While most all steam cleaners are good for cleaning carpet, you can use portable steam cleaners to wash not only carpet but furniture, countertops and even your car interior. Unlike traditional steam cleaners, portable ones can go anywhere you go without a lot of hassle.
Types of Portable Steam Cleaners
When you look for portable steam cleaners, you'll notice there are several types available for purchase.
- Sticks or uprights - These cleaners look a lot like upright vacuums. They have a stick handle that can either sit vertical or recline and a thin rectangular base.
- Handhelds - These cleaners look like a cross between a water gun and a garden sprayer. They have nozzles that shoot out steam to help clean and sanitize tight spots.
- Canisters - These cleaners have a compartment on wheels that holds the water. A flexible hose is connected to it with a rectangular head at the end of it.
How Steam Cleaners Work
Steam cleaners are not the same as vacuum cleaners. In fact, they are designed to pick up the dirt and debris that vacuums tend to miss. The machines have a reservoir that you fill with tap water, or distilled water if your water is hard.
- The machine heats the water to a very high temperature so that steam will form.
- You move the cleaner across the surface you would like to wash, releasing steam as you go.
- The heat from the steam kills parasites, mold and mildew while loosening deeply ground dirt.
- Dirt is literally melted and vaporized due to the heat and pressure.
Steam cleaners can usually take care of even stubborn messes in one go. They are even designed to lift off gum, glue, wax and water-based paints.
Popular Portable Models
A portable steam cleaner can be expensive, so you will want to compare several different models before you buy. A few that have fairly positive reviews are:
- Eureka's Enviro Steamer - This machine has a square base designed to easily get into corners. It comes with washable pads that you can reuse instead of throwing them out.
- Euro-Pro's Shark Steam Mop - This steamer is designed to use the minimum amount of steam necessary to get the stains out. Since it doesn't saturate the surface you're cleaning as much as other cleaners do, the dry time may significantly shorter.
- Bissell's SpotBot - This device uses a rotating brush to clean set-in stains. You can simply set it on top of the stain, turn it on and wait seven minutes, or you can attack the stain with the attached brush.
- Wagner's Power Steamer - This machine is designed for removing wallpaper, but it also works well for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, including grills, bathroom counters and pet areas. It heats up in 12 minutes.
- SteamFast's SF-226 Handheld - This steamer only takes three minutes to heat up and has an ergonomic design to make it more comfortable to use.
Handhelds are usually cheaper than the other two types, but they are less versatile when it comes to cleaning larger surfaces, like floors and will take a lot longer to get a big job done.
While you can use your portable steam cleaner on a lot of different surfaces, the hot steam may damage antiques or delicate fabrics. You should perform a spot test in a small area of these items before trying to steam clean the whole thing. Although you can use cleaning solutions besides water in your cleaner, that doesn't mean you can fill them with just anything. Check the owner's manual that comes with your steamer or contact the manufacturer to see what you can use that won't damage your steamer or the surfaces you're cleaning with it.