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Product Review 1: Dry Steam Vapor Cleaners

Your House is Not Clean At All! or, How to Use a Steam Vapor Cleaner – June 2001

— WESTFIELD: There are many areas in a house that become progressively harder to clean and keep healthy. A refrigerator is a prime example – oneself cannot vacuum the inside of the refrigerator to help control mold and bacteria – how, then, is oneself to ensure that the inside of the fridge is as healthy an environment as possible to
maintain the freshness of meat, fruits, vegetables, the leftover stew from Saturday night, etc? After all, these foodstuffs are intended to all go into your body, right? You could spray or wipe it with a bleach or other sanitizing solution; but, who wants to put such chemicals into contact with your food?

In similar manner, it is difficult to effectively sanitize a toilet and the area in which the toilet is located. The tests reveal that, when a toilet is flushed, the surrounding environment is subjected to an explosion of bacteria. Oh, you close the lid, you say? I do, too; however, the testing has revealed that, during the flushing process, a “tension” is created within the toilet and when the lid is subsequently opened – out it comes! The end result is that statements have been made to the effect that, if your toothbrush is located within several feet of your toilet, you
are brushing your teeth with bacteria. This is a good article, isn’t it?

Other areas of concern are cracks and crevices in grout lines in bathrooms and showers (mold and bacteria), upholstered furniture, carpets and bedding (huge dust mite populations with the attendant dust mite feces – a particularly significant allergy and asthma threat), kitchen counter areas (mold and bacteria) as well as the surfaces and edges of stoves (mold and bacteria), the inside of the microwave oven (bacteria), the can opener (bacteria and mold), and so on. It is very difficult if not impossible to effectively clean and sanitize these and
other surfaces and areas – oneself can try to dribble or spray bleach into cracks and crevices, etc.; but, who wants to constantly inject chemicals into an already polluted indoor air environment? And, of course, an upholstered sofa is going to look a lot different when done than it did prior to oneself wiping down the surfaces and cushions with
a bleach solution. We are not trying to create a sterile environment; but, the research shows that, as an example, most people do not properly maintain the “health” of the kitchen. How, then, might oneself quickly and efficiently keep such areas of concern as listed above healthy and safe?

Voila! (or, as my wife says, “Viola” – funny girl and goodlooking, too) – enter the Household Steam Vapor Cleaner. Household Steam Vapor Cleaners have been used in Europe for many years. Indeed, almost all of the best units used today in the USA are imported from Europe. How does a Steam Vapor Cleaner work? Steam vapor cleaners produce a low pressure steam that effectively cleans and sanitizes any washable surface very quickly and with no chemicals. The surface drys almost immediately because the moisture present in the steam vapor is minimal. The operator usually can control the amount of steam being produced at the nozzle of any particular accessory tool. Where might you use it in your house? There is a very long list of items that can be effectually cleaned with a steam vapor cleaner, as
follows:

Painted, washable walls, wallpaper, carpets and rugs, upholstery & cushions, drapes and curtains, hard floors, wood floors sealed with urethane, stoves & microwaves, refrigerators, most kitchen appliances, cabinets, sinks, toilets, bathtubs & shower stalls, mattresses, cribs, windows, tires, bicycles, car engines, lawnmowers & lawnmower engines, etc., lawn & patio furniture, barbecue grills, silk flowers, etc., etc. The list is virtually endless!

What it looks like: A traditional steam vapor machine resembles a small, compact canister vacuum with a hose and a variety of accessories. The accessories enable cleaning of various surfaces from corners, edges and grout to walls and floors. Usually included are, also, bristled brushes including ones with stainless and/or copper bristles for cleaning grills and oven racks, etc., and a set of extension wands provide for an extended reach with different tools. More recently, some of the American manufacturers have begun marketing small units that are either self-contained (no hose and/or accessories) and are designed to only clean hard floor surfaces (such units look in
basic shape a bit like a small dustmop); or, handheld, resembling a hand vacuum. Such models provide marginal quality, at best, and should be avoided.

What it does: A steam vapor cleaner destroys dust mites and their feces, bacteria, mold, viruses, spores and other biological organisms. It accomplishes this instantly and with no harmful chemicals. A good steam vapor cleaner is a simple, highly effective way to help clean and sanitize a residential indoor environment. Water is poured through an
opening into a “boiler” that is then capped shut and that, very much like a kettle, quickly heats the water until it forms steam. This steam is carried through a hose and dispensed via any particular, selected accessory to immediately clean and sanitize.

A month ago I steamed and then squeegeed to a bright, streakfree finish all the interior windows in our house in about an hour. I didn’t need old shower curtains on the floor to catch drips from a progressively dirtier ammonia solution as is my usual procedure. I then cleaned a section of a white, sculptured wool berber carpet in front of
our couch in the living room that I had tried to clean originally using a commercial cleaning process – which had had limited results. The vapor steam cleaning machine did a great job on that carpet in only a few minutes and the carpet was instantly dry.

This past week my Dad – having inherited a number of metal, upholstered chairs that were spotted and stained with various spills and that showed the dirt of countless use – used the steam vapor cleaner to clean the upholstery on all these chairs. We sprayed a bit of spot remover on the worst spots as we went along, and each chair came up bright and clean within, literally, a minute or so. A steam vapor cleaner is very fast! The chairs were immediately dry and ready to be used (he has absolutely no use for them that I can see; but, at seventy-eight years of age he now has almost a dozen sturdy metal chairs with very clean upholstery).

We then cleaned all his patio chairs – white aluminum chairs with white webbing that sit underneath a tree that drops debris indiscriminately (dare I say “spitefully”?). The chairs were dirty and speckled with tree sap. I sprayed the webbing with a neutral cleaner, “hit” it (cleaning these chairs was accomplished in a very macho, guy way, you
understand) with the steam from a concentrated nozzle accessory, scrubbed the webbing briefly with a brush and rinsed it with the garden hose. This caused all the webbing to melt (just joking! – the chairs were instantly shiny clean). Steam vapor cleaning is so fast and easy that it is a wonder more people don’t use one. Once you do start to use one,
you will find constant, endless use for it.

A vapor unit is safe (the steam a few inches from the accessory merely feels warm and moist on one’s hand) and requires almost no maintenance – merely a bit of vinegar periodically heated with water in the boiler and then dispensed through the hose, etc., to prevent scale buildup. One last note should be that, for those who are
immunologically compromised, a steam vapor machine is an excellent way to help maintain the cleanliness of their environment – so very necessary for such individuals.

For questions on Steam Vapor Cleaning machines or for any questions on environmental cleaning concerns, please contact The Eardly T. Petersen Company at 908-232-5723 or by e-mail at sales@etpetersen.com; or, visit them at 224 Elmer St., Westfield.