Maintaining a clean home is a part of a happy home. You could let dishes pile up, clothes go unwashed, and counters left unwiped, but what you’re really doing is creating a stressful environment where germs, viruses, and other harmful pathogens thrive.
One of the best tools for indoor home cleaning, in our opinion, is a steam cleaner. With one of these bad boys in your cleaning arsenal, you can remove bacteria from a variety of surfaces. Kitchen counters? Floor tiles and grout? Upholstery? Not a problem if you have a steam cleaner.
Types of Steam Cleaners
There are four main types of steam cleaners to choose from – handheld models, steam mops, cylinder steam cleaners, and vapor steam cleaners.
Handheld Steam Cleaners
These are the most compact type of steam cleaner. They’re easy to store since they don’t take up much space, but their biggest benefit is the ability to clean small places – tile grout, countertops, faucets, car upholstery. However, for large cleaning projects, such as entire floors, using one of these can be a literal pain in the neck and back.
Though much larger than a handheld steam cleaner, steam mops are still extremely compact and easy to store. Some models can be stored on a wall mount to save space. Their mop-like head makes this the ideal tool for cleaning entire floors. Countertop, upholstery, sinks and faucets, not so much.
Cylinder Steam Cleaners
Cylinder models are bulkier than handheld and steam mops, but their larger size is due to their larger tank and thus, makes cleaning a larger area a much easier task. You don’t need to worry about filling the tank as frequently. A single tank can be more than enough for entire floors and with enough water to spare for drapes and clothes. Oh, they also have a wide range of attachments available, so they’re super-versatile.
Vapor Steam Cleaners
In appearance and usage, cylinder and vapor steam cleaners are practically similar. The main distinction between the two is the latter’s use of vapor rather than steam. This offers a “dry” cleaning and reduces the amount of water left on sensitive surfaces.
Benefits of Steam Cleaning
If we had a nickel for every time someone asked us that… we’d have nothing, but we’ll answer it anyway. There are plenty of good reasons why you should use a steam cleaner for indoor cleaning jobs.
Arguably the best reason to pick up a steam cleaner is that it’s safe for the environment. There’s no need to dump chemical cleaning solutions all over your tiles, furniture, or countertops. If you rely on chemicals to do the dirty work, you’ll have to pick up an air purifier to make the air breathable.
How long have you had to wait after mopping your floors before you can safely walk on it again? A sopping wet mop will leave little ponds of water on your floors, and dragging your feet will dirtify these mini pools. You’re basically back at square one in terms of cleanliness. With a steam cleaner, the steam dissipates quicker so you can get back to business after a quick go-over.
Cleans Hard-to-Reach Spots
Steam has a way of fitting into cracks and crevices that a traditional mop or rag just don’t. This is what makes a steam cleaner so helpful in the bathroom, kitchen, around the living room, and even in cars. There’s seriously nothing to it; simply aim the nozzle at the spot you want to blast clean, go over it with a clean, dry cloth, and you’re all done!
Steam Cleaner Buying Guide
A quick search on the interwebs and you’ll find that there are literally hundreds of different steam cleaner models to choose from. Finding the most appropriate steam cleaner that fits all of your cleaning needs can be quick a challenge, especially since different surfaces call for different cleaning capacities and attachments.
For the rest of this article, we’ll talk about what sort of things to look out for in a steam cleaner for floors, for carpets, and for cars. After all, these are the three most popular places where a steam cleaner is the optimal cleaning tool of choice.
Steam Cleaner for Floors Buying Guide
When cleaning floors, a floor buffer or mop won’t be able to sanitize in an effective manner. There’s really no way for the brushes, sponges, or cloths to reach in between tiles and eradicate years and years of dirt layers. In this section, we’ll focus on what sort of qualities make for a good floor-sanitizing steam cleaner.
Compatible Steam Cleaner
Of the four types of steam cleaners available, all four of them can be useful for cleaning floors. Steam mops, cylinder steam cleaners, and vapor steam cleaners are great at wiping away stains and grease in wide areas. For cleaning grout between floor tiles, handheld steam cleaners can be particularly useful, as with cylinder and vapor models with the right steam nozzle attachment.
When clearing wide areas such as the entire floor of your home, the most annoying thing about using a steam cleaner is having to refill the tank frequently. You could end up going back to your kitchen faucet and filling the tank more than an annoying amount of times before the job is done.
Obviously, a larger tank is preferable to a smaller one. Cylinders and vapor steam cleaners come with larger tanks – around 48 fl. oz. – whereas steam mops and handheld modes are typically equipped with small, 12-fl. oz. tanks.
Floor Mop Attachment
The spout-like nozzle of handheld steam cleaners is ideal for getting in between tiles and blasting years of dirt from the grout. Steam mops don’t need any cleaning attachments as their mop head is already equipped to handle wide floors. If you end up getting a cylinder or vapor steam cleaner, make sure it comes with or is compatible with a floor mop attachment.
Scrubbing Pad Attachment
To get the toughest, most caked-on stains off of your precious tiles, consider finding a model that comes with a scrubbing pad attachment. These pads are great for use on stone floors and even inside of ovens. These scrubbing pad attachments are only available for handheld, cylinder, and vapor steam cleaner models.
If you have marble floors…
The safest way to clean marble floors is by using a steam vapor cleaner. This tool will not introduce water to porous marble tiles, effectively extending the life and shine of your floors. Although other models will leave minuscule amounts of water, anything that ends up seeping into marble could end up discoloring the tile. Only a floor buffer with diamond buffing pads will help with removing the stain.
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Steam Cleaner for Carpet Buying Guide
You’re probably wondering why a steam cleaner would be best for carpets when there are carpet cleaners that you can rely on. Well, first of all, carpet cleaners use hot water, not vapor, to clean carpets, thus needing an eternity plus one year to thoroughly clean and dry. Steam cleaners, on the other don’t, don’t. Let’s see what sort of features to look out for when shopping for a steam cleaner for carpet-cleaning purposes.
Compatible Steam Cleaner Types
The only type of steam cleaner that is not particularly effective at removing old stains from carpets is steam mops. Their lack of attachments makes them unable to provide any scrubbing power to the stain. However, they could be used in a pinch if you’re trying to remove new stains, though we can’t promise satisfaction.
Temperature and Pressure
The temperature and pressure of the steam are vital indicators of the steam cleaner’s ability to steam-clean carpets. The tool’s built-in boiler should always be able to heat water beyond its boiling point (100°C or 212°F). A higher temperature rating will produce steam quicker and at a higher pressure, which significantly improves the tool’s cleaning power. But what is much more important is the tool’s ability to maintain a constant temperature.
Unfortunately, the only sign of the boiler’s effectiveness at maintaining heat is its price, but if deep-cleaning carpets is important to you, then it’s definitely worth the investment.
Scrubbing Pad Attachment
The scrubbing pad attachment is one of the most commonly used attachments for deep-cleaning carpets. This attachment blasts a concentrated jet of steam which will dissolve carpet stains much quicker. The side bristles also do a great job at lifting any stuck particles from carpet fuzz. Make sure that the steam cleaner you end up getting either comes with one or is compatible with the one that is sold separately.
Triangle Brush Attachment
Similar to the scrubbing pad, the triangle brush attachment also helps by sending concentrated jets of steam at the target stain. The distinction between the two is their shape – standard scrubbing pads are circular, whereas triangle brushes are… triangular. The points dig deeper into long, shaggy carpet fibers.
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Steam Cleaner for Cars Buying Guide
When it comes to cars, it’s imperative that the steam cleaner comes with or is compatible with the right cleaning attachments. In this brief guide, we’ll discuss what sort of things make for a high-quality car upholstery steam cleaner and what sort of attachments to keep an eye out for.
Compatible Types of Steam Cleaners
Once again, the only type of steam cleaner that isn’t designed for this specific job is the steam mop. How awkward would it be dragging a long steam cleaner and its mop head across your car’s seat and dashboards? Even dealing with its low-tier carpets can be frustrating with a steam mop.
As for the remaining steam cleaner types, they’re all good. Handheld models are just a bit on the slow side due to their tiny water tanks and weaker boilers. Cylinders and vapor steam cleaners are great, and their long steam hoses solve the problem of maneuverability within your vehicle.
Compatibility with Cars
However, choosing any random handheld, cylinder, or vapor steam cleaner is not going to do you or your car’s interior any favors. It’s important that you check the steam cleaner to make sure that the unit is compatible with cars. Many models deliver far too much heat and pressure which could end up warping plastic, melting polyester, and permanently wrinkling leather.
Upholstery Cleaning Attachments
There are several different types of attachments used to steam-clean the interior of your automobile. The most obvious cleaning attachments are scrubbing pads and triangle brushes. These are great for cleaning the upholstery of your car, killing burrowed bugs, and scraping away crusty condiments.
Another great attachment is a nozzle or spout which pours a concentrated flow of steam on a small area. This is great for cleaning dashboards, between seat cushions, and interior door handles.
Power Cord Length
Since a steam cleaner does not draw power from the cigarette lighter port of your vehicle but rather from wall outlets, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the length of the power cord. The right length depends entirely on how far away you park your car from the nearest outlet and whether you have a reliable, water-resistant extension cord on hand. Power cords typically range from 9 to over 15 feet, so find one that suits you and your car best.
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So what have we learned today? Steam cleaners are essentially the environmentally friendly way of deep-cleaning almost any inanimate surface both in and outside of your home. They have a ton of uses, and their low-moisture, quick-drying steam really make it the optimal tool for cleaning.
In today’s article, we’ve split out steam cleaner buying guide into three different sections based on what the steam is targeting – floors, carpets, and car interiors.
The right steam cleaner for floors can be any type (handheld, steam mop, cylinder steam cleaners, and vapor steam cleaners – that comes with a large tank for infrequent refilling, a floor mop attachment, and a scrubbing pad attachment. However, for delicate marble tiles, we’d recommend sticking to a vapor steam cleaner which does not leave a moist layer in its wake.
For cleaning carpets, you should avoid getting a steam mop which won’t provide enough concentrated steam to deep-clean shaggy carpets and rugs. Also, the unit should be able to maintain a high temperature to provide a constant flow of pressurized steam for more effective cleaning. Attachments like scrubbing pads and triangle brushes make cleaning carpets a breeze.
As for steam cleaners for cars, you can forget about steam mops as they aren’t as easy to maneuver within the confines of a car. The included cleaning attachments are the real MVPs when it comes to steam-cleaning your car’s seats and dashboard. Ideally, the unit will come with a nozzle attachment, a scrubbing pad, and a triangle brush. Anything else is a major plus in versatility.