I don’t know anyone who loves the mop as a cleaning tool. I felt that there just HAD to be a more effective way to clean. Well, I found it, the Floor Steamer.
Whilst cleaning the house yesterday, (I have always wanted to use the word “whilst” in a sentence) it occurred to me that I should share one of my favorite chemical-free cleaning tips. My hard won secret, the floor steamer, is a powered cleaning contraption that looks a little like an upright vacuum. It not only cleans, but actually sterilizes your floors, without the use of chemicals or a mop.
One of the first steps to cleaner living is to reduce the number of chemicals used throughout the home. Eliminating household cleaners is a solid step in the right direction. I don’t think anyone out there is going to argue that we need more chemicals in our homes, but I imagine that are many who believe that chemicals they are necessary to have a clean home. Using a floor steamer actually gives you a cleaner space than mopping, without the use of chemicals. It is a win, win.
The Problem of the Mop and Bucket Method
Problem 1 -Toxicity of Household Cleaners
The trusty mop and bucket method of floor cleaning has its issues. First, this method dictates the use of a chemical solvent. Household chemicals can be harmful and toxic. Alternet.org has this great article about the issue of chemicals in the home.
In the early eighties, a study by the EPA concluded that concentrations of twenty cancer-causing chemicals were up to fifty times higher indoors than out — most appeared in an average bottle of all-purpose cleaner, toilet-bowl cleaner, or dish soap. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 150 common household chemicals are linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities. [ref]http://www.alternet.org/story/148961/cleaning_without_chemicals%3A_recipes_for_a_toxic-free_home[/ref]
I bet you would be surprised to learn the volume of toxic chemicals used in the average American household, 25 gallons per year. Even products that you use regularly, spray furniture polish, for example, often contain known hazardous chemicals. Check Huffington Post’s article, Worst Household Cleaning Products to see some of the big offenders. Bets are that you have used at least one of these products!
Toxicity is not only a concern for households with children who may get into the product and become acutely poisoned, but is a concern for everyone since even low dose exposure over time can be harmful to both children and adults. Additionally, there is an environmental concern about these products being washed down the drain to mingle with our water supply which eventually enter rivers and streams.
According to the Organic Consumers Association, “Cleaning ingredients vary in the type of health hazard they pose. Some cause acute, or immediate, hazards such as skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes, or chemical burns, while others are associated with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer.
GoodGuide.com is a website dedicated to rating the safety of household products. Check out some of the products under your sink, it might be an eye opener.
Problem 2 – Mops are a breeding ground for bacteria, which you spread around on the floor
The bacterial contamination of the wet mop is well documented, and it makes sense, right? A wet mop is the perfect environment to host microbes. Rinsing it never truly get the dirt out of it. We shove it back in the cupboard, stinking and wet, where it cultures into the perfect germ vector.
According to the researchers, kitchen floors in student housing were tested for bacteria counts and were found to be more contaminated than public toilet seats.[ref]http://www.corrections.com/articles/29150[/ref]
Apparently, the tools many facilities use to clean floors—mops and buckets—are key culprits in spreading bacteria. In fact, in some cases, “the floor was actually more infested with bacteria after the floor had been mopped,” wrote the researchers. “The mop head tested was found to contain more than eight million bacteria per 100 cm2.[ref]http://www.corrections.com/articles/29150[/ref]
Mops, stored wet, supported bacterial growth to very high levels and could not be adequately decontaminated by chemical disinfection [ref]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC377258/[/ref]
I practically laughed when I read this article’s solution, which says we should clean our mop before cleaning by soaking it in bleach and hot water for 15 minutes, then letting it dry completely, a process which would take hours, BEFORE we start cleaning. They have got to be kidding, is anyone really doing this??
Problem 3 – The Floors Just Don’t Get Clean
Even if the bacteria were not an issue, mopping never really gets the floors visibly clean and dirt-free. Even after mopping my floors two and three times, I would still have cloudy streaks on the floor. Taking a white cloth to the floor after mopping revealed a dirty cloth. The mopping process just dilutes the dirt and spreads it around, leaving a more evenly dirty floor. The whole process is energy intensive and depressingly fruitless.
I tried new devices, different types of mops, multi-level approaches with sweeping, swiffing, wet swiffing then going on hands and knees with a wet cloth. Seriously, I was desperate.
Enter the Floor Steamer.
In the past I have been seduced by advertisements promising me time savings and a cleaner home with one gadget or another. Most of these purchases proved not to be the domestic dream device I was promised, leaving me somewhat jaded. I have come to believe that there is usually no replacement for elbow grease when it comes to good housekeeping. My sheer desperation to find a better way to clean my wall-to-wall hard surface floors drove me to take a chance with a Euroflex® Monster Floor Steamer.
Unexpectedly, the floor steamer is actually the dream product I was promised. It is simple, efficient and effective. It leaves my floors sparkling clean, streak-free and bacteria-free. No clunky, cumbersome design. No smattering of loose parts or hoses, to fall off and get lost. It produces enough steam to work as fast as I can. It is easy enough to use that I actually DO use it every time I clean the floors because it is not a hassle.
And the best way to reduce toxicity in your home is to use no chemicals at all!
Advantages of the Floor Steamer:
- Compact and easy to use, just like an upright vacuum
- No chemicals, uses steam to sterilize
- Cleans up to 99% of bacteria
- Leaves no streaks or dirt trails
- Uses washable/resuable microfibre pads
- Works on all hard surfaces
- Virtually no liquid is applied to the surface, so it is great for wood floors
- Comes with a carpet attachment to sterilize carpets and rugs
- Uses plain tap water, distilled is not required
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How It Works:
- Pour water into the tank and tighten the filler lid
- Attach a clean pad to the bottom
- Plug in and wait 5 minutes to pressurize
Presto! The steam is ejected as soon as the handle is tilted for use and stops when returned to the upright position. Steam like you would use a vacuum, in slow strokes across the floor, being sure to steam the entire surface. Use the steam jet trigger on the handle for particularly troublesome spots. When the pad get’s soiled, peel it off and drop a fresh pad on the floor, velcro side up and just set the device down on top of the clean pad. One tank of water typically does my whole house, 2 baths, bedroom, entry, kitchen, dining and stairs. If you have a really big job and you run out of water, be sure to unplug and let the tank cool completely to depressurize before opening the filler cap to refill.
This product is excellent for hardwood floors or surfaces that you do not want to apply a lot of water. The tank holds only 2.25 cups of tap water. As noted above, that is enough water to clean my entire house. Compare that to a mop bucket and you know you are saving those wood floors a lot of swelling.
For households with babies and young children, the steam sterilizing of the floors is especially significant. Leeds Metropolitan University Faculty of Health Department found that student housing floors had more bacteria than a toilet seat. What is even more startling is,
The researchers actually discovered that the married couples with children and pets had the most contaminated kitchen floors—even more than the students’ floors. [ref]http://www.corrections.com/articles/29150[/ref]
While I have never had the courage, I have always felt that a floor steamer would be the best baby shower gift. Being able to steam sterilize the floors your baby will be crawling on seems like such a great gift for an expectant mom.
There has been some criticism of floor steamers. First, some units were not getting hot enough to actually sterilize the floors. The Euroflex unit that I am using heats up to 266 °F or 130°C, which is hot enough to sterilize. “160°F will kill most all bacteria and microbes that are known to be harmful to human life. However, there are microbes that may withstand temperatures up to 867.2°F. This means that it is impractical to achieve 100% sterilization”[ref]http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_between_sanitization_and_sterilization[/ref] Okay, so not everything is dead, but it is a lot better than that toilet seat alternative. The other criticisms have focused on non-pressurized units because they simply did not produce enough steam. To avoid this problem, which is a real issue, be sure to get a pressurized steam floor cleaner like the Euroflex that I am using.
According to Euroflex:
This Monster steam cleaner can kill 99% of bacterial contaminants, including salmonella and e-coli, on common hard surfaces seconds. It includes three accessories for all your around-the-house needs. Steam is delivered on command from the front jets on the base unit just squeeze the trigger on the handle. To stop the steam, simply put the handle fully upright. Patented technology.
I would recommend purchasing additional microfibre pads. About the only problem you will have getting your floors clean will be if your pad gets dirty. Just be sure to have extras on hand and you wont have an issue. I bought mine on Amazon and have a whole stack of them now. I use 3 pads to do all the floors in the house for a regular weekly cleaning. Washing the pads separately means that sometimes the pads don’t get washed every week, so I need at least 6 pads for my household.
What the magical Floor Steamer does NOT do:
- Floor Steamers do not have suction. They it will not pick up dirt. They do not replace the broom, swiffer or vacuum. Get the dirt up first, then use this to actually clean and disinfect. The steamer replaces the mop step in your floor cleaning process.
- The floor steamer will not clean up spills or large amounts of liquid. Clean up your spills with a towel, then use the steamer to clear the residue and get rid of stickiness.
I love my Euroflex® Monster Floor Steamer, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t change a couple of things about it. If I could make a few tweaks (Euroflex, are you listening?) I would make the handle a little longer. I am 5′ 1-3/4″, yes, the fractions matter, and I find that I have to stoop a little more than I would like. For someone of a normal height I am sure this would be much more pronounced. A couple of inches would really help. The handle is not adjustable, so giving an adjustment feature would be nice to make this more universally comfortable to use.
Also, I would like the pole to be just a little more sturdy. Sometimes you need to lift the thing over a cord or maneuver it into a tight corner. The handle is just not quite sturdy enough to support the tank unless you bring it back to the upright position. The handle is held together by a plastic coupler, which can easily break…yes, I know this for a fact. After 3 years I burned out my Euroflex, which stopped powering up. I don’t blame the unit, it had a tough life and gave its all. As the best endorsement I can offer, I felt I got enough value out of the product that I purchased it again.
Well there you have it, the Floor Steamer. Seriously, did I write this much about cleaning? Yikes, I might need to get a life.