Steam cleaners are machines that clean surfaces using steam or hot water. Steam cleaners are usually used to kill allergens, dust mites, bacteria, mold, fungus etc on the surface being cleaned. Steam cleaners are used in hospitals, hotels, bakeries, restaurants, pharmacies, etc. Household steam cleaners are used to cleanse kitchens, bathrooms, carpets etc. Steam cleaners can be used to clean almost any surface like floors, curtains, furniture, and almost any surface which is heat resistant. There are two types of steam cleaners, traditional steam cleaners and vapor steam cleaners.
A traditional steam cleaner uses hot water to clean the surface. The traditional steam cleaner consists of a boiler, a collecting tank, a hose and brushes. Hot water is sprayed under pressure on the surface being cleaned. Then rotating brushes scrub the surface and the dirty water is suction extracted into the container. Some traditional steam cleaners also use cleaning agents to clean, while most rely on steam and brushes to do the job. Cleaning agents help to remove spots and grime on the surface. The use of traditional steam cleaners is usually restricted to floors only.
A vapor steam cleaner consists of a water container with a heater attachment (collectively known as boiler), a hose and a nozzle. Water is boiled in the container under pressure to produce super heated steam or dry steam. Dry steam is a steam which is heated to more than 100 degrees Celsius. This dry steam is then passed through a hose to the nozzle and onto the surface being cleaned under pressure. This loosens the dirt and grime on the surface being cleaned. Then a vacuum cleaner is used to clean the surface.
The steam generated in a vapor steam cleaner has very low moisture content, usually up to 5 percent. So when a surface is cleaned by steam it becomes dry within few minutes. They generally do not have continuous water supply hence are more convenient to use. Vapor steam cleaners can be used to clean any heat resistant surface like vehicle interiors, windows, bathrooms, etc with proper attachments. Vapor steam cleaners are generally used by people suffering from allergies or who do not want cleaning by chemicals.
There are specialized steam cleaners for carpets called carpet cleaners. They do not use steam but use hot water to clean the carpet. After wetting the carpet, the area is scrubbed with brushes and then the dirty water is sucked back into the receptacle. The carpet is left to dry. Switching on the Air Conditioner in a room dries the carpet quickly as it removes humidity from the air. Once the carpet is dry, it should be vacuumed to clean it thoroughly.
Steam cleaners can have an independent water container or continuous water supply. Continuous water supply is more convenient as the tank need not be refilled repeatedly. The dirty water is expelled after cleaning.
There are many models available in the market. The cost ranges from $100 for residential models to $2000 for commercial models. Before buying the buyer should look for boiler capacity, the attachments, mobility, warranty, user manual, demo CDs etc.