Steam Cleaners: FAQ

Steam Cleaner Information – Questions About Cleaners

We tried to think of every single question you could think of and put it up on the web but my staff tell me they have been fielding quite a few questions on steam cleaners. Here is what most people ask.

Q. How do steam vapor cleaners use only water to do the cleaning

A. The heat emulsifies the grease and chemicals and then the hot towel draws the emulsified “stuff” into it. Only “dry steam” is added to the carpet that dries in as little as a few seconds. If you are chemical sensitive, you will not be adding chemicals to the carpet, but instead you will be removing them.

Q. Are steam cleaners safe?

A.Yes, if you get a quality system with safety features (switches, pressure gauges, etc) and use proper caution.

Q. Can I burn myself?

A. Yes, if you don’t exercise reasonable caution, but the incidence of this is pretty rare.

Q. How does a steam cleaner kill dust mites?

A. By heat: Dust-mites die @ 130 degrees and temp at nozzle is about 180 degrees (trapped steam temp is up to 250 degrees)

Q. How would I actually use it to kill dust mites?

A. Move tool slowly; only one pass is needed.

Q. Does it kill the dust mites permanently?

A. No you will need to steam again about 8 weeks later.

Q. What are biofilms?

A. Organisms that live in colonies and form a protective covering over them are called biofilms. These organisms often live in layers, making them hard to clean. Steam kills the entire colony and removes the organisms from the surface. Chemical cleaning may kill only the top layer and then leave the organisms there.

Q. Does a steam cleaner kill visible mold in a basement?

A. Not always because some molds are heat resistant.

Q. Does it work on vinyl, linoleum or hardwood floors?

A. Yes, very well. Keep the brush moving. Do not leave the brush on the floor with the head down (it will burn the floor)

Q. Why are most steam cleaning services ineffective for cleaning carpets or dust mites?

A. Most use a chemical extraction process. They are really not “steam cleaning” because the heat delivered at their nozzle is not hot enough after traveling through their long hose. Nozzle heat needs to be at least 130 degrees to kill dust-mites. If it’s chemical extraction, you’re adding chemicals not removing them. The carpet may remain wet for hours allowing mold to breed and more dust-mites.

Q. What is wicking in carpets?

A. A natural process that pulls stains toward heat. In steam cleaning the heat is at the surface of the carpet.

Q. Are steam cleaners effective for cleaning carpets?

A. Yes. The spot removal and general carpet revitalization is excellent but it is a lengthy process and you may want to use a regular hot water extraction cleaning unit first to get up major dirt.

Q. How about pet accidents on carpets? How would I go about cleaning those up?

A. It will remove them unless the messes have something in them that causes a chemical reaction with the fibers. The odor will be strongly present while you are cleaning, but will soon dissipate and the fabric will now be odor free.
To clean: Blot up and remove any solids or wetness. Preferably, mist with the 212 cleaner, and then clean. May need to do more than once, but keep at it. Berber carpets are very difficult: The stain may get larger because of the weave, but usually will come out.

Q. How can vapor steam cleaners help in removing pet hair from carpets and upholstery?

A. The heat removes the static charge present in all hair and allows the hair to be easily vacuumed afterward. Any pet odors will also be removed.

Q. How about hard water spots on my shower?

A. Probably not because the spots are usually a chemical stain. But try rubbing lemon juice first and then steam. If the shower is new, the steam cleaner is excellent for maintaining that new look.

Q. How can a steam cleaner clean my oven?

A. It is high heat, not pressure or scrubbing that does the cleaning. Use either the brass brush or the stainless pad, both of which become very hot and retain the heat by trapping the steam. Move the brush fairly quickly over the metal letting the heat do the work. A little scrubbing will help. If the brushes seem to stop cleaning, move them away from the area you are working on and allow that area to cool off. (You have probably heated the area you are cleaning to a temperature where it is drawing the grime back to itself.)

Q. Is a vapor steam cleaner effective in grout cleaning?

A. Yes, in most instances. It will not clean silicone grout if the grime is not on the surface, because some stains will have come from the backside and have chemically permeated through the grout. Move the brass or nylon brush back and forth slowly in a small area, perhaps 12”.First with the bristles straight ahead and then from the center toward the edges at an angle.

Q. Can I put a cleaning fluid into the machine to make it work better?

A. No! Absolutely not. You will destroy the machine and invalidate the warranty.

Q. Why are some machines so expensive? I’ve seen some inexpensive machines advertised.

A. Basically, you get what you pay for. Expensive units usually have safety features, quality stainless steel boilers, heavier wiring, better switches, more insulation, the heating unit mounted inside the boiler, more attachments, better quality attachments, fewer repairs that will be needed, and a greater length of time you can expect them to last. You get what you pay for.

Q. How long will a vapor steam cleaner last?

A. A quality unit will last up to 15 to 20 years with proper maintenance and some minor repairs that are bound to be needed from time to time.

Q. Do I need a Tuff kit?

A. Generally, yes. (Remember that it is the heat and not the pressure or scrubbing that does the cleaning…..and use low steam.) Grout, stainless steel grills, and oven racks best cleaned with the brass brush. Black iron items and oven insides (not the racks) are best cleaned with the stainless steel. If the cleaning action seems to stop, move the metal brush you are using away and wait a short while for the cleaning surface to cool.

Q. How does the Plumbers Helper work?

A. The heat creates pressure and acts like an air hammer.

Q. How do I use the 212 cleaner?

A. It comes in a crystal/powder form to allow shipping and needs to be diluted and put in a clean spray top bottle.

  1. First fill the bottle in which it comes ¾ to the top with warm water and shake to dissolve the contents.
  2. Next fill the bottle to the top.
  3. Add about 2 inches of this solution to a quart spray bottle and fill to the top with warm water. (This dilutes the crystal/powder about 16:1)
  4. Lightly mist (do not soak) the area to be cleaned.
  5. Gently work the sprayed solution into any spots or stains with your fingers (yes, it’s perfectly safe).
  6. Some spots may need a little more misting. Many spots will disappear with the solution even before steaming.
  7. Steam clean the rug following the directions given with the machine.

Q. If I dont’t like the vapor steam cleaner can I return it?

A. Yes, within 30 days. However, you will be responsible for the packing and shipping charges back to us, and you will not be credited for the shipping and handling expense we incurred in delivering the product to you. There may possibly be a restocking or refurbishing fee depending on the return condition.

See all the Vapor Steam Cleaners in our store