the WhiteWing Steam on various cleaning jobs, and it receives an overall rating of 3 stars out of 4. The review includes detailed information about two of the tests, which were conducted in the testers' homes. One reviewer chronicles his evening spent successfully cleaning the kitchen and bathroom with the WhiteWing Steamer, and the other reviewer reports miraculous results cleaning a filthy rental home.
Additionally, about 20 owner reviews at AllergyBuyersClub.com give the WhiteWing Steamer high marks for effectiveness and reliability. Owners agree it makes cleaning easier and more enjoyable. One disappointed owner says it was ineffective at removing soap scum. Another dozen reviews at Amazon.com give it 4.6 stars out of 5. Most say the WhiteWing does an excellent job and is able to clean where other methods fail.
At 14.5 pounds, the WhiteWing Steamer is about 2 pounds lighter (before water is added) and more compact than the Ladybug steam cleaner. The longer hose and power cord further enhance maneuverability. High-end features include a pressure gauge and an indicator that lights up when the water level is low. The boiler isn't continuous fill or stainless steel like the Ladybug steam cleaner, but the aluminum construction is more durable than plastic, and it has a safety cap with a pressure-release valve that allows steam to escape before the cap is removed. It comes with an assortment of 13 brushes and nozzles as well as two extension wands, six cloth towels, a funnel and filler squeeze bottle. This steam cleaner is covered by a two-year warranty.