Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Steam Away that Soap Scum
One job I really despise is cleaning the shower. There are few jobs worse, in my opinion, than scrubbing off dirt and soap scum in a damp, confined space. Add to this the expense of cleaners, which typically come in an ecological nightmare of a container made of metal and plastic and containing a mix of noxious chemicals and propellants, and this job is pretty low on my list.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I do occasionally use those expensive cleaners. For all their lung-burning faults, they do tend to loosen the scum enough to clean it off. However, to reduce the use of those chemicals, we use a steam cleaner to clean our shower. You will see DH (or at least his arms) doing the work above.
Steamers are a great way to clean bathrooms. They heat and direct a burst of steam at whatever you are cleaning, and ours came with a variety of attachments that let you scrub or scrape or otherwise direct the flow of steam. Although the initial investment in the equipment will typically set you back around $100 (our unit was a gift from my folks), they require only electricity and water after that, and you get sanitized surfaces with no chemical fumes or residue. (Warning: Although you can use your steamer to clean in and around your toilet, don't direct a long-term burst of steam at the gap where the toilet meets the floor, because you could accidentally melt the wax washer if you heat it up too much. However, a quick run around that area is enough to get the job done and won't harm anything.)
Now, these steamers are not perfect solutions to the cleaning dilemma, as they do take time to set up and heat up. However, if we do a super-good cleaning of the shower once a month with the steamer and then are diligent about rinsing the shower down once a day with the hand-held shower head (I do this after my shower each day), we have a pretty clean shower, and we only occasionally resort to the canned chemical cocktail to get the job done.
Fast: Using a steamer is nowhere near as fast as spraying a burst of foam at the problem, but it certainly does a better job. This is a moderately big cleaning job that takes some time.
Cheap: Once you have the equipment, you are talking about pennies of electricity and water per use. You should eventually recoup your investment in foregone chemical cleaners. The more you use it, the faster it pays itself off.
Good: Perhaps the best part of the process is knowing that you have a sanitized shower with no chemical fumes or residue.
Posted by Jennifer Lorenzetti at 9:36 AM