How to Use a Steam Cleaner
Before we show you how to use a steam cleaner we want to explain how they work and what steam cleaning is. We warn you what to be careful about and show you how we’ve tackled some pretty big cleaning projects with our steam cleaners.
A steam cleaner is ideal for anyone who wants a super clean house that’s disinfected and sparkling!
What is Steam Cleaning?
Steam cleaning machines are unique in that the superheat water to disinfect and clean surfaces. It sprays the steam so that it removes grime, grease, dirt and stains from appliances and around the house – even in the car. Think of it like a a power washer but it uses hot steam instead of cold water. You don’t usually use any cleaners or chemicals at all. No bleach, etc., only water. There are no chemicals so it’s great for anyone who has allergies or sensitivities to chemicals and cleaners.
We have used bar soap like Dove to clean grout. To do that, just rub the end of your brush in the soap while the steam is on, then apply to the surface. In this case you will have to rinse and dry the floor which is more work, but it’s essential for tougher stains.
Since it’s steam it won’t leave things soaking wet, like a power washer does.
Most steam cleaning machines heats up to at least 200 degrees which, according to the CDC is enough to kill the flu virus. They say you need to reach a temperature of 176 degrees in order to kill the influenza virus. Most bacteria are killed with any temperature above 120.
How Steam Cleaners Differ From Carpet Cleaners
Steam cleaners aren’t like a carpet cleaner in that there’s no vacuum that sucks the water left behind which means you need to wipe the surface you steam clean with a microfiber cloth (<– like this one). Using a steam cleaner leaves mirrors, stainless steel, appliances, showers, tubs, floors and more sparkling clean. Don’t underestimate how important having quality clothes is. You can use old shirts or rags but honestly the Norwex is the best of the best and will last for years. If you go cheap you’ll regret it.
We created this video about the Dupray steam cleaner which is an all-steel, high end steam cleaner. However, all steam cleaners work in a similar way so this is a good overview.
Watch this video to see the accessories and the basics of using a steam cleaner:
How to Clean Inside of Oven with a Steam Cleaner
If I had to choose steam clean oven vs self clean I’d choose steam clean. Why? Self clean takes FOREVER. It stinks up and heats up the house. The chemicals are nasty and carcinogenic. The first time you steam clean will take more work but if you do it regularly it’s not difficult. Plus it gets your oven cleaner than using the self cleaning function.
There are health concerns with the fumes from self cleaning ovens. You can get carbon monoxide poisoning, cause respiratory issues and be dangerous to pets. Some health officials recommend leaving the house when you use the self cleaning feature:
The North Texas Poison Center suggests leaving the home during the self-cleaningcycle. The Teflon coating inside the oven is safe when you bake and broil food items, but the oven heats to 600 degrees Fahrenheit or more during the cleaning cycle and can produce toxic Teflon fumes.
The key to steam cleaning your oven with no chemicals (same with cleaning a stove top) is to use the stainless steel brush accessory WITH a stainless steel scrubber over it. That way you can cover more area faster than just using the small brush.
Follow along as we demo how to steam clean an oven for you:
How to Steam Clean a Car
The next project we tackled is to steam clean a car. It’s got black leather seats along with two kids worth of mess (plus a husband who uses this as a commuter car). It took a long time but we didn’t spend hundreds on a detailing shop. Janet uses the steam cleaner on her tire rims and to clean mud and dirt around the tires. Steam can also do a great job cleaning your upholstery and car mats.
Again, the accessories are key. Use the small softer brush and scraper tool (if your steam cleaner comes with one) to make it faster and easier to clean your car.
This video shows you how we steam cleaned a car:
Are Hand Held Steam Cleaners Any Good?
We’ve been asked this question and our answer is generally NO. They don’t hold very much water so they have to be refilled and reheated constantly. It’s tough to reach overhead or tough-to-reach places. A handheld steamer may work to get wrinkles out of a shirt or for small jobs but they won’t work for anything big.
As you can read in Diana’s quote below, her handheld steam cleaner was frustrating to use and broke after a few uses.
Here’s a more thorough comparison between a hand held and canister steam cleaner.
How Diana Overcame Her Cleaning Depression + Our Favorite Steam Cleaners
After using the Dupray steam cleaner, Diana really wanted one but the price tag was too steep. So we recently reviewed a cheaper steam cleaner called the HomeRight C800880 SteamMachine Steamer. Note: Janet bought the Dupray but we requested and were given the HomeRight to review.
See our video review of the HomeRight steam machine here.
“Let me tell you about that Dupray…I don’t own one, Janet does, and after she showed me her steam cleaner, and we did a few reviews on it and did a few videos, and I got to use it, she then took her Dupray home, and I went through a cleaning depression after that. I really did because I was left with my little handheld steam cleaner, and I used it as much as I could, but then it broke. I just was thinking there’s no point to cleaning anymore. I kept on just using products, and it’s not really doing a good job, and I don’t want to spray chemicals on my floor, and I just went through this depression, and I didn’t even wanna clean. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to HomeRight to sending me this steam cleaner because it’s like my little personal Zoloft to pull me out of this cleaning depression. I’ve loved it!”
Steam Cleaner Warnings
First, a safety warning. The steam gets VERY HOT. Over 200 degrees. That’s how it kills bacteria and viruses. However, it can also hurt you if you’re not careful.
- Don’t touch the lance or let children or pets near the reservoir or end of the steam cleaner.
- Don’t ever clean barefoot (ask Janet how she knows!). You can get burned.
Second warning: steam cleaning is totally addictive.
But your house will never be cleaner.
Do you have any questions about how to use a steam cleaner? What do you want us to clean next? Let us know in the comments.