Ever hear about a steam/vapor cleaner or a cleaner that uses 'dry steam'? If you've spent anytime in Europe you probably have, but since these cleaners are just starting to gain popularity in North America you may not have heard a lot about them. Similar to another European idea (instant hot water), steam vapor cleaners are both highly efficient and environmentally friendly which makes them quite interesting. So if you're interested in learning some more about these efficient, practical and planet friendly cleaners, here's some information you should find useful.
Steam Cleaner Origins
The idea for small home steam cleaners originated in Europe during the 1970's. Highly pressurized steam has been used for years to pressure clean exceptionally dirty things like car and truck engines, however the high pressures and the sheer volume of water made this idea impractical for use inside a home.
However, adapting the idea to use high temperature, dry steam has made vapor steam cleaners a practical cleaning alternative for homes.
Vapor Cleaning Function
Steam/vapor cleaners have an internal boiler that heats water to an extremely high temperature (290º F internal and around 230ºF to 240ºF at the tip).
The steam vapor (dry steam) only contains 5% to 6% water (less water vapor than in the air we breath) and is made up of tiny droplets of water that are much smaller and hotter than ordinary steam.
The small size allows the droplets to get into tiny cracks and crevices while the high temperature softens oils, grease and fats that binds dirt onto a surface and allows the pressure to dislodge the particles of dirt.
Once the dirt has been loosened it can be vacuumed or wiped up using an absorbent cloth, and because there is so little water in the steam itself, any moisture left behind following the cleaning process quickly evaporates into the air.
Obviously being able to clean well is important for any cleaner, but there are a number of other reasons steam/vapor cleaning is gaining popularity.
Steam cleaning is a totally non abrasive method of cleaning, so you don't need to rub and scrub to remove dirt.
It's versatile, meaning you can clean all kinds of surfaces, ranging from tiles and grout to windows or polished surfaces like stainless steel countertops. You can even clean and remove stains from carpets and if you take a steam cleaner outside, it can clean the grungiest barbecue or the dirtiest set of lawn furniture.
Plus, steam cleaners don't just leave surfaces extremely clean, the high heat actually sanitizes the entire area being cleaned. The steam temperature is high enough to kill any bacteria, mold, mildew, dust mites or other allergy causing pathogens in the area.
Since water, heat and pressure do the cleaning and sanitizing, there is no need to use any other cleaning chemicals, and there are no toxic chemicals used. Environmentally friendly water is the only cleaning agent in a steam/vapor cleaner.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.