Steam cleaners are versatile appliances for sprucing up many surfaces throughout the home, indoors and out. Here are just a few little-known uses for this handy gadget.
Steam cleaners are among those interesting and oft-overlooked appliances that people have in a closet, but don’t necessarily use all the time. With a pandemic-fueled emphasis on not just cleaning but sanitizing home surfaces, the popularity of steam cleaners is getting a renewed boost.
Steam cleaners come in multiple types and configurations, including traditional canister styles with onboard tools and accessories; upright stick-style wet mops for cleaning hard surface floors and tile; small handheld steam cleaners that are portable, lightweight, and easy to use on draperies and upholstery; and combination steam cleaner/vacuum units for carpeting and area rugs. Regardless of the type you own, steam cleaners are a practical and multifunctional appliance that can virtually eliminate germs on surprising surfaces both inside and outside the home.
Tile and Grout
Steam cleaners are ideal for cleaning and sanitizing ceramic and porcelain tile on floors, walls, shower enclosures, and kitchen backsplashes. Steam also can remove stubborn stains on the grout between the tile, including kitchen messes like grease, tomato sauce, mustard, coffee, and juice—as well as bathroom grime including mineral deposits, mold and mildew, hair care products, and soap residue.
Upholstered furniture can pick up stains and odors over time, especially in households with children and pets. Steam cleaners can remove dirt, debris, and germs like bacteria, plus sanitize and freshen fabrics. They do all this without the potentially damaging effects of chemical cleansers. There are a variety of models of upholstery steam cleaners available, including lightweight handheld units and canister models with onboard tools that make it easy to get into all the nooks and crannies of your furniture.
Looking to redecorate your walls, but dreading the endless hours, elbow grease, mess, and tedious scraping it takes to remove old wallpaper? Try using your steam cleaner! A steam cleaner is the ultimate wallpaper removal tool. Saturating the wallpaper with heated steam loosens the glue that holds it on and allows you to pull off large sections of wallpaper easily and quickly. (Old or stubborn adhesive might require a little bit of scraping.)
Mattresses accumulate a lot of dust, debris, dead skin cells, sweat, body oils, and, worst of all, tiny dust mites. Luckily, there is an easy and environmentally-friendly way to clean and freshen your mattress: steam cleaning. For best results, use a steam cleaner that heats the water to at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Centigrade) to kill bacteria and sanitize the mattress. Run the steamer over the top and sides of the mattress, and allow the mattress to dry thoroughly before replacing the bed linens.
Pet Beds and Crate
No one wants to hug a smelly dog or cat, but most pets are not naturally dirty creatures (indeed, many cats seem to spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning themselves!). So where does that funky pet odor come from? It might just be your pet crate or bed. Just like their humans, pets shed dead skin cells and hair, and leave body oils on the surfaces where they sleep. Rather than resorting to air fresheners or noxious cleansers that can harm your furry family, use a steam cleaner to sanitize and deodorize pet bedding, wire and plastic crates, and bird cages. Your pets—and your nose—will thank you.
Windows, mirrors, and sliding glass patio doors can all benefit from a good spray with a steam cleaner. The heated steam will dissolve dirt, stains, fingerprints, oils, bird droppings, and other grime, leaving the glass sparkling and clear. For best results, use a squeegee to remove the moisture left after steaming to create a streak-free shine.
Children’s Toys and Accessories
Children put anything and everything into their mouths, which can make anxious parents worry about germs, bacteria and viruses lurking on common surfaces. Steam cleaners can offer an effective, chemical-free way to clean and disinfect rubber toys, stuffed animals, high chairs, playpens, car seats, strollers, and other childhood necessities, giving busy parents one less thing to worry about.
Many conventional kitchen cleansers are effective, but contain harsh chemicals that can cause problems for chemical-sensitive people or those with allergies. Use a steam cleaner to easily clean and deodorize the insides of the oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and icemaker. The tool also will loosen and remove stubborn oils, grease, and baked-on food debris from the stovetop and range hood. You can even use the heated steam to quickly clean and defrost the freezer.
Anyone who has paid a professional car-detailing service knows that it can be pretty pricey. Use a steam cleaner to clean and sanitize your car’s upholstery. A steam cleaner also will loosen caked-on mud, road salt, and dead bugs on the windows, headlights, and exterior. It also can be an effective tool for cleaning grunge and grime from the engine, wheels, tires, and hubcaps.
Most outdoor furniture acquires a “patina” of algae or mildew by the end of the season, or even by midsummer in some steamier climes. A steam cleaner can make short work of dust, dirt, moss, mold, mildew, and algae on aluminum, plastic, and resin outdoor furniture. You also can use a steam cleaner to spruce up outdoor cushions and indoor/outdoor area rugs, and to clean and sanitize planters and pots.
If your grill has gotten gunky and gross, it might be time for a serious scrub with a steam cleaner. With all of the publicity about the dangers of using splintering wire brushes on grill grates, a steam cleaner is a perfect alternative for loosening and removing the accumulation of grease, oil, and burnt-on food debris from your grill. A steam cleaner also can remove the dust and grime from the grill’s exterior, creating a squeaky clean and sanitary environment for your next backyard barbecue.
Although steam cleaners are useful and adaptable to myriad cleaning chores around the house, there are some items you should not clean with steam: namely, anything that you should never clean with water. This includes hardwood floors; unsealed ceramic tile; wood furniture; musical instruments; leather upholstery; electronics; painted surfaces; unsealed brick, stucco, or marble; light fixtures and outlets; and sensitive fabrics such as silk, velvet, velour, and suede. Water or steam can damage or stain many of these items, so avoid using the handy steam cleaner on them.