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Professional Cleaning – An Overview of Steam Cleaning

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Steam cleaning has become a popular option in many commercial & industrial settings. Conventional cleaning can involve a variety of chemicals which can be costly, far more hazardous than steam, and which typically require significant storage space. Keeping cleaning as chemical free as possible is also safer for both cleaning personnel and those who use the areas being cleaned.

Steam Sanitizes Surfaces and Removes Dirt

The steam produced in a commercial steam cleaner is at least 140 degrees Celsius. Steam can kill germs on a wide variety of surfaces, and it can penetrate textile surfaces such as carpets and drapery materials removing ground in dirt and stains. Steam is also effective for softening dried greased and removing grease spots or streaks that may occur in food service areas. Regular use of steam on textiles can also deodorize or prevent odours from being formed.

Steam produced by steam cleaners is slightly damp or moist and not wet enough to leave enough liquid behind to pool or leave damp surfaces however with some models you can have an integrated vacuum to help remove any necessary moisture.  Steam cleaning does not result in slippery hard floor surfaces or textiles with enough moisture to promote mildew or mould.

Features Offered on the Best Steam Cleaners

Choose steam cleaners based on how they will be used. Most steam cleaners offer cleaning tools such as squeegees, various brushes, and detailing equipment. If these are optional, purchase those that are best suited to the setting they will be used in.

The most effective steam cleaners will produce very low moisture steam with only about five percent moisture. Steam that is very wet is not as effective since it can leave streaks, make areas unsafe for foot traffic, and may result in mould or mildew. Steam that holds more moisture may actually not clean as well. It can also be quite difficult to get all of the water out of textiles so less water in the vapour is a positive sign.

Another consideration is how well the steam cleaning unit will fit in the areas where it will be used. Consider ease of getting the unit in and out of elevators and through doorways. Know how much space the tightest areas offer and how wide door openings are when visiting the any steam equipment showroom. Also be prepared to discuss the types of surfaces the unit will be used on and how much adjustment is needed between soft and hard surfaces. Grooved tile and mixed or unusual surfaces may present special challenges so be sure to mention those to the seller when choosing a steam cleaner. If cleaning a bathroom, can it be located outside the bathroom door and will the hose assembly reach the majority of bathroom that needs cleaning.

Consider how much water the unit will hold and how near a water supply is to refill the unit. Some units do offer self-refilling tanks.

Getting Full Use of a Steam Cleaner

Steam cleaners are versatile. They can be used for many purposes, some of which may not be obvious. In addition to routine cleaning tasks steam cleaners can be effective in killing bed bugs and removing mould.

Using a Steam Cleaner                                                                                                   

The following suggestions will help avoid steam cleaning disasters.

Do not clean surfaces with steam made of pressed paper, cardboard or surfaces painted with non-enamel paint. Fragile surfaces are likely to be destroyed or damaged when exposed to high temperature steam under pressure.

Use lower pressure on waxed floors. Work quickly to avoid removing more than just a bit of the existing wax. Steam cleaning a waxed floor at the right pace will melt off a thin layer of dirty wax and leave what looks like a freshly waxed floor.

With un-waxed floors it is important to work quickly rather than letting the steam cleaner remain too long on a single area to avoid excessive heat which can soften the vinyl and damage the texture of the flooring.

When steam cleaning tile, work quickly and use a vacuum to pick up the moisture or use a mop kit that leaves the floor dry. This will avoid streaks in the tile and result in a great appearance and reduce risk of any slippage.

When steam cleaning grout, use a small detail brush and dry the surface immediately. Dirt within grout can be pre-sprayed with an alkaline cleaner. Let the cleaning solution dwell for several minutes before steam cleaning.

Steam cleaners come in a variety of models. Do not confuse them with a wet/dry vacuum or ordinary carpet cleaner either of which is not likely to get water hot enough to remove grease or mould and would definitely not be effective against bedbugs or pathogens. Carpet cleaners sometimes do produce steam but it is not likely to be hot enough to sanitize. Wet/dry vacuums collect water but do not produce steam.

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