Often, terms such as steam power washers, vapor steam cleaners, and carpet steam cleaners are used interchangeably. While all these machines use hot water or high temperature steam for cleaning, they do not have the same applications or cleaning capacity.
Vapor Steam Cleaners
Also known as dry steam cleaners, these steam cleaning machines use dry vapor for cleaning tile, grout, ovens, stoves, restroom fittings, windows, mirrors, and floors.
High end steam cleaning machines emit vapor with as little as 5% water content, ideal for removing food remnants, stains, and similar matter from small areas. These machines are not suitable for heavy degreasing, slush removal, or for removing thick layers of chemicals, or oil. Nor are they right for cleaning large surfaces such as streets, exterior wall surface, walkways, and so on.
These upholstery steam cleaners can also used for spot cleaning carpets and upholstery, though they are not powerful enough to handle the high capacity requirements of cleaning entire carpeted areas. For handling full carpeted areas, a carpet steam cleaner is often preferred. The name of these machines is essentially a misnomer - as carpet steam cleaners only emit hot water temperatures up to 210°F.
Some vapor steam cleaners may be fitted with chewing gum removal kits for removing chewing gum from concrete, hardwood, brick, and granite but they cannot clean entire surfaces. With special attachments, upholstery steam cleaners can be used for eliminating stains from couches, carpets, curtains, and more.
Vapor steam cleaners do not have very high pressure levels. Some larger commercial models may reach pressure levels as high as 150 psi, ideal for extensive steam cleaning applications but not suitable for heavy grease, soot, or slush removal.
These steam cleaning machines require the use of detailing brushes, squeegees, and towels because they lack the high pressure required to forcefully dislodge dirt from the surface. Once steam softens the dirt, a detailing tool must be used to scrub it off the surface below. Most steam cleaning machines are therefore sold with an assortment of detailing brushes in different sizes, shapes, and materials. Look for machines with vacuum attachments, as well, for easier clean up and removal of residue.
Steam Pressure Washers
Unlike dry steam cleaners, the best steam pressure washers emit 100% wet steam. The steam is emitted at a very high pressure, usually around 1000-4000 psi. Most machines are tri-mode machines, meaning they can be used as cold water, steam or hot pressure washers. They emit very hot steam up to 330°F, comparable with the temperature achieved by dry steam cleaning machines. The difference between the two machines is the water content and pressure at which steam is emitted. Such high pressure steam blasts away heavy grease and oil deposits for commercial and industrial environments, auto detailing, public works facilities, and other applications.
When selecting steam cleaner equipment for commercial areas, keep these differences in view to guarantee that you purchase the right machine for the job at hand. Always choose machines from reputable suppliers to ensure you receive a quality machine built to last.