How to Use a Steam Cleaner

Steam cleaners are fantastic cleaning machines. First of all, all you need to operate a steam cleaner is some water and an electricity supply. No harsh chemicals or expensive cleaning solutions are required, making it a really safe option for pets and children (and for the environment).

They also give really hygienic results, without making carpets and upholstery too damp. They can remove dust mites and other allergens, as well as make the room smell lovely and clean.

All hired tools from Speedy Services come with instructions and guidance, attached to your product. Read through these before using your product, and always ask your depot or our customer services team if there is anything you’re unsure about.


How to steam clean your carpets and upholstery

What you need:

Ensure the steam cleaner has a carpet glider attachment if working on carpets and upholstery. The Karcher SG 4-4 which is available to hire from Speedy has a carpet attachment, as well as the ability to swap out the cleaning head if you’d like to tackle tile grout, bathroom appliances or the kitchen.

Always wear PPE when using any power tools. When using a steam cleaner, wear eye protection so the steam does not affect your eyes. You should also wear protective shoes which will protect your feet from the heat of the machine.

Before steam cleaning any furnishings, vacuum first. This will pick up any debris which could otherwise clog the steam cleaner.

If using on a carpet, move any furniture first to give you a full clear area to work on. You don’t want to have to keep stopping and starting.


Step 1: Fill the tank

A steam cleaner will use only clean water. Don’t try adding anything else to the tank. Use a jug to accurately pour the water into the tank.

After filling the tank with water, you can plug the machine in. Don’t fill the tank after plugging it in, as you need to keep water away from the electrics.


Step 2: Start in the far corner

Position the steam cleaner in the corner furthest away from the door you will be exiting from. This way, you won’t walk over the newly cleaned carpet.

Once in place, turn the machine on.


Step 3: Glide the cleaner head over the carpet

Unlike a carpet cleaner or vacuum, where you should move slowly to agitate all of the fibres, don’t move slowly with a steam cleaner. This will wet the carpet too much. Steam evaporates quickly, leaving your carpets drier sooner unless you oversaturate them.

The power and temperature of the steam mean the hygienic properties will work quickly. The boiling water vapour can get rid of fleas, dust mites and bed bugs almost suddenly.


Step 4: Allow the carpets to dry

Even with moving fast, there will still be some saturation on the carpet. This should air dry relatively quickly. You may wish to keep the windows open for airflow and perhaps use an electric dehumidifier to speed up the process.


Step 5: Move furniture back

Once it is all dried, you can walk on the carpet again and move the furniture back in place. As we mentioned, steam cleaners have a low moisture content so this shouldn’t take too long to happen.


What can I use my steam cleaner on?

Steam cleaners can use a carpet cleaning head, which is large and flat and designed to easily glide over large flat fabric surfaces. This means that as well as your carpet, you can possibly use the cleaner on:

  • Sofas
  • Footstools
  • Curtains
  • Cushions
  • Blankets
  • Car seats and carpets
  • Mattresses
  • Pet beds

The materials of the above can vary; always check the care label to ensure high-temperature steam cleaning is a suitable option. Remember that steam cleaning is different to dry cleaning due to the additional moisture used. You don’t want your product to shrink.

Mattresses and pet beds will usually be fine here but check with the manufacturer of your sofa or other delicate items beforehand if you’re unsure. You can also spot-clean an unseen area of your furnishings.


Are there any surfaces I can’t use steam cleaners on?

Flooring-wise, it isn’t recommended you use a steam cleaner on unsealed wooden, parquet or laminate flooring, but we would extend this to all wooden-type flooring. Boards can swell and buckle with the moisture and heat from a steam cleaner.

If your floors are sealed, or you have hardwood flooring, you may be able to try it. Use the steam cleaner on the lowest setting and use a mop to soak up the excess moisture.



Yes. Speedy Hire, the UK's leading tool hire company, have a range of cleaning products, such as carpet cleaners, for hire nationwide. Speedy has more than 200 service centres across the nation, hire counters in selected B&Qs and nationwide 4-hour delivery, so cleaning equipment hire has never been easier.

You’ll find all the tools you need right here. Why not start planning your next DIY project and open a Speedy account today online and instore.


Ready for more Cleaning DIY tips and ideas?

Thank you for reading the Speedy Services blog. Please check out our Cleaning Projects page for further inspiration on how to get your home sparking clean and sanitised.

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