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Picking up steam

29 April 2019

Mike Osiadacz, sales director, Matrix Cleaning Systems, explains how steam can be used to clean a range of surfaces and what benefits it offers

Did you know that you can use steam cleaners to clean almost every surface, both hard and soft? From stainless steel kitchen fabrication to tiles, laminates, sanitary materials, carpets and fabrics?. There are lots of advantages to steam cleaning that might make you wonder why you haven’t included it in your cleaning routine before.

Benefits of using steam cleaners    

  • Steam cleaning is eco-friendly – no chemicals are involved.

  • A proven water saving technology with DEFRA.

  • When steam cleaning the heat will disinfect or sanitise nearly all surfaces.

  • Eradicates bacteria and cleans in one application.

  • Steam evaporates quickly, so surfaces are dryer more quickly.

  • Enables cleaning of those most difficult-to-clean cracks and crevices.

  • A multifunctional all round cleaning system.

Things to remember when steam cleaning

Steam cleaning is not always a perfect solution to your cleaning needs. Here are some things you need to remember when steam cleaning:

  • Wear personal protective clothing when using a steam cleaner.

  • Only trained staff should use a steam cleaner.

  • Use in accordance with the manufacturer's user manual.

  •  Steam cleaned surfaces may still need to be wiped with a cloth – the steam loosens the dirt, but doesn’t remove it unless you have a vacuumated steam machine.

  • Some tasks may not be suitable for a steam cleaner and may still be done quicker by hand.

Types of steam cleaning machines

There are two main types of steam cleaners on the market. A steam only machine produces steam in a boiler and releases it under pressure through various accessories. It is excellent for detail cleaning, then you can remove any residue with a microfibre cloth for a dry surface.

Steam & vacuum machines are the most effective and are more multifunctional as the vacuum can be used for the extraction of moisture from fabrics and carpets and for floor cleaning of small areas. Both of the above systems are available with different pressure boilers and expert advice should be sought for the correct product selection.

What can you steam clean?

Most surfaces can benefit from steam cleaning, but you should always pay attention to the material you’re cleaning and think about how it will react to direct water and heat. Always remember to test a small area of the surface first to see how it will react to the process. 

Steam kills dust mites and removes stains from upholstery, mattresses, curtains and carpets. A dry steam cleaning machine and an upholstery attachment should be used for these surfaces. For carpets, you should use a steam cleaner only for spot cleaning – use a carpet cleaning machine for large surfaces. Test an inconspicuous area first to make sure the material you are cleaning is colour-fast, and keep the machine moving so you don’t soak the fabric.

Steam kills germs, mould, and fungus from floors, tiles, and ceramic and metal fixtures. Steam is also good for cleaning grout (but not epoxy or caulking). Use a dry steam cleaning machine with vacuum and a floor attachment for these areas and keep the machine moving and avoid pressure in one area for too long. Steam should not be used on porous floor surfaces such as concrete, paving stones, limestone, marble, or unsealed hardwood.

When it comes to stainless steel kitchen surfaces and work tops, dry steam cleaners can sanitise and clean all surfaces in the kitchen environment including rubbish bins, cutting boards, canopies, grills, ovens and work surfaces. You can also use a handheld dry steam cleaner to clean the fridge and defrost the freezer.

Finally, you can steam clean throughout toilets and washrooms, including: tile grouting; shower screens; all bathroom fixtures & fittings; walls, floors, pipework; toilet seats, hinges and urinal pipework. Be sure to follow the directions on the steam cleaner for advice on how to clean these items. 

If you require more information, please contact your steam machine manufacturer or seek advice from a training organisations such as The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc).