How does a steam cleaner work?

How does a steam cleaner work?

Steam cleaning benefits

  • Steam is a natural source using just clean water to create a powerful cleaning force
  • The absence of potentially harmful and expensive chemicals makes it an extremely easy, safe and cost effective way to clean your home
  • Steam leaves no toxic residues on surfaces and won’t stain clothing
  • Steam kills well known bacteria such as e-coli, listeria, and salmonella
  • Using only water, it’s environmentally friendly as well
  • Steam cleaners can be used virtually anywhere for a wide variety of tasks. They are more versatile than a vacuum cleaner

How does steam clean?

It’s very simple really. Dirt and grime have adhesive qualities that enable them to stick onto all types of surfaces. The heat of the steam melts the adhesive and the dampness of the steam dilutes the adhesive. A wipe with a cloth quickly clears the dirt or grime away.

How do Steam Cleaners work?

  • Clean water is poured into the container which uses a heating element to boil the water, and steam is created
  • The steam is transferred through a hose or nozzle which has a cleaning tool attached to it
  • Steam can continue to be produced until the water container has exhausted its supply

What can I steam clean?

Steam Cleaners have many uses around the home, garden, car, utility vehicle and mobile homes on all types of surfaces including cleaning:


  • Windows and window frames
  • Mirrors
  • Curtains, drapes, blinds *(not draylon or velvet)
  • Flooring, carpets and upholstery *(not draylon or velvet)
  • Fire surrounds (non-electric)
  • Hearths
  • Painted surfaces
  • Great for removing pet hairs from carpets and upholstery


  • Stubborn fats and grease from cookers, oven tops and grills or barbecues
  • Tiled floors and walls
  • Getting rid of the ‘black spots’ from grouting
  • Taps
  • Disinfect work surfaces
  • Fridges and freezers
  • Defrosts freezers in a fraction of the time


  • Taps and shower heads
  • Disinfecting toilet bowls
  • Tiled floors and walls
  • Shower screens or curtains
  • Getting rid of the ‘black spots’ from grouting
  • Porcelain or chrome

In the Garden

  • Outdoor plastic furniture or fibreglass
  • Garden tools such as lawnmowers
  • Disinfecting soil
  • Killing weeds in patios
  • Cleans away algae from swimming pools

In the Car/mobile home/SUV/Boats

  • Fabric, leather or vinyl seats
  • Dashboards
  • Storage wells
  • Carpets
  • Great for removing pet hair from seats

On clothing

  • Remove wrinkles from clothing in seconds
  • Refresh the appearance of a garment
  • Helps removes odours from clothing

Other home uses

  • Jewellery
  • Shoes and boots
  • High chairs and eating surfaces

Other odd ball uses

  • Disinfecting beehives
  • Disinfecting hay
  • Flattens out knitwear off a knitting machine

What things do I need to consider when buying a Steam Cleaner?

Boiler Capacity – The theory is, the greater the boiler capacity, the longer the operating time. However, this must be offset by the time it takes to heat versus the length of steam time available as a result. Depending on which model you buy, the time it takes to boil the steam can be as little as one minute or as long as 30 minutes before it is ready to use. This time can be used to vacuum or move surface items in preparation.

Tools and attachments – There are generally different tools designed for specific tasks. For example, the window/tile cleaner is designed with a squeegee blade to quickly wipe away the grime from the windows. The key attachments are the floor cleaner, window/tile cleaner and jet nozzle, usually supplied with a brush nozzle or scraper nozzle attachment. Other accessories include garment steamer attachments and sink unblocking systems. Generally the more accessories the more versatility but this is not always the case as some accessories you will never use and are just doubled up to make the system look much better value than it really is.

Storage – Storage for your hose, cord set, and attachments can be important to you. A so-called special bag can be more hassle than it’s worth.

Mobility – When using a steam cleaner for cleaning floors mobility is essential. You need to be able to pull the unit around the floor with ease after you. Shoulder systems may prove to be heavy, tiresome and cumbersome.

Portability – Avoid using a hand held unit which has you holding all the weight of the product while you clean. They get heavy very quickly. A lightweight handle is paramount.

Ease of use – Usually the bulky design of hand held units prevent you from being able to clean intricate areas. Also try to ensure that steam control, (if there is steam control), is a simple press and hold operation, rather than a pump system. Some systems are difficult to fill up and require a jug or funnel to get water into the boiler.

What is the difference between ‘pressurised’ and ‘non-pressurised’?
Some manufacturers will use phrases such as “blast” dirt and grime away. The reality is somewhat different. We believe the cleaning power of steam is enough to clean virtually anything around the home. Pressurised steamers can reach pressures up to 4 Bar (70PSI), but this is not really a high pressure when you compare this to a 100 BAR (1400PSI) pressure washer which totally relies on pressure to clean. The one minor benefit pressure provides is that when you initially release the steam, (or vent to atmosphere), you will experience an initial rush of steam at a higher temperature than a non-pressurised product. After a few seconds the temperature, (and pressure), drops off to that of a non-pressurised steam cleaner. It’s not until you have stopped exhausting steam that the pressure and temperature will start to build back up again. Pressurised steam cleaners tend to be a great deal more expensive, you have to repeatedly wait for the steam to reach to the correct pressure and temperature, and they have poor storage.