What is the difference between a 'Vapor Steam Cleaner' and a traditional 'Steam Vacuum' Carpet Steam Cleaner?

Determining which type of steam cleaner is right for you begins with understanding the differences between the type of machines available on the market today.

Traditionally, the phrases, "Steam Vacuum," and "Steam Cleaner," have brought to mind machines that were made to clean carpets by spraying down a solution of hot (steaming) water and cleaning solution and then vacuuming up most of that solution and dirt into a recovery tank. Some of these machines also have rotating brushes to help work the solution into the fibers of the carpet and loosen embedded dirt and grime. By and large, these machines are more accuratly described as Carpet Extractors, Carpet Cleaners or Deep Cleaners. The key differences are:

  1. They don't actually make steam, although some of them have heating elements to marginally increase the water temperature.
  2. They have suction and recovery tanks to pick up the dirty water.
  3. They require the use of chemical additives to make the solution for cleaning.
  4. They are much more effective at getting the deep down dirt embedded in carpets.
  5. They are much less effective at cleaning hard surfaces.

The new 'Vapor Steam Cleaners' were disigned primarily for hard surface cleaning. They use a variety of methods to generate steam which is then expelled from the nozzle. Various attachments are designed to help you scrub and loosen the dirt in different surfaces. Some of them include a large 'floor brush' that will help in cleaning large floor areas and carpeting. It is important to remember that there is no vacuum to pick up the moisture and dirt. You must use a cloth or pad to pick up the dirt. The key differences are:

  1. They actually make steam from cool water.
  2. They sanitize and clean without the use of chemical additives.
  3. They do not have any suction or recovery tank.
  4. They require the use of a cloth or pad to pick up the loosened dirt.
  5. They are not as effective at getting the deep down dirt embedded in carpeting as Extractors.
  6. They are more effective and versatile for hard surface cleaning.