By Jim Twamley
Sunshine and flowers in bloom mean it’s time for some RV spring cleaning. Forget about chemicals, put away the rubber gloves and go green with steam. Mrs. Professor wanted a steam cleaner to clean and disinfect around the RV. She researched the various models on the internet and finally decided on the model she liked.
I took it for a spin in the shower today and it did a good job. Cleaning with steam is not easier or faster than cleaning with conventional chemical cleaners. It will take you just as long in the cleaning process, but you will be using an environmentally friendly means of cleaning. Steam released into the air is harmless but chemical vapors from household cleaning products can have harmful side effects, especially for people with allergies.Steam kills most mold and mildew on contact. This is great news for RVers who routinely need to clean moldy window sills and shower stall ceilings. You can also use these systems to kill the dust mites in your mattress and carpet. If it needs to be sanitized, steam will do the trick.
Our steamer is made in Italy and we had a good laugh at how the operators manual was mistranslated into English. Companies doing business in predominately English-speaking countries should hire someone who actually speaks English to write directions.
We paid around $500 for our machine, but you can get cheaper models that put steam where you need it. Most of the higher-end machines are referred to as “vapor” machines as opposed to “steam” machines. They both shoot steam, but “vapor” machines use less water and have a higher temperature and pressure at the nozzle spray head. The amount of accumulated water is also less. You can clean tile grout with this machine and just wipe up the excess water that is left behind with an absorbent towel or paper towels. You can also use a wet vacuum to suck up the small amount of water left behind.
I also used the machine to clean the sinks and faucets and it cleaned them better than chemicals. I also cleaned the toilet bowl. Steam is a great sanitizing agent and will leave your toilet sparkling clean. I also tested it on a small section of tile grout and it does a good job on that as well. You can also use this device to clean conventional ovens, microwaves and stove tops.
When you use this machine, it’s a good idea to open the RV ventilation fans to evacuate the steam, unless you’re trying to create a tropical atmosphere inside your coach.
Steam is also good at melting away greasy grime, so it also works well on engine parts without the use of solvents. It comes with numerous attachments like a wand and a floor brush. There are upholstery attachments and small nylon brushes for doing closeup work. There is also a wire brush for doing BBQ grills. We ordered an extra set of brushes since they wear down with use.
The unit is the size of a canister vacuum cleaner and has rollers. You have to stop cleaning when it runs out of water, wait for it to cool down and then refill it and wait for it to heat up again before you can continue cleaning (about 30 minutes). The stainless steel boiler tank holds about a half gallon of water and will last about 30 to 45 minutes before needing a refill.
Our unit has a trigger button that activates the steam wand. It shuts off the flow of steam when the button is released. You do need to be careful not to burn yourself with the business end of the steam wand. You also need to be careful around plastics because the high temperature may melt them.The steam cleaner does not remove water stains (for that you will need vinegar). It should not be used on auto paint because it can destroy the clear coat finish. Also, I would not recommend it for electric components like your computer keyboard because electrical components and water don’t get along.
Overall I rate it a good appliance for general purpose cleaning and sanitizing. It will not make your work any easier, but it will leave the RV clean and germ-free. There are numerous other cleaning jobs this machine can tackle and I’ve just scratched the surface.
Full steam ahead —Jim Twamley, Professor of RVing