Vapor Steam Cleaning and Cleaners
Vapor Steam Cleaners Explained:
• A vapor steam cleaner often looks like a vacuum cleaner but there the resemblance ends. Vapor steam cleaners originated in Italy, and uses true steam, usually 240 to 260 degrees Fahrenheit, and occasionally hotter, in good residential machines. Vapor steam cleaners sanitize, deep clean and deodorizes in one easy operation without using the chemicals found in supermarket cleaning materials. Of particular interest to allergy sufferers, is that the heat of the steam penetrates the pores of any material being cleaned, so that the dry steam instantly kills dust mites, viruses, molds, and fungi. You will notice the improvement in the freshness of the air around your house immediately. Vapor steam cleaning can be used for a wide variety of difficult cleaning household tasks. Only tap water is used in vapor steam cleaners. No regular cleaning fluids should ever be used in any vapor steam cleaner unit, making it the most ecologically friendly, as well as the most effective cleaning system. Using water vapor instead chemicals which make steam cleaners particularly attractive to allergy sufferers.
• Generally a vapor steam cleaner uses remarkably little water, less than a gallon of tap water in an hour’s worth of continuous cleaning. All vapor steam cleaners use low moisture vapor which leaves almost no damp residue on the surface which has just been cleaned. For instance, a carpet will be completely dry in 15 minutes, leaving no possibility for mold spores to start proliferating in a damp environment. The heat of the vapor steam itself, plus a little light rubbing action does all the work. Moisture evaporates immediately after the vapor steam makes contact with a surface. Surfaces cleaned can be hard (like countertops) or soft (like upholstery). No buckets, mops, sponges or emptying out dirty water are needed. This is an almost “mess free” way of cleaning. We say “almost” because we have found in our testing of machines and dislodging dirt from baked-on or ground-in areas which naturally, you need to wipe up the dislodged dirt particles with a towel on hard surfaces or vacuum a carpet subsequent to vapor steam cleaning except in the few cases which are combination steam and vacuum units. To avoid disappointment, understand that a steam cleaner is NOT a vacuum cleaner. A vacuum cleaner uses a technology which pulls dirt from carpets into a dust bag. A vapor steam cleaner will loosen dirt in carpet fibers which rise to the surface where it is absorbed usually by a towel fixed onto an attachment. You use a vacuum cleaner after vapor cleaning since your vacuum will be able to penetrate more deeply after the vapor steam has loosened the fibers.
• Dry vapor steam cleaners combine both a high temperature, and a low moisture vapor. The vapor steam contains only 5% to 6% water, surprisingly less moisture than in the air we breathe. Hence the term, “dry steam”. Many products that are being sold as “steam cleaners” only use hot water and no steam at all is being used. The term “steam machine” for these products is a complete misnomer. These “steam machines” use gallons of water and leaving a wet residue on the surfaces they clean. Usually, carpets are left sopping wet, needing hours to dry off, an instant invitation and breeding ground for dust mites and mold. Vapor steam cleaners operate completely differently. They use only a miniscule amount of water to produce thousands of gallons of dry steam per hour.
• The biggest area of contention is over which technology to use to clean carpets. Even with its disadvantages, most people will prefer hot water extraction carpet cleaners for cleaning very large dirty areas of carpet. Using a vapor steam cleaner for carpets is a very slow process and best used for the upkeep of new or lightly soiled carpets. If you have allergies and want to use vapor steam cleaners for your carpets, you would best advised to take a small area of carpet each week, rather than tackle all the carpet in one fell swoop.
• Vapor steam cleaners do not clean everything and in fact there are some materials/surfaces to avoid. These are very heat sensitive materials such as some silks (clothing and Persian rugs), velour and the exterior paint-work of your car. We have also found that it may also take the shine off some (not all) vinyl flooring. Otherwise, the list of tasks that may be tackled by vapor steam cleaners is a long one. Each multipurpose vapor steam cleaner comes with an array of special tools which are specially designed to tackle a number of your major cleaning headaches.
• The water in vapor steam cleaners is put into a special boiler. The better grade vapor steam cleaners allow for continuous refill of water without allowing the system to cool down between fills. The less expensive vapor steam cleaners have a heat sensitive safety cap which does not allow you to refill the system until it has cooled down. These boilers fast heat the water, which is discharged as “dry steam” which contains 6% water. This way carpets and floors dry quickly with little moist residue and are fully dry in a matter of minutes.
• Surprisingly, vapor steam cleaners operate at low pressures usually 50 to 60 psi. The better machines allow you to vary the pressure and regulate the steam, as more delicate tasks need less pressure. A nice feature is fingertip controls of the steam pressure. The low pressure feature is important in getting the job done without making a mess and spraying particulates all over the place. This was a big criticism we had of cheaper units- they seemed to create as much mess as they cleaned.
• Using a vapor steam cleaner is faster, cleaner and more effective than regular cleaning methods. Dirt is loosened up amazingly fast and the dry steam penetrates the pores of surfaces. We never saw our kitchen countertops as clean as when using one of these cleaners. Vapor steam cleaning appeals to those who want to get their house REALLY clean. It is also a natural sanitizer, great around pet and nursery areas. Cleaning with a vapor steam cleaner is a cleaning process that does not leave a residual from a supermarket cleaning fluid, so surfaces are left cleaner.
• Depending on the task at hand. During carpet or floor cleaning, a removable towel is used on the end of an applicator. This absorbs a great deal of surface dirt. Other surfaces need wiping with an absorbent towel or cloth. Our better vapor steam cleaners come with videos and other training aids to help you figure out the most effective way to tackle each task.
• The all pervasive dust mite lives in our mattresses, blankets, pillows, upholstered furniture, carpets and even clothing. The usual method of getting rid of dust mites is to wash all bedding once weekly in hot water over 140 degrees. Very few allergy sufferers adhere to this regimen and end up sleeping with dust mite infected bedding. Other areas are even more difficult to control and costly sprays and powders need frequent applications. The heat of the vapor steam cleaner kills the dust mites on contact. Just run the cleaner over your bedding, carpets or chairs and dust mites are killed instantly, with no wet residue. However, after you have used the vapor steam cleaner, you should use a good vacuum cleaner to vacuum up any dirt and dead mite particles left behind. Mold spores such as those found around your windows or in your basement are killed on contact. There is no toxic residue after vapor steaming, which is healthy for everyone, even those members of the family who do not have allergies.
• It is the cleaning treatment of choice for MCS sufferers. Using a steam cleaner is the only cleaning system that is really effective without the use of chemicals. Vapor steam is naturally sanitizing while cleaning and removes odors. No MCS sufferer should be without one of these machines. Even if you do not suffer from multiple chemical sensitivities you will appreciate a cleaner smelling house.
• Commercial uses for steam cleaners include nursing homes, hospitals, stores, commercial kitchens, offices, schools and clean room facilities.
• Steam cleaner models vary with the number and type of accessories, their tank capacity, and a variety of control features. In general, we see people being as being more satisfied with the higher end multi purpose models although steam mops are popular as an adjunct cleaning tool. Also please be aware that there are good reasons why the higher priced vapor steam cleaners cost more, they work better- there is not doubt about that. They also come with more, better quality accessories which help in the ability of the machine to do an effective job. Part of a vapor steam cleaner’s ability to clean depend on the temperature of the steam. You should be aware that higher priced steam cleaners deliver steam at a higher temperature. Please do not use residential machines for commercial uses. Commercial vapor steam machines are more rugged and long lasting, this is one of the reasons they cost more, apart from performance issues.
Why do some vapor steam cleaners cost more than others?
The cost of steam cleaners can vary enormously which is very confusing to the consumer. Our research team has come up with these broad guidelines for you:
• Actual temperature of the steam. Residential steam cleaners generally use steam between 240 and 295 degrees. Avoid anything of lesser temperature. Hotter steam means a quantum increase in cleaning effectiveness. It’s important to start with a much higher temperature than you would think you might need, as all vapor steam cleaners lose some temperature on the way to the tip.
• The very best steam cleaners have boilers made out of high grade stainless steel which heat up faster, and do not rust. Therefore their lifespan is longer. Some of our staff have been using their LadyBug steam cleaners for over a decade without a problem.
• Cheap steam cleaners have no safety caps when refilling water, versus safety caps; This means you run the risk of burning yourself with a cheaper unit- and trust us in testing cheaper steam cleaners we have done just that.
• The ability to refill water continuously is more important than you might think. If you have a continuous refill steam cleaner, you do not have to wait for the machine to cool down and heat up again when you want to refill it [this can be a 20 plus minute wait]. It also means that the steam cleaner is lighter as you are not lugging around so much water.
• Holding water tank capacity. Very small water tanks can drive you crazy when you have to let the steam cleaner cool down and refill them every 15 to 20 minutes.
• It is important to have a steam cleaner with the ability to regulate the steam outflow with pressure. Some tasks require a finer more concentrated jet of steam. This can be important when you want to avoid the splattering of dirt particles all over the place.
• You absolutely must have the ability to regulate the steam temperature. Some fabrics and surfaces require a cooler temperature.
• Check the length of the warranty on boiler and other parts. It is usually 3 years on a good residential machine and 5-10 years on a commercial machine.
• You need a good handle for easy lifting up stairs. Somebody needs to have really paid attention to this design feature. Steam cleaners can be heavy when they are full of water.
• Decent sized castors allow for easy maneuverability.
• The accessories included for special cleaning tasks, and optional accessories available add to the cost of steam cleaners. Size of the cleaning brushes is also an added expense. The better steam cleaners have bigger sized tools which allow for the cleaning to be done faster.
• Quality of toweling covers and whether they can be attached and removed easily makes a difference. The better machines have easy clips to attach the toweling covers.
The Uses of a Good Steam Cleaner:
What are the specific applications for a vapor steam cleaning?
• Killing of dust mites in bedding, upholstery, carpets and clothing. Dust mites, fleas and eggs are killed without the use of any chemicals or residue. Helps kill germs, viruses. Just think, a quick vapor steam of your bedding, and dust mites are gone. (You will still need to repeat the vapor steam cleaning frequently to keep dust mites at bay).
• Killing of mold spores in bathrooms, basements, window encasements and other damp areas where mold spores flourish. We have found that this is huge advantage of vapor steam cleaners. However they will not eliminate the mold which is now ingrained into grout between tiles.
• Steam cleaning clothes gets rid of both toxic dry cleaning fluids and wrinkles. Some vapor steam cleaners come with an optimal steam iron- a quantum improvement over a traditional iron.
• Steam cleaner disinfects and clean cat litter boxes, and pet odor laden areas. Steam provides instant deep cleaning and sanitation. Particularly useful for veterinarians, and pet breeders.
• Cleaning of bird-cages. Instant deep cleaning and sanitation. Useful for bird owners and pet store owners.
• Detail car interiors- upholstery, carpet, infant seats, engine wheels (do not use on body work, it is too hot). You can also degrease the car engine, car tools without solvents or toxic fumes. Brake dust can also be removed from car wheels.
• Vinyl tile, marble tile, smooth concrete quarry tile for dirt and wax removal and grout cleaning. It is in the grout cleaning both on the floor and in the bathroom where you should notice the most improvements.
• Carpets. You must first vacuum and pre-spot with a natural non- toxic surfactant. Natural solvents are useful in pretreatment of carpets with stains and heavy soiling. We have found vapor steam alone will not remove all stains on carpets. You still need a surfactant of some kind. Vacuum again after using the vapor steam cleaner, to vacuum up the additional dirt which has been loosened up during the vapor steam cleaning process. Do not vacuum until the carpet is dry, otherwise it will rust out your regular vacuum cleaner.
• Wall paper stripping with a special attachment. Makes steaming off wall paper a breeze.
• Cleaning of soiled paint-work, (do not over heat and use a thick towel on these surfaces.)We think this is particularly useful in washing down a large area of grimy wall. This can give your present paint job on your walls at home a longer lease on life.
• Vents, returns and ductwork entries, which often accumulate tremendous dirt, pet hair, dust and allergens.
• Sliding glass door floor sliders for French windows. Look at the dirt in those sliders and you will see what we mean.
• Golf club cleaning. It just whisks off the dirt here. Our golf clubs were never so clean.
• Kitchen: the baked on grime and grease of stove -tops and oven hoods and interiors. The cleaning and interior of microwaves .The accumulated hardened spilled foods and mildew at the bottom of refrigerators (this one is a real boon.) The dust, grime, and pet hair, on the underside of your refrigerator. Grimy bottoms of household pots and pans. Sanitizing of kitchen drains. Your kitchen contains more bacteria than any other area of the house (even the bathroom), so vapor steam cleaning provides total sanitization.
• Bar-B-Q grill cleaning. Using a wire brush that comes with a vapor steam cleaner and you can actually clean the grill rack (the one with all that caked on crud).
• Hospitals who are concerned with maintaining a clean germ and virus free environment. The sanitation applications in a hospital environment are endless.
• Bathroom and kitchen sinks, faucets. Using a wire brush attachment, the grout surrounding sinks is cleaned. The amount of dirt that is removed is quite enlightening!
• Cleaning of bathroom tiles, floors, bath surrounds, toilet interiors, shower curtains, shower stall doors. All the areas of the bathroom which harbor bacteria, germs, viruses, mold and odors. Your bathroom will smell fresh and be completely sanitized. Vapor steam cleaners are very effective in bathrooms.
• Wood paneling or decks, outdoor furniture, especially useful for not only the cleaning of dirt but also for mold removal.
• RVs and decks and trim of boats.
• Metal venetian blind cleaning. Just steam and wipe
• Mirrors and windows. Use the steam cleaner window attachment and windows sparkle without using soapy water.
• Freshen up and sanitize children's stuffed animals (you would be shocked at how much bacteria they contain). Complete sanitation of the children’s nursery.
• Jewelry. Sparkle and shine in moments.
Learn more about Steam Cleaners