Steam cleaners look similar to vacuum cleaners. Instead of using suction power to suck up the loose debris, they use steam.
This steam is generated by heating a container of water to around 245 degrees Fahrenheit until it begins to become pressurized and evaporates.
They tend to have a range of attachments, similar to those of vacuum cleaners.
As the steam is expelled from the cleaner, the hot vapors enter the carpet and dislodge embedded dirt.
At the same time, the high temperatures will kill off any bacteria, mildew, allergens, small insects, and mold.
It can also kill off the flu virus molecules. This moisture is then extracted back into the steam cleaner or evaporates rapidly due to the high temperatures.
Benefits of using a steam cleaner
Using a steam cleaner reduces the requirement for cleaning chemicals. This is because the steam escapes at temperatures sufficiently high enough to kill off harmful microbes.
If you have young children or animals and are concerned about the impact of chemicals on their health, a steam cleaner is a fantastic investment.
The use of steam at such high heat means that the cleaned area will dry very quickly. This is ideal for wooden flooring where extended exposure to moisture could cause damage.
Steam cleaners penetrate deeply into the fibers of the material and as such, are much more effective at removing embedded dirt and stains.
General steam cleaner usage
All steam cleaners function differently, and for detailed usage instructions, you should consult the manufacturer’s information.
Generally speaking, there will be a water tank on the steam cleaner which you should fill with warm tap water. There may be a detergent compartment too.
Once the tanks are filled, switch on the machine and allow it to heat up sufficiently. There will likely be a trigger similar to that of an iron which releases the steam onto the surface to be cleaned.
You should only ever move your steam cleaner in a backward direction. You are likely to need to wipe your cleaned area with a microfiber cloth after steam cleaning. Not all machines will suck up moisture, meaning that the loosened dirt will just stay sitting on the surface.
It is advised that you wear protective gloves and goggles when operating a steam cleaner. This is because the steam is very hot and can scald you if it comes in contact with your bare skin.
If you do get scalded, immediately run the damaged area under a stream of cold water for at least 5 minutes. If your burn is still bad and you feel concerned, consult a qualified medical professional.
Cleaning a Car
Steam cleaners are very effective for cleaning the interior of your car. They leave very little moisture on the fabric and can be used on almost all material types.
Steam cleaners can even be used to clean suede and leather seats. We recommend using a soft-bristled brush attachment to get into the small crevices.
You can also clean your windows with a steam cleaner. If your cleaner comes with a window attachment then use this. Alternatively, you can use a small attachment and wipe off any residue with a microfiber cloth.
Additionally, your cup holders, door trims, dashboard, door pockets, and air vents will all respond well to steam cleaning.
Cleaning a Carpet
To clean a carpet fully, you should remove any furniture that is sitting on it. Give the floor a thorough vacuum to remove loose debris.
Turn the steam cleaner on and set it to a temperature of at least 220 degrees Fahrenheit. This is sufficiently hot to kill bacteria, fleas, and mites.
You can add some cleaning products with a pH of under 10, such as white vinegar, to the water tank. Use as a replacement for a cleaning solution in a direct substitution.
Press the trigger to release the steam and slowly drag the cleaner backward across the surface of the carpet. If you opt to use cleaning chemicals rather than vinegar, you will need to steam the carpet again.
This should be done with just water to remove any chemicals remaining on the carpet’s surface, as they can damage the carpet fibers.
Allow the carpet to dry for a few hours before walking on it or replacing the furniture.
Cleaning a Couch
Remove all cushions and covers from your couch. This will allow you to get deep into the crevices without anything getting in your way.
Choose a heat setting for the steam cleaner. If the material is old or worn it is a good idea to use a cooler temperature setting.
Once you have cleaned the main portion of the couch, remove all covers and place them in the washing machine. Run the steam cleaner over both sides of the cushions too.
If your couch still appears dirty, you can run the steam cleaner over it once more.
Allow it to dry for at least 4 hours before you put the covers and cushions back on.
Your first step is to vacuum your curtains to remove any loose debris. Once you have done this, give them a good shake to dislodge any remaining dirt. Use a lint brush or roller to run over the curtains once more.
Use a small attachment on your steam cleaner and run the nozzle down the length of the curtains. Start at the top and work your way down.
If your curtains still have a funky smell, you can use a deodorizing spray such as Febreeze.
Cleaning Grout and Tiles
Choose an attachment for your steam cleaner that has a narrow opening. Focus this on the lines of grout between the tiles and steam them.
This should lift the dirt cleanly from the grout which can then be wi[ed off with a clean, damp cloth.
To clean tiles, you should use a mop attachment on your steam cleaner. This will spread the steam out over a larger area. You should again wipe this layer of dirty moisture off the tiles using a clean microfiber cloth.
Cleaning a Mattress
Take everything off of your bed, including sheets. Sprinkle a layer of baking soda over the entire surface area of the mattress. This will soak up any lingering smells from the fabric. Leave it to sit for 45 minutes to work.
Use your vacuum to suck up any loose powder. After this, use your steam cleaner as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow it to dry for at least 4 hours before you use it.
It is a good idea to steam clean your mattress at least once every 2 months.
What should you not use a steam cleaner on?
You should not use a steam cleaner on any surface that will be detrimentally affected by moisture entering it.
These include wooden surfaces, those that are unsealed, polished, waxed, or newly painted. You can try to steam clean walls but it is not advised. This is because it can cause the paint to peel off.
You should not steam clean very delicate fabrics. This is because the high temperatures can damage the fibers and could allow the colors to run.
We do not advise using a steam cleaner on antique items. Due to their age, they are likely to be delicate and steam could be too harsh for the surface to handle.
Many old furniture items are covered in a varnish or shellac outer coat. The temperatures of the steam will strip this off.
It is not recommended to use a steam cleaner on laminate flooring. This is because they are very susceptible to moisture damage.
While the laminate covering will provide some protection for the wood, if it has not been sealed well you can accidentally warp your flooring.