Mistakes not to make with your steam cleaner


To try them is to adopt them. The adage could very well apply to steam cleaners. Easy-to-use devices, washing, disinfecting, sometimes transforming into hand cleaners: steam brooms and sleds enjoy multiple qualities. The main one being that of cleaning and disinfecting floors and surfaces without chemicals. The action of the steam is then enough to make its interior shine.

The simple presence of water in the device can cause a breakdown.

With simplified use and very little new technology, we could easily think that these devices are durable and easy to maintain. Regardless, the simple presence of water – especially heated to high temperature – in the system can cause some problems and even be fatal.

Regular maintenance to avoid breakdowns of your steam cleaner

To avoid the worst, manufacturers recommend changing the filter regularly. As such, Polti indicates that the filter should be changed every two or three months, depending on use. The manufacturer bases this on approximately one cleaning per week.

Even more, the Italian brand ensures that regular use contributes to the proper maintenance of the steam cleaner. Indeed, occasional switching on can lead to an accumulation of scale in the cleaning system. Saturated with limestone, the water circuit is then unable to pump water from the tank and therefore produce steam.

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Polti SV650_style
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Vileda Steam Plus

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On the other hand, according to Kärcher, infrequent or too frequent use has no impact on the steam mop’s scaling rate. To maintain steam cleaners, the German manufacturer recommends regular descaling with its descaling powder, respecting the dosages indicated. The harder the water, the more the procedure must be repeated.

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Demineralized water can also be a solution, but only in small doses. Indeed, if tap water is too hard, some manufacturers recommend cutting it with demineralized water. So much for so much is then possible, but no more. If hard water is detrimental to steam mops and steam sleds, this is also the case with water that is too soft, which can be corrosive to the heating circuit. It is also not recommended to use rainwater or water collected from your condenser dryer.

Steam mop and sled: capricious devices

If it’s already too late and the scale has taken up residence in the steam cleaner, vinegar could be your best ally. Known for its formidable anti-limescale effect, white vinegar could be able to put a steam cleaner back on its feet. Bissell then suggests soaking a cloth in hot water and vinegar and scrubbing the device’s outlets. After that, the manufacturer recommends passing a needle through each hole to finish removing all traces of tartar.

Maintaining steam cleaners is not so easy.

Maintaining steam cleaners is not so easy.

To ensure good cleaning, you need to go further and turn on the steam cleaner, so that the limescale seeps into the device’s system. Vileda recommends running the broom or sled for about 30 minutes, with one part white vinegar to two parts water in its reservoir. Be careful all the same. White vinegar can also be very abrasive, especially towards joints. The operation must therefore be repeated three to four times a year maximum.

While Bissell and Vileda seem to agree on this point, Kärcher and Polti are completely opposed to this practice and advise against adding vinegar to the steam cleaner tank.

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Kärcher SC 3 Upright Easyfix

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Kärcher SC 3 Upright Easyfix

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In any case, regular maintenance helps maintain the performance of the steam cleaner and avoids congestion in the heating system. Above all, in order to adopt the right reflexes, we recommend that you read the instructions supplied with your device, each manufacturer giving specific advice.

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