Sure, anyone can get a headache at the thought of cleaning, but for people with chemical sensitivities, household cleaners can actually induce headaches and other bothersome symptoms. If you are someone who suffers from side effects from harsh chemical cleaners, a steam cleaner like those covered in our steam cleaners report can be effective at cleaning hard surfaces, fabrics and carpets without using any chemicals at all. The hot temperature of the steam can kill dust mites, fleas and other allergy-inducing organisms lurking in carpets, mattresses, drapes, upholstery and stuffed toys.
How does a steam cleaner work?
Steam cleaners have an internal boiler that heats ordinary tap or distilled water to at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The resulting steam is emitted out of a nozzle or attachment and, when sprayed on a soiled surface, breaks the bond of grime and remove stains. Very little moisture remains, so a quick wipe with an absorbent cloth removes any residual dirt and wetness. Models like the McCulloch MC1275 (*Est.$110) resemble a canister vacuum and have a boiler large enough to produce steam for about 45 minutes of cleaning before a refill is needed. Alternately, handheld models like the Steamfast SF-226 (*Est. $40) are more portable, but only provide 10-15 minutes of steam time.
Turn up the heat on dust mite and mold allergies
A home should feel like a safe haven, but dust mites or mold may be a hidden danger that can lead to allergy symptoms or trigger an asthma attack. Laundering items in hot water or vacuuming are preventive measures for removing dust mite allergens but not all items are washable or easily vacuumed. Furthermore, a study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that steam cleaning followed by vacuuming to remove dust mite allergens had longer-lasting effects than vacuuming alone.
Consumers recommend steam cleaners for a wide array of chores, but cleaning mold, mildew and soap scum in bathrooms is one of the most popular uses. While some consumers report "miraculous" results from their steam cleaner, you should still expect cleaning to take some effort. A good deal of scrubbing is likely to be needed to remove serious build up or soap scum. One of the great benefits of using a steam cleaner, however, is the steam penetrates deep into the pores of tile, grout and other hard surfaces. This makes it more effective at eradicating mold and mildew than simply scrubbing the surface with chemical cleaners.