Picking up steam

22 May 2017

Tom Harrison, sales director at Harrison Hire and Sales, explains the benefits that steam offers over conventional cleaning methods

Judging by the countless domestic steam cleaners on the market we can hazard a guess that there’s a growing awareness of the benefits of steam cleaning. There are also a considerable number of machines geared towards commercial or industrial usage, so if you have responsibility for cleaning within an organisation or business and haven’t yet been converted the following might help you  gain a better understanding of its benefits:

How does it work?

When water is heated to well over 100 degrees it becomes dry steam which has impressive cleaning and sanitising ability. This is the job of a steam generator; commercial machines start at 4 bar steam pressure. Steam is then applied using a hose and attachment - there are lots of different attachments and tools to do different jobs.

Is it safe?

Yes! The steam cools dramatically as it atomises in the air so once the steam gets about 5cm away from the nozzle, you can pass your hand through it. Goggles and gloves should be worn to use the machine safely to avoid any dirt “splashback” and handle the accessories safely after use.

What are the benefits of steam?

There are many! Here are just a few:

It is green - No chemical is required, which is better for the environment, and for anyone who is sensitive to chemicals. Steam cleaning also uses next to no water. 

It cleans better than mopping or scrubbing - Many hard surfaces have minute imperfections, even on seemingly smooth surfaces such as tiles. Dirt sits in these tiny imperfections and so a mop will just pass over the top of them. The pressure and heat from the steam combine and penetrate these cracks, removing heavily ingrained dirt that traditional methods leave behind.

Steam kills viruses and bacteria – Hospitals, care homes, play centres and nurseries all need to maintain scrupulously clean environments to stop bacteria and viruses such as Staph, E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Norovirus and Norwalk taking hold. As the steam produced by a generator is hotter than they can survive at, steam cleaning is a highly effective method for sanitising areas where bacteria and viruses can spread.

Deep cleaning greasy areas – Steam is unbelievably powerful at cutting through the grease and food debris that can quickly build up in restaurants, commercial kitchens and in food production areas leaving them spotlessly clean and sanitised. 

Steam kills micro-organisms - For people with allergies to mould and dust, this is great news. Dust-mites, which live on dead human skin cells, are found on mattresses, bedding and carpets. They are a well-known trigger for allergies – skin can become red and itchy as a result of dust mite faeces, so using steam to reduce the level of these insects can improve symptoms. If your skin isn’t crawling yet, then read on.

Steam kills bedbugs - Another little discussed problem experienced by hoteliers, B & B’s, residential homes, boarding schools, and similar organisations is the bed bug. Whilst they don’t spread disease, an infestation of bedbugs can lead to discomfort. During the night, the adult bedbug will bite humans to feed on blood, and some people will react to their bites by developing an itchy rash.

Where else can I use steam cleaning?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of applications: food preparation surfaces, stainless steel appliances, ovens and cookers, conveyor belts, floors, glass, upholstery, soft furnishings and grout. Steam can be used safely in many industries in many applications.