Fall Cleaning Tips: Steam Cleaners
In most areas of the northern hemisphere, fall cleaning chores get linked with the annual closing up of the house in preparation for the colder winter weather.
As residents ready for the transition from spring, summer and fall breezes circulating air from room to room, to rooms filled with more static, warmed air, many also take note of the potential indoor air pollution issues associated with cold weather living.
Thanks to research, it's now common knowledge that closed up winter homes produce an environment that exacerbates the existence of natural home nuisances such as dust mites and other allergens.
From the use of chemical based paints on the wall to the use of chemical based cleaners, winter also introduces many people to the nuisances associated with chemical living, especially the chemicals capable of becoming airborne and contributing to health issues.
Temporarily putting aside the issue of the marketing confusion associated with the green cleaning industry, and assuming the existence of nontoxic, or close to chemical free cleaning products, it's important to note the continued existence of a non-chemical based steam cleaning market.
Led partly by consumer familiarity with steam products such as irons and humidifiers and partly by the fact that heated tap water actually serves as the foundation for a clean, sterile environment, this small and resilient steam cleaning market continues pushing innovation.
Research also shows that a consistent household cleaning regimen, including steam cleaning, reduces the level of household allergens.
Whether it's a less costly hand held device or a larger floor model device, most retail stores continue to stock at least one steam cleaner from each category.
On line shopping destinations also provide consumers with an array of steam cleaning choices.
Unit pricing and features represent the two key pieces of information necessary for any consumer to make an informed purchasing decision.
Conceptualizing the market in three tiers begins the pricing discussion. Current steam cleaner prices generally range from $50-$200 for mass market models. Higher end commercial steam cleaners price in the $1000 range.
Steam cleaner features typically fall into categories such as the size and composition of the water tank, steam temperature and steam pressure output levels.
Consumers expecting the lower cost, hand held steam cleaners to produce results comparable to the cleaning results produced by modern pressure cleaners might be a bit disappointed. However, most low cost, hand held devices come with power sufficient for small kitchen and bathroom cleaning tasks.
Machine with higher pressure, longer lasting steam streams also find space on store shelves, albeit at a higher price. Extending the market to on line retailers turns up a variety of higher end models capable of producing vapor steam temperatures approaching the 300oF mark.
The more popular hand and floor models, or combination floor and carpet vacuum/steam cleaners pushing the $200 price point typically provide larger boilers for longer steam times.
Often one of the cleaning attachments contains a flat edge approximately the size of a sponge. The picture on the right shows an off the shelf scrubbing sponge affixed to an attachment with a pair of rubber bands.
If the machine model is capable of producing consistent 212oF steam, the attached scrubbing sponge provides consistent steam scrubbed, sterilizing cleaning power at eighty to ninety percent less cost than most brand associated replacement sponges and cloths.
In instances where steam cleaning is used for dust mite and bed bug eradication, steam temperatures should remain above the 212o F mark for a few minutes over the cleaning area in order to assure proper results.
Often public health professionals suggests that pest eradication requires drying bedding and linens in a clothes dryer at 140o F for twenty minutes to assure proper results, so in instances where a steam cleaner model warm water to less than the actual 212o F steam temperature, longer cleaning times are necessary to insure a sterile environment.
Otherwise, steam cleaners deliver as advertised, providing a chemical free way to improve indoor air quality during winter, while maintaining a clean and sterile environment. Most on line retailers provide reviews for consumers interested in further brand comparisons.
© 2011. Patricia A. Michaels