Hot water pressure vs. Steam cleaning: What’s better?

When it comes to cleaning large surfaces, you have a few options. Two of the options are hot water pressure and steam cleaning. But which one is better?

Steam cleaning is usually better as it is cost-efficient, eco-friendly, and chemical-free. Hot water pressure is best for larger projects or hard-to-reach areas, but chemicals sometimes need to be used with pressure washers. It depends on the project, but usually, steam cleaning is the best option.

Each cleaning project is different, so keep reading to learn which type cleaner is the best option for you!

What is the Difference?

There may be some confusion when you hear “hot water pressure” and “steam cleaning.” Both are hot, so what is the difference?

Steam Cleaner

A steam cleaner uses minimal water (around 0.08 gallons per minute) as it uses steam rather than water.

The steam created cleans the surfaces. At a high temperature of 245 F (118 C), every bacteria, mold, or dirt will be quickly eliminated.

Since steam cleaner can kill bacteria and mold with the hot temperature, no chemicals are needed. With less water and no chemicals, there will barely be any runoff.

Hot Water Pressure

A hot water pressure washer uses large quantities of hot water at high pressure to clean surfaces.

Relying on volume and power, a hot water pressure washer can clean a surface quickly. To get rid of bacteria and mold though, you will have to buy a detergent or chemical of some kind.

Hot water pressure washers are great for larger surfaces and projects that need to be completed in a short amount of time.

Pros and Cons

Both cleaning types have their pros and cons and it all depends on your preference and the type of project you have.

PROS-Good for large areas
-Force to remove stubborn dirt
-Can reach hard-to-reach areas
-Can clean softer materials
-Dries quickly
-Kills germs and bacteria without chemicals
-Reduced water usage
-Minimal runoff
CONS-Can break windows or other soft materials
-The use of chemicals to clean
-Takes longer to dry
-Hard to get hard-to-reach areas

Questions to Ask Yourself before Choosing Hot Water Pressure or Steam Cleaning

Before you rent or buy a cleaning device, you will want to ask yourself a few questions to find which will be the best option for your task.

1. What am I cleaning?

Before deciding between a steam cleaner and a hot water pressure washer, you will want to know what exactly you are cleaning.

Are you cleaning your home? What material is your house?

It is important to know what material you are cleaning is because some materials are too fragile to be pressure washed.

For example, windows cannot be pressure washed because the glass will break. Steam though is a great option for glass because it is safer.

When figuring out what you are cleaning, it is also a good idea to determine how large the project will be.

If you are cleaning a whole house that has many nooks and crannies, a pressure washer may be a good idea because it can reach all of the tough spots that come with a house.

2. What is the surrounding area?

Checking out the surrounding areas where you are planning to clean is important for many reasons.

First, if there is a lot of vegetation such as plants and flowers, you will have to be extra careful with pressure washing and chemicals.

The pressure of the water can easily damage plants. Also, the chemicals you use when cleaning with a pressure washer can kill plants and nearby vegetation.

Second, when pressure washing, there is a lot of runoff. If you are in an area that will be harmed by runoff, it may be a better option to choose a steam cleaner.

Lastly, if there are kids who live in the nearby area, it is important to make sure you are being safe with any cleaning chemicals. Pets and children can be harmed if they come in contact with chemicals.

3. How much time do you have?

Before choosing which cleaner to go with, you should figure out how much time you have to clean.

Is it for a project you need to be done by the end of the day? Or maybe, you have all the time in the world.

Both cleaning devices have their own specific time table.

If you are in a rush or are under a time crunch, you will want to use a pressure washer. A pressure washer quickly cleans due to the pressure, so you are able to cover a larger area faster.

If time is not a large factor, a steam cleaner is a great option. It takes a bit longer to clean an area, but it does dry faster than a pressure washer.

It all depends on your specific time needs.

4. Budget

Before any project, it is important to look at your budget.

How much can you realistically spend on this project?

If money is tighter, a steam cleaner may be the right option since it is cheaper than a pressure washer.

After answering these questions, you will have a better idea of which cleaner is best for your project.

Why Steam Cleaning Is Usually Better

There are many reasons why steam cleaning is usually better. These reasons include:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Dries quickly
  • Cost-efficient
  • Hygenic
  • Gentle


A steam cleaner is eco-friendly for many reasons.

First, a steam cleaner uses less water than a pressure washer. With that, there is minimal runoff.

Having less runoff means there is less pollution and the surrounding areas will not be disturbed.

Also, a steam cleaner does not require cleaning chemicals, so there is no chemical runoff that will cause pollution.

If you are looking for an eco-friendly option, the steam cleaner is the best option for you!

Dries Quickly

Since there is only steam cleaning the material, it dries almost immediately.

If you are cleaning something like a carpet or a couch, it is nice to have a steam cleaner since it will dry immediately.

This is also nice for when you are cleaning a house because you do not have to worry about making sure your home dries. You can know that after a steam cleaning, your home will be clean and dry.


For a cost-efficient option, you will want to go with a steam cleaner.

Since a steam cleaner uses less water than a pressure washer, you will save money.


Since a steam cleaner cleans at a hot 245 F (118 C), you do not need to worry about mold or bacteria.

After using a steam cleaner, there will be no germs or bacteria on whatever you are cleaning.

The nice thing is that you do not need to worry about cleaning products and chemicals to keep your home clean. A bit of steam will do the trick!


If you are worried at all about something getting damaged, use a steam cleaner!

Since it is only steam, there is no high pressure that will break windows or tiles.

You do need to be careful if you are steaming delicate things such as stucco, brick, and marble.

When Pressure Washing Is Better

Usually, steam cleaning is the better option, but there are some times when pressure washing is more effective.

  • If you need a powerful clean
  • A large area
  • Hard-to-get spots
  • Need a quick clean

A Powerful Clean

Say you are cleaning something that has a lot of cake-on mud or dirt. A steam cleaner could do the job, but it could take some time.

The high intensity of a pressure washer can break up clumps of dirt and get hard materials off of something quickly.

If you have dirt, muck, or whatever stuck to your walls, sidewalk, or car, a pressure washer will help you quickly.

A Large Area

With a large house or wall comes a large project.

A pressure washer can quickly clean a large area. Since it is high pressured water, you can spray down an area quickly.

You can adjust the pressure to make it stronger so you can clean a large area faster as well.

Hard-to-Get Spots

Since you can use a pressure washer at a distance, this makes it easier to clean hard-to-get spots.

You do not have to climb on the roof or worry about a ladder. The pressure washer can go a distance and will get all of the nooks and crannies.

Quick Clean

For a quick clean, a pressure washer is the way to go.

With the pressure and the ability to cover an area quickly, a pressure washer can complete the job much faster than a steam cleaner.

So, in moments of panic and a time crunch, maybe go for the pressure washer.

Now that you have more knowledge about the difference between a hot water pressure washer and a steam cleaner, you can figure out which option is best for your project.

We hope that this post has been helpful and informative!

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