The steam cleaner is a relatively new innovation that offers a quicker and more efficient way to clean your home. Steam cleaners spray small amounts of steam onto the area you want to clean, which loosens dirt and kills germs (if the steam is hot enough).
Steam cleaners are one of the most versatile tools you can have in your home cleaning arsenal. Here are a few things you can clean with a steam cleaner:
- Hard floors (as an alternative to a mop)
- Cushions, curtains and upholstery
- Windows and mirrors
Steam cleaners can be divided into two main types: handheld steam cleaners and steam mops. Steam mops allow you to mop the floor without producing a lot of moisture, so dirty shoes won’t ruin your work once you’re finished. Handheld steam cleaners are better for cleaning small areas, such as removing stains from upholstery. However, lots of steam cleaners combine both functions.
If you’ve decided it’s time to buy a domestic steam cleaner for your home, here are our top 3 favourite models available in the UK in 2017.
1. Vax S86-SF-CC Steam Fresh Combi
This versatile steam cleaner from Vax offers the best of both worlds. You can use it as a steam mop to clean your floors, or use the handheld steamer to clean smaller areas such as tiles, mirrors and taps. It only takes 20 seconds to heat up, so it’s perfect for quick cleaning jobs.
When used as a floor mop this steam mop won’t make your floor wet like a regular mop would, so you won’t have to cordon the area off until it’s dry! One nice design feature is that the mop head has an angular shape which lets you get into corners easily. It’s also very light so it’s easy to manoeuvre around.
The handheld part detaches so you can easily clean things other than the floor. The steam cleaner comes with 13 different tools and accessories to help you tackle different cleaning jobs.
One thing that could be irritating about this steam cleaner is that you have to press the handle continuously to let the steam out, so it can be uncomfortable to use for long periods of time.
2. Karcher SC3 All-in-One Steam Cleaner
Like the Vax S86-SF-CC reviewed above, this steam cleaner is designed to be an all-in-one product that you can use to clean both your floors and other parts of the house. The Karcher SC3 All-in-One Steam Cleaner looks a bit like a small vacuum cleaner and can be easily wheeled around as you clean. In addition to the main floor-cleaning part it comes with several nozzles as well as a brush and a cloth.
It only takes 30 seconds for the Karcher SC3 to heat up. You can also refill it while you’re using it which is good if you’re cleaning for a long time. This model produces hot steam, and according to the manufacturer, it can kill 99.99% of bacteria without needing to use any chemicals.
One of this steam cleaner’s smart features is the anti-limescale cartridge which automatically filters water to prevent limescale buildup.
As with most steam cleaners, Karcher SC3 only has limited power and won’t be able to tackle really tough jobs without a bit of help. However, it’s a convenient tool for light everyday cleaning.
3. Shark S6003UK Klik n’ Flip Smartronic Deluxe Steam Mop
Unlike the steam cleaners reviewed above, the Shark S6003UK Klik n’ Flip Smartronic Deluxe Steam Mop is a mop only—there’s no detachable handheld part.
The unique thing about the Shark S6003UK Klik n’ Flip steam mop is that the mop has a microfiber cloth on both sides so you can flip it over and keep cleaning once one side gets dirty. The cloths can be washed in the washing machine, which is very economical and convenient.
This steam cleaner is good at removing tough stuck-on dirt thanks to the Steam Blaster setting which sprays a blast of extra-hot steam from the nozzle.
The Shark S6003UK is a very good steam mop for cleaning hard floors, but be aware that it’s not suitable for smaller jobs like cleaning taps and tiles.
What Can You Use a Steam Cleaner For?
Steam cleaners are very versatile and can be used to clean almost any surface. They use hot steam to sanitise surfaces and remove grime. They just use water, so you don’t need to buy any cleaning chemicals which could be expensive and harmful to your health.
Steam cleaners come in two types: cool steam cleaners which produce cool steam and dry steam cleaners which produce hot steam. Dry steam cleaners tend to be more efficient and effective, as the hot steam is better for cleaning and the machine will also use less water.
Advantages of steam cleaners
Steam cleaning has lots of advantages over traditional cleaning methods. Here are a few reasons to use a steam cleaner:
- Steam cleaners kill bacteria by using hot steam
- Steam can be used to dissolve or soften up tough substances like wax and chewing gum
- It’s useful for cleaning hard-to-access nooks and crannies
- Steam cleaning doesn’t use any harmful chemicals
Things to remember when using a steam cleaner
- It’s important to remember that steam cleaning doesn’t actually remove dirt, it just loosens it. This means you will still need to wipe surfaces with a cloth.
- You should also take care not to burn yourself when using a steam cleaner, as the hot steam can cause injuries if you’re not careful.
- Always check your steam cleaner’s instructions manual before using it on a new surface.
Different uses for steam cleaners
There are lots of possible uses for steam cleaners. Here are just a few common cleaning tasks you can do with a steam cleaner.
1. Cleaning your oven
Cleaning the oven is most peoples’ least favourite cleaning job. Removing baked-on food and grease can be very difficult, which is why many people put off doing this chore until they really have to.
While there are lots of oven cleaning sprays you can buy, they often use harmful chemicals that you wouldn’t want to get into your food. Using a steam cleaner that just uses water is a much safer way to clean your cooker.
When cleaning an oven or hob with a steam cleaner, you have to be careful where you spray the steam otherwise you might damage the inner machinery. For best results, use a steam cleaner with an attached brush tool and then finish the job with a cloth.
2. Cleaning tiled floors
The advantage to using a steam cleaner when cleaning a tiled bathroom or kitchen floor is that it can get in all the crevices a cloth would miss. This helps kills the bacteria that can easily develop on a kitchen or bathroom floor. Lots of steam cleaners come with a special floor cleaning head which will give you better results on a hard floor. Make sure you don’t spray steam on any one part of the floor for too long as too much exposure to steam can damage grout.
3. Cleaning windows
Steam cleaners are great for getting a streak-free finish when cleaning windows. Many steamers come with a squeegee specially designed for window cleaning. You should work from top to bottom and clean in different directions to prevent a striped finish.
4. Cleaning upholstery
If your steamer has an upholstery attachment you can use it to clean sofas and other upholstery. Make sure you move the steamer around constantly, otherwise you might soak the upholstery. If you have a dry steamer the heat will kill dust mites.
Steaming is also good for removing stains from upholstery. When steaming colour-dyed upholstery, make sure you test a small area first to check that the colours won’t run.
5. Cleaning carpets
A carpet cleaner is the best way to clean a carpet, but if you just have a small spot that needs cleaning, a steam cleaner is a good tool for the job. You can use a steam cleaner to remove a stain or soften up some sticky material from a carpet or rug. As with steam cleaning upholstery, you should test a small area first to check that the colours don’t run. You should also be careful, as some carpet materials are too delicate to be steam cleaned.
Steam Cleaner FAQs
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?
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.
In The Wash is your guide to the best laundry and cleaning products, tips and tricks. Our mission is to solve the UK’s cleaning and laundry dilemmas!