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Steam Cleaners FAQ

Steam Cleaners FAQ

What is Vapor Steam Cleaning?
Vapor steam cleaning is the process of cleaning that uses steam to clean and sanitize surfaces. The steam is produced in a boiler by heating up water to 240°-310° F. or by a "flash" heating system. It is then converted to low-pressure, low-moisture water vapor, with as little as 4-6% water. The pressurized steam is released through an insulated hose to an attachment of your choice. These steam cleaners use around 60-70 PSI, but this will vary depending on the model you select.

What is the difference between vapor steam cleaner and basic steam carpet cleaner?
Vapor Steam Cleaners Are NOT 'Carpet Steam Cleaners'The carpet "steam" cleaners that you can rent or have someone come in and use employ large amounts of hot water to clean your carpets. In reality, they are not even true steam cleaners but hot water extractors. These two machines run on very different principles. With hot water extraction, the carpet is saturated then the unit extracts dirt and debris trapped in the carpet fibers. While hot water extraction is preferred method by most carpet manufacturers, the machine has negative consequences for those with allergies, MCS, or those that are eco-friendly. The hot water used to clean leaves the carpets soggy for hours after cleaning them; wet carpets nurture the right conditions for mold and mildew to grow and multiply. Another difference in carpet steam cleaners is that most of them also use chemicals and cleaning agents mixed in with the hot water, so it is not an efficient way to clean for those who suffer from MCS or who are looking for a "green" product. Vapor steam cleaners clean only with water, no chemicals or cleaning agents are ever mixed in.

What is "dry" steam?
Steam Cleaners FAQ - What is dry steam?Dry steam is steam with no liquid phase dispersed in it. Simply put, the moisture that is contained in the steam is all in waters gaseous state. This term is also used to refer to steam cleaners that have a very low percentage of water in the steam that is created or steam cleaners that leave very little moisture residue. Low-moisture, Ladybug steam cleaners has steam with a very low percentage of actual water, typically about 6%.

What are the origins of vapor steam cleaning?

Rumor has it that vapor steam cleaning originated in Italy by a bartender who Origins of Vapor Steam Cleanersused steam from his espresso machine to clean lipstick marks from bar glasses. Vapor steam cleaners have been in use in Europe for over 30 years and many of the most popular models are still manufactured there.

What can you clean with your vapor steam cleaner?

Steam Cleaners Can Clean Nearly Any Surface

Flooring: sealed wood flooring, tile, linoleum, grout, carpet (some models), and vinyl. Be careful not to leave it on one spot on the floor too long because the high temperatures can possibly burn the flooring. Do NOT use on any unsealed flooring.

Bathrooms: fixtures, porcelain, shower doors, sinks, countertops, tile, group, mirrors, tubs, and even the toilet.

Living Room/Bedrooms: Upholstered furniture, mattresses, blinds, and curtains. It can also be used to disinfect children's toys so germs aren't passed around.

Kitchen: can clean stainless steel appliances and surfaces without all the special chemical polishing agents, dissolves greases on ovens, stove tops and burners with ease, restores shine and removes wax build-up, and can clean refrigerators, freezers, coolers, and microwaves.

Industrial Kitchens: cleans and sanitizes food service and preparation areas.

Automotive: deep cleans and freshens fabrics, easily cleans vinyl, leather and cloth, eliminates odors from pets, smoking, molds and mildews, cleans hard to reach places like dashboards, vents, armrests, and cup holders, and removes wax and other compounds from chrome, moldings and bumpers.

Miscellaneous: cleans golf balls, patio furniture, grills, and lawn mowers. It can also polish jewelry, kill weeds in patio, and clean away algae from swimming pools, as well as be used as a defroster. Steam cleaners work well in pet areas too - use on cages, disinfect liter boxes, and remove pet stains and odors.

What are benefits of vapor steam cleaners?
Steam Cleaners - Healthier for You and Your FamilyNo chemicals are used. This helps not only our environment, but helps our own health and saves you money since you don't have to buy chemicals to put in the units. With no chemicals being used, this also means steam cleaners are safe for the chemically sensitive to use. Studies show that over 3 million people each year are poisoned by their cleaning products; why even risk it?

They are eco-friendly in using only water and heat to clean which means no empty cleaning bottles to dispose. They don't leave behind toxic residue or stain clothing like some cleaning agents can. They kill bacteria and germs. Bacteria such as e-coli, listeria, and salmonella are killed upon contact with the use of steam cleaners, as well as viruses, mildew, and dust mites. They are very versatile and with the right attachments can be used nearly anywhere on any surface. Eliminates allergy triggers such as smoking, dust and dust mites, chemical residue, plants, animals, mold and mildew, and food.

What are biofilms?
When surfaces such as countertops, sinks, etc. are not cleaned thoroughly - biofilms can form (basically layer after layer of soil). Biofilm is similar to dental plaque. Bacteria then hide underneath the biofilm. Studies show saturating your countertops for 60 minutes with bleach only kills a small percentage of the bacteria.

Will my steam cleaner penetrate through the biofilms?
Yes. The steam cleaner cleans by using a process called "heat transfer" that lifts the soil from the surface and kills the bacteria hiding underneath.

Will my steam cleaner kill dust mites and fleas?
Vapor Steam Cleaners Kill Dust Mites, Fleas, and Bed BugsYes. Most steam cleaner will heat up to between 220° and 280° F. It takes only 135° heat to kill dust mites and 140° heat to kill flea eggs. Since the eggs can lay dormant, you will need to steam clean at least every 8 weeks the area in which you are trying to get rid of dust mites or fleas. Dust mites live in furniture as well, so you will want to steam clean your mattress and other bedroom furniture as well.

Will my steam cleaner kill bed bugs?
Yes. It can kill bed bugs in all stages of development, including the eggs. Bed bugs are killed at any temperature over 120° F.

Is it safe to use tap water to fill vapor steam cleaners?
Yes, however in time a mineral residue can start to form. In order to clean any scale out of the tank, you can fill the tank with equal parts white vinegar and distilled water. Run this mixture through the system then flush. The alternative to this is to purchase a descaling agent or to use a mixture of baking soda and water. All will essentially do the same thing in removing mineral build up from the boiler system.

Steam Cleaners FAQ - Do Steam Cleaners Kill Mold?Will my steam cleaner kill all types of mold?
For this steam cleaner the most important word in the question is "all". While the steam cleaners will kill MOST types of mold, unfortunately, there are a few types of mold that are heat resistant. Ladybug steam cleaners equipped with TANCS will offer better results in that the TANCS system converts naturally occurring minerals in water into crystals that are then used to compromise the cell walls of microorganisms, better allowing heat to kill them.

Can I use my vapor steam cleaner on carpets?
Yes and no. Steam cleaners are a great way to spot clean, disinfect and deodorize any carpet or rug (including Orientals), but they are not true carpet cleaners. You will want to use a high quality, HEPA vacuum following use of the steam cleaner in order to get up the dirt particles and/or pet hair that the steam cleaner loosened while cleaning.

Can I use detergent or cleaning fluids in my steam cleaner?
No! This can ruin your machine, as well as void your warranty. If you have heavily soiled areas in your carpet, you can use the Ladybug 212 Solution. This cleaner is soapless and non-toxic. Simply pour a few ounces of the mixture into a spray bottle and spray directly on the stain and then use your vapor steam cleaner.

Where does the dirt go?
If you are using an attachment that has a microfiber or other absorption pad, the pad would absorb or capture it. If you are not using a pad, simply wipe the area with a towel to remove excess moisture and dirt.

What if I have MCS?
MCS stands for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Cleaning supplies, pesticides, new building materials, formaldehyde and many other products can contribute to the onset of symptoms for those who suffer from MCS. Vapor steam cleaning can reduce the worry of being exposed to chemicals that can trigger reactions. Steam cleaners can also remove chemical residue left from previous cleanings.

What should I consider before purchasing a steam cleaner?

  1. How big is the area you want to cover? You would want to consider how large the tank is on the unit - this will determine how often you fill up to clean. It is recommended that if you are getting a multi-purpose steamer to purchase one with 1.6 liter capacity or above.
  2. Steam Cleaners Cloths / BonnetsWhat are you going to be cleaning and will you need accessories (ex: windows, brushes for ovens, etc.)? Also, check to see if the unit requires specially designed mop covers or if you can use any microfiber towel or terry cloth. This can save you time and money in the future if you do not have to special order the replacement towels.
  3. Do you need continuous cleaning power? Steam cleaners vary in the amount of time they have continuous steam coming out before you have to refill the water tank. Also each unit varies in whether you have to turn machine off, to refill and heat back up or if you can refill it while it is running.
  4. What is your budget? Steam cleaners come in a variety of styles and prices.
  5. Does it have a stainless steel boiler? If you purchase one with an aluminum boiler, please note that it will have to be replaced sooner because aluminum is softer and will weaken a lot quicker. Stainless steel is much better for longevity.
  6. Is the steam temperature and pressure consistent? Try not to get too caught up in temperature - if you only need about 200° to kill most microorganisms, 300° does not equal a big improvement in cleaning ability. Instead focus on how well a unit will consistently provide adequate levels of steam and pressure.

Steam Cleaners Help with Pet OdorsCan steam cleaners help with pet hair and odors?
Yes, and steam cleaners can commonly be found in use by professional pet groomers and veterinarians. If you steam clean using a microfiber cloth attached to the end of the hose, the steam will loosen the pet hair and dirt, while the microfiber cloth will trap it. Steam also releases and removes pet odor from carpets and upholstered furniture.

How can a steam cleaner help allergy sufferer?
While steam cleaners are beneficial to every consumer and great on the environment, steam cleaners can especially helpful to those who suffer with all types of allergies. Whether you are allergic to dust mites or have a chemical sensitivity - steam cleaners help you take charge of your environment by using a chemical free cleaner that can kill dust mites, bed bugs, mold and a slew of other organisms upon contact. And since it can clean bathrooms, kitchens, and just about any other surface in your home, there is no need to continue to purchase cleaning products, which, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, adds to indoor air pollution. Steam cleaners can also eliminate residue left behind from previous cleaning compounds.

Can I burn myself with my steam cleaner?
A Steam Cleaner Uses Extremely Hot SteamAnd how! The short and simple answer is yes. As with any appliance of this nature (like your clothes iron), it is possible to burn yourself. However, with proper usage of the machine and following all instructions the likelihood of this event is very rare. Please be sure to read all instructions carefully before using your steam cleaner.

How long will my steam cleaner last?
Generally your more expensive models like some of your Reliable and Ladybugs will last you for many years. We have had some customers who have had their steam cleaners for 5-8 years and are still going strong. For less expensive models like the steam mops or handhelds, you should probably expect more like 3-6 years of consistent use.

How do I care for my steam cleaner?Caring for Your Steam CleanerThere is really very little maintenance that goes into caring for your steam cleaner. With a steam mop it is recommended you empty the tank after each use. With larger, canister-style steam cleaners you can do this every few weeks. Check the attachments and accessories for debris, and when cleaning the towels or bonnets, be sure to wash them in hot water without fabric softener. Avoid the dryer sheets while drying them. Wipe the exterior of the unit periodically and in time you may want to flush the boiler system to remove scale. Visit our steam cleaner maintenance page for further tips on how to ensure you receive years of service from this investment.

Am I forgetting anything?

One last thing, remember to keep the box! Should you have problem with your unit, keep the box so it can be exchanged or returned for service work. Other than this, should you have any additional questions about steam cleaning or using your steam cleaner, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-339-7123 or email use at cs@achooallergy.com.

If you found our Steam Cleaners FAQ page helpful, you can find more information in any of these helpful resource articles.

Steam Cleaner Buying Guide
Steam Cleaner Maintenance
New to Steam Cleaners?
Top Five Things to Consider When Buying a Steam Cleaner