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Your Guide to Steam Cleaning

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A cost and time efficient way to remove bacteria, dirt, grime and allergens from almost all surfaces in the home… yes please! Learn all you need to know about steam cleaning, including choosing and using a steam cleaner to suit your needs.

How Steam Cleaning Works

An electrical appliance, steam cleaners use a heating element to rapidly heat the water in a built-in water tank, and then apply it with high pressure via a nozzle or mop-type attachment. They produce a continuous steam while there is sufficient water supply. Using just clean water, steam naturally kills bacteria and leaves no toxic residue. It will lift and melt away stubborn dirt, grease and grime so that it can be easily wiped off with a cloth.

Why Steam Clean

Steam cleaners negate the use of detergents while still busting even stubborn dirt and killing bacteria as efficiently as powerful chemical cleaners. This is beneficial for two major reasons: firstly you save money on cleaning products, and secondly you are reducing the level of potentially harmful chemicals in your home. It is also friendlier to the environment, and of great help to those who suffer from sensitivity to chemicals and allergens.

You can steam almost anywhere. Fabrics such as curtains, rugs, leather, carpets, mattresses, clothes, and more can be steam cleaned. (Please note: steam is not recommended for use on Draylon or velvet fabric). Steam cleaning is ideal for hard surfaces inside the home including tiles, windows, window frames, wooden floors, walls, grouting, taps, fridges, freezers, ovens, fire places (non-electric), toilets, shower screens, porcelain, chrome, work surfaces, furniture, and even jewellery. You can also steam outdoor surfaces including garden furniture and tools, patios and walls.

Steam cleaners have been proven as effective in awkward cleaning jobs where detergents alone rarely succeed; for example stubborn grout stains and fat build-up inside ovens. They will also speed up the onerous task of defrosting your freezer, and they clean right into nooks and crannies that a cloth can’t reach.

Choosing a Steam Cleaner

There are three main types of steam cleaner: mop, handheld and cylinder; and there are models available which combine mop and handheld in one.

Mop: An upright model with a long handle, it is most suitable for cleaning floors.

Handheld: Portable, easy to use and easy to store, but unsuitable for cleaning large areas such as floors. They are ideal for fabrics, tiles, and small areas.

Cylinder: They look a lot like a vacuum cleaner, are very versatile but also quite heavy and can be slower to heat. However, the large water tank means you can steam for longer without refilling. With an array of nozzles and attachments, the cylinder steam cleaner can complete all tasks that a mop or a handheld can. This is a great choice if you have the space to store it when it’s not in use.

2-in-1 Mop/Handheld: This is a slightly heavier steam mop that usually comes with more attachments, and has a handheld steam cleaner built into the handle.

The features of a steam cleaner to consider are as follows:
  • Water tank size - the larger the tank, the more work you can get done without stopping to refill. The downsides of a large tank are of course the weight, the bulky size, and the time it takes to heat the water.
  • Heat up time - this is how long it takes for the steam cleaner to heat the water sufficiently to start producing steam.
  • High pressure, high temperature - the higher the pressure and temperature, the stronger the effect of the steam. High means you can power through tougher jobs faster.
  • Attachments - consider the jobs around your home that you will want to undertake, and make sure the steam cleaner comes with all the relevant attachments. Examples include nozzles for floors, fabric and glass, and brushes or pads for scrubbing. You may wear out your attachments after prolonged use, so it is also worthwhile to check that replacement parts can be purchased.

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