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Superheated Steam vs High Pressure Cleaning

Steam cleaning a stone patio
Steam cleaning a stone patio

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In the debate of Superheated Steam vs High Pressure Cleaning, it's essential to understand the distinct features and applications of each method. This article offers an in-depth comparison, focusing on how each technique operates, their efficiency in various settings, and their suitability for different cleaning tasks. By examining the core differences and potential applications of superheated steam and high-pressure cleaning, we aim to provide a clear, comprehensive guide to assist you in choosing the most appropriate method for your specific needs.

Understanding Superheated Steam Cleaning

Superheated steam cleaning is a process that employs industrial machinery, such as a commercial steam cleaner incorporating a boiler, to create consistent steam, efficiently removing dirt, grime, and biological matter in a delicate manner without chemicals. Utilising a steam cleaner, offers a gentle yet powerful cleaning method, ideal for delicate surfaces like natural stone and brickwork.

Steam cleaning equipment
Steam cleaning equipment

How Steam is Generated

Steam, is produced by heating water to a high temperature, typically above the boiling point of water (100°C). This process creates steam that penetrates deep into surfaces, providing thorough cleaning and helps to eliminate the need for harsh chemicals. The duration for generating steam depends on the equipment used and specific conditions; it usually takes a few minutes to reach the desired temperature.

The science behind generating steam is simple yet effective. By heating saturated steam past its saturation temperature for a specified pressure, steam presents several benefits over traditional cleaning methods. This advanced technology significantly reduces the risk of damaging surfaces and enables you to attain an elevated degree of cleanliness.

Applications of Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning brickwork
Steam cleaning brickwork

Steam cleaning is a versatile solution suitable to various cleaning tasks, ranging from paint removal to patio cleaning and surface sanitisation. For example, in patio cleaning, superheated steam cleaners can attain temperatures up to 150°C, efficiently eradicating bacteria and patio black spots.

Steam cleaning is suitable for a wide array of delicate surfaces, such as:

  • Render

  • Old stonework

  • Natural stone patios

  • Brickwork

  • Cladding

  • Roof tiles

  • Concrete

This cleaning method offers unparalleled cleaning power without the need for harsh chemicals, and helps to protect delicate surfaces from damage, unlike conventional cleaning methods. Its also commonly used for chewing gum removal.

Overview of High Pressure Cleaning

High pressure cleaning better known as 'pressure washing', 'power washing' or 'jet washing', is reliant on brute force to clean surfaces. It uses powerful water pressure to blast away dirt, debris, and contaminants from surfaces, often with the help of cleaning agents. Applying the principles of high water pressure and flow dynamics, pressure washing can efficiently eradicate dirt, organic matter, and other contaminants from surfaces, making it a favoured option for intense cleaning tasks especially for heavily soiled areas and when speed is of the essence.

The Power of Pressure Washers

Pressure washers, available in various types such as:

  • Electric

  • Petrol (Gas)

  • Diesel

  • Hydraulic

Are a formidable force in the world of exterior cleaning. By utilising high-pressurised water, pressure washers can quickly and efficiently remove dirt and grime from heavily soiled sites, even tackling the most stubborn stains but often require the incorporation of cleaning agents to do so.

Pressure washers provide the following:

  • A concentrated, highly pressurised jet of either hot or cold water

  • Water is propelled out with force through various types of nozzles

  • It successfully removes various materials, including dirt, mould, dust, moss and more.

The primary components of a pressure washer typically include:

  • Power supply

  • Inlet water supply system

  • Water filter

  • High-pressure pump

  • Unloader or regulator valve

  • High-pressure hose

  • Lance

  • Nozzles

  • Trigger gun

When to Choose Pressure Washing

Pressure washing excels in outdoor cleaning tasks such as, removing grime, dust, mud, dirt and loose paint from surfaces. Suitable materials include masonry materials, concrete, block paving, pavers and patio slabs.

Superheated Steam Vs High Pressure Cleaning

While both superheated steam cleaning and pressure washing are effective at removing dirt and grime, they each have their unique advantages, differences, and applications. In this part, we further examine their efficiency in eradicating dirt and grime, environmental implications, and health & safety factors.

Effectiveness in Removing Dirt and Grime

Superheated steam cleaning presents multiple benefits in dirt and grime removal. The ‘thermal shock’ effect fragments surface pollutants, making contaminant removal effortless.

Pressure washing, on the other hand, is also highly effective at removing dirt and grime due to the powerful stream of water used to blast away contaminants. This cleaning method is particularly well-suited for tasks that require the powerful force of high pressurised water to remove stubborn dirt, or mould and mildew build-up, as opposed to low pressure cleaning methods.

However, it may not be as effective as superheated steam cleaning for tasks that require high temperatures to break down and remove stains, grease, and grime or sanitising surfaces. Pressure washing also poses a greater risk of damaging delicate surfaces such as natural stone and historic brickwork.

Environmental Impact

Superheated steam cleaning offers several benefits:

  • It requires less water and eliminates the need for harsh chemicals, making it a more eco-friendly option.

  • Produces fewer CO2 emissions, reducing its environmental impact.

  • It minimises the likelihood of surface damage and degradation.

Safety and Health Considerations

Operating pressure washing equipment requires utmost safety. Following guidelines and proper handling techniques can avoid damage to delicate materials and lessen the risk of harm. Correct usage of pressure washing equipment can prove to be a potent tool against dirt and grime.

Pressure washing presents several health risks, including:

  • Eye injuries

  • Skin tearing

  • Electrical shock

  • Exposure to microorganisms

Steam cleaning helps to eliminate the need for hazardous or aggressive cleaning chemicals, making it a safer and healthier alternative for both the user and the environment. By choosing steam cleaning, you can ensure the well-being of your family, pets, and the environment. That being said, there have been great advancements in cleaning agents with many biodegradable and non bio accumulating products available.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Method for Your Needs

To select the best cleaning method for your requirements, you should evaluate your cleaning needs and consider professional cleaning services. By evaluating the type of surface, level of dirt, and desired cleaning outcome, you can determine the most suitable cleaning method for your specific requirements and decide if the cleaning is a suitable DIY task or one for professionals. DIY Vs Professional Pressure Washing.

Assessing Your Cleaning Needs

While evaluating your cleaning needs, you should take into account the type of surface, the level of dirt, and the expected cleaning result. Factors such as the presence of oil stains, grease, debris, or other contaminants should be assessed to determine the best approach.

Not all surfaces are suited to pressure washing and not all surfaces are suitable to steam cleaning. Various types of surfaces exhibit different levels of tolerance to super heated steam cleaning and pressure washing. Assessing your cleaning requirements will assist you in selecting the most effective and efficient cleaning method for your specific requirements, ensuring optimal results and the longevity of your surfaces.

Professional Cleaning Services

Professional cleaning services like Elite Jetting provide specialised skills, knowledge and equipment for diverse cleaning needs, including brick, stone, render, car parks, driveways and patio steam cleaning.

By engaging a professional cleaning service, you can enjoy comprehensive and efficient cleaning, safeguarding of surfaces, expediency and cost-effectiveness, improved cleaning and sanitisation, and eco-friendly operation.

Using professional cleaning services offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Access to the latest cleaning technology

  • Skilled and knowledgeable professionals

  • Cost and time effectiveness

  • A safe and eco-friendly cleaning experience, ensuring that your property is well-maintained and protected from potential damage

  • Superior results


In conclusion, both superheated steam cleaning and high pressure cleaning are effective methods for removing dirt and grime from surfaces. However, superheated steam cleaning offers additional benefits, such as deeper penetration for a really deep clean, surface sanitisation without chemicals, and reduced environmental impact. By assessing your cleaning needs and considering professional cleaning services, you can ensure the best results and proper care for your surfaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pressure washing better than steam cleaning?

When cleaning delicate surfaces such as Indian Sandstone Patios, steam is the preferred option as pressure washing may damage them. It is important to ensure that your home or business is properly looked after, so choose the best method for the job and if you are not sure, seek professional help.

Why use superheated steam?

Superheated steam is used because it offers a gentle yet effective cleaning solution that is environmentally friendly, ideal for delicate surfaces, and effective against tough organic growths, making it suitable for a wide range of cleaning applications. It's commonly used for cleaning properties under conservation orders.

Is high pressure cleaning safe for all surfaces?

Pressure washing is not suitable for all surfaces; care should be taken when selecting pressure settings and attachments to avoid causing irreversible damage.

How can I determine the best cleaning method for my needs?

Assess the type of surface, level of dirt, and desired cleaning outcome to determine the best cleaning method for your needs.

Pressure Washing & Superheated Steam Cleaning Services In Kent

Elite Jetting provide both Pressure Washing and Steam cleaning services in Kent. If you reside in Kent and would like to receive your free no obligation quotation, get in touch.


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