Steam cleaners are one of the most popular cleaning products in 2009 and they show no sign of slowing for 2010. One of the big things driving the sales of these products is the new lower price point. Steam cleaning machines that used to go for thousands of dollars now can be in the $100 dollar price range. Another big reason for the growing popularity is that these products allow you to clean and disinfect surfaces with out having to use harsh chemicals. This is especially attractive to those people who have pets or small children. Another group of people who are embracing the power of vapor steam cleaners are those with allergies since the steam is very effective at killing dust mites and mold. If you are in the market to purchase a hand held steam cleaner/portable steam cleaner then you probably have a number of questions. We have compiled a number of questions you might have along with some answers. As always, we would love your feedback. Please leave your personal experiences in a comment.
What Surfaces Can I clean with a Steam Cleaner?
Steam cleaners excel on the following surfaces: Carpet, upholstery, tile, marble, vinyl, and grout.
People with allergies were one of the first groups of people to adopt these products because of their ability to kill such things as fleas, dust mites and other allergens. Portable cleaners can be used on carpets, furniture, bedding, and even your cloths. With one application of steam, you can rid your house of allergens, germs, and viruses, all without the use of dangerous chemicals. Users often report that after cleaning with steam that they can tell a difference in the smell of their house. It’s ideal for cleaning damp places like bathrooms where mold and soap scum build up and can be a very laborious task to keep clean. Vapor cleaners make quick work of grout and tile. You can use them on cloths as well although I have found that using an old fashioned iron tends to work better but if I were in a hurry I might use steam.
Another great use for these products is in your car. Have you ever spilt something in your car and then have it smell months later. Not long ago I had some milk leek in the back carpeted area and it was stinking the car up for some time until I used a steam cleaner which totally eliminated the smell. I’ve even used it to get rid of the break dust that builds up on the rims which is very hard to get clean.
Another very popular place to clean with steam is the kitchen. If you spend any time at all cooking in your kitchen you know how quickly it get’s dirty and sticky with grease. One of my least favorite tasks is cleaning the oven. The power of steam makes this much easier. I was grossed out to find out that the kitchen, more than any area in the house, has more living bacteria. It only makes sense that you want to stay away from using harsh chemicals in the area where you prepare your food. The Vapor cleaner also does a great job cleaning stovetops. I should also ad that these steam devices also work great on bbq that can almost impossible to clean with a wire brush.
The surfaces you can clean with steam are many but there are some things you should not attempt to clean with steam. For example there are some types of vinyl surfaces that can loose their shine when high temperatures are applied to them. Also, sensitive fabrics such as Persian rugs should not be used with a home steam cleaner.
How do steam cleaners work?
First off, steam cleaners should not be confused with those devices that are used to clean carpet. Carpet cleaners use a process that extracts water that is injected by the carpet cleaner and although maybe hot, is not actually steam. You should also know that the commercial truck mounted systems are very effective at deep cleaning large areas of carpet and you should not expect the same kinds of results with a home unit.
That being said, actually home portable steam cleaners work by heating tap water via a built in heating element to a range of 240 to 260 degrees. Some high-end cleaners actually heat the water even more. The steam that is created in this process is then shot through a nozzle where it can be applied to the area that you want to clean. The best steam cleaners come with a wide variety of attachments so that you can easily clean all sorts of surfaces. It is important note that steam cleaning still requires some work. After you apply steam to an area you must then wipe up the dirty residue that is released.
If you are cleaning up large areas at a time then you should pay attention to how water is added to the steam cleaning system. Some units have you ad water straight to the boiler while others have a reservoir system. Be aware that if the steam cleaner does not have a reservoir system then there is a substantial time period where you must wait up to 30 min for the steamer to cool down before you can add more water. The more advanced and often more expensive units have the reservoir system so that you don’t ever have to stop and wait to add more water. You can add as much water as you want on the go. Again, this is not a big deal unless you plan on cleaning large areas at one time.
What psi do steam cleaners generate?
Portable steam machines typically run at fairly low levels of pressure. Check the specifics for the model you are considering. The average unit produces about 50 to 60 psi. The more advanced and usually more expensive products allow you to adjust the the level of pressure. This is important feature because if you are working in a small area then the last thing you want is to blast the dirt all over. Although the tv advertisements make cleaning look like a snap it often can be a little tedious as you must hold the steamer in one hand and a rag of some sort in the other hand to wipe up the mess.
Can I use a steam cleaner to clean my carpets?
It should be made very clear that a vacuum is not a steam cleaner and most certainly the other way around. You can use a portable steam vapor cleaner to clean carpet but it works best to spot clean and remove stains. When cleaning carpet you still have to use some elbow grease. The steam causes the stain from the fibers in the carpet to the top, where they must be soaked up with a towel or rag. It is not a replacement for a carpet cleaner. If your carpets are heavily soiled then you should still hire a professional carpet cleaner to get the best results.
Coming Soon: steam cleaner reviews on the best steam cleaners on the market.
Please leave a comment if you have bought a steam mop and leave thoughts and opinions about it so others can make an educated decision on buying a steam mop. Thanks!