A sticky situation

30 September 2016

OspreyDeepclean looks at how dry steam technology is evolving to provide improved solutions for chewing gum removal

The cleaning industry can generally be divided into four sectors, namely: Healthcare, Education - Commercial/FM services, Specialist Cleaning (such as street cleaning and gum removal) and Industrial Cleaning. For those working in these sectors, the advantages of using dry steam technology are no secret. It cleans and sanitises to provide a deep down, hygienic clean with minimal effort. No chemicals are required, minimal consumables are needed, it can be used on more or less any surface and - of course - it’s environmentally friendly. In addition to these benefits, there has been the introduction and increase in the use of battery powered dry steam units, predominantly for use with gum removal. 

With all of these benefits and more, the dry steam cleaning market is evolving at a record speed. Google “steam cleaning” and, for the domestic market, you’ll find a multitude of different companies selling dry steam units. Turn on your television and you’ll be bombarded with adverts for hand held dry steam units for use around the home by commercial manufacturers trying to break into the consumer market. People don’t just iron their clothes any more, they use a steam generator. Why simply clean your windows when you can steam clean them? Don’t just use anti-bacterial wipes on your surfaces, deep clean them with steam.  

But how do you, the consumer, know that you are getting the right machine for the job? And this is the issue across all of the cleaning sectors, not just the domestic market. There’s steam only, there’s steam and vacuum, there’s steam and chemical, and there is even steam, vacuum AND chemical. Some companies sell one machine under the guise that it is suitable for every cleaning task while others advocate the most important advantage to using dry steam is having the right technology for the task in hand and that this holds true no matter which cleaning sector you work in. 

'Mysterious' snail trails

Earlier this year in Cheltenham, UK (where OspreyDeepclean is based) puzzled locals took to social media to discuss mysterious, huge “snail trails” that had suddenly appeared etched into the town centre pavements. In fact, the trails were caused by high-pressure washers being used to blast discarded chewing gum off the pavements. The resulting unsightly trails illustrate just how dirty the remainder of the pavement is and is a reminder of the huge amount of water needed for the high-pressure approach to cleaning which is both costly and environmentally wasteful.

Cutting-edge battery power

At one time, blasting surfaces with high-pressure water was a mainstream method of cleaning, followed by the introduction of portable dry steam units inside backpacks to remove discarded gum. While the technology worked, carrying 6kg on your back for the duration of a shift can have serious health and safety implications. Nowadays, these tried and tested methods only serve to show how the cleaning industry has evolved to meet with changing demands. Dry steam has roots in the cleaning industry as far back as 1995 but trailing cables and noisy generators have now given way to cutting-edge battery powered dry steam units that are cordless, virtually silent and have simplistic controls. 

Battery technology for removing chewing gum could be just the tip of the iceberg for the cleaning industry. There is the potential that cleaners will no longer have to use heavy, cumbersome machines with trailing cable or work antisocial hours, as their work can be “seen and not heard”. Daytime cleaning could actually become a mainstream approach.

Dry steam really can be used to clean virtually anything and market leaders have always firmly advocated that it is the ideal modern tool for old fashioned deep cleaning practices. Discarded gum and graffiti are probably always going to be an anti-social issue yet we can be confident that – with the evolution of innovative technology – we can keep instilling the positive “See it clean, Keep it clean” mantra to minimise any negative impacts on our world.