Getting carpets and fabrics steam-cleaned used to be regarded as a professional service, which could be done once or twice a year by external contractors. However, now there is a range of good-quality hand-held steam-cleaning devices available which allow people to regularly steam-clean carpets and fabrics themselves.

Steam cleaners can be used to lift grime and dirt from surfaces and from inside carpets and refresh and deep-clean fabrics. They can not only be used on carpets and fabrics, but also to refresh and clean a range of surfaces to make them appear as good as new.

How Does a Steam Cleaner Work?

Steam cleaners work by heating up water to produce and store hot steam. The stored steam builds up at high pressure, so when it is applied to a carpet or other surface it produces dry steam which is able to dislodge and bring out dirt and grease from inside the carpet or on the surface. This also kills any bacteria and house mites lingering in the carpets. Steam cleaners do not use any detergent or chemicals which can not only damage a carpet, but can also be difficult to remove after cleaning.

There are three main types of steam cleaner: handheld ones, cylindrical vacuum cleaners and mop sticks.

The Handheld

The handheld is the least sophisticated type of steam cleaner, yet models such as the Polti Vaporettino Lux Steam Gun are able to produce large quantities of steam. These may need re-filling more than other steam cleaners and are physically more demanding to use as they cover a smaller area at a time.

Mop or Stick Cleaners

These handheld devices are steam cleaners attached to a mop stick, making them easy to use when cleaning floors. They will hold more water and therefore produce steam for longer than a simple hand-held cleaner and are easier to use if you are covering large amounts of floor space.

You will find that there is a range of stick steam cleaners available with varying specifications and prices. The type of steam cleaner you are looking for will very much depend on how powerful a device you require, how regularly you use it and the amount of floor or surface space you need to cover. The water-retention capacity and the time it takes to heat up and clean are also important factors to consider.

Cylindrical and Vacuum Steam Cleaners

Although cylindrical steam cleaners are by far the bulkiest models, they are often in fact the easiest to use. They look much like a modern vacuum cleaner and many offer a vacuuming function which allows any dislodged dirt or grim to be sucked up as you clean. There is a wide range of accessories and adaptors available, which makes them easy to use when you want to clean multiple types of surface and different fabrics.

Cylindrical steam cleaners can be very powerful, so it may be necessary to turn down the settings when dealing with delicate fabrics, but most hard-wearing carpets are left undamaged by the steam-cleaning process. These steam cleaners are great if you need to regularly clean a large floor space and they can be an excellent investment, reducing the need for professional cleaning services.