Cleanliness in the health care sector has never been more critical. Studies comparing cleaning methods within hospitals are ongoing however a recent Literature Review entitled 'Control of the Environment' has concluded that steam cleaning is very effective, particularly for periodic deep cleaning of hospital environments. It also references advantages in that soft furnishings can be cleaned in situ using this method.

Test results show complete disinfection of the surfaces assessed of the test organisms, these included MRSA, Acinetobacter and Clostridium difficile spores. An additional study was performed to assess the potential aerosolisation of microorganisms, however the result showed that there was no evidence of dispersion of viable organisms.

Chemical free steam cleaning therefore offers many advantages over alternative methods. Soft materials such as bed curtains and blinds can be cleaned in situ. Materials and surfaces are left clean and odour free with minimal amounts of water residue. Mould, bacteria, mildew and any remaining chemical contaminants are easily removed.

Additionally glass and mirrors can be left with smears of chemical residue after normal cleaning; it is this residue that attracts dust and dirt thereafter. Dry steam cleaning leaves glass and mirrors streak free and clear of chemicals.

Nilfisk are now launching a complete steamer range to complement their floor care products for the healthcare sector.

7 steamer models are being launched ranging from the SO4500 at 4.5 bar pressure to the MD8000 at 8 bar. Models are provided with hoses and extension tubes and are available with and without a vacuum function.

Non chemical sanitisation is undoubtedly improved by the use of a vacuum facility with the steam cleaner. Steam loosens the organisms which are then sucked into the recovery tank. Chlorine tablets placed in the recovery tank add to the anti-bacteria effect.

Food preparation facilities in hospitals can also utilise steam to clean and sanitise fridges and freezers in one easy step. Stainless steel worktops can also be left clean and polished without the use of chemical or excessive man hours.

The recent review however does site some constraints, namely health and safety issues associated with steam hoses, electric cables and activation of fire alarms. It is important that intensive and ongoing training sessions are put in place and adhered to.

The Scottish Government endorsed steam cleaning initiatives last year when it invested heavily in steam cleaners for Scottish hospitals.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon was quoted as saying: "Cleanliness is crucial in our hospitals and is a simple way to help combat infections like MRSA and C.diff.

"Steam cleaning is a particularly effective way of cleaning areas affected by C.diff and substantially increasing the number of steam cleaners available to the NHS will ensure they are available locally when needed." Four of the Nilfisk steamer models are approved on the Water Technology List of the Governments ECA (enhanced capital allowance) scheme. This scheme encourages the use of green technology by providing tax incentives for companies who purchase qualifying equipment. Companies can claim either 21% or 28% of the whole cost as a tax saving in the first year.

Nilfisk are one of the world's largest manufacturers of commercial and industrial cleaning equipment. From small commercial vacuum cleaners to road sweepers Nilfisk offer a complete and affordable solution to all cleaning challenges. Demonstrations, on-site training, service, hire and finance options are offered from a direct sales team.