Steam cleaners, also known as dry vapor cleaners are relatively environmentally friendly. They provide a reasonably cost-effective and safe way to clean your home so they can be a good contribution to a green living approach.
Steam cleaners can provide real benefits, particularly for people who suffer from allergies. They are also quick to use. As time is money, they will find a place in many homes as people become more aware of their benefits. Yes, they use electricity and so contribute to carbon emissions. The amount used is generally between 1000 to 2000 watts, so it's like running an electric heater in terms of electricity use. However, they are quick, and some say, effective. Other users claim that they are fiddly and labour-intensive. Clearly, some models are better in this respect than others.
Read on for my own experiences in using a steam cleaner, towards the bottom of the page.
Dry vapor cleaners can be used to clean almost everything: floors, curtains and soft-furnishings, kitchen work surfaces, taps, sinks, shower cubicles, windows, mattresses, clothing, tiles and floors. So really they have their uses practically throughout the whole house.
They are particularly good for getting rid of grease and ground in dirt, lifting stains and for de-scaling appliances such as shower heads.
They are favoured by people with allergies because the pressurized steam deals with dust mites. Other dust-borne contaminants such as mould spores and bacteria should also be reduced, so this provides a very effective way of cleaning to high standards without chemicals.
Dry steam cleaners operate at over 240° degrees (100° Centigrade) i.e. boiling point.
They typically come with accessories such as power nozzles, bristle nozzles, floor and hand tools, extension poles, towelling cloths and window squeegees. With some a bio-descaler is also available and some can also be used with chemicals.
It's worth looking at the more powerful models which have decent pressure and continuous steam. Some of the really low-end models have been slated for being ineffective.
Steam cleaners are relatively expensive (but as more people become aware of their benefits, prices are sure to tumble.) In the UK at the moment vapour cleaners are available from around £100 pounds upwards. If you want a fast and powerful one you will be looking to pay in the region of £500 pounds.
In the USA prices range from around $300 through to about $1500 for domestic models. You can also buy even more powerful and expensive models for commercial use.
Are steam cleaners time consuming to use?
Some users claim that they are time consuming and hard work.
To clean different kinds of surface you need to change nozzles; you still need to wipe surfaces down and wring out cloths in some cases; extension poles have to be fitted to reach high places - and then dismantled again. And you have to refill the water reservoir from time to time.
You can buy steam cleaners for specific purposes, which would minimise the need for changing nozzles, for instance. This may be worthwhile if you do a lot of one type of cleaning. For example, you can buy an inexpensive fabric cleaner from Amazon
which might be good if you do a lot of that type of cleaning. Obviously you do not want to fill your cupboards with lots of different types of cleaning machines! It is more environmentally-friendly to share or hire for occasional use.
All in all, if you are an allergy sufferer, or have other health problems, steam cleaners may be for you. Also, people who are time-pressured (almost everybody, these days!) may find them a worthwhile investment (despite the observations, above).
From an environmental perspective they are quite good because they allow people to achieve high standards of hygiene without using any chemicals.
Which steam cleaner?
If you want to buy a steam cleaner it's worth taking a little time to assess the best one for the job. Professional models will generally be the most effective.
has had great reviews and appears to be indestructible and very efficient at tackling all those dirt-chasing jobs.
A more budget approach can be had from the Haan Deluxe Total Home Steam Cleaning System
which includes an upright vapor steam floor sanitizer, and a lightweight handheld steamer for use on curtains, grout, tiles and just about everything else. This is an effective cleaner but because of the relatively small size you will have to refill rather often for some jobs.
has solid, durable attachments and produces nearly an hour of steam on one filling. A well-regarded machine which should fulfill all your requirements from a medium priced steamer.
My steam cleaner
Have I got around to buying a steam cleaner myself? Yes I have.
I opted for a relatively cheap model the "Aqua" steam machine. I'm fairly impressed with it, though I can already see why I should have bought a bigger model.
It packs quite a punch but on larger tasks such as floor cleaning it quickly runs out of oomph and needs to be plugged in again for a bit more charge. This makes the task a bit more time consuming than it might otherwise be. However, the good news is that it is pretty miserly with electricity. A session costs only pennies, even if you are cleaning floors or large areas of tiling.
My only other gripe is that it spits out boiling water for a few seconds when newly charged, before the steam gets going. This makes it a bit wetter than it should be. I just point it at something that won't take harm - like the tiled floor before using it on cupboards or windows.
My house is gradually becoming cleaner than its ever been, so I'm really quite a fan and can see myself upgrading before too long.
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