January 2012

Issue Home >>


Green steam cleaning

By Evelyn Ferreira

Like Alice in Wonderland, I wandered through the supermarket aisle, wondering which new “miracle” product would make cleaning easy, while being environmentally friendly and living up to the hype. And, if you are neurotic about cleanliness, you may have at one point or the other almost “gassed” yourself to death overdoing it with the chlorine bleach, especially when tackling white bathroom tiles, gasp! Or even worse, being “smart” enough to mix cleaning products to get rid of stained tiles – a foolhardy and dangerous experiment that should not be tried at home, or anywhere else for that matter! You therefore end up with a cupboard full of cleaning products for every cleaning dilemma, many of which contain dangerous chemicals which should be sold with a hazmat suit.

So that was the beginning of my search for safe and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions that did not bust my pocket, and could be used safely without trying to knock me out. Keeping porcelain, ceramic, hardwood and laminate flooring clean can be a chore. First you sweep, then lug around the mop bucket with some added cleaning solution, then giving it the once over with plain water to remove the residue often left by most cleaners. I even tried the fancy expensive cleaning pads with solution but found that apart from the expense and waste of throwing out the pads, my floors were left with a dull film. While plain water with vinegar (a great antibacterial cleaner and deodorizer) is the best solution for ceramic and porcelain, sometimes greasy kitchen tiles need something extra…and there’s still the mop and bucket problem.

It was then I discovered the marvel of cleaning with steam! This is good news for those suffering from allergies who may not tolerate the harsh smell or effects of some cleaning products.

After a great deal of research, I decided to purchase a floor steamer (lightweight, with reusable floor pads) and hand steamer with attachments. I’m happy to report that these purchases were well worth the price. Not only have the results been fantastic, but I have greatly reduced the use of chemical cleaners – good news for the planet. Cleaning is done with steam vapour (extremely hot at over 100ºC) great at getting rid of viruses, bacteria and mould spores while sanitizing and deodorizing. Ha! I feel so much cleaner and greener.

I no longer have to haul around the old mop and bucket (which is great for my back), and degreasers are no longer required for the kitchen floor… oh yeah! I’ve used the hand-steamer to sanitize the kitchen and bathroom, as well as mattresses and pillows (against dust mites). I’ve even removed grease build-up from teak cabinetry around the stove and used the squeegee attachment for cleaning mirrors, glass doors and windows. So let’s see, out goes the glass cleaner as well!

Apart from using steam, there are a number of natural and green products which are becoming more popular as people become more environmentally conscious. For other great green cleaning solutions check out http://www.videojug.com/tag/clean-green.

Evelyn Ferreira of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, The UWI, is also a member of the Environmental Committee.