How to Use a Steam Cleaner Like a Pro

    Doing routine housework doesn’t require special equipment – or at least, it usually doesn’t. You can probably get by with your usual array of cleaning products and supplies in most cases. But what happens when you’ve got a real deep-cleaning problem that’s resistant to run-of-the-mill methods? It’s time to bring in the big guns.

    If you’re a professional cleaner, a homeowner, a renter, or trying to get an apartment ready for a showing, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with steam cleaners and what they can do. In this post, we’ll explain how to use a steam cleaner in a variety of situations: to clean carpets, rugs, floors, couches, grout, and more, and even make your home a healthier place to live. We’ll also explain what to look for in a steam cleaner and answer some of the questions our Pros hear most often.

    What is a Steam Cleaner and How Does It Work?

    A steam cleaner is essentially what it sounds like: a machine that uses hot steam for deep cleaning. The steam is effective at cleaning and disinfecting many surfaces, including tile floors, carpets and rugs, grout, fixtures, and much more.

    Before we go any further, let’s be clear that the steam cleaners we’re talking about here aren’t the ones that can be used to get rid of wrinkles in your clothes. Multi-surface steam cleaners are meant to be used for cleaning and, in some circumstances, disinfecting surfaces in your apartment or home. 

    Steam cleaners have a canister to hold and heat water and a nozzle to direct the steam where you want it to go. There are often multiple nozzle attachments included with steam cleaners, so you can choose which option–such as a brush or extender–to use for each cleaning task.

    How to Use a Steam Cleaner Like a Pro

    Which Cleaning Products and Supplies to Use with a Steam Cleaner

    Using a steam cleaner isn’t very difficult, but you’ll need these basic cleaning products and supplies to get the results you’re looking for.

    Cleaning Products
    Cleaning Supplies/Equipment
    Distilled water
    A canister, upright, or handheld steam cleaner
    All-purpose cleaner
    Steam cleaner attachments
    White vinegar
    Microfiber cloths
    Manufacturer-approved detergent
    A broom, mop, or vacuum

    You’ll notice that the supplies and cleaning products needed are minimal. Here’s our overview of what each of these items can accomplish.

    • Many manufacturers recommend using distilled water and avoiding tap water. Tap water often contains minerals that have the potential to clog the nozzle of your steam cleaner over time.
    • We don’t recommend putting all-purpose cleaners into your steam cleaner but they’re useful to have available to get rid of heavy dirt or grease before applying steam.
    • White vinegar can be added to water, but you should read the manual before doing so.
    • Steam cleaner attachments might include brushes made of nylon or steel, nozzle extensions to direct steam with precision, and mop attachments to use on floors.
    • Microfiber cloths are a useful (and environmentally responsible) option to wipe away dirty water after using the steam cleaner.
    • If you’re cleaning floors with your steam cleaner, a broom, vacuum, or mop is necessary to remove debris prior to using the steam cleaner.

    With these cleaning products and supplies, your steam cleaner can deliver amazing results and make your home look impeccable.

    How to Use a Steam Cleaner Like a Pro

      How to Use a Steam Cleaner in the Bathroom

      Steam cleaners can clean a variety of things in your bathroom, including:

      • Faucets
      • Floors
      • Tile
      • Grout
      • Showers
      • Bathtubs

      Here are our instructions to use the steam cleaner on hard surfaces in your bathroom.

      Step 1: Pre-treat the surface by sweeping or using an all-purpose cleaner to remove dirt and debris.

      Step 2: Fill the steam cleaner with distilled water and choose the appropriate attachment, then turn it on, so it can heat up.

      Step 3: Test the steam cleaner on an out-of-the-way spot to ensure that it doesn’t damage the surface you want to clean.

      Step 4: Press the steam button to release steam. Pass the attachment over a small area. If you’re cleaning the floor, start in one corner and work your way out. For a shower, start at the top to avoid dirty water trickling down over tile or grout you’ve already cleaned.

      Step 5: Wipe dirty water away with a clean microfiber cloth.

      Step 6: Rewash the entire surface when you’re done.

      How to Use a Steam Cleaner Like a Pro

      How to Use a Steam Cleaner on Carpet or Rug

      Cleaning fabric surfaces requires different steam cleaner attachments than the ones you would use on hard surfaces. 

      The steps below are for cleaning a carpet or rug, but if you want to know how to use a steam cleaner on upholstery or how to use a steam cleaner on a couch, you can follow these same steps.

      Step 1: Fill the steam cleaner with water and add cleaning solution per the manufacturer’s instructions. You can use vinegar if you prefer. Turn it on and allow it to heat.

      Step 2: Vacuum the rug or carpet thoroughly. (If you’re cleaning upholstery, you should use a vacuum attachment to remove crumbs and other debris.)

      Step 3: Pretreat stains to improve your chances of removing them.

      Step 4: Test the steam cleaner on a hidden area of the rug. If there’s no damage, you can proceed.

      Step 5: Start at one corner of the rug or carpet and work methodically, passing the steam cleaner over each area until stains are removed.

      Step 6: After you’ve gone over the entire rug, allow it to dry.

      If you prefer a visual guide to using a steam cleaner on upholstery, you can watch the video below.

      How to Use a Steam Cleaner in the Kitchen

      A steam cleaner can be extremely useful for cleaning multiple surfaces in your kitchen, including:

      • Faucets and fixtures
      • Backsplashes
      • Tile floors
      • Grout
      • Stove hood

      The steps are similar to those for the bathroom.

      Step 1: Fill the steam cleaner with distilled water (and vinegar if you choose). Turn it on and allow it to heat.

      Step 2: Use an all-purpose cleaner or kitchen cleaner to remove heavy grease and dirt from the surfaces you want to steam clean.

      Step 3: Test the steam cleaner on each surface to be cleaned.

      Step 4: Using the appropriate attachment, go over each surface methodically.

      Step 5: Use a clean microfiber cloth to remove dirty water as you go.

      Step 6: For the floor or grout, reclean the surface when you’re done.

      Learn the ins and outs of how to use a steam cleaner on grout.

      How to Choose the Best Steam Cleaner for Your Needs

      Before you go out and purchase a new steam cleaner, here are our tips to help you decide which model is right for you.

      • Decide what areas of your home you want to clean with a steam cleaner. For example, if you only wanted to clean rugs and carpets, you might choose an upright steam cleaner. If your desire is to use a steam cleaner on your shower and kitchen backsplash, a hand-held model will be lighter and easier to use.
      • Professional cleaners are likely to want a heavy-duty steam cleaner that can hold a lot of water and get a lot of cleaning done quickly. Homeowners and DIYers can probably get by with a smaller model.
      • Figure out how much money you want to spend. It should go without saying that smaller models are likely to cost significantly less than large, professional steam cleaners.
      • Do you need heavy duty cleaning ability? If so, then you should spring for a steam cleaner with high pressure per square inch (PSI) to get the best results.

      We also suggest reading online reviews and watching videos to make sure you understand what you’re getting and what it can and can’t do.

      FAQs About Using a Steam Cleaner

      Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about using a steam cleaner.

      What solution do you put in a steam cleaner?
      In many cases, you’ll only need distilled water. Some steam cleaners specify which detergent to use, and most may be used with a combination of water and white vinegar.
      How sanitary is a steam mop?
      Steam mops are sanitary if you clean them properly. A dirty mop may not be sanitary.
      How hot does the steam in a steam cleaner get?
      The steam that comes out of most steam cleaners is somewhere between 200° and 300° Fahrenheit, so it’s important to be careful while using one.
      Where should you not steam clean?
      Don’t use your steam cleaner on electrical appliances or fine fabrics that might stain if they come into contact with water.
      Should you steam clean before or after mopping?
      Steam clean your floor before mopping. You should sweep first to remove debris, steam clean, and then mop to remove dirty water and make sure your floor looks like new.

      Deep Clean Your Home Like a Pro with a Steam Cleaner

      Deep cleaning your home can make everything look and feel like new. Whether you’re a DIYer, a professional cleaner, or considering hiring someone to clean your home from top to bottom, a steam cleaner can be the answer to make your bathroom, kitchen, and everywhere in between look spectacular.