Choosing the right steam cleaner – Part 3

Having reviewed the major purchase decision criteria in Parts I and II, let’s now look at a few of the many applications for steam, beginning with dry steam.

Dry steam is extremely effective for cleaning hard surfaces, not only the obvious and easy ones like floors and walls, counters and tables, but also the difficult ones like handrails and baseboards, grout lines and crevices, cracks, corners and kickplates. With adequate exposure, steam disinfects as it cleans, because organic matter cannot survive the heat. Steam works well on most kinds of hard surfaces, including glass, plastic, ceramic, enamel, steel, aluminum, brass, stone, slate, brick, concrete, finished wood, hardwoods, laminates, vinyl, painted walls (with oil-based paints), wallpaper, and wallcloth coverings.

On the least porous surfaces (glass, ceramic, enamel, steel) the steam heats the surface and thereby softens and lifts the dirt and contaminants. In more porous surfaces (concrete, grout) the steam is injected into the pores, forcing the dirt out to the surface.

A few hard surface types are not suitable for steam cleaning: Walls painted with latex paint (blisters), unfinished wood and uncoated acoustic ceiling tiles (grain opens to absorb moisture). Steam also cleans soft surfaces: draperies, tablecloths, bed linens, clothing, upholstered furniture, carpet stains, vertical blinds, mattresses, pillows, seat belts, safety harnesses, rubber bumpers and guards. In most cases, steam will take wrinkles and creases out of the fabric as it cleans, because it refreshes the texture of the material during the cleaning process. Soft surfaces that are unsuitable for steam cleaning are delicate and heat-sensitive materials like silk, kid leather and some deep pile woolens (Persian rugs for example).

In environments such as hospitality, recreational or healthcare facilities, we encounter not only hard and soft surfaces, but also the shapes and contours of fixtures and equipment. Because steam melts grease, kills mould and mildew, and strips residual biofilms from all kinds of urfaces, it is well-suited to kitchen equipment: ovens, fryers, racks, pans, carts, grills, proofers, coffee makers, dispensers, shelves, counters, exhaust hoods. Steam can penetrate corners and crevices to get at hidden challenges.

In the freezer and the cooler, steam can clean spills, ice and frost buildup on shelves, fans, gaskets, seals, screens, coils and fins. In the washroom steam cleans and disinfects the toilet, sink, partitions, mirrors, windows, ledges, vents, fans, drains and trim. In other parts of the facility, steam is the best way to clean escalators and elevator door tracks, to keep them from jamming with dirt, thereby reducing costly repairs and downtime. The ability to maintain a higher level of cleanliness extends the life of your physical assets, reduces the need for most chemical cleaning products and chemical disinfectants, and allows you to do more of your own preventative and restorative projects, such as stripping wax from baseboards, cleaning grout lines, clearing floor drains, cleaning heating and cooling coils, fins and ducts, air diffusers, air vents, screens and filters.

There are many more uses for your steam cleaner. Once you have one and you begin to explore the possibilities, you will learn that this is probably the most versatile piece of cleaning equipment you can buy. After 12 years of cleaning with steam, I am still discovering new applications. You will too.

If you have any questions about steam cleaning, please contact me at

Manfred Dietrich
General Manager
Intersteam Technologies

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