My mum was a sucker for advertising if there was some faded Z list celeb endorsing a product somewhere on TV she bought it, which is why when she passed away and we cleared out her house we found two “steam” cleaners used, but put neatly back in their boxes.
So before I start my tirade against these over hyped pieces of nonsense let me start by saying that I am referring to the DIY steam mops you see on product TV and home shows, not the expensive professional pieces of kit that have serious cleaning power (but are definitely not for wooden floors).
So let’s start with the hype and the first one is in the name “Steam Cleaner”. Water boils at 212F and many machines on the market will reach that temperature and at this point the power of water (steam) is indeed very powerful especially when pumped at pressure. However let us consider what you are cleaning, WOOD. If I suggested to a wooden floor owner that boiling a kettle and either pouring the water or injecting that steam into the wood in order to remove surface dirt was a good idea, they would be horrified and quite rightly so, cleaning a wooden floor at that temperature is neither necessary nor desirable.
The second lie is that they are quick, NO THEY ARE NOT. Reading the ebay guide to steam cleaners it states that they take 5 to 15 minutes to heat up, in that time I would have done my kitchen floor twice with a microfibre mop (more on microfiber later). If the tank runs out of water, you start over again and if you have a big area you may have to unplug it and plug it in elsewhere.
Moving on, the next myth is that they are environmentally friendly because they don’t use toxic chemicals. I am going to split this one up as it is a mixture of lie and misinformation. First off anything made of plastic in China, shipped halfway around the world and that has to be plugged in to achieve a result no better than a (microfiber) mop IS NOT ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY to start with! However the best of the bunch is the toxic chemical thing, so much so I’m going to start another paragraph.
No one ever suggested using toxic cleaners on your floor, the really dumb salespeople use this word the smarter ones use the word “chemical” so let’s look at that word. To start with everything is made of chemicals, trees, food, water even you and me, we have stop allowing people with an agenda to taint innocent words for their own purposes. Every day we wash using soap, we clean our hair with shampoo (well not me I’m bald), we put on deodorant (yep do that one), we clean our teeth (still good on that one too) and we wash our cutlery.
In all these cases we are using chemicals that will come in direct contact with our body and yet the thought of using a chemical on the floor horrifies some people, as our American cousins would say “give me a break” To make sure the “toxic” claim had no validity I did a quick check on the wood floor cleaning shelf, there were none carrying the toxic symbol that would be a legal requirement if they were (toxic). In fact, the ones most sold are PH neutral which is not true of many of the products you use on your body by the way.
So now after telling you not to use these machines on your wooden floor, it’s time to tell what you should use and why.
The biggest step forward in cleaning for years is not in sophisticated machinery or chemicals it is actually in mops and cloths in the shape of microfibre. This fabric is a mixture of fibres that range from one tenth the width of a human hair up to one hundredth the width, even the cheapest cloths can claim to be antibacterial and antimicrobial whilst the most expensive ones are antiviral. These tiny fibres surround the soil and remove it using a principle call van der Waal force (serious science this) and (get this) for those who hate chemicals they work perfectly well with just water for regular soiling.
AND NOW FOR THE BEST BIT, guess what? All the steam cleaners out there use microfibre mops, the bulk of the work is not done by the steam it’s done by the mop!
So if you want to save money, be faster, more environmentally friendly and prolong the life of your wooden floor dump the steam mop (or just don’t plug it in) and get a micofibre mop kit.