Selecting the right steam cleaner for your needs
If you're looking for a way to eliminate tough stains from fabrics and surfaces without using chemicals or harsh cleaning agents, you have an effective, safer and more ecologically responsible alternative available. Steam cleaners are among the latest innovations in the world of cleaning products and use powerful technologies that transform simple tap water into a powerful stain-fighting agent.
While most steam cleaners are intended for residential applications, there are also heavy-duty industrial vaporizers used to remove dirt, debris, grease and grime from motors and engines. Commercial steam cleaners draw on the same scientific principles as residential ones, but are much more powerful in their cleaning action.
How Steam Cleaners Work
The science behind steam cleaners is fairly straightforward, but it hasn't been cost-effective for the consumer market until fairly recently. Basically, steam cleaners work by heating water in boilers to extremely high temperatures—temperatures which don't just produce steam, but a low-moisture, low-pressure vapor.
This vapor, when released onto a soiled surface, quickly and effectively shatters soil bonds. Instead of thick clusters of dirt, you're left with scattered, individual particles which can easily be wiped away or removed with a regular vacuum.
There is also a different type of steam cleaner available, one which doesn't bring the water past its boiling point. These units (called "hot-and-dry") are gentler, but aren't as effective on heavily soiled surfaces. However, many people feel that these are the best steam cleaners because they can remove almost any kind of stain with relative ease.
Types of Steam Cleaners
Some of the various products that use steam cleaning technologies include:
- Handheld steam cleaners. These lightweight, portable units are perfect for tough-to-reach corners and auto detailing.
- Carpet steam cleaners. Specially designed to quickly and effectively deep-clean large areas of permanent carpet, these steam cleaners can be purchased or rented from many major grocery stores and home improvement retailers.
- Steam vacuum cleaners. Because vacuuming the dirt residue is an essential final step in the steam cleaning process, units that tackle both tasks in one shot are also available.
- Steam mops. For cleaning tiled surfaces and uncarpeted floors, you can use steam mops. These work much like steam vacuum cleaners by combining two steps in one, but instead have absorbent pads that wipe up the dirt you've blasted apart with the powerful steam.