Steam cleaning is an effective and chemical-free option for cleaning a variety of surfaces. Steam is beneficial in that it has the power to kill germs and allergens such as bacteria, dust mites, fungus, and mould, while allowing you the comfort of knowing that you’re not introducing any harmful chemicals into your home.
Steam cleaners are powerful tools that can be used to clean just about every room in your home (and even in your yard), depending on the surface and type of machine. Not to mention, they are cost-effective in that they only require tap water to run and are fairly simple to maintain. Read the following frequently asked questions to decide if a steam cleaner is right for your needs.
- How do steam cleaners work?
- How much do steam cleaners cost?
- What types of materials can be cleaned with a steam cleaner?
- Do steam cleaners kill fleas? Bed bugs? Dust mites?
- Is steam cleaning better than mopping?
- Do steam cleaners require detergent to work?
- What else can steam cleaners be used for?
- What CAN’T steam cleaners do?
How do steam cleaners work?
Steam cleaners work by heating water (tap water will do for most machines) from a tank using a boiler. Once the water is heated to the evaporation point, the steam is expelled through a nozzle, which is typically fitted with an attachment that is suitable for the material being cleaned.
The steam loosens dirt, mould, and other grime, allowing it to then be wiped or brushed away. The steam also kills bacteria and most other germs on contact. The amount of moisture in the vapour released from the nozzle is typically 5-6%, which is lower than the surrounding air.
Some steam cleaners are able to produce cool steam, which have a lower risk of heat-related injuries, however take into consideration that these machines release steam with a higher water concentration.
How much do steam cleaners cost?
Steam cleaners vary greatly in price. The cheapest models cost less than £40, and are often smaller handheld steam cleaners. A good steam cleaner for the home will normally cost less than £100, while professional models for commercial cleaning can cost over £500.
What types of materials can be cleaned with a steam cleaner?
Steam cleaners come in a variety of different forms, some of which are better suited for particular materials or cleaning methods. Steam cleaners can be used to clean a variety of nonporous surfaces, including linoleum, finished hardwood, laminate, stainless steel, glass, tile, and grout. The steam cleaners best suited for these purposes typically resemble mops or vacuum cleaners. If you want to clean flooring, you might be better off with a spray mop.
Other types of steam cleaners can be used to spot clean soft materials such as upholstery and carpet. These machines may resemble vacuum cleaners or may be smaller and handheld for portable use and small spaces. Handheld steam cleaners are quite versatile and typically have a variety of attachments to choose from such as different shaped nozzles and brushes.
Do steam cleaners kill fleas? Bed bugs? Dust mites?
Steam cleaners are effective tools for the removal of many unfavourable bugs, including fleas, bed bugs, and dust mites. Typically, total removal will require a few treatments.
First, you will want to steam the affected area. Then, vacuum to remove the dead adult bugs. Keep in mind that the moisture and heat will create a favourable environment for the eggs and larvae of many unwanted insects, so you should expect to re-treat within 2-3 days in order to kill the newly hatched and developed bugs, using both the steam cleaner and the vacuum cleaner.
After several treatments, you should find that you are sufficiently de-bugged.
Is steam cleaning better than mopping?
Steam cleaners offer several benefits that mopping does not. First of all, steam cleaners use significantly less moisture than mops, which is often desirable when cleaning materials such as wood that may absorb moisture and lead to swelling or mould if left wet.
Steam is also preferable to mopping when tough-to-remove grime or stains are involved, as steam cleaners offer the benefit of very high heat.
Steam cleaners also don’t require as much elbow grease as mopping might, which is a plus. Additionally, steam cleaners are more convenient in that they require less drying time and the water is dispensed directly into the machine through a tank rather than in a separate bucket.
Do steam cleaners require detergent to work?
While some steam cleaners do offer the addition of an extra tank through which detergent can be dispensed, it is not required for most household cleaning needs. The steam alone is very effective for dislodging dirt and stains, as well as killing bacteria and allergens such as mould and fungus.
For those who are sensitive to chemicals or who prefer more natural cleaning methods, steam cleaners are a great option for everyday household chores without introducing potentially hazardous chemicals into your home.
What else can steam cleaners be used for?
Believe it or not, steam cleaners have dozens, if not hundreds, of uses that you may not have considered. For example, they can be used to defrost a freezer and refrigerator in minutes. They can also clean windows and mirrors without leaving any smudges or streaks.
Steam cleaners can also be useful for removing gunk that builds up around appliances, faucets, and even on the grill. Another helpful use for steam cleaners is for sanitizing children’s items, including changing tables, high chairs, toys, and even stuffed animals to keep your little ones in good health without the use of harsh chemicals.
Steam cleaners can also come in handy for cleaning car interiors or even removing wallpaper. If you use your imagination, you’ll find lots of uses for your steam cleaner!
With the number of household tasks you’ll find for this machine, you won’t have to worry about investing in something that you’ll only use once.
What CAN’T steam cleaners do?
While steam cleaners are safe for many different materials, there are certain things that they are not well suited for.
Be aware that steam cleaners should not be used on porous surfaces such as concrete, caulk, and unfinished wood, as the moisture can get trapped inside and cause a mould or mildew problem.
Delicate materials such as silk and velour are vulnerable to heat and should not be steamed. Water-based paint can be affected by steam as well, so avoid cleaning painted walls or furniture with your steam cleaner.
Keep in mind that with any surface, a spot test should always be performed before cleaning an entire area to ensure that steam cleaning will not damage the material.