is steam cleaning effective
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Is Steam Cleaning Effective Against Germs AND Stains (And Why Yes)

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There comes a time in every household when you start considering the most effective way to get your home squeaky clean from bottom to top.

Well, steam cleaning should be one of your first choices: it’s eco–friendly, easy on your home budget and can be used on almost every surface or fabric. 

Should you invest your time and money in steam cleaning if it’s not going to sanitize or remove persistent stains?

This is not the question you want to be asking here. (The answer is a YES beyond any doubt.) 

Keep reading to find out the thing that’s truly on your mind: how effective steam cleaning really is — against germs AND stains.

Killing In The Name Of… Disinfection: What Steam Cleaning Can Do to Keep Your Household Healthy

is steam cleaning effective

All steam cleaners operate in pretty much the same way

You pour the water in the tank, wait for it to heat up past the boiling point, press the button, and steam away! Steam cleaners produce dry vapor steam which is proven to have excellent results in:

  • cleaning
  • sanitizing and,
  • disinfecting different types of surfaces.

What’s the Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitizing, And Disinfection?

I swear I won’t to get all scientific on you.

But in order to explain how much is steam cleaning really effective, we’ll do a short and simple clarification of the terms you’ve been probably using on a daily basis since COVID-19 entered our lives:

  • Cleaning is the removal of visual particles of dirt from surfaces
  • Sanitizing removes or deactivates the pathogens (that is, ALL the bad guys that are invisible to the naked eye) down to an “acceptable” level
  • Disinfecting is the removal or deactivation of  90–99.9% of potentially harmful microorganisms.

While we’re on the subject: sterilizing, being the fourth horseman of an average germ’s apocalypse, removes 100% of any pathogens that can be harmful for your health. 

However, steam sterilization is done in a special device called an autoclave (you might have seen it in  a medical facility).

Your basic home steam cleaner CAN’T provide this service. 

But look at it this way: if steam is good enough for keeping hospital instruments germ-free it’s more then effective for your home!

Now that we’ve made this terminology distinction, we can move on to the part where we explain to you (in normal people’s language)…

How Does Steam Cleaning Kill Parasites, Viruses, Fungi and Bacteria On Your Home Surfaces?

A woman steam cleans the kitchen

A pathogen is an organism that has the ability to cause a disease upon entering your body. 

All pathogens are divided into four groups: 

  • viruses, 
  • bacteria, 
  • fungi, 
  • and parasites.

Before any of these find a host to do the damage, they tend to hide away in your kitchen sink and on the counters, on your mobile phones, your carpets, bathrooms and, well, pretty much everywhere a steam cleaner hasn’t been dropping by lately. 

This needs to change!

The science behind steam cleaning: what happens to a germ when it meets Steam Cleaner Almighty

Here are some facts with numbers so you can make a clearer picture in your head about how the steam cleaning process looks from the inside:

  • Steam cleaners heat water producing a temperature well above the boiling point (212°F/100 °C). 
  • Dry vapor steam which is the product of this process comes out heated between 307–363°F (153–183°C)

And here is a really fun fact:

To kill the most bacteria and disable most viruses from infecting a host, you need to attack them with a temperature of 176 °F (80 °C) or higher.

But sometimes, even 140 F will be enough.

Go back to the second bullet point, the bolded one.

Aren’t you glad you’ve decided to put your trust in steam cleaning for sanitation? 

I made that decision a long time ago and haven’t regretted it since.

When steam comes across a harmful microorganism, the high temperature melts the membrane it’s wrapped into exposing the infectious part within.

This structure starts breaking down and disabling the villain from replicating and causing you damage.

Case closed.

Germ dead.

Family safe!

If this article was Horatio Caine, it would put it’s sunglasses on now and break down into “we won’t get fooled again” tune. 

But instead, we are now going to move on to the second most important question in your mind which is…

Will Steam Cleaning Be Effective In Stain Removal As It Is For Hygienic Purposes?

does steam cleaning really work
“This is my favorite stain, I’m so sorry it has to go!”

Is there anything more annoying than persistent stains on your favourite piece of furniture or your beautiful carpet (except mosquitos)? 

It’s fine if, over time, you developed a defense mechanism to stop your blood pressure from going over the roof every time a guest of yours shows a keen power of perception.

Guest: “Oh, look, you have a stain here!” 

You: “Yeah, funny story, it was the time when I/we *blabbering a random generic excuse for being careless*, and now I don’t have the heart to remove it.”

Your forced emotional attachment to the stain in question can only calm you down for a certain amount of time. 

At some point, you’ll have to face the demon and pull out the big gun – the steam cleaner.

Which stains can you treat with steam?

Believe it or not, steam alone can deal with stains such as urine, feces, food, and dirt. 

Just make sure that you’ve thoroughly vacuumed the area you’re going to steam clean before you start the steam cleaner

However, any stain that has any type of oil-based origin needs to be pre-treated with appropriate cleaning solution before the steam cleaner can work its way against it.

YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS ONE: With Steam Cleaning, Even Water Stains Are No Longer an Issue

Steam cleaning is the easiest, most comfortable, and effective way to remove water stains.

You know how, after scrubbing your shower door, you feel that THIS TIME you finally whipped away the stains made by water and soap? 

What a lovely feeling this would be, if only it lasted longer than the time it takes you to walk into the bathroom again and find the stain is still there. Grinning.

If you switch to steam cleaning your bathroom instead of endlessly scrubbing it (and at the same time getting high on cleaning agent vapor) you would save your time, money, nerves and overall health.

Here’s how to steam clean glass shower doors and bathroom walls:

  1. Run a steam cleaner over the shower door or a wall you want to rid of stains. This will loosen soap leftovers and water spots.
  2. Wipe off the loosened dirt with a microfiber towel.
  3. Run the steam cleaner for the second time over the same area. This time use a microfiber attachment. The swipe tracks that may have been left from running the cleaner the first time will now also be removed.

Bonus tip: If you like, you can spray a little alcohol based vinegar on the walls and glass doors before steam cleaning them. It will help with breaking down the soap and hard water stains faster and enhance the sanitizing benefits of steam cleaning.

I feel the need – the need to steam clean everything

how effective is steam cleaning

I would too, if I were you now, reading this! 

If not THE most effective way to keep your home safe and clean, steam cleaning is among the top three of them. 

(For super heavy stains, shampooing may be more effective though!)

Benefits of steam cleaning include but are not limited to:

  • Spending less money on cleaning agents – steam cleaners do not require additional chemicals to provide effective results. The steam itself has more than enough power to ensure a germ–free living space. You’re saving money and living a healthier life: YAY! 
  • Getting rid of allergens – allergy triggers are equally found inside as they are outside your home. Many people have persistent allergic reactions to dust mites. Dust mites, in fact, are second in line (after pollen) when it comes to causing allergic reactions. 
    You can’t control the conditions outside your home, so, unfortunately, steam cleaning your back or front yard isn’t going to stop you from sneezing your brains out in springtime. But inside your four walls, you are the ruler of your fate. Befriend a steam cleaner, and this will prove to be a friendship that will last for a lifetime. 
    Steam cleaning your home regularly will remove all microscopic allergens for good.
  • Your home will (not) smell – although every house you walk into has an odor of some kind, yours doesn’t have to IF you apply steam cleaning as a regular practice. Unpleasant odors such as cat pee and, bathroom smells, and cigarette smoke get into the very pores of your walls and furniture. 

Running a steam cleaner on a regular basis will help in getting the smells out, and improve the conditions of your household hygiene so they don’t come back.

Frequently Asked Questions We Always Love to Answer

Can a steam cleaner kill bed bugs?

If bed bugs are near the surface, steam cleaning is an extremely effective way to remove eggs, nymphs and adult specimens of these pests. It takes 15 to 20 minutes of applying a steam cleaner on your mattress to make sure that bed bugs are gone for good.

If they have infested the deeper layers of your bed or mattress, then the process can take up to 90 minutes. In this case make sure that the fabric is not heat sensitive and that it can be safely treated with steam. 

If you’re not sure where the critters have nested consulting an extermination expert is not a bad idea before embarking on a killing spree yourself.

Does steam cleaning kill parvo virus?

Yes, steam cleaning will kill the parvo virus

Your pets need a safe environment to grow and thrive, just the same as your other family members do. Parvo can often be lethal if your pet catches it. When they are just babies, their immune system (same as ours!) isn’t yet developed enough to fight different infections on its own. 

Prevention is always the first step of insuring a healthy home for you and your pet, so make sure that you do steam clean on a regular basis once you bring your new family member to your home.

But if the unfortunate event of catching parvo happens and your pet has (thankfully) survived it and recovered, sanitizing your entire home with a steam cleaner is an absolute must!

Does steam cleaning kill COVID 19?

is steam cleaning really effective against viruses

We have already explained the mechanism behind how steam cleaning disinfects your household. Scroll up to the top of the page to read it once more if you need to. 

Being a virus, COVID-19 will also succumb to hot steam’s might and power. 

So every time you steam clean a part of your house or furniture, you can rest assured that you’ve done a little more to protect your home from the corona menace we’ve been facing.

Is there a surface I am not supposed to steam clean?

Any surface or material that does not tolerate being exposed to a tremendous amount of heat generated by the steam cleaner should not be treated with high temperature steam.

For instance, delicate items, such as silks, thin plastics, and things made out of velour are banned for the steam cleaner appliances for eternity. 

There is an ongoing dispute on the subject of whether steam cleaning is bad for carpets. The short answer is NO, if it’s done properly and with adequate care.

How long should I apply the steam cleaner to a surface to make sure that it’s going to be germ–free afterward?

If you’ve already decided to take the sanitation of your home into your own hands, you might as well do it right!

We feel you, but… every item you want steam cleaned has its own rules of engagement.

Depending on the material, the size and the overall state of cleanliness that the item is in, it can take: 

  • from three to five minutes for a sofa
  • 20 minutes for an average-sized carpet, and 
  • up to two to four hours to get your mattress clean and sanitized. 

We did not count in the time it takes all these items to dry properly after the process of steam cleaning is finished, though.

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