Some of you may know just how deeply I love steam cleaners, and being a ‘cleaning expert’ certainly has its privileges, because over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to try out several of them.
Then, not too long ago, the friendly folks over at LadyBugSteamCleaners.com emailed me and said ‘Melissa, if you love steam cleaning so much, we have something just for you’ so, I replied and said ‘bring it on’ and then, they sent me these..
So, for those of you who have ever wondered – what’s the difference between a $200 steam cleaner and a $2000 steam cleaner, keep reading.
The Ladybug brand is known as the gold standard of professional steam cleaning (or vapour cleaning)– these 4 units may be expensive, but they are worth every penny – let me show you why.
The most exciting part of steam, or vapour cleaning, is that you can clean using nothing more than plain old tap water, yet it’s incredibly powerful and actually disinfects surfaces while you clean.
Because of how hot the Ladybug’s water gets, it produces vapour, which is even hotter than steam, and that draws out the dirt and bacteria and it kills microorganisms which live on the surfaces of your home.
So, what’s the difference between steam cleaning and vapour cleaning you might be wondering?
This is a good question. Steam cleaning sounds amazing, and the concept is. It works for general, basic in-home tasks but its efficacy is nowhere near as high as vapour cleaning. Here’s why:
Steam cleaning obviously uses steam to clean; steam being loose, large water droplets formed from hot water contained in the boiler chamber of a steam cleaner. As the water gets hotter in the boiler, the droplets of steam get smaller. So the ability for a steam cleaner to perform depends on how hot the boiler can get. For an average machine, the water boils up (usually to temperatures in the high 100s or low 200s) and then creates steam, which once blasted out of the boiler, immediately drops in temperature and hence, in efficacy to remove buildup and sanitize, let a lone disinfect. The temperature of the boiler water or the temperature of the steam directly at the tip are often the marketed temperatures, not the surface temperature of the steam once expelled onto a surface, which is the true measure of how effective the steam cleaning will be. Further, Because of the bulky size of the steam droplets, the towel used on attachments becomes drenched quickly and often times, is warm to the touch.
Enter the professional solution. Vapour, as the folks at Ladybugsteamcleaners.com taught me, is superior to steam when it comes to cleaning. Vapour is like a tighter, smaller, drier version of steam and this is why it is so much more effective when it comes to cleaning. What happens is, the boiler temperature in a Ladybug gets so hot (about 305 degrees), that when the vapour blasts out of the tip (about 265 degrees), it’s hotter, therefore drier, smaller and tighter droplets that break down and disinfect with ease. Heat is the functional cleaning agent, not steam which is why these tiny, dry vapour droplets are superior to those of steam. Your cleaning towel will be much drier as well as much hotter (so proceed with caution). The surface temperature of the Ladybug gets up to 230 degrees!
Now that the difference between the two is clarified, it is clear that because the vapor is so hot, it does all the heavy lifting for you. In fact, it kills bacteria (you need to hit 180 degrees to sanitize a surface) as well as dust mites, larvae, eggs, bedbugs and a number of other unwanted household critters. But more about that later.
Why does the Ladybug website use the term ‘steam cleaning’ you may be wondering? Well, it’s such a popular term and essentially defines this style of cleaning, so that is why the name was chosen. However, since vapour is the key player in this cleaning process, it is important that we differentiate between the two and explain why Ladybug uses vapour as opposed to steam.
We didn’t get too into this in the video, but TANCS (that bright yellow label on my unit) is a proprietary feature of the Ladybug, it’s a steam vapour disinfection system which stands for Thermo Accelerated Nano Crystal Sanitation. What that means in English is this machine can now kill bacteria and disinfect almost any surface a thousand times better and quicker than chemical disinfectants applied topically, all with no dwell time.
Basically, a TANCS-equipped boiler creates nano crystals as well as vapour. When vapour is expelled, the nano crystals are carried out via the vapour and when they come into contact with bacteria, they immediately puncture the cell membranes and expose the cell to lethal temperatures, therefore killing them. That’s the why and how behind TANCS’ ability to disinfect.
All you need is plain tap water, nothing special. Without TANCS, the unit can sterilize a surface (essentially, more can be killed with TANCS due to this patented process).
For the past month, I have used the Tekno 2350 with TANCS, so I’ve been cleaning and disinfecting every surface I can and let me tell you, it is a fantastic piece of machinery….wow.
Firing Up the Ladybug Tekno 2350 with TANCS
You have to take the time to learn how this machine works and acclimatize to it’s lights, hums and purrs. Once you know how to make it work, magic happens.
It’s easy to get started. Plug it in, power it up and fill it with plain tap water. It takes around 4 quarts of water; 1 for the boiler and 3 for the reservoir (more on this later). Once the water is in, the machine takes about 6-9 minutes to initially heat up, and you’ll see the second light pop on meaning it’s ready to use. Now, with other steam cleaners, there is no reservoir for cold water, just a boiler. If you open the machine while in use to refill, you can become injured. Because of the reservoir, you can keep the machine powered on and hot and refill with water as needed, which is especially handy for large jobs or cleaning professionals! Ladybug recommends carrying around a refillable water bottle and using that to add water to the machine while you’re on the go, which is a terrific idea and saves time while working.
Before using it, I had to burp the system to get rid of the built-up condensation, which means I pressed the trigger a couple of times and squirted out some water. Once that was done, I held the trigger down and let the dry vapour flow.
Neat Design Features and Build Quality
Before I get into some of the fun we had with the Tekno 2350, I want to discuss some of the features, because every inch of this machine is deliberate and carefully designed.
The machine has been carefully built with polycarbonate plastic, which is even more costly than stainless steel. I was told the reason this was chosen as the housing material was because of course it is extremely strong and is lighter than stainless steel, not to mention it won’t conduct much heat nor any electricity, which is a safety feature. This was a hand selected plastic which they are quite proud of.
Attachments and Tools
I’ve seen a lot of steam cleaners and their associated tools and extension kits. The Ladybug’s are really something, they are sturdy, well-built, and designed to last. Further, the clips on the brushes are very strong and have great grip for the towels, which is something I didn’t find with some of the other units I’ve tested out. The multitude of brushes, sizes, and brush materials (they even have a horse hair brush for stainless steel appliances!) are also useful for a number of different cleaning applications. I really like the easy lock and twist feature for replacing tools, it made working with the machine a breeze. When you hold the tools and the nozzle, you feel the difference in comparison to the popular consumer options. When I held the machine and started playing around with the nozzle, I got really ramped up to start using it because I just felt it was a stronger, more powerful and sturdier machine.
What I learned is that the tools can last very long, so long as the user undestands how to use them. Pushing hard, scrubbing vigorously and bending the bristles will ruin the attachments. The vapour is strong enough to do the work and simply leverage the tool’s feature, not have the tool do all the work. So when a user picks up such a powerful tool when they are used to using a less powerful one, they may feel the need to press really hard. However, this is not the case. The tools are to be gently used and the results are impressive given the lack of effort on the user’s part.
Continuous vapour output
Now one thing I will mention is that there is no lock for continuous vapour output and when I first learned about this, I was somewhat disappointed because I had used other machines and found this to be a particularly helpful feature. When I asked why this wasn’t part of the design, I learned a very important lesson. Vapour is so hot that it is not safe to have a continuous vapour function, in case the user dropped it, or falls unconscious while cleaning to avoid burning the user. I had never thought about this, but once I used it, I was indeed glad to know that if anything did happen to me, the vapour would stop immediately and not harm me.
Other safety features
The machine does come equipped with a safety lock for changing out tools, which allows you to get a great grip on the hose and trigger to change and secure a tool without running the risk of accidentally blasting your hand with vapour. When I learned about this, I felt that a lot of care and consideration went into this design.
The unit offers 3 settings which allow for various volumes of vapour to pour out. Select setting 1 or the ‘low’ volume setting for most jobs (the driest vapour), setting 2 or the medium volume setting for jobs involving large floor areas and setting 3 for short lived - or intermittent applications, these would be very specific jobs, like cleaning a greasy vent.
Testing the Ladybug Tekno 2350 with TANCS
The kitchen sink
- I used the nozzle head with nylon brush to clean inside of the sink, I could have also attached a cloth with an elastic band to ‘wipe’ the sink
- The nylon brush did not scratch my sink
- The vapour is so strong that it literally lifts soil out of the surface, meaning all I need to do is wipe and shine
- The nylon brush scrubbed the crevice between the drain and the basin, removing that difficult brown ring with ease
After getting groceries, I like to soak my vegetables in the sink for 10 minutes and then place them in bags or containers to make them ‘ready to eat’. I always feel a little grossed out because I wonder just how clean I am getting my sink (yes, even me – or at least that’s what my mind tells me), but after doing this, I had no doubt in my mind as to how disinfected and clean my sink was. It sparkled and felt cleaner than ever, I could have eaten out of it!
- On the cutting board I used the triangle brush with a thin cotton cloth
- Again, this is where the heat is important and the Ladybug gets up to 325 degrees in the boiler and 260 degrees at the tip
- Wood cutting boards are porous and can trap bacteria in the board, when using this tool, the vapour pulls out the dirt and bacteria, absorbs it into the towel and leaves the cutting board clean and instantly dry.
I don’t cut meat, poultry or fish on the wood cutting board, but the kitchen counter is a catch-all for everything. I do clean my cutting board with soap and water after each use and leave it upright to dry and clean it with a lemon occasionally. I’m pleased to say no one has gotten food poisoning in my house, but even with that, I felt that I cleaned it better than it’s ever been cleaned before, and it took me about 20 seconds to do.
If this were to be used on countertops (which it is safe for – laminate, granite, marble, etc), the surfaces would be completely void of microorganisms as well as product residue. That’s a truly healthy kitchen in my books. I feel the best cleaning method would be to clean surfaces with the machine every week or two with touch up cleans using soap and water with a good cloth in-between to manage the bacteria count.
Oven & oven racks
- These are so hard to clean – awkward size, greasy build up and tiny ridges make this a challenging cleaning job
- I use the steel wool pad to clean and I am not scrubbing, just holding and moving slowly over the soiled area
- Then, to lift the grease off, I attach a cloth to the steel wool and wipe the grease away; it sticks to the towel
- The same process can be repeated for a self-celaning or non self-cleaning oven
Cleaning the oven and greasy oven racks are two of the most challenging cleaning jobs in the kitchen, just look at the chemicals designed to conquer these messes. I was really impressed and actually amused to watch the grease come up off the racks and oven with such ease. It did take time, but it still takes less time to do this than the ‘old’ way of oven cleaning. This task also demonstrated the concept of ‘no scrubbing required’, because I saw how using a gentle back and forth motion was extremely effective which helped me conserve my energy and get the job done without ruining the attachment. I think about the challenges in our cleaning service company and how many times this Ladybug Tekno 2350 would come in handy and make us look like magicians, not to mention how much time it would save my staff.
- The build up around a dishwasher can be downright disgusting – and mine was embarrassing – how’d that even get there?
- With the nozzle and a cloth over it, it’s easy to get rid of this build up
- The presence of this build up can lead to odours and even mold growth
- I used the nylon bristle brush to agitate the gunk and then added a towel to the attachment secured with an elastic to lift up and trap the gunk
I can’t even believe I captured that crustiness on film, it was downright gross. Considering how hot the water gets in a dishwasher, it’s no wonder that once the water and debris cools, it clings to any surface it can find. No one really thinks about it until it’s brought to your attention and then boom, you can’t bare to look at it. This took care of that grime in no time, it was easy and impressive.
Overhead exhaust filter
- Mine is so filthy, I haven’t cleaned this in forever
- I placed the filter on top of a towel and changed the trigger setting to ’3′
- I blasted the filter section by section with a plain tip and watched the grease splash off
- These are so challenging to clean otherwise, the grease makes it difficult and often times it’s easier to replace with a new filter
- The Ladybug is used in restaurants to clean their greasy kitchen equipment, so if it can work in an industrial setting, it can work in my kitchen
This was a very impressive demonstration of the power of vapour. I really enjoyed watching this, it was obliterating the grease on that filter. Setting 3 allows for more vapour to pour out therefore creates a wetter vapour. It is only recommended for very particular jobs, like this one. Setting ’1′ is the most common.
- Catch-all for urine, which saturates the pores of the plastic and leads to bacteria build-up, discolouration and odours
- To clean, place a towel behind hinge (to catch the blow back) and blast clean with a nozzle
I typically recommend using a cleaning toothbrush for this task. However, many folks either don’t do it or can’t get over the thought of using and re-using a cleaning toothbrush on the hinges, even with cleaning the tool. When using the Ladybug to clean a toilet, I know that there will be nothing left on the surface by way of colour, odour or bacteria once the Ladybug has done it’s thing. This is great for under the rim of the toilet bowl as well, it blasts out bacteria and build-up with ease.
- I also used the Ladybug on my bowl brush and the most disgusting thing that is in your home….the bowl brush holder
- I used it on my plunger too, I can pretty much disinfect anything in my bathroom by just spraying for a few seconds
- Grout can be cleaned with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and a cleaning toothbrush or sturdy scrub brush but we know this takes time, especially for a large floor area or shower
- Grout is porous, meaning it absorbs and hangs on to anything that befalls it
- Body oils, dirty water and cleaning tools and ground in debris all contribute to the discolouration of grout over time
- The Ladybug makes this easy to clean; for one stain it can be blasted with a small nylon bristle brush, gently agitate and then wiped clean with a cloth
- For larger areas, it is recommended to work with the larger floor brush and go over the grout, then wipe area clean with toweled brush attachment
- Soap scum can be stubborn and work intensive, that’s why some of the most powerful chemicals are used in bathroom cleaning
- The triangle brush and towel made the soap scum on my tiles just melt away
- I worked slowly and watched the tiles become spotless, steak and scum-free
This took a very challenging and time consuming job and made it a lot easier. Further, if there is an area that is high up in the shower, the extension poles are available as opposed to the person cleaning having to reach. This also works well on glass shower doors, although I don’t have any to demonstrate it on.
Sinks and Faucets
- Cleans sinks and shines faucets with ease
- No scrubbing required, just a toweled brush or small nozzle brush to clean the areas and a cloth in your free hand to polish and wipe dirt away
I liked cleaning the bathroom sink with the Ladybug Tekno 2350, because it broke through scum and toothpaste build up that otherwise requires scrubbing. Also, it left a uniform shine to the sink and faucet, which is something you have to work at for a couple of minutes when cleaning without vapour. The results with this were almost instant.
- Vapour cleaning on carpets is awesome because it not only loosens dirt, but removes soil and most dirt while sanitizing and deodorizing the carpet
- Use a towelled floor brush and placed on setting ’2′
- It kills the little critters that may be in the carpet, and the eggs and larvae that may be in the carpet as well, so pet owners should take note of that
- Once you are finished you simply vacuum to remove particulate matter
I’ve done several things to my carpets over the years to clean them, and I loved the idea that the vapour was getting hot enough to kill anything my cats and other cleaning equipment has left behind. Even the best vacuums can only get about 80% of the dirt and other carpet dwellers out, and using vapour is a great way to kill the remaining ‘problematic’ 20%. Before vacuuming the carpet, you can use the floor brush on its own to lift the carpet pile, and then vacuum. My carpet was dry within a minute, which is amazing considering that deep cleaning carpets can take up to a day to dry.
Mattress & Pillows
- This machine *kills dust mites* – using the toweled triangle brush, keep dust mites, larvae and eggs out for up to 8 weeks. Wow.
- I slowly went over the mattress with the attachment
- The mattress dried in under a minute and I was able to make up the bed
For people who struggle with dust allergies, there is no better way to deal with it than to treat the mattress and pillow with a Ladybug. I know that these treatments can cost hundreds of dollars if done by a professional, so if you can do it on your own, the machine will pay for itself. It can also kill bed bugs – which is ironic given it’s name!
I also cleaned my diamond rings (wow, do they sparkle), my sunglasses AND I even sanitized my toothbrush – you can also use the Ladybug on hardwood floors, tile floors, wallpaper, windows, clothing, dental instruments, boats, RVs, vinyl flooring, and plenty of other surfaces. It’s very versatile!
Test results and final impressions
What can I say – it’s an amazing machine. It’s like being given the keys to an exotic sports car and being asked how it feels to drive.
It does take some getting used to and there is a learning curve, but I think it’s well worth it. When you experience how well it cleans once you know how to use it, the time spent learning its ins and outs will be a great investment. It’s not difficult by any stretch, but you do have to take the time to understand which attachments are to be used where, how to change the attachments, how to manoeuvre the machine and how to maintain it. The Ladybug Tekno 2350 came with a 45 minute instructional DVD (awesome) as well as a laminated card that explains the tools, techniques and settings to use on virtually any setting in the home. Also, I’ve found the company itself to be extremely dedicated to ensuring customers are educated and completely in love with their machine. It’s nice to deal with a company that cares so much.
The cleaning that the Ladybug does is far beyond superficial cleaning, you clean to make your space look shiny and kill bacteria. This is all accomplished using no chemicals and leaving no chemical residues behind. It’s a healthy way to clean. I also love how there is no ‘wait time’ really, the vapour works almost on contact, not only to break down dirt and grime but even to kill bacteria.
But, there is the elephant in the room..
This is a professional product or at the very least a prosumer product – and it comes with the associated hefty price tag – the Tekno 2350 is a little over $2000 and even though Ladybug have units starting at about $1000 – it’s still a lot of money.
But, we live in a world of you get what you pay for, and that holds very true to Ladybug – if you are willing to spend the money, you’ll get an amazing machine.
For those of you who are professional cleaners – or business owners looking for a quality cleaning solution like me, this is a great option for you. As a cleaning service owner myself, I can see how this can save on product costs, save time for cleaners and create happier clients.
If you are interested in learning more these steam cleaners please visit this website right here – and our friends at Ladybugsteamcleaners.com can help you out!