Do Steam Cleaners Work? What Can They Clean?

Written by
Jessica Hockman

Steam cleaners are a nice and non-toxic way of cleaning a surface. They are strong, use heat instead of chemicals and can kill 99 percent of germs.

It is also an eco-friendly way of getting rid of bacteria. If that got you interested, keep reading to know more—the DOs, DON’Ts and the whole shebang.

do steam cleaners work

How Do Steam Cleaners Work?

The working of a steam cleaner is quite elementary (dear Watson). Basically, you fill them with tap water, which is then heated to about 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Some powerful steamers even heat the water to about 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

This kind of extreme heat turns the water into hot vapor which is made of tiny molecules which go through the pores of a surface and push the dirt out in the process.

And because of the high temperature, germs, dust mites and molds are killed with just plain water.

Benefits of Using Steam Cleaners

There are lots of them. Here’s just a few.

  • It is an eco-friendly way of cleaning a surface.
  • Except for the steam cleaner, you don’t need to buy anything. Get some water and sometimes a piece of cloth and you’re good to go.
  • No pollutants are emitted from this process and it is safe for people who have infants or pets in the house.
  • You can easily get rid of dirt and any residue left from other cleaning materials (when they were not done right).
  • It can be used on almost any surface from wood to tiles to leather upholstery.
  • This is a strong way of killing germs and bacteria. Even the more serious ones like Salmonella and E.Coli.

What Can You Clean With a Steam Cleaner?

what can you clean with a steam cleaner

As mentioned before, there are plenty of objects and surfaces that can be cleaned using a steam cleaner. So, let’s suppose you are looking for a steam cleaner for your house and take this one room at a time.

Let’s start with the living room. Whether you have sealed hardwood flooring or concrete floors or a wall-to-wall carpet, steam cleaners will do an excellent job of helping you keep them clean.

Spot cleaning is also possible for carpets. From cotton upholstery to leather ones, these little machines work their magic on them all.

You can also use them on your pet’s living spaces without hassle because there are absolutely no chemicals involved.

Now let’s check out the bathroom. Your fixtures, whether they are made of porcelain or nickel chrome, steam cleaning is a great option. The shower stalls and doors can also be taken care of using steam cleaners.

If you have fittings made of fiberglass, that’s okay too. Many bathrooms have a quarry slate or tiles grout or just plain ceramic tiles. Those can be cleaned using a steam cleaner too.

Then, there is the kitchen. There’s a lot of grease here and leaving it unwiped is never an option, right? From linoleum flooring to vinyl tiles, steam cleaners do a swell job with them all.

Appliances like ovens and stovetops can also safely be clean with these little miracle workers. Sinks and faucets can be dealt with just like you did the bathroom fittings.

Then there are the seemingly tough ones—ceilings and walls. From paneled walls to painted ones, steam cleaners can take care of them all. You have wallpaper? Not to worry. That can be handled too.

The same goes for window frames, screens and curtains. From horizontal curtains to vertical ones with Venetian blinds to Levolor varieties, steam cleaners can get them all spic and span in no time.

Now, it’s not just items in the house. Steam cleaners can be used to clean the surfaces of your vehicles too. From small cars to boats to RVs and giant buses, steam cleaners do an amazing job with both the interiors and exteriors of most vehicles.

You can also count on them to dust plants, clean jewelry and remove wax from hard floors. If you have sports equipment, give it a whirl with those too. You can also get creative and use them to defrost your freezer or remove algae on your deck.

But there are some limits to the cleaning capacity of a steam cleaner.

What Can You NOT Clean with a Steam Cleaner?

There are some things that you must skip when you are cleaning the house with a steam cleaner. And it is highly recommended to read this part of the piece before you go on experimenting because some mistakes can be very expensive.

If you have an unsealed floor, that is off-limits. If you have a laminated floor, you will notice swelling if you use a steam cleaner on it. And obviously, plastic objects are a no-go too because, quite simply, they will melt.

Cold windows are also off the list because the quick change in temperature can cause them to crack. Unglazed tiles will also see damage if you use steam cleaners on them. Surfaces that are covered in water-based paint should also be avoided.

What to Keep in Mind When Steam Cleaning

As wonderful and easy as steam cleaning is, you must be mindful of a few safety concerns so that you don’t end up damaging the surfaces and also avoid hurting yourself.

You are, after all, dealing with high-temperature heat. And the first thing to know about steam injuries on your skin is that it hurts worse than boiled water. So, here are a few precautions you should take before and while using a steam cleaner.

  • Hot vapor clouds the air and reduces visibility. So, sometimes you might not be able to see what you’re doing. It gets a bit more tricky if you are wearing glasses. This can lead to accidents.
  • When you’re using a steam cleaner near electrical appliances, watch out for the possibility of an electric shock. Keep a healthy distance.
  • When using it on the flooring (especially one with tiles), remember that the floor becomes slippery. Use non-slip mats.
  • Make sure you are wearing protective gear or clothing to protect yourself from the extreme heat.

What to Look for When Buying a Steam Cleaner

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Shark S3501 Steam Pocket Mop Hard Floor Cleaner, Purple, Regular

Now, since you are dealing with temperatures higher than 235 degrees Fahrenheit, you should make sure that the steam cleaner you are buying comes with a few safety features.

  • Automatic Switch-Off: This is a feature that shuts down the steamer when the temperature is too high. That means, your steam cleaner will never be at the risk of overheating.
  • Boiler: Some steamers allow you to refill while they are being operated while some need to cool off before the next run. If you get one with a non-pressurized boiler, it will stop the steam from leaving the cleaner through a water nozzle. This will keep you from burns due to steam. It’s a very important feature.
  • Low Water Alert: This is another important one. Some steam cleaners come with a light indicator while others have a sound alert. Either way, you will never run the risk of using the machine when it does not have enough water. That way, you avoid accidentally overheating and/or burning the components.
  • Safety Lock: If you have children or pets in the house, you might want to get a steam cleaner with a child lock. This is usually present on the handle and stops kids from accidentally switching it on. We don’t have to tell you how dangerous that can be.

Frequently Asked Questions

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