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How Does a Steam Vacuum Cleaner Work? { Complete Guide } 

 April 1, 2021

By  Jeanette Giselle

Have you ever asked the question, “How does a steam vacuum cleaner work?” Here is a complete guide that answers that question. In this post, you will find everything you need to know about steam vacuum cleaners.

In an effort to be transparent, this blog uses affiliates links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases. So heads up, there may be some in this post!


How do you use a steam vacuum cleaner?

As a general rule, when you’re cleaning floors with any machine type, it is important to always sweep or vacuum beforehand. This is to make sure the floor is free from debris before using the steam cleaner.

You should go over first with the vacuum function and then come back to steam. 

In the case of a 2-in-1 cleaner like this, you should make sure to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions as they vary. Usually, most steam vacuum cleaners function the same way.

However, for proper guidance, check the specific instructions that come with your steam vacuum cleaner model.

Also, in order to achieve the best cleaning results, use the recommended solution by the actual manufacturer. Most steam vacuum cleaners are actually created with special formulas.

Is a Steam Vacuum good for carpet?

Steam is generally good to clean every stain from your carpet, whether mild or stubborn. But like I mentioned above, clearing the floor from debris should always be the first step.

That’s where vacuum comes in.

Steaming carpets is usually just for freshening up and spot cleaning tough stains, but for a really deep clean, I recommend buying something specifically designed for cleaning carpets.

Below, I have compiled a list of recommended products to use to keep your carpets and floors fresh and clean.

IN A RUSH? To get the best steamed AND vacuumed floors use a Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Vacuum Cleaner. You can see the product page here or read more below.

Where does the dirt go when you steam clean?

Steaming is used for loosening up and breaking down dirt with the heat and vapor from the steam. When steam cleaning a dirty area, a film of dirt is left behind.

If you’re cleaning hard floors, the mop pad usually picks up all the dirt. So when you’re steam cleaning a large space, make sure to regularly check the mop pad so that you can change to a cleaner one if needed.

On the other hand, carpets need to be wiped clean or vacuumed after the steam cleaning.

Now that you’ve asked How Does a Steam Vacuum Cleaner Work, let’s dive into the best options!

What’s the Best for a Steamed Vacuum Clean?

  1. Best Overall: Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Vacuum Cleaner
  2. Best for Hard Floors: Bissell Crosswave Wet Dry Vacuum
  3. Best Spray Mop Vacuum: Shark VacMop
  4. Best Cordless Wet Dry Vac: Tineco iFloor3 Wet Dry Vac
  5. Best Small Steam Mop: Bissell PowerFresh Slim
  6. Best Carpet Cleaner: Bissell ProHeat Revolution

Compare them all here or keep reading for individual reviews.

Best Overall: Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Vacuum Cleaner

Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Vacuum Cleaner is a high-quality steam vacuum cleaner made to clean your floor to perfection.

Its powerful vacuum suctions all types of debris, including pet hair.

This model’s features show that it was designed with the user in mind.

First, it’s the hands-free emptying technology that helps you empty your dirty tank without getting your hands on the mess. Then, it has scent packs that tackle odors and leave a fresh scent as you clean.

Unlike most steam mops with only reusable pads, the Bissell cleaner has both disposable and reusable ones.

This way, you can clean the messes you want to throw away without worrying about wasting reusable pads.

If you are a pet owner, you should consider this cleaner. Your pet maintenance will be made much easier.

But even if you don’t own a pet, Bissell Symphony Steam Mop and Vacuum Cleaner is always a good choice for your home.

It is easy to use and great on hard floors.

Whether your flooring type is hardwood, ceramic, granite, marble, or linoleum, you can use it. As long as it qualifies as a hard floor, this steam mop and vacuum cleaner will clean it.

Highlighted Features
  • Every BISSELL purchase helps save pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Vacuum And Steam Your Floors At The Same Time
  • The Pet Model Features The Exclusive Drop-It Tank Emptying System Which Prevents You From Getting Your Hands Dirty
  • The Pet Model Includes Disposable Pads For Those Pet Messes You'd Rather Throw Away And Washable Microfiber Pads For Everyday Cleaning
  • Powerful, Cyclonic Vacuum Helps Capture Pet Hair And Debris. Power rating: 1100 Watts for Steam / 400 Watts for Vacuum / 3. 3 Vacuum Amps
  • INCLUDES: (1) microfiber soft pad, (1) microfiber scrubby pad, detachable mop pad tray, detachable Steam boost tray, (4) Swiffer BISSELL Steam boost disposable pads.
  • Power Source Type: Corded

Best for Hard Floors: Bissell Crosswave Wet Dry Vacuum

In need of a high-quality vacuum for your hard floor? Bissell Crosswave Wet Dry Vacuum can surely do the job.

While it does not include the steam feature, it can effectively vacuum and wash your floors at the same time, leaving sparkly results.

Designed with a two-tank system that keeps clean and dirty water separate, your cleaning water remains clean throughout.

Its on-demand solution trigger helps you use the right proportion of solution in your cleaning.

With a Dual-Action Brush Roll that mops and picks up simultaneously, you can save precious time that would have otherwise been wasted on performing these tasks separately.

This dual-action cleanser is not only suitable for use on all hard floors, but it can also clean area rugs and rubber floor mats with the right setting.

The only thing you have to do to switch from cleaning your hard floor to an area rug is touch a button.

Highlighted Features
  • Vacuums And washes your floors at the same time; surface type: bare floors
  • Multi Surface Machine Cleans Both Sealed Hard Floors And Area Rugs. Power Rating 4.4 Amperes
  • Dual Action Multi Surface Brush Roll Uses An Innovative Microfiber And Nylon Brush To Mop And Pick Up Dry Debris At The Same Time
  • Two Tank System Keeps Cleaning Solution And Dirty Water Separate To Ensure That You'Re Always Cleaning With A Fresh Mix Of Water And Formula
  • Smart Touch Controls On The Handle Allow You To Easily Switch Between Cleaning Hard Floors And Area Rugs And Control Your Solution With An On Demand Solution Trigger
  • capacity: 0.4
  • power source type: Corded Electric

Best Spray Mop Vacuum: Shark VacMop

With its great offer of value, Shark VacMop is undoubtedly the best spray mop vacuum you can find.

Its powerful suction and effective spray mopping make sure of that. No matter how dirty your hard floor is, this cleaner will make it clean and shiny again.

You know how you have to keep pushing debris around with traditional mops?

Shark VacMop saves you from all that stress as its vacuum function locks away every dry dirt in a disposable dirt chamber while the mop gets rid of every wet mess.

The pads are disposable. And to ensure you don’t have to deal with the disgust that comes with dirt, you can get rid of the pads with no-touch disposal.

With this VacMop, room-to-room cleaning is very convenient as it is not only cordless but lightweight too.

It features LED headlights that illuminate the floor as you clean, making it impossible for hidden debris in corners and crevices to stay hidden.

Highlighted Features
  • Powerful suction + spray mopping—A complete clean all in one pad
  • Disposable Vacmop Pad vacuums up what other pads, push around
  • Powerful vacuum suction pulls in dirt and debris to be locked away directly in the disposable VACMOP Pad
  • Spray mopping with multi-surface hard floor cleaner to clean stuck-on grime, providing shiny clean floors
  • No-touch disposal—Never touch a dirty pad again
  • No filter or maintenance necessary. Just replace the pad with Shark Mop Pad Refills
  • Compatible refill options for the Shark VacMop include: 10 count of pad refills (VMP10), 30 count of pad refills (VMP30), multi-surface cleaner refill in spring clean scent (VCM60), and hardwood cleaner refill in citrus clean scent (VCW60).

Best Cordless Wet Dry Vac: Tineco iFloor3 Wet Dry Vac

You can save time by vacuuming and washing your floor with this one-step cleaning machine.

Tineco iFloor3 Cordless Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner will not only wash your floor it will dry it too.

This vacuum cleaner is designed to make cleaning easier for you by effectively tackling all kinds of messes and pet hair.

It features a LED headlight that makes you see all the hidden dirt.

This model is easy to use and very convenient. The self-cleaning technology keeps the brush roll clean, so you don’t have to make tiring trips to clean it.

Speaking of self-cleaning, it does include a docking station for additional self-cleaning and charging. It is also designed with two tanks that keep the clean water separate from the dirty one.

The best part of this model is that it is cordless.

You can enjoy up to 25 minutes of free cleaning without the limitations of a cord. Another thing you’d find amusing is its compact nature. You can freely use it without worrying about the weight.

Also, you don’t need to worry about its compatibility with your floor.

It can be used to clean all hard floors from sealed hardwood to marble.

Highlighted Features
  • Save time by vacuuming and washing floors in one easy step, leaving floors instantly dry and streak free.
  • Picks up messy, sticky spills and pet hair on all sealed hard floors, including hardwood, tile, laminate, vinyl, marble and linoleum.
  • iFLOOR 3 features powerful suction, and cleans quietly without disturbing your family and pets.
  • Cordless and lightweight, with up to 25 minutes of continuous cleaning power.
  • Hands-free, self-cleaning system keeps brush and tubes clean and odor-free. Please note that the machine must use Tineco solution to ensure the long-term use. The use of non-Tineco solution will cause corrosion and damage to the machine.

Best Small Steam Mop: Bissell PowerFresh Slim

Bissell PowerFresh Slim is an excellent steam mop, and I’m not the only one who feels that way. The numerous 5-star reviews on Amazon attest to it too.

Wonder what the rave is about? Well, this steamer is actually a 3-in-one that can convert from an upright steam mop to an extended reach surface cleaner and then a handheld steam cleaner.

There’s so much you can do with one cleaner.

This steam mop not only offers an effective way to clean hard floors without the use of harsh chemicals but also eliminates germs and bacteria.

You just dispense the right amount of steam with the on-demand trigger and watch the machine do its job.

Featuring a flip-down easy scrubber, the Bissell steam mop will power through tough and sticky messes without damaging your precious floor.

And you don’t have to neglect some areas. With its swivel steering, you can get to every corner and nook.

Asides from floors, you can also use the Bissell multifunctional steam cleaner to clean your sinks, countertops, upholstery, and pet bed.

If you’re looking for absolute value for your money, this model will give you that, I assure you.

Highlighted Features
  • Clean and sanitize sealed hard floors without the use of harsh chemicals; Eliminates 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria with the natural power of steam
  • Power through tough, sticky messes with the flip down easy scrubber
  • Choose from high, medium, or low steam based on your cleaning needs with the smart set digital steam control
  • Features swivel steering and a 23 foot power cord. Ready to use in 30 seconds
  • Includes: (1) microfiber soft pad, (1) microfiber scrubby pad, (2) spring breeze fragrance discs, and a carpet glider. Power rating: 1500 watts
  • Packaging graphics may vary
  • Easy Scrubber flips down and reaches down to the grout and crevices.
  • SmartSet Steam Control for light cleaning to heavy messes.
  • Spring Breeze fragrance discs insert in the mop pad for a fresh, clean scent while you steam mop.
  • Removable water tank you can easily fill at the sink.
  • Low-profile mop head cleans into corners and edges.

Best Carpet Cleaner: Bissell ProHeat Revolution

Like I said earlier, your carpets are better off when you clean them with cleaners made specifically for them. And I can tell you, of all carpet cleaners on the market, Bissell ProHeat Revolution is the best.

Made with unique technology, it has multiple modes. So whether you need a maximum clean or a quick clean, you can set it to give you the cleaning you want.

Either way, this cleaner delivers quality cleaning to remove all stains and dirt from your carpet.

The biggest destroyers of carpets are pet messes.

But if you use the Bissell carpet cleaner, your carpet can be kept clean. It also comes with an odor removal system that includes PET PRO OXY Urine Eliminator Formula and a Pretreater.

It even removes skunk odor!

Aside from carpets, this model performs a thorough cleaning of upholstery too when you attach its upholstery tool.

Its portability makes it just perfect for moving around.

Highlighted Features
  • Every Purchase Saves Pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Engineered to be our best and most powerful carpet cleaning system for the toughest pet stains and odors even removes skunk odor
  • MAX Clean Mode. Packing in 12 rows of rotating Dual DirtLifter PowerBrushes, it delivers professional grade cleaning to remove deep down embedded stains, dirt and odors.
  • Express Clean Mode. Delivers dry carpets in about 30 minutes.
  • Attack the Toughest Stains. Activate the CleanShot pretreater to deliver a concentrated stream of cleaning solution right where you need it.
  • Lightweight Design (less than 18 pounds) and Low-Profile Foot. Makes it easy to use and maneuver around furniture.
  • Includes Bonus 3" Tough Stain Tool and 2-in-1 Pet Upholstery Tool. Removes pet hair, stains and odors from upholstery.
  • EZ Clean Brush Roll Cover. Makes cleaning the machine after a deep clean quick and easy.
  • Stain and odor removal system includes PET PRO OXY Urine Eliminator formula, 2-in-1 upholstery tool, CleanShot Pretreater, EZ Clean Brush Roll Cover.
  • Express Clean Mode (reference instruction in user guide). Tested on new carpet with protectant. Results may vary

Frequently Asked Questions

How to use a steam cleaner?

Start by adjusting the steam volume on the steam cleaner. Next, ensure the attachment is fixed. Then, plug it into an outlet and when it heats up, move the steam head across the area you’re trying to steam clean

Be careful not to apply the steam in one spot for too long. For specific directions on how to use a steam cleaner, check your user’s manual.

PRO TIP: Always make sure to fill the water tank at the recommended amount BEFORE plugging in your steam mop. Do not plug in and attempt to remove the water nor leave it unattended while it is heating up.

How Does a Steam Vacuum Cleaner Work?

A steam vacuum cleaner like the Bissell Symphony Pet Steam Mop and Vacuum Cleaner, vacuums the floor and then steams it simultaneously.

It features easy-touch digital controls and a dual steam setting for effective cleaning. The most outstanding feature of this steam vacuum cleaner is its multi-functionality.

It can be used in three different ways as a vacuum alone, a steam cleaner alone, or as both. 

  • Every BISSELL purchase helps save pets. BISSELL proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets.
  • Vacuum And Steam Your Floors At The Same Time
  • The Pet Model Features The Exclusive Drop-It Tank Emptying System Which Prevents You From Getting Your Hands Dirty
  • The Pet Model Includes Disposable Pads For Those Pet Messes You'd Rather Throw Away And Washable Microfiber Pads For Everyday Cleaning
  • Powerful, Cyclonic Vacuum Helps Capture Pet Hair And Debris. Power rating: 1100 Watts for Steam / 400 Watts for Vacuum / 3. 3 Vacuum Amps
  • INCLUDES: (1) microfiber soft pad, (1) microfiber scrubby pad, detachable mop pad tray, detachable Steam boost tray, (4) Swiffer BISSELL Steam boost disposable pads.
  • Power Source Type: Corded

Jeanette Giselle


Jeanette is a mom of three kids and full time entrepreneur. She is a certified Professional House Cleaner by the AHCA. It is her passion to help overwhelmed mothers simplify their home duties so that they can spend their time doing the things they love. 

Jeanette Giselle

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