Steam Power – Not Such A Difficult Link To Make?


Steam has been used for centuries to power heavy industry, explore the world and build empires.  The very earliest steam engines were around in the Roman era, although the Romans didn’t realise that this novelty technology could be used to start up an industrial revolution and accelerate history by about 1500 years.  Steam power really came into its own in the 18th and 19th centuries.  So why in the name of all things holy has it taken this long for inventors out there to come up with a perfectly reliable, easy to use device to clean your carpets with?  I’ll let the Romans off on this one, as they had sensible, easy to sweep mosaic flooring.  But steam power, carpets, they’ve both been around long enough for somebody to make a not so great mental leap. 

I’m Not Being Sexist… but

I’ll try not going to make any sexist remarks or draw any analogies between the facts that until the 20th century the words ‘inventors’ and ‘men’ were interchangeable.  I will also try to avoid pointing out fact that these men had wives and servants – one and the same in many cases – who, on a daily basis, dealt with the mess caused by domestic animals and small, grubby children.  OK, so it’s too late, I’ve mentioned those facts now – but I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.   

Vacuuming – An Olympic Sport

OK, to be fair to the boys, there are a growing number of house-husbands out there who deal with these challenging issues dealt out to us by small paws of varying species.  Historically, however, it’s been women who have found they are staring in frustration at a carpet, curtains or upholstery that has apparently recently hosted some kind of Olympic event that involves a lot of animal hair and mud.  Getting carpets really clean is, for me at least and I doubt I’m alone, simply a chore and one that comes around all too frequently.  Vacuuming is laborious and for most of us there are plenty of other important tasks to keep up with, things like careers for example. 

Motherly Love Only Goes so Far

Enter the miracle of steam cleaning.  My first experience with a steam cleaner was a few years ago.  My mother had a sort of semi-industrial thing that she’d bought as soon as it was humanely possible to acquire them for the domestic market – they’ve long been the favourite of commercial cleaning companies.  This thing was a bit lethal and occasionally bits flew off, emitting jets of steam in all directions – but it did the job, and some.  It took her two months to get it back off me and it was only a combination of guilt and a realisation that I couldn’t avoid her calls for ever that made me reluctantly return it. 

The 21st Century has Landed – on the Carpet

Today’s steam cleaning devices are a little more user friendly.  I’m not generally an OCD type, nor am I a collector of domestic cleaning equipment from the early 21st century, but I do have three of these things.  One is an older, slightly more industrial version, which is now relegated to the outdoor jobs, such as cleaning garden furniture and the like, while the other is a tiny, neat little hand held device – perfect for the car.  The pride and joy, ok, so maybe I’m a little OCD, is the upright ‘steam mop’.  This cleans away all evidence of the fact that I have children or animals at all.  The biggest deal about this type of domestic appliance is the speed with which it can remove the daily build-up of muck and grime – and the fact that it does so unaided by a stockpile of chemicals, while managing to do so hygienically.  If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of steam, it may well be time for you to give it a go.  Steam has powered mankind’s endeavours for several centuries now, if Isambard Kingdom Brunel had been called Isabella, it might have been powering womankinds too.

Unfortunately Isabella Kingdom Brunel wasn’t around to invent steam cleaners for us, however, technology has finally caught up with our domestic duties and the power of steam should free up some time to enjoy the pleasures of the 21st century.

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