You may have seen or heard about steam cleaners and wondered what all the fuss was about. Why are people raving about this new method of cleaning and why is it so different? That’s what we at Crucial are here to explain: How it works, how it can benefit you and your lifestyle, and some tips on making a steam cleaner work for you.
Steam cleaning uses heated and vaporized water to clean almost every surface in your home. This includes mattresses, windows, hard-surface floors; the list is nearly endless. The three types of surfaces that you shouldn’t use a steam cleaner on are paper (like wallpaper), cold glass, or unsealed floors (especially wood). Other than that, you can clean pretty much anything with a steam cleaner.
How Does it Work?
Magic. Okay, we’re kidding. It actually takes advantage of chemistry. There is very little dirt, grime, or organic matter that is resistant to heat. Combine that with the natural properties of water as a universal solvent, and you have a cleaner, disinfectant, and scrubber contained in a cup of tap water.
Steam cleaners resemble vacuum cleaners, but they don’t have any suction. When the water is heated in the steam cleaner’s boiler chamber, it’s brought to about 200 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit to form a low-moisture steam, or dry steam. The heat loosens any grime, mildew, or mold from the surface at the same time as the vapor gets underneath the loosened debris and lets the pad on the mop pick it up. The end result is a floor, counter, or wall that is cleaner than you ever thought possible.
Because the steam is dry, it’s only about 6 percent water by content. That means that it’s not going to cause huge puddles of condensation where you apply it. In most cases, it’s going to evaporate very quickly. That quick evaporation is why it’s safe to use on carpet, upholstery, and even pillows. The material won’t get sodden with proper use of the steam cleaner.
If you have children like some of us at Crucial do, you probably get concerned about the cleaning chemicals that you use on a regular basis to clean your home. That’s where a steam cleaner excels. It uses no harsh chemicals at all to do its cleaning. This means that you can steam clean their toys safely, and even disinfect their favorite stuffed animal without running Teddy through the washer and dryer.
The lack of chemical cleaners also means that you can feel safe about cleaning things as often as they need it. For instance, one of the drawbacks of trying to clean your oven is the fumes that oven cleaner gives off. Not so with a steam cleaner. With a few passes and a little brushing, your oven will be sparkling clean. That grill that hasn’t been cleaned since Memorial Day of 2006? A steam cleaner will make it shine like it was brand new.
As we stated before, steam cleaners can also be used on upholstery and carpet. This is a great way to kill dust mites and give everything a deep clean. Use your machine’s recommended attachment and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember, when you steam your carpets, you will pick up a lot with the absorbent pads that the steam cleaner comes with; however, you should still vacuum afterwards with a HEPA-rated vacuum to finish picking up the dirt that was loosened by the steam.
Tips on Going the Extra Mile
A steam cleaner can save you a lot of money, especially because you will be able to cut down on the amount of chemical cleaners you purchase. To make the savings go even farther, invest in some high quality reusable mop pads for your steam cleaner. These mop pads are washable, so after you’ve cleaned your kitchen or bathroom, you just toss it in the washer. After it’s clean, you air dry it and it’s good to go. A good mop pad can last for at least six months with average use and proper care. Considering that you can get multipacks with two or three mop pads, you can clean for a year and not spend any more on cleaning products.
Steam cleaners are also great for wallpaper removal. Remember we said that you shouldn’t try to steam clean wallpaper? That’s because the steam will penetrate the paper and loosen and start to dissolve the glue. On the plus side, that makes removing it quick and easy.
You can also use your steam cleaner to clean pet cages safely. The steam will disinfect and destroy the volatile chemicals that cause pet odor. Because there are no other chemicals, it’s especially great for rodent, reptile, and bird cages. The quick drying ensures that your pets won’t be out of their homes for very long either.
With as great as steam cleaners are, there are some precautions you need to take. The first one is to remember that you’re working with steam. It’s very hot. Hot enough to burn you or anyone else seriously. Don’t leave the machine plugged in and running unattended.
When you look for a steam cleaner, you want one with an on/off switch or an automatic cutoff switch. The unit should also have a pressure relief valve of some sort. This is in case the pressure inside builds up too high. The valve will let the pressure vent safely instead of the steam/water case blowing up.
Read the directions. Most steam cleaners seem to be fairly simple, but they all have their own quirks. Whether it’s using a specific amount of water in the reservoir, or making sure to twist clockwise when using an attachment, the owner’s manual will save you a lot of headaches. Additionally, you’ll probably pick up some hints and tips you didn’t know before. Also, if your machine has a filter, make sure to change it on a timely basis.
Now you know what dry steam cleaning is all about and you have some tips on how to get the most out of your machine. We at Crucial use steam cleaners all the time, so if you have any questions, feel free to contact us here and ask.