Every homeowner, at some point in their life, has heard about the magical effect of steam cleaning. But do you know how this method works, what you should and shouldn’t do? Our experts are here to shed some light on these topics.

1. How Does Steam Cleaning Work?

Water is poured into a special machine called a steam cleaner. There it’s being heated to its boiling pound thus steam is created. The vapours are then pushed to the hose and throughout the nuzzle and used to sanitise and clean different surfaces. The steam kills most germs and dissolves dirt and grime. This method doesn’t require the use of any chemicals or detergents, altho in some cases, they may be added in the container alongside the water.

Depending on the machine, the used liquid is sucked back in, leaving the surface dry, or you need to wait for it to dry off on its own. In the professional fields, steam cleaning is also known as the hot water extraction method. Check the image below to get a clear idea of how the cleaning happens.

how steam cleaning works

2. Why Should You Steam Clean Your Home?

Let’s explore what are the actual benefits of this cleaning method, and what makes it that popular.

  • Chemical-free. No chemicals or solvents are used during this procedure. The hot air is strong enough to deal with all bacterias hiding in your home. If you have an allergy or for example, are sensitive to the smell of chlorine, this is the right choice for you. Of course, if you want, you can always add a couple of drops of your favourite detergents. But this is more a personal preference than an actual need.
  • The healthier way of cleaning. When there are no chemicals involved, the risk for the health drops significantly. Steam is safe to use around small children and pets which both love to put things in their mouths and crawl on the floor. In some medical conditions, doctors recommend steam cleaning because the hot air binds the dirt molecules in the air and purifies it.
  • Efficient and Green. Using steam is cheaper than vacuuming and mopping. With only one litre of tap water, you can clean a small apartment. There is no need to buy different cleaning solutions and use protection like a mask or gloves. The best part is it is environmentally friendly, and it decreases the level of plastic used in the home – packaging, bottles, etc.
  • Multi-purpose. Almost every surface can be steam cleaned. You can even sanitise your clothes and car.

3. What Can You Clean Using the Hot Water Extraction Method?

We said that you could use steam on almost everything, but let’s give some examples for its extraordinary power.

  • All kinds of floors. Steam cleaning is equally effective both on tile and wooden floors. It leaves no smell, no residue from detergents and no scratches or marks.
  • Sparkling bathroom. You can sanitise tile crevasse, mirrors, fittings, toilets and sinks, all just by using hot air. Steam will disinfect and clean from mould every corner of the bathroom without damaging the different surfaces. No unpleasant smell, no bacteria and no black stains between the tiles.
  • A tidy kitchen. The kitchen, the place where you can find all kinds of grease stains, dirty cookers and impossible to scrub grills. A quick steam cleaning and everything will be just a bad dream. The high temperature dissolves the fat molecules and destroys them, leaving nothing behind.
  • Carpets and curtains. The carpet is one of the dirtiest things in the home. Everybody steps on it, with or without their shoes, the pets sleep on it, children play on it and don’t forget that one time that you dropped your glass with red wine on it. Regardless of how many times you vacuum it, it will never be as good as new. Or will it? Steam cleaning to the rescue, it will remove even the wine and food stains. And what about the drapes? Well, let’s say that you do not need to remove them anymore for washing and ironing. On-spot curtain steam cleaning is quite a popular option when it comes to searching for a professional solution.
  • Furniture and upholstery. Steam will disinfect and bring back the colours in your upholstery and furniture. No matter what it is, from a living room couch to an office chair, the hot air will cleanse everything. Steam can eliminate unpleasant odours and simultaneously kill any mould or mildew that is hiding in the sofa.
  • Windows and glass doors. The steam will remove all traces of smudges and handprints, all the while killing the germs. It will make all surfaces shine with no additional use of solvents.

Disclaimer: Be careful when cleaning cold glass surfaces as they can crack from the abrupt change in the temperature.

4. What Shouldn’t Be Steam Cleaned

There are some surfaces that you shouldn’t use steam on, as the high temperature can damage them.

  • Water-based painted walls
  • Cardboard
  • Paintings
  • Unsealed wooden floors
  • Unglazed tiles
  • Certain fabrics and materials – silk, velour, leather, nylon or thin plastic

Essentially, if something is temperature-sensitive, you can’t use a steam cleaner on it.

5. Choose What Is Best For You

Now you are reading and thinking “I need this in my life”. Great, our London experts can offer you a solution. Depending on what you want, how much are you ready to spend, and how valuable to you is your free time there are a couple of possibilities?

  • The professional way. Many cleaning companies in London offer steam cleaning as part of their services. We recommend the professional way first when it comes to business buildings and offices, and medium to big homes. Second, if you have pets in particular dogs and cats, and if you are a parent of small children. The time and the effort that you must put to clean and disinfect on your own completely justify employing experienced cleaners.
  • The “do it yourself” way. If you decide that hiring a company is not for you, there is another way – you can buy a domestic steam cleaner. There are many different brands, with different specifications and many uses.

6. Types of Steam Cleaners

If you are dead set on purchasing a steam cleaner, you need to do your research. There are a couple of types of machines you can choose from. Here is a quick run of them.

Pros and cons of different types of steam cleaners6.1 Handheld Steam Cleaners

Easy to store, light and simple in design these machines are quite popular. You can use them on small areas like the seats of your car or a small portion of your couch. They are perfect for removing stains. Some models can be used on curtains and even different garments. However, handheld steam cleaners are not suitable for large areas meaning you can’t clean your carpet with them. They have a small water container, and you need to fill it often if you want to use them for an extended period. Nevertheless, this type of tool is perfect for small cleaning jobs.

6.2 Steam Mop

If you have small children or pets, this is the right tool for you. The steam mops are easy to navigate and can do an amazing job on your tiled floors. Bear in mind that before using one, you need to vacuum and remove the larger dearth particles from the surface you are about to clean. Mop pads can get easily stained over time, so you need to change them regularly. These machines are great for sanitising, but if you are looking for something you can use for deep cleansing, you might want a different type of steam cleaner.

6.3 Steam Vacuum Cleaners

True to its name, this machine is a clever combination between a vacuum and a steam cleaner. You can add different detergents in the water to ensure the complete annihilation of germs. However, these machines have a huge flaw – they can’t dry off fabrics. Meaning after you are done with your carpet, you need to let it dry on its own which can create a bit of an inconvenience. Another thing you should bear in mind is their size. Vacuum steam cleaners are large, hard to store and not ideal when it comes to clean the hard-to-reach spots in your home.

6.4 Vapour Steam Cleaner

Now, here is where things get more interesting and expensive. These machines can not only clean and sanitise but due to their design, can also dry the surfaces. Thanks to the vapour feature, this type can be easily used on carpets and all sorts of upholstery. They come with a large variety of different attachments and extras. If you have enough storage space and are ready to empty the bank, you can rest assured, your home will be spotless and germ-free.

6.5 Cylinder Steam Cleaners

The only huge difference between this type of machine and the previous one is the dry cleaning, as cylinder steam cleaners lack this feature. They have a larger size due to their big water container, which means more active cleaning time. However, it also indicates that they are bulkier than the other types and need more storing space. Not to mention their weight, especially when the container is full. These machines are a serious investment, and you have to think hard if they are the right match for your needs.

6.6 Commercial Steam Cleaner

The “true Rolls Royce” of steam cleaners, these machines are not cheap, but they are extremely powerful. Most models possess all of the best qualities of the other types of steam cleaners plus a little bit extra. They are designed to service large areas and have a huge water tank. If you own a hotel or a pub, this will be a good fit for you. Altho their sanitisation and cleansing power are great, if you are planning to use them only at your home you might want to stick to booking expert steam cleaning services. We do not recommend purchasing a professional machine for private usage.

7. What Features Your Home Steam Cleaner Should Have?

If you are set on buying yourself the machine instead of using professional services, there are a couple of things you should take into consideration:

  • Fast warm-up time. Some steam cleaners can heat the water in 30 seconds, and others need a couple of minutes.
  • Large water canister. The bigger the container, the longer you can use the machine without refilling it.
  • Sanitisation. To kill all germs, you have to hold the nozzle of the steam cleaner pressed onto the surface for a while. Some models need a couple of seconds, and others can take up to 15 minutes.
  • Attachments. The more, the better. However, bear in mind that some accessories need to be bought separately, thus your expenses will be bigger.

Bear in mind that buying a good steam cleaner is not cheap. If you are going to use it once or twice every couple of months, it is more budget-friendly to rely on professional steam cleaning services. In that case, you can always call us on 0207 205 2626 and let us do the hard work while you enjoy your free time.


Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie is a content marketing specialist for Top Cleaners for the past several years. She has extensive experience working with cleaning companies and knows her audience. Stephanie creates engaging and useful content helping the customers of Top Cleaners with their struggles and providing them with the most accurate insight.