How to Steam Clean

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September 7, 2014 by Jerrod Lack

Carpets and Fabric Upholstery

Steam cleaning has long been a standard method for cleaning stained or dingy carpets and also furniture. It is also a good option for cleaning hardwood and tile floors, as the process leaves less residue than the scrubbing methods that are sometimes used. Knowing how to steam clean your carpet, fabric or floor surface properly will ensure successful removable of allergens, mold and deep or stubborn dirt.

1. Run the vacuum cleaner over the floor, piece of furniture or draperies you plan to steam clean to remove all the loose dirt and debris, cobwebs and lint.

  • If steam cleaning carpet, move all the furniture out of the room you wish to clean before you run the vacuum.

2. Mix a small portion of cleaning solution with hot water then rub a bit of the solution into a test patch (6- or 8-inch square area) of the carpet or the underside of the cushion on the furniture you want to clean. Check back in 10 or 15 minutes to see if there is any discoloration; if so, dilute the solution a bit more then run a test again.

  • If the solution discolors the carpet or fabric, try using only hot water when running the cleaning machine. While it won’t remove grease or other stains as successfully, it will still lift dirt somewhat and leave it fresher.

3. Fill the tank on the steam cleaning machine with recommended parts of hot water and cleaning solution. (See the side of the cleaning solution container for measurements.) Or if the machine involves hooking a hose to the kitchen or bath tap, do so and turn on the hot water.

4. Start at one corner of the room or on one end of the piece of furniture and work your way across the area. Push the machine to release the steamy solution and pull back to suck up the solution and dirt. Repeat in areas where dirt is more stubborn.

Hardwood, Laminate and Tile Floors

1. Prepare the area prior to steam cleaning by removing loose debris and dust with a dust mop, broom or vacuum. Leaving visible loose dirt on the floor can cause scratches when you run the cleaner over it.

  • Most hardwood floor steam cleaners use water only. However, to clean extremely dirty floors, especially where there is soap scum or unsanitary residue commonly found on tile bathroom floors, you can add a medium pH cleansing solution.
  • Using a steam cleaner on a floor with worn spots could result in moisture soaking into the wood and causing warping.

2. Remove the machine’s water canister and fill it with hot tap water. Reattach the canister and turn the machine on, heating the water until it begins to form mist.

  • Before reattaching the canister, check the filter to make sure it’s clean. If it’s dirty, run it under hot water to rinse it off.

3. Start on one side of the room and work your way across to the other, pushing forward to expel the steam vapors then pulling back so the cleaning pad can pick up the dirt loosened by the steam.


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