Deep Cleaning with Steam Cleaners
The After-Holiday Clean-up
I don’t know about you, but after the holidays my house needs a deep clean and re-organizing. My baker’s rack ends up a disaster. Cookie cutters, baking pans, etc. that are usually housed in the basement end up on the rack. Spices are depleted and need to be replaced. And the jars may not have been wiped clean before returning them to the rack. So they all get a wipe-down. The pantry gets a little tussled, too, so that needed organizing. Then there’s the fridge. It also needs scrubbing and both the fridge and freezer need to be put back in order, too.
Then there’s the house cleaning. Not only the kitchen while I’m putting it in order, but the guest room and living areas where my daughter and her three dogs were. As soon as they were gone, the furniture covers came off and were washed, the carpets were deeply vacuumed, then sprayed with an enzyme spray that totally neutralizes odors. The bedding was stripped and washed and the mattress was also sprayed with that enzyme.
…Then I ran out of energy. So, the guest room floor was just vacuumed and a quick wash of the hard floor.
Deep Cleaning with Steam Cleaners
After taking a break day, I had another day of going through cabinets to remove items that I don’t use any longer and the following day I tackled the upstairs especially the hard floors. I brought out the big guns for this task: The floor steamer and the portable steamer. If I’m deep cleaning, I might as well do it all, right?
Why I Wrote This Post
As I was steaming the floors, I thought about the many comments I see by young homemakers on various homemaking groups. They steam their floors, but then complain when they take a rag to wipe them dry and find the rag is dirty. They expect the floors to be cleaned totally by the steam, which isn’t the way they work. So, let’s talk about steam cleaners, what they do and how to use them properly.
Purpose of Steam Cleaners
The purpose of steam is to loosen and dissolve debris. It also kills germs. But it DOESN’T REMOVE dirt or grime. That will redeposit on your surfaces unless you wipe it away.
Removing the Dirt, Grime and Debris
When you watch the TV commercials for the portable steam cleaners, they prove that plain water steam dissolves even the worst dirt, grime, grease, and debris by wiping it away on a white cloth. They don’t tell you that you NEED TO wipe away what was broken up and dissolved with a rag. When we tell young homemakers that they still need to wipe up the floors, they are not happy. They feel they are doing double the work.
So Why Use Steam at All?
I use the steam cleaner to deep clean the floors. Instead of scrubbing my guts out on hands and knees to get up all the dirt the dogs dragged in and deposited on my floors, I steamed, then wiped. The result: a bucket of dirty water, but it was quite easy in the long run.
While I had the two steam cleaners out, I headed to the bathroom and used them to steam the sink, toilet, toilet rim, the base of the toilet and the entire floor with the floor steamer.
The same ease is true when I use the portable steam cleaner to clean the oven, the range hood for grease, the hard water deposits around the sink handles, the overflow holes in bathroom sink (They are gross! Who knew??? I found a drinking straw brush gets in there and clean it well. Be prepared to be grossed out!!). I even use the steam cleaner to steam away mold and dissolve hard water deposits under the rim of the toilet bowl.
Steam kills germs.
According to Vapormore.com, “Clinical Microbiology Reviews notes just how effective steam is for disinfection of contagious infection, ‘Steam Vapor machines are rapidly effective against a wide range of pathogens, notably VRE, MRSA, and Gram-negative bacill, including P. aeruginosa.’”
(I don’t suggest going to the site unless you have a good virus scanner and malware protector as it directed me to one of those “Congratulations, you have won…” pages that wouldn’t allow me to get to the actual site. It made me uneasy. Just saying…)
When I went back to college a few years ago, one of the campuses steamed the ENTIRE bathroom every day at 4 pm. Walls, toilet area, floors, and I assume the ceiling, too. Then they hosed it down with a disinfectant and let it all drain. Finally, someone came in and did the final cleaning and polishing – but after the disinfectant had time to work.
Words of Caution
The Steam is HOT
This should go unsaid, but steam is hot and steam burns are BAD. Be careful. And be careful when touching the parts of the portable steam cleaner. They come with all these interchangeable parts but switching them out while the unit is hot can burn your hands. Use caution, protections, and common sense.
When to Use Protective Gear
As I mentioned, you might need to wear gloves while changing parts. But there are also times to use goggles and a face mask.
Last year I was helping someone (a senior citizen who lived alone) clean after a prolonged illness. Because this person was not able to bend over for a long, long time, spills went uncleaned. They were loaded with germs and other bacteria. The easiest way to soften the dried mess was with steam, then remove with a putty knife.
I should have worn goggles and a face mask. I got a sinus infection, eye infections, and was coughing for several weeks. I needed medical treatment. So, if you’re working close to an area that you know is loaded with germs, wear protective gear to keep yourself safe. Don’t let that steam come directly in contact with your eyes, mouth, our nostrils. While most of our homes don’t have this issue, you might find an old germ-laden spill under a fridge, freezer, or stove and this would be where you’d use the protective gear.
Are They Worth It?
Totally!! I love my steam cleaners. But they aren’t my weekly go-to; I just don’t have the foot traffic. As I looked at the guest room floor this morning and saw the gleaming shiny floor, oh yeah, it was TOTALLY worth it!!
As I said, I quickly wiped the floors right after the dogs left, but they just didn’t look clean. They were dull and unappealing. I added some vinegar to the steam water. When I wiped up the floors, I had a few drops of Shaklee’s Basic H in the bucket of water I used to wipe up the floors. [You can buy it on Amazon or from a Shaklee dealer. Here is the Basic H link on Amazon. It will last a LONG, LONG time. It makes 48 gallons of cleaner. My little bottle has lasted several years as you only use drops or up to a half teaspoon.]
This morning the floors were just gleaming – both in the bathroom and the bedroom. The grout was really, really clean. And anyone who knows me knows that gleaming floors brings me peace and contentment.
My dad was in ICU for months before he passed away years ago. After a while, my brother suggested that I take the morning off and we began to take shifts so my dad had someone with him nearly 24 hours a day, but we could still get on with our lives. When I came in to relieve my brother, he said I exuded peace and was glowing. What did I do on my morning off? I stripped and waxed my floors. They were just gleaming. And I felt peace and contentment.
Are They Expensive?
I bought my portable Steam Cleaner at Aldi last year. I read a bunch of reviews about it. People said it wasn’t like the really expensive ones, but for $20 it was good enough. I totally agree. It quickly and easily cuts through grease, grime, and dirt in my oven, range hood, window tracks, sinks, faucets, toilets, and more.
My floor steamer is old – almost 20 years old. And it wasn’t a very expensive one. But, again, it’s good enough for me. I don’t let my house get really dirty. I clean everything at least weekly, and clean spills as they occur. Personally, I don’t need all that power. Maybe you do, but I don’t. I would just caution you to get one that uses plain water. Not one where you have to buy special pre-filled cylinders. Not only are they expensive, but totally unnecessary. Remember you are making steam. Any chemicals will become steam that you inhale and are absorbed through your largest organ – your skin.
What are you cleaning this month? Are you organizing and decluttering, too? January seems a good month to do that.
What does it mean to be an Industrious Homemaker? We’ll be looking at that in the next few days. Check back for a future post.
Have an Industrious and prosperous 2020!!