Riverside Museum

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Conservation tools: the steam-cleaner

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Within conservation, steam-cleaning is used on a variety of materials, from ceramics to vehicles. It’s a versatile piece of kit that is excellent at removing ground-in dirt. 

The process works by heating water in a boiler, which converts the liquid to vapour that exits the machine via a nozzle. (Be careful not to scald yourself on the nozzle!) The steam loosens dirt on hard surfaces and in soft fibres so it can be wiped or vacuumed. The vapour in a steam-cleaner contains approximately 5% water, which is drier than the air we breathe.

It also offers the opportunity to try to take cool pictures of steaming objects! Here we have transport conservator Jacek Wiklo removing dirt from the underside of the “room and kitchen tram”, while I used the steam-cleaner to get the oil and grease off this bicycle.

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Written by Rebecca Jackson

August 31, 2010 at 9:43 am

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