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Product Review 2: Dry Steam Vapor Cleaners

The Awesome Power of a Dry Steam Vapor Cleaner: Or, How to Sanitize & Clean your Home or Office with NO Chemicals – April 2003

WESTFIELD: Few products have the true WOW ability of a first-quality Dry Steam Vapor Cleaner. “Dry steam?”, you might ask, “this seems to be a contradiction.” “Not at all,” I reply – “I shall explain ……”

For almost 30 years Dry Steam Vapor Cleaning has been used in Europe. In many instances the Europeans have long been ahead of us rash Americans when it comes to understanding some of the various guidelines as to proper living, and proper living certainly involves properly maintaining the homes or offices in which we live or work. The Europeans generally have recognized that reducing chemical use – especially indoor chemical use when our indoor environments are so tightly insulated and sealed – is a major benefit to the health of the people inhabiting that indoor environment. We use a lot of cleaning chemicals in this country – sanitizers, bubble scrubs, tile cleaners, oven
cleaners, window cleaners, floor cleaners, rug cleaners, etc.!

The data as to the use of cleaning chemicals in our environment all points overwhelmingly to the same results – allergies and asthma. The simple truth is that almost all cleaning chemicals contain toxins and these toxins – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – are released into the environment as the chemical is used for its particular task. Some chemicals, of course, are more toxic than others; but, one of the major concerns today is almost less that of particular toxins in particular chemical products as it is one of “What is the resultant compound effect of multiple chemical exposure.

Today there is a range of chemicals called “persistent organic pollutants” (POPs). POPs are in a broad range of chemical products. Some of the latest testing shows, as an example, that when exposure to PCBs at a non-toxic level is mixed with dioxin – at a level that produces only minor liver damage (ONLY minor liver damage, mind you) – the combination produces 400 times the damage of dioxin alone. There is a synergistic effect to chemicals that is largely uncharted; but, preliminary testing shows it is potentially much more dangerous than simply accounting for the toxic effects of individual chemicals.

Recently, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City ran a public information campaign about chemical dangers and stated that, “The use of paints, solvents, and cleaning products containing toxic and volatile chemicals should be limited.” The articles specifically highlighted the reality of such exposures for children.

Asthma experts say that women over thirty are prime targets for the disease. Dr. Stephen Redd of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that “The [asthma] rates have gone up 105 percent for females over the past15 [years] or so, compared to about a 41-percent increase for males.” A link is now being examined between cleaning products and the skyrocketing asthma rate for women. Asthma expert Jill Ohar of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem says, “Women still do the primary care giving and cleaning of the household, are exposed to house dust mites more, exposed to chemical irritants in the form of cleaning solvents more than men.” Windex, anybody?

There is another concern. A study published in Scientific American – a prestigious publication of many years standing – has established the danger of biofilms in porous surfaces (read, kitchen countertops, stoves, refrigerators, etc.). A biofilm is a resilient organic matrix – a “goo” if you will, manufactured by bacteria that turns out to be enormously resistant to traditional methods of disinfection. In the testing, a porous surface infiltrated by a bacterial biofilm was subjected to chlorine bleach for sixty minutes. The resultant dye testing showed that, while some bacteria were killed, many more were still alive. The bottom line – the bleach killed only some of the bacteria. The general expectation is that bleach thoroughly disinfects almost any surface; but, the oxidizing effect of the bleach was effectively counteracted by the resilience of the biofilm.

This is a scary result. The National Geographic magazine ran a cover article in May 2002 entitled “Food; How Safe?” which underlined the growing, national concern over food-borne illnesses. The article stated that “A majority of store chickens contain pathogens” and that “Raw [chicken] juice on a cutting board or countertop can transfer
pathogens to food prepared afterward.” The article also stated that, “since a single bacterium, given the right conditions, divides rapidly enough to produce colonies of billions over the course of a day, even only lightly contaminated food can become highly infectious. The microbes can also hide and multiply on sponges, dish towels, cutting boards, sinks, knives and countertops, where they’re easily transferred to food or hands.’

Translation: your countertop is harboring billions of microbes – largely pathogenic – and the store-bought sanitizers or bleach are simply not controlling these germs. The more you scrub and polish your kitchen surfaces, the more you simply spread these bacterium. University of Arizona researchers conducted tests in typical homes counting bacteria. Their conclusion: the “hot zones” were in the kitchen. Dr. Charles Gerba, who conducted the study, says, “The more tidy the household, the more widespread the bacteria.” The July 2002 issue of RedBook magazine stated in an article on hygiene that, “Your hands are exposed to a greater amount of fecal bacteria when you’re preparing meat (courtesy of the E-coli – from the animal’s waste products – it contains before being cooked) than they are when you’re
using the bathroom.” Yum, yum – cheeseburger, anyone?

Let me now tell you about the wonderful world of the dry steam vapor cleaner. First and foremost, you need to get a good one. Like anything else, a good “one” (whatever that “one” is) works properly and a “not good one” does not work properly. A good quality dry steam vapor cleaner will produce a dry steam in the range of 2000F and it will maintain that as a working temperature while it is being used. It is vital to the process that this temperature be reached and maintained as will be shown by the following figures: (1) at 1350F dust mites are killed (2) at 1650F bacteria and mold are killed but a “dwell’ time is necessary and (3) at 1850F bacteria and mold are killed on contact. Thus, the
need for a working “tip” temperature well in excess of 1850F becomes apparent.

A good quality steam vapor cleaner resembles a small canister vacuum with a long skinny hose. It also comes with a range of accessories for various usages. You use your dry steam vapor cleaner by putting water into it (regular tap water is ok; but, distilled water is recommended). The vapor cleaner heats this water to approximately 3000F inside of a boiler (which should be made of stainless steel so it never rusts) and then dispenses it upon demand by the user through the appropriate nozzle.

The miracle of a quality dry steam vapor cleaner is this: (1) it cleans without any chemicals – only water is ever put into the machine – and the level of “clean” is very high. As one manufacturer’s rep says, “It will redefine your concept of clean.” (2) it sanitizes and deodorizes as it cleans – bacteria, mold, dust mites and fleas are instantly killed on contact. Therefore, a dry steam vapor cleaner eliminates chemical use and sanitizes surfaces using a totally natural process that harnesses the power of steam! The WOW factor involved in the use of a good quality dry steam vapor cleaner is substantial.

A good dry steam vapor cleaner will clean and sanitize almost any conceivable surface such as: floors (wood, vinyl, ceramic, granite, marble, etc.), walls and ceilings, wallpaper, upholstery, rugs and carpets, drapes, mattresses, windows and mirrors, grout, decks, patios, car wheels, car interiors, entire bathrooms including the sink, faucet, toilet, shower, tub, etc., entire kitchens including sinks, drainers, countertops, refrigerators inside and out, stoves, ovens, knobs and handles, floor, etc., grills, patio furniture and much else. The steam does the work for you (you have to “use” it; but, there is no scrubbing and scouring with this cleaning method).

A first-quality dry steam vapor cleaner should last indefinitely with little or no maintenance. Once you begin to use it, it will be incorporated into the weekly cleaning and maintenance of the house in the same way a vacuum cleaner is used at least once a week (we have a list of customers who have confessed to using their vacuum cleaner less than once a week; but, we are pledged to secrecy). It is absolutely a “fall-in-love-with” product. You have to see one in action to believe how incredibly fast the machine works with so little effort to remove a full range of soils from almost any surface. And, of course, the knowledge that the surface is instantly being sanitized is wonderful, as is the literal sanitized result and the reality of all this being accomplished without chemicals!

One last note. It is imperative that you select a model that provides continuous use. Most dry steam vapor cleaners are used by filling the boiler directly. This means that, as the water is depleted during use, the cleaning and sanitizing process stops (generally in mid-stride) until the unit can be bled of excess pressure, filled and allowed to reheat. This refilling process usually takes a minimum of fifteen minutes. With a continuous use machine, however, the water is put into a non-pressurized reservoir which transfers it as needed into the boiler. You never run out of water – the unit can be used 24/7! This is the only way to go.

For further questions on Dry Steam Vapor Cleaners; or, for any questions pertaining to other indoor environmental concerns involving air or water purification, Hepa vacuums or Central Vacuum Systems, etc. please visit The Eardly T. Petersen Company at 224 Elmer Street in Westfield. Or, contact them at 908-232-5723 or by e-mail at: