How A Steam Cleaner Works

Steam cleaning has grown in popularity over the years, but most people still don’t quite understand how a steam cleaner works and why it’s considered to be one of the most advantageous cleaning methods.

How a Steam Cleaner Works

How A Steam Cleaner Works

What Is Steam Cleaning?

Steam cleaning uses vapor steam to clean, disinfect or sanitize, and remove a buildup of stains. Steam cleaners are ideal for hard surfaces, such as tile, grout and sealed floors, as well as cleaning of soft materials such as upholstery and carpets. These machines generate high temperatures that kill fungi, bacteria, mold and other allergens.

Steam cleaners heat water in a boiler. The boiler then converts the liquid to vapor before exiting the machine through a nozzle. The steams purpose is to loosen dirt on hard surfaces as well as in soft fibers such as upholstery and carpet, making it easier to wipe or vacuum the dirt. Some steam cleaners work with detergents and cleaning solutions while others include vacuums.

Critical Components of a Steam Cleaner


As the name suggests, the boiler boils water and turns it into steam. Boilers ensure extreme pressure and heat, which makes it necessary for high-end versions to be made of stainless steel. Some boilers feature a heating element that you can easily replace, which makes it possible to replace a single heating rod at a low cost rather than an entire boiler. Industrial steam cleaners have boilers that are up to about 15 liters in capacity.

How a Steam Cleaner Works

Refill Tank

Most commercial or industrial-grade steam cleaners and some residential models contain refill tank that’s non-pressurized to allow you to add water to the cleaner while it’s still running. If you have a system that doesn’t have a refill tank, then you’ll always have to depressurize the system before adding any water to the boiler then giving the boiler some time (about 20 minutes) for it to heat the water.

Automatic Refill

Some industrial grade steam cleaners are equipped with a direct water feed designed to connect the boiler to a water outlet to refill it as needed. (You also have the option to refill an automatic refill system manually if you don’t have a water line, for example.)

Detergent Tanks

These tanks contain cleaning chemicals and dispense them as needed. Some steam cleaners have simple hand controls that allow you to control the flow of steam and the detergent while cleaning. Some industrial-grade steam cleaners are equipped with detergent tanks that are up to 20 liters in capacity.

Steam Vacuum

Some steam cleaners have vacuums that can automatically empty their contents into extraction tanks that are up to 20 liters in capacity.

These types of steam cleaners can save time and boost productivity as they allow you to clean as well as extract without using towels. Non-vacuum steam cleaners, however, require that you use a towel to get rid of the residue and moisture left behind after the cleaning process.

Bottom Line

How a steam cleaner works is really quite simple. The heat of steam loosens up dirt and grime, making it easy to wipe the dirt with a piece of cloth.

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