Muriatic Acid & Steam Cleaners

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Take precautions when using muriatic acid to clean steamers and other surfaces.

Finding effective ways to clean steamers and other steaming units can be challenging, especially if there is a buildup of lime or other hard water material. If stubborn buildup persists, finding something stronger to clear the waterlines may be needed. While there are several cleaners that aid in removing rust, calcium and magnesium, one solution that should be avoided at all costs is muriatic acid. If using muriatic acid to clean any type of surface, be sure to protect your eyes and skin while avoiding breathing in fumes and vapors.

  1. Muriatic Acid

    • Muriatic acid is considered a corrosive and inorganic acid. It is extremely strong and should only be used with a proper breathing apparatus and handled with gloves and protective clothing. Muriatic acid absorbs hydrogen chloride in the water and can easily destroy cellulose. This acid is often used as a swimming pool cleaner and to reduce pH levels in pool water. Muriatic acid is also used as a brick and metal cleaner and to remove stains on concrete. Muriatic acid use is discouraged with a steam cleaner, because the acid could eat away at some of the metal or plastic parts.

    Steam Cleaners

    • A steam cleaner is used on a variety of surfaces. Steam is generated in a tank as water is heated to temperatures between 180 F and 210 F. The steam is pressurized as it exits the machine and is applied to the desired surface. When the steamer is stored, after use, there may still be a small amount of water in the tank, tubing and nozzle. While excess water in the tank may lead to corrosive buildup, muriatic acid left over in the unit is even more dangerous. The acid may flush out rust and other hard particles, but it can also eat through certain parts of the machine, leading to irreversible damage. Muriatic acid is not advised for use unless instructed in a commercial or professional setting with proper ventilation and protective equipment.


    • If you are looking for a chemical-free way to clean your household surfaces, a steam cleaner may help break up dirt and debris. Steam cleaning your wooden baseboards or wood flooring areas is a safe way to remove dirt that has accumulated in corners and crevices. As you use your steam cleaner, wipe down the area that was just cleaned to grab the dirt that was raised to the surface. Ceramic tile; Formica countertops; metal surfaces; and plastic, stone and other hard non-painted surfaces can be steam-cleaned safely. Avoid adding muriatic acid to a steam cleaner as harmful chemicals could be inhaled while cleaning.


    • Both steam cleaners and muriatic acid can be damaging to your health. Steam cleaners can cause steam burns if the hot steam makes contact with your skin. Be sure to rinse your skin immediately with cold water and follow proper post-burn precautions if the wounds are severe. If you breathe in muriatic acid, it could damage your lungs and respiratory tract. Eyes and skin can also be affected and chemical burns may occur.

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