How Does Steam Cleaning Work?

by Lawton Brothers | Feb 08, 2023


Steam cleaning is an extremely effective method for removing built-up dirt, grime, and debris from a variety of surfaces. It is one of the most popular cleaning services used in commercial environments due to its versatility and effectiveness. 

Basics of Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning uses extremely hot water to break down the bonds adhering dirt to on your surfaces. In most steam cleaners, water is heated beyond boiling point, to the point of evaporation, which then comes out of an attachment. This highly pressurized water vapor removes dirt, allergens, bacteria, mold, and more; loosening debris and vacuuming it up. 

Since steam sanitizes and deodorizes with just heat and moisture, debris is removed thoroughly, without the need for chemicals. Thanks to the intense heat from the water molecules, most pathogens are killed instantly, including dust mites, bacteria, mold, and even fleas. 


Steam can be used to effectively clean a multitude of surfaces, even more than you might think. And with various attachments that are specialized for everything from countertops and tiles to upholstery and kitchen appliances (even grills), there’s almost no limit to what you can clean. 

Steam cleaners are so user-friendly that once you understand the operating basics, it's as easy as using a vacuum cleaner. And the only maintenance the machine should need is a routine descaling to remove mineral buildup from water in the tank. 

Steam cleaning’s main benefit is its lack of chemicals. Chemicals can linger on surfaces and come into contact with our skin, lungs, or mucus membranes and cause irritation and sickness. Additionally, the chemicals from cleaning products generally end up going down a drain – via your mop station, the toilet, or your hand sink – and head for our waterways, drinking water, and ecosystem. 

Surfaces Not Suitable for Steam Cleaning

Since steam cleaning has a wide variety of applications, it’s much easier to list surfaces that aren’t safe for steam cleaning. Note that for these surfaces, either the extreme heat or water content will ruin the integrity of the surface. These surfaces include:

  • Porous floors and surfaces like cork, bamboo, marble, limestone, concrete, unsealed hardwood, or any flooring that has gaps or cracks or is vulnerable to high temperatures or pressure
  • Paper or cardboard
  • Painted walls and items covered in water-based paint

    If you’re unsure if your surface can handle the heat, try to identify the material and its best practices. If all else fails, test a small square in the most inconspicuous area of the surface and allow the piece to fully dry (typically 24-48 hours) before continuing with a full application. 

    Give Us a Call

    Lawton Brothers has a variety of steam-cleaning machines to help you achieve your best clean! Give us a call today and let us help decide if steam is the right method for you. Our certified professionals are here to walk you through our catalog and answer any questions you may have. Call us at: 800.432.0813 and get a free cleaning audit.

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