Steam cleaners give homes a fresh, sanitized cleaning without the use of chemicals or any other cleaning agents. Instead of using household cleaning products, a steam cleaner uses a heating element to heat water up, then releases the steam from that water through various types of nozzles at the touch of a trigger to clean household surfaces. These appliances occasionally clog up, rendering them useless without repair.
Steam Cleaner Clogs
Hard water is water containing high levels of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. While these minerals are not harmful to human health, they are bad for appliances using that water because, over time, the hard water mineral deposits collect inside the appliances and create residual buildup which then creates clogs within appliances like steam cleaners, blocking the exits where steam escapes the appliance. If the problem is not corrected, the appliance is often rendered useless. Occasionally if the appliance is used or use is attempted with the clogs in place, the appliance could be damaged beyond repair.
Removing Clogs From the Appliance
A simple solution of vinegar and water is often enough to remove clogs from within the steam cleaner. The water tank on the steam cleaner usually just contains water for cleaning purposes, but to clean the tank itself, drain the water existing in the tank. Replace that water with equal parts distilled water and distilled white vinegar. Once the solution is inside the tank, simply plug your steam cleaner on and power on the appliance. Allow the tank to heat up and steam as usual. Instead of using the appliance to clean, simply allow it to steam out all of the vinegar solution, which dissolves all mineral deposits inside the appliance and removes any internal mineral clogs.
Removing Clogs From Appliance Nozzles
Occasionally the steam cleaner becomes clogged inside the nozzle instead of inside the appliance itself. These clogs require a different approach to removal. Always ensure the appliance is unplugged and cooled down before working on clog removal to prevent burns or other accidents. Once the appliance is prepared for clog removal work, examine the nozzles carefully. If noticeable buildup is visible, wipe it away with a cloth. Often the clogs are more difficult to see and require a paper clip or thin wire for removal. Stick the wire into the holes of the nozzle, turning the wire around and wiggling it inside the holes to loosen and remove any mineral clogs inside the nozzle.
One of the easiest and best ways to prevent clogs in your steam cleaner is to use only distilled water in your appliance, which is extremely purified to have all impurities and hard water minerals removed. Using this in your appliance eliminates the risk of hard water buildup in the steam cleaner. Another method of clog prevention is to practice regular maintenance on your machine. Clean the appliance thoroughly after each use, wiping away any debris and moisture on the nozzles. Do a vinegar/water solution cleaning regularly on your appliance even if it does not have clogs to prevent small residual buildup from becoming a large clog later on.
- HardWater.org: What is Hard Water?
- North Carolina State University Extension: Removing Mineral Deposits From Household Surfaces; Sandra A. Zaslow; 1996
- SharkClean.com: Shark Steam Cleaner Owner's Manual
- SharkClean.com: FAQs: Product Care and Troubleshooting
- HintsAndThings.com: UNUSUAL USES FOR EVERYDAY ITEMS
Jamie Conrad is a professional writer and artist, having over 10 years of experience in both writing and performing arts. She has worked as a news anchor, newspaper reporter, freelance writer, and theatre artist, veterinary technician, and teacher. Her work has appeared in various local newspapers and extensively on eHow. Conrad studied at West Virginia University and holds a B.A. in theatre and journalism.