Housekeeping

The power of steam

In the accommodation industry, presentation is paramount. First impressions are everything and guests are quick to make judgements about the cleanliness of their accommodation.

But appearances can be deceptive. Some cleaning methods are only ‘skin deep’ and what you see is not necessarily what you get.

The old mop and bucket days are well gone but many traditional methods of cleaning may provide the “presentation” but not the “cleanliness”. Straight vacuums, for example, merely produce a top surface clean rather than the necessary deep clean. Vacuuming only lightly picks up surface dirt, when the actual odour-causing grime, dirt and soil is deep down.

Over the past decade or so, one cleaning method has become the preferred type for utmost deep-down hygiene, health and safety (no chemicals and therefore good for guest, the environment, the budget and especially for allergy sufferers), speed and thoroughness. Steam cleaning is the most effective, environmentally-friendly and hygienic method of cleaning today.

Modern steam cleaners produce vapour at 100°C plus at the nozzle which is hot enough to wipe out bed bugs (and their eggs), dust mites, fleas, germs, bacteria and viruses instantly as well as odours. Because steam is basically
heat it softens the greases, oils and fats that bind dirt into or onto surfaces and the pressure dislodges them but is environmentally friendly as it doesn’t require chemicals and just uses the purity of water.

Steam cleaning is incredibly versatile and can be used on almost any surface including tiles and grout, stainless steel, windows, screens, polished surfaces, carpets, ovens, barbecues, furniture, walls and mattresses.

And steam cleaning machines take a lot of the work out of cleaning as they dislodge the dirt and stains on surfaces, they reduce overall cleaning costs as there is no need for chemicals or other expensive tools as well as using only a minimal amount of water plus they are beneficial to allergy sufferers as the extreme heat of the steam cleaner gets rid of dust mites and other invisible microbes as well as sanitising and deodorising.

Steam cleaners generally use no more than three litres of water per hour, drastically reducing any business’ water consumption and using thousands of litres less than pressure washing or hosing.

The steam-with-vacuum cleaners offer more than the steam-only models that dislodge contaminants and sanitise but don’t pick up the residue. Steamwith-vacuum cleaners – some with detergent injection – have an extraction motor and filtration system that sucks away the dirt and grime. These are ideal for cleaning upholstery and other fabric surfaces as steaming and the removal of excess moisture and dirt is done in a single action.

Right now there is a bed bug epidemic worldwide and it has been proven that the most effective way of killing bed bugs and their eggs is by blasting them suddenly with high temperatures over 45°C and the use of steam has now been included in the bed bug code of practice.

One can even get supersteam cleaners. Supersteam is water that is heated to a temperature of 180°C and, at this temperature, it kills all bacteria and vapourises all mould, grime and stain build up.

As an aside, steam cleaning is also the best way of removing chewing gum that can normally be very hard to remove. When used in conjunction with an environmentally safe detergent and small detail brush steam cleaning will dissolve a hard black spot of gum in seconds with no damage to any surface.

Today’s modern commercial cleaning processes that meet industry guidelines and standards involve steam cleaning, microfibre (a man made synthetic textile fibre usually made of very fine nylon or polyester fibre strands) and
investing in specifically designed machines.

The machines themselves have evolved into highly user friendly tools making the work (and backs) of housekeepers far easier and healthier. Steam cleaning machines are designed to manoeuvre around critical surfaces. Toilet cleaning, for example, presents housekeepers with many hard to reach areas and there are machines today that are able to steam clean, detail clean and flush out awkward places like hinges.

Savvy accommodation providers also realise that all of this can be a great marketing tool. Showing your guests that your cleaning processes involve no harsh chemicals is another selling point in demonstrating your facility is
environmentally friendly while maintaining the highest hygiene standards. Eliminating harsh chemicals will show your guests that your facility is modern and environmentally conscious, as well as reducing the risk of allergic reactions for guests that may be sensitive.

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