What are Steam Cleaners?

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  • Written By: Carrie Grosvenor
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Steam cleaners are surface cleaning machines that cleanse; remove allergens; and kill mold, bacteria, and fungus that can be overlooked by traditional vacuum cleaners. Hot water in the machine creates steam, which is worked into carpet fibers or other surfaces to loosen dirt and grime. Some of these types of cleaners work with commercially prepared chemical cleaning agents, while others simply rely on steam and rotating brushes to get the job done.

Steam cleaners can be purchased or rented for home use, and come in a wide variety of types and sizes. High demand for chemical-free cleaning alternatives has led to increased styles of these cleaners, from small hand-held systems to large industrial machines. Some resemble upright or canister vacuum cleaners.

The main difference between vacuum cleaners and steam cleaners is that a vacuum only picks up surface dirt. Steam cleaners get right into fibers, loosening any foreign material and vacuuming the soiled water back into the cleaner to be discarded after use. Your vacuum cleaner will actually perform better after steam cleaning, as the fibers of the carpet will be loosened. Steam cleaners can be used on carpets, most floors, vehicle interiors, outdoor decks and furniture, cement, bathroom or kitchen tiles and grout work, and many other places that require a deep cleaning. They are perfect for cleaning damp areas in your home, such as the basement, where mold is likely to thrive.


Basic steam cleaners use quite a lot of hot, not boiling, water, making it necessary to wait several hours after use for the cleaned surface to dry out. While this method is effective in getting rid of stains, ground in dirt, and mold or parasites, it can prove inconvenient because of the lengthy drying time. Many basic cleaners also use chemical-based cleaners in addition to the heated water.

Vapor steam cleaners superheat the water, creating a true steam cleaning machine. The water is brought to temperatures in excess of 260º Celsius (500º Fahrenheit) before being used. With this method, there is no need for chemical cleaners, and surfaces typically dry within 15 minutes. Allergy sufferers will find that these cleaners are a dream come true in doing away with dust mites, mold, fungus, and viruses that can grow and thrive in carpets and upholstered furniture. While steam cleaners shouldn't be used on any surface that isn't heat-resistant, most commercial carpeting and fabric is safe for steam cleaning.


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Post 3

So what is the best steam cleaner out there? I've been looking to buy one, but there really are tons of brands, so I'm not really sure which one to get.

I think I've got it narrowed down to either a Shark steam cleaner or a Ladybug steam cleaner, but frankly, the only reason I chose those was because the name sounded cute, so I'm totally open to suggestion.

So can anybody suggest a good rug steam cleaner brand to me? I'd really like to hear personal recommendations, along with your experience with the steamer. Thanks!

Post 2

I am in love with my carpet steam cleaner -- yes, I actually bought one, I used mine so much that it was cheaper than renting it!

I live in an apartment that used to be extremely damp. I've fixed that now with a dehumidifier, but all the mold and dust and everything that had accumulated from the last tenant just drove my sinuses crazy; I was constantly sick until I finally rented a steam cleaner to do the carpets one day and realized that that's where most of the mold was.

It was just a normal Bissell steam cleaner, but the amount of mold that came out of that carpet was phenomenal -- made me kind of cringe to

think that I had been walking on it for so long!

Anyway, I now steam clean my carpets about once every two months, just to keep them really clean, and I also have a grout steam cleaner attachment that I use in the bathroom now.

It was quite a financial investment to begin with, but when I calculate in all the money that I'm saving on health (my allergies were crazy; I was continually popping pills) and basic hygiene, think it was totally worth it.

Post 1

I was wondering if anyone could tell me how well those steam vacuum cleaner combinations work. My old Hoover is about to kick off, and I have been thinking about investing in on of the really nice top of the line steam vacuum cleaners, but I just really want to make sure that they actually work before I spend the money, you know?

I would mostly be using is on my carpets, but I would also very much like it if I could find one with an attachment that could do upholstery as well. I'm pretty sure I saw a model that can even clean curtains, so I'd love something like that.

So if anybody owns a steam vacuum cleaner, I'd really like to hear about your experiences with it, and if you would recommend getting one.

Thanks all.

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