Proper training is key to cleaning and sanitizing effectively with steam.

“In steam vapor cleaning, the slow way is the fast way,” says Rathey.

When steam is first used, it’s removing years of residue layers, Rathey says. So the initial deep cleaning takes longer — yet saves labor down the road. Typical dwell times for disinfectants can be five to 10 minutes, however, steam needs to contact the surface for five seconds. 

“Once you become dedicated to using it routinely, it is equally as fast as spray and wipe, without the liabilities,” says Rathey. “People who really invest in doing this right are sold on it.”

To be effective, BSCs must trap steam on a surface, typically by wrapping a terry cloth on the end of the steam nozzle. The cloth must be changed regularly. If employees simply point a steam nozzle at a surface 12 inches away, it won’t get hot enough. The key is knowing how to use the machine so that it disinfects.

“If you trap the steam using a well-designed apparatus, such as a cleaning head, then it actually becomes amazingly hot very quickly,” says Tanner. “So that’s the trick for steam disinfection, you want to deliver the heat to the surface.”

Schindler has his staff members with a minimum of two years experience use the steam vapor machines. He wants them familiar with the equipment and process so they can quickly determine if it isn’t working.

“You’re not going to have a new guy on that machine,” he says. “It’s key to know, ‘Is this working?’ And if not, ‘What do I do?’”

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