One of the biggest chores in keeping crested geckos is cleaning out their enclosures. Even a simple tub and paper towel setup requires some time cleaning. More so if your geckos like to walk in their food and track it all over the place!
For deep cleaning, such as after an illness or when moving an animal into a previously used tank, nothing beats a 10% bleach and water solution to kill germs and get rid of gecko gunk. However, if you just have some stuck-on Crested Gecko Diet, you might not want to spend the time it takes to bleach, rinse, and rinse and rinse to make sure the chlorine smell is gone. I’ve used Chlorhexidine as part of regular cleaning, as it does not require rinsing and is safe to use around animals. Vets love it! But sometimes it seems a little excessive when you’re dealing with just a bit of stuck-on CGD on the walls…
So, as a solution to my reptile cleaning woes, I bought the Bissell Steam Shot Hard Surface Cleaner to try out on our gecko tanks and tubs.
Although it looks like a zombie woodpecker, it’s really a very simple, easy to use, pressurized steam cleaner. All you need to use it is an electrical outlet, some water and you’re good to go for chemical-free cleaning. I recommend using distilled water if you live in an area with hard water (like Arizona), as mineral deposits can build up and cause it to clog.
Unlike some other steamers, the Bissell Steam Shot doesn’t just shoot hot water, it creates actual steam. This makes it great for gecko tub cleaning when you aren’t at a sink to dump out excess water. You can use it in the reptile room or wherever you keep your pets – bedroom, living area etc. For simple Sterilite tub setups, simply remove soiled paper towel or other liner, spray and wipe. You can spray closer to remove stuck-on debris (dried CGD, poop stuck in urates, etc), and let it sit for a few minutes for the steam to loosen the gunk. It’s also great for cleaning fake foliage, hides and branches. You can do each tank in less than 5 minutes. Remember to remove the gecko before cleaning.
I don’t know if it really does kill germs, but it helps get plastic tubs really clean. I was very pleased with how well it worked with dried food. The Steam Shot is portable, which means you don’t have to lug your tubs to a sink for soaking and rinsing. The steam works fast, too, which is another significant time saver. That’s such a bonus when you have 70+ geckos to take care of! Any hobbyist or dedicated reptile keeper can appreciate the time the Steam Shot saves.
You can certainly use the Steam Shot to clean out glass tanks, too. Remove any hard water deposits first by scraping or a vinegar cleaner safe for terrariums. This tool is more for routine cleaning. If you have a planted tank, it’s perfect because you can use the steam from farther away on live plants to both hydrate and clean them. The Steam Shot significantly adds to the humidity of the room, so you may want to turn off or turn down any humidifiers you have running unless you really want the swampy jungle feeling. There are several spray heads for different purposes. I’ve only used the cone attachment, but the window tool may be very useful for glass tanks.
There are some drawbacks and precautions, however.
You need to be careful when it’s plugged in and hot; that should go without saying. Don’t mess with the screw-top at while it’s still hot, or you could get burned. Obviously, don’t spray too close to skin, plants or animals. However, from far away it does make a nice mister for plants. There are directions on how to work it for other uses besides cleaning. I’ve mostly used it on gecko tanks and the bathroom. I have to say, it works best for tank cleaning chores as these are relatively small, repetitive tasks. This gives it time to heat up between sprays; the indicator light signals when you need to wait for it to catch up with your steaming. You should work in short 5-second bursts to enable it to keep up with you.
The hose attachment can be a little unwieldy, and the Steam Shot canister is prone to tip over when you set it down. It’s not particularly ergonomic and if you have to clean multiple rooms, it can be a pain to carry around, with the long hose (optional) and electrical cord. A battery-power option would be a great addition but is currently not available in this model.
For general household cleaning tasks, it might be impractical. Remember that it doesn’t do all the work for you. You need to wipe down and scrub with a particularly stubborn mess. It’s good for grout but with hard water deposits you’ll probably want to work with a vinegar-based home-made solution or CLR, Lime-Away or the like. I don’t feel that it replaces any other cleaning gadgets and it doesn’t do away with all chemical cleaners, but as an additional tool to your cleaning arsenal it will save you time and money. Especially in the reptile room!