Before you embark on choosing a steam cleaner, you need to know that there are several types.
- Steam Mops. Steam mops are often a place that either our customers who are new to steam cleaning choose to start. A steam mop is an inexpensive steam cleaner whose usage is hard floor cleaning only. Most people use them for routine kitchen and bathroom floor upkeep. They will not do grout and for that you would need a multipurpose home steam cleaner equipped with special grout cleaning tools.
- Home Steam Cleaners. These are the ones which are the most popular with our customers because these steam cleaners will do absolutely everything you might want to do and do it better than any other type of steam cleaner. They will kill mold, dust mites and other pests such as bed bugs. The more expensive ones will do a good job at disinfection and a myriad of challenging cleaning chores on the home front.
- Garment Steam Cleaners are specifically designed for steam cleaning of clothes, since you can steam away wrinkles, kill dust mites, and eliminate dry cleaning odors with them. As a steam cleaner they are quite limited although they make a good gift item. The nice thing about them is that they provide a special stand and hanger for the clothing. They will not replace your steam iron but they are a handy alternative.
- Steam Cleaner Vacuums are combination tools which will actually steam clean your carpets and vacuum up loosened dirt all in one pass. This kind of steam cleaner application is far superior to the kind of truck mounted “carpet steam cleaning” services you might be tempted to employ. Steam Cleaner vacuums are very effective but their chief drawback is they do not clean carpets swiftly. But if you are not in a hurry, they do a superior job. For steam vacuum cleaners it is advisable to pay more than less.
- Handheld Steam Cleaners. Until recently, we thought that all handheld steam cleaners were toys and not capable of any serious steam cleaning. While heavier in the hand than the nozzle of a multipurpose home steam cleaner, there have been some new entries into the portable handheld steam cleaner market, which actually do a superb job of cleaning for chores at waist or counter height level.
- Commercial Steam Cleaners. Since they are more expensive but look the same on the outside as a home steam cleaner, you have to look on the inside to know the difference. Commercial steam cleaners are designed to run 8 hours a day, 7 days a week without breaking down. If you use a home steam cleaner in a commercial setting you will invalidate the warranty. A commercial steam cleaner will be bigger and heavier and they come with a cart for steam cleaner accessories and to carry the steam cleaner unit itself. The water holding tanks are larger, the stainless steel tanks are made of higher grade stainless steel, the interior connections more robust and the steam runs hotter. That increase in steam temperature makes all the difference to a steam cleaner’s ability to tackle tougher cleaning chores.
FAQ: How to Know if a Steam Cleaner is Good Quality
The remarks below are oriented towards our home multipurpose steam cleaners.
- Q. How does the steam cleaner system produce steam vapor – by way of a high-pressure boiler or just an enclosed chamber like an iron?
A. Only a boiler will give you sufficient heat and a true dry steam vapor.
- Q. Does it matter whether the boiler on a steam cleaner is made from stainless steel or aluminum?
A. An aluminum boiler is more susceptible to degradation from the minerals in the water. An aluminum boiler will consist of two halves fastened together with screws over a gasket. Over time due to heating and cooling, it will likely warp and leak, affecting other components of your vapor steam cleaner
- Q. Is the boiler independently secured to the lower housing or sandwiched between the upper and lower housings?
A. Simply sandwiching the boiler between the upper and lower housings allows the boiler to move inside the system, particularly when it is set down hard or bumped severely. This may cause severe damage to the steam cleaner.
- Q. Does the boiler have a drain plug mounted on the lowest point of the boiler or must you turn the system upside down to drain the boiler?
A. Tipping the system upside down will allow scale particles into the steam valve, causing the steam cleaner to malfunction and not allow the user to be able to control the steam flow.
- Q. Is the boiler insulated, and if so, with what type material is it insulated?
A. This is very important to keep the heat in the boiler and not over-heat the interior of the steam cleaner. Excessive heat can degrade the insulation on the wire creating a hazardous condition for the user. A form fitting, solid thermal insulation is best as it resists heat and moisture more effectively than loose fitting spun fiberglass types.
- Q. Does the system use an independent detachable steam hose for employing a variety of tools and accessories?
A. A steam supply hose which is directly wired into the base unit of a steam cleaner, can be difficult to store and damage is often reflected by a broken steam supply hose.
- Q. Does the hose have an electrical switch mounted on the handle to turn the steam flow “on” or “off”?
A. Many less expensive steam cleaners s use 120 volts to operate the hose switch, and doing so may subject the user to hazardous electrical shock. (Hose switches using 120-volt power are required to use a clear plastic insulating cover to help protect the user – be sure it is in place before operating the system.
- Q. Is the base of the steam cleaner or boiler housing splash proof?
A. This is a safety feature that protects the user from electrical shock should water be spilled onto the base unit when filling the steam cleaner. Base units with protruding switches, dials, or any other controls, are not splash proof and require user caution when filling.
- Q. Is the steam cleaner continuous fill or are you adding water directly to the boiler?
A. This is important for both safety and efficiency. It is important for the user be able to add more water, anytime, safely to a cold water reservoir and keep right on working, or be able to complete a steam cleaning project in a timely manner.
- Q. Does the steam cleaner have a steam volume control?
A. It is important to be able to manage how much steam you are using. Controlling the steam volume allows you to get the most out of your steam cleaner, from delicate work to difficult jobs with the least mess and best overall performance.
- Q. Does the steam cleaner have self-locking tools or do you have to remember to lock the tools on?
A. This is a safety feature that is very important and it makes the steam cleaner more convenient, easier to use.
- Q. Does the hose handle on the steam cleaner remain cool to the touch even during extended use?
A. If the steam flow is routed through the hose handgrip, the handle will become uncomfortable to hold on to, particularly on time consuming projects. Routing the steam flow so that the heat does not affect the user is an important functional consideration.
- Q. Where is the steam volume control located on the machine? Is it easily accessible to the user?
A. Bending down can be onerous. Make sure the controls on your steam cleaner are on the handle.
- Q. Does the system have an over pressure, safety release valve? If so, would it release steam in a dangerous direction through the filler cap, or safely, downward under the system away from the user?
A. If you do not want to burn yourself these safety features are paramount.
- Q. How long is the electrical cord?
A. Many systems come with an electrical cord that is far too short for convenient steam cleaning and need you to find an electrical socket near to the place which you want to clean.