There’s a modern paradox at work every time you try to clean your home. Using heavy duty cleaners is effective when it comes to killing germs, removing stains, and more—but what do all those chemicals do to you and your family once they’re inside your home? What do they do to the environment? And what do they do to your wallet?
There’s an environmentally-friendly, kid-and-pet safe alternative—and it’s practically free. Steam just about does it all. A steam clean loosens dirt, kills dust mites, murders mold, gets rid of nasty bacteria like staph, while doing away with allergens. There are a plethora of tools on the market these days that will help you achieve steam clean nirvana, but if you’re looking for a multi-purpose, space-saving device, go for a handheld steamer that will do more than get rid of wrinkles. Here are just seven of the practically endless ways you can use steam clean almost anything.
1. Kill bacteria and dust mites. If you or anyone in your household has allergies, here’s a pro-tip from a lifelong sufferer—dust mites—which are pesky little things that love soft or upholstered surfaces—die when exposed to temperatures over 130 degrees. Steam, obviously, is much hotter than that. Give your beds, couches, rugs, and even beloved stuffed animals a once-over with a steamer to get rid of the pesky mites that only exacerbate allergy symptoms. Also, steam can help kill bacteria like staphylococcus, germs that nobody wants hanging around their house.
2. De-grime. Steam is perfect for cleaning hard, impervious surfaces like countertops, bathroom fixtures, and tile. Get your home squeaky clean by giving surfaces a blast of steam to get rid of moldy grout or greasy kitchen residue. You can even have a bit of fun while cleaning with steam—use this whimsical tool and get dirty microwaves looking their cleanest ever.
3. Get super shiny glass. For a time after college I helped make ends meet as a cater waiter. Long hours filled with hundreds of canapes and what seemed like endless sidework. But during that time I learned a fascinating tip that I’ve used ever since: Steam is the trick to super shiny glass. Polishing glasses and stemware is as easy as steaming clean glasses over a pot of boiling water. Hold the glass by the base and carefully rub afterwards with a towel that is sure not to leave lint behind. Want squeaky clean windows? Follow the same principle and steam them, carefully rubbing them with a towel afterwards.
4. Keep kids things germ-free (and chemical-free). Does your little one have a favorite toy (or several)? Clean soft toys and plastic ones alike with steam and get rid of anything nasty that might make them sick without using chemicals that might do the same.
5. Open those pores. You can keep your pores clean with steam, too! Sitting over a bowl of steaming water with a towel over your head helps loosen dirt and acne-causing bacteria while promoting sweating (which sounds bad, but only helps flush out your pores). While admittedly not great for people with rosacea, this skincare hack will help most people get dewy skin. Plus, as someone who grew up with an abundance of allergies, asthma, and a habit of catching sinus infections, I can say for certain that this trick will help clear out your sinuses when you’re feeling crummy.
6. Clean your floors. Cleaning your floors can be an expensive, sticky, smelly, exhausting job. Skip the chemicals and clean them the natural way with (yep!) steam. There are a ton of affordable steam mops on the market these days, which are easy to use, fast, and efficient. Scrub, shine, and sanitize your floors for a deeper clean that’s gentle and safe for the whole household.
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