How to use the PEL steam cleaner [VIDEO]

steam cleaner The PEL Steam Cleaner offers highly controllable cleaning with steam, heat and pressure providing a gentle abrasion-free and chemical-free method to clean a multitude of surfaces. The machine is often colloquially referred to as the ‘Derotor’ steam cleaner.

How to use the PEL steam cleaner to clean a high fired ceramic

In this video, Harriet from Hythe Conservation undertakes some cleaning on a Chinese porcelain trinket box. On the lid interior there was ingrained and superficial dirt which had accumulated on the surface. This needed to be cleaned before undertaking any repairs, such as bonding the broken corner fragment and colour filling areas of loss. Whilst the steam cleaner is an effective method of cleaning ceramics, it is important to ensure that the object is stable and suitable for the process. Do not steam clean vulnerable low-fired ceramics, fragile areas and surfaces such as gilding and overglaze enamels. These areas of decoration can be easily removed from the surface of the object if the steam cleaner has been inappropriately used.

before and after steam cleaning

You can view the steam cleaner on our website here

Here are Harriet's top dos and don'ts when using the steam cleaning machine:


  • Place the machine on a clutter free worktop which can withstand the weight of the machine or on the floor if supplied with an extra-long hose
  • Steam clean over a conservation tray, plastic bowl, or rubber sink with drainage nearby
  • Steam clean in a well-ventilated room to draw away the steam
  • Use a funnel to fill the machine
  • Fill the machine with de-ioinsed water below the ‘max’ water level and tightly close the cap before switching on at the mains
  • Use de-ioinsed water for the objects benefit and to prolong the longevity of boiler life to prevent limescale buildup
  • Wait around 20 minutes to reach maximum pressure and boiling point
  • Wear gloves and safety spectacles and any other necessary PPE protection
  • Direct and release the steam at the object using the in-built button control on the handle
  • Adjust pressure with the valve or by the distance directed at the object
  • Use paper towel to absorb and blot excess water and dirt from the objects surface
  • Place the object on blotting paper to dry


  • Do not steam clean fragile areas and surfaces such as gilding and overglaze enamels
  • Do not open the boiler cap to refill until it is switched off at the wall and left to completely cool. Releasing pressure too soon would cause the cap to burst open.
  • Do not touch the handle and metal nozzle as this can become hot to touch when in use
  • Do not direct the nozzle at bare skin, hot steam at close contact will burn the skin

This video and guide was produced with the cooperation of a qualified ceramics conservator, Harriet Sylvester, from Hythe Conservation.

We use cookies for essential functions and optimisation of this website. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information. Click to ‘OK’, or continue browsing to accept all cookies.