Vapor steam cleaner
Vapor steam cleaners or steam vapor systems are cleaning appliances or devices that use steam to quickly dry, clean, and sanitize inanimate surfaces. Often the process is effective enough to disinfect or even sterilize the surfaces. The steam is produced in a boiler that heats tap water to high temperatures (240-310F/115-155C) to produce low-pressure (several atmospheres), low moisture (4 to 6% water) water vapor (steam).
The steam's ability to clean is based primarily on its heat. The steam is applied to cleanable surfaces via a variety of insulated tools and accessories, thereby safely providing the energy needed to break soil bonds and release contaminants into water suspension, after which they can be removed by wiping or vacuuming.
This process uses very little water (usage is measured in quarts per hour) compared to carpet cleaners or other cleaning devices (whose usage is measured in gallons per minute), which use hot water instead of steam and are incorrectly called "steam cleaners".
The inherent low-moisture characteristics of vapor steam cleaners make them suitable for use inside buildings and residences.
There are several manufacturers of vapor steam cleaners, with products ranging from higher-end industrial products to inexpensive consumer models.
Vapor steam cleaners are cited as examples of green cleaning since they do not require the use of chemical cleaning solutions. They are growing in popularity because of steam vapor's ability to kill germs and in some cases disinfect without the use of chemical disinfectants. Steam vapor has also been cited as effective in killing dust mites in carpet, bedding, and upholstery.  Additionally, dry steam vapor has shown to be effective for killing bed bugs and their eggs when reaching temperatures of 150-170 degrees.
In 2005, the University of Washington tested a steam vapor system in restrooms and reported labor savings and hygienic improvements over previous methods.
Vapor steam cleaners are frequently used in hypoallergenic environments because they do not require the use of additional cleaning chemicals, which results in better indoor air quality and eliminates the need to handle or store cleaning agents. Steam has been shown effective in combating mold, bacteria, viruses, and other forms of biocontamination.
- "Steam Vapor Cleaning - It's Just Water!" http://www.cleanlink.com/cp/article.asp?id=3122
- "Reduction in infection risk through treatment of microbially contaminated surfaces with a novel, portable, saturated steam vapor disinfection system" - American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 37, Issue 1, Pages 20-27 (February 2009) http://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553%2808%2900557-9/abstract
- "Effects of Physical Interventions on House Dust Mite Allergen Levels in Carpet, Bed, and Upholstery Dust in Low-Income, Urban Homes" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1240409/
- "Use Dry Steam Vapor Treatment for Healthier Carpet, Upholstery" http://www.housekeepingchannel.com/a_565-Use_Dry_Steam_Vapor_Treatment_for_Healthier_Carpet_Upholstery
- "Steaming Clean" - American School & University, October 2006 http://asumag.com/Maintenance/university_steaming_clean/
- "Steam Vapor the Clear Winner in Fighting Mold in Carpet" http://www.ifma.org/daily_articles/2007/apr/04_09.cfm[dead link]