The steam vapor system employs the use of live, low moisture, high temperature steam vapor to release the soils entrapped upon and within the carpet fibers with minimal agitation. High temperature steam vapor flows from the steam generator, through the bonnet and into the carpet. The bonnet fabric becomes hot and moist, attracting and collecting the soils, as the bonnet tool is moved across the carpet fiber. Heat, NOT steam volume, is the functional agent here. Surface temperatures will range between 200 – 220 deg. F. As with many other systems in use, a thorough vacuuming should be the first step in this process to remove any soluble fine soils or particulates from the carpet.
If cleaning solutions are required, it is best to apply them as a pre-treatment, in areas as dictated by soil load and carpet fiber material, and are never run through steam boiler or generator. Pre-treatment is easily accomplished with a small hand pump sprayer. Always follow proper dilution instructions and any cautionary statements as provided on the label of the cleaning solution you are using. Cleaning solutions are minimized through the use of the higher temperatures applied by using a steam vapor system. The cleaning solutions recommended for use with this system should be of the detergent free-suds free, or liquid encapsulant variety.
The steam vapor system is composed of a steam generator, a steam supply hose, extension wands, and a variety of tool sizes capable of use with a bonnet cloth. The steam generator houses a boiler, which produces super heated, ‘dry’, low moisture steam vapor from tap water. The unit is self-contained and can be continually used for about 2 ½ hours per filling, and operates on a standard 120-volt electrical outlet, using 1500 – 1700 watts of power.
Properly used, a steam vapor system will consume about 1 to 1.5 quarts of water per hour. One advantage of using this system is that it provides a very short drying time, usually about 20 minutes or less. The process of refilling or recharging the steam generator with water, will vary with the type or style of system used, and can vary from a taking a few seconds to 30 minutes. The refilling process is determined by the construction of the steam generator and has a direct bearing on the production capabilities of the various systems available.
The extension handles to which the cleaning tool is attached, come in various lengths, and should allow setup to match the job at hand, and yet be ergonomic and comfortable to use whether cleaning floors or stairways.
The most effective bonnet material is composed of a quality cotton terry towel or a microfiber towel of the waffle type construction. The bonnet towels are attached over the floor tool, using a double layer between the tool and the carpet. An ‘open cell’ pad is used between the towel and the brush to maximize the soil collection and maintain an even distribution of steam vapor across the tool face.
When maintaining carpet, it is best to work in convenient sections, using parallel and overlapping strokes in one direction. The overlap should be about ½ the tool width. When one direction is complete, then cover the same section again, using a direction perpendicular to the first. The entire carpet is treated in this manner till the coverage is complete.
Stubborn areas may require a bit longer dwell time, and can be accomplished by repetitive, and shorter strokes with the floor tool. In some cases, an additional light application of cleaning solution may be applied as well. It is best not to over-work a particular carpet area, but allow it to dry and then return to this area a second time if appearance dictates additional cleaning.
Bonnet cloths should be checked for soil accumulation. When they are heavily soiled, remove the cloth and refold or rotate it so that a clean surface is exposed, when it is attached to the floor tool surface. Each towel can be used at least four times before it is exchanged for a clean towel. The towel should appear hot and moist, but not saturated with water. Overly wet towels indicate the use of too much steam and that the steam volume should be reduced. Overly wet towels can also retard soil attraction to the cloth, and it then should be exchanged for a fresh cloth.
Production rates with this system is will vary with soil load, carpet fiber type and construction, and treatment focus. The square foot coverage rate will vary between 600 – 1200 sq. feet per hour. If the particular job requires special considerations, such as allergy trigger reductions, or is part of an integrated pest control activity, or relates to mold control, coverage rates may be reduced.
Some areas of the carpet may be better treated using a smaller tool with a bonnet cloth attached. Edging areas where filtration marks may accumulate or where heavier soil loads have accumulated, can be effectively treated with smaller tools. These smaller tools concentrate the steam heat and aid in the removal of stubborn soils, and can eliminate severe crush marks as well.
Depending on the focus of the cleaning protocol, a thorough vacuuming of the carpet may be required after treatment. If this is the case, begin the vacuuming at the point where cleaning was initiated as the carpet will be dry. Vacuum each section in the same rotation as followed when treating with the steam.