Using a steam cleaner for cars can save you time and a whole lot of effort. Instead of scrubbing and disinfecting seats and carpets, let steam do the hard work. This method is the best way to detail car interior because steam is tough on dirt and stains but gentle on surfaces and upholstery.
If you’re interested in how we achieve a greener clean with steam technology, download our Eco Wash Benefit Guide:
How to Use Steam Cleaner for Car Detailing Interior
Water heated to over 200°F will change how you approach car interior detailing. The results are impressive. Here are our tips on how to use a steam cleaner for car detailing:
First, gather your supplies and car interior detailing tools. For example, you’ll need a steam cleaner for car, a vacuum cleaner, microfiber cloths, upholstery cleaner, and your favorite car interior cleaner to protect and shine hard surfaces.
- Take out the floor mats and use the appropriate car wash brush type to get rid of trapped dirt or stones from footwear.
- Remove personal items and trash.
- Vacuum car interior, including seats and carpet. This prevents the steam cleaner from pushing dirt around or creating mud when mixed with moisture. If you are thinking about getting a new vac, see our tips on buying the best car vacuum.
- Open car doors to ensure proper ventilation while you steam clean.
2. Set up Steam Cleaner
There is a wide range of steam cleaner for cars available, so take a moment to familiarize yourself with your make and model. Here are some things to note:
- The water tank size can vary between models, affecting the continuous cleaning time before you need to add more water. For that reason, choose a bigger tank if you want to go longer between refills.
- Steam cleaners often come with a range of attachments and brushes for different purposes. These include upholstery brushes, crevice tools, scrubbing brushes, and window cleaning attachments.
- Reputable steam cleaners will have safety features like a locking mechanism to prevent accidental steam release.
- Some models have a self-clean function to flush the machine’s hose after use.
Once you are ready to start steam cleaning, add the water using the recommended amount, i.e., never overfill the tank.
3. Begin Steam Cleaning
Wear protective gloves to avoid burns when you’re working with steam. Also, remember to fill the water tank before switching on the steam cleaner.
Now begin to steam clean car interior. Work methodically from top (headliner) to bottom (carpets), continually moving the nozzle over surfaces and upholstery. Here are some quick tips:
- Pre-treat suborn stains with a stain remover before using the steam cleaner. See how to remove stains from car seats.
- Choose the appropriate attachment or nozzle for your specific task. Attachments are designed for different surfaces and cleaning needs. See places to clean the inside of your car.
- Hold the steam cleaner nozzle a few inches away from the surface to prevent too much moisture from saturating the area.
- Pay extra attention to high-touch areas like the steering wheel, gear shift, door handles, and dashboard. Use the steam cleaner to sanitize these surfaces effectively.
- Wipe as you go. I.e., after steaming an area, wipe it with microfiber car cloths to remove the loosened dirt and excess moisture.
Tip: See how to steam clean car seats to ensure you include seatbelts and under the seats in your cleaning routine. And if the steam pressure dips when you’re cleaning, remember to check the water tank because you may have to refill it.
4. Steam Cleaning Car Carpets
Select the suitable attachment for deep cleaning car carpets. For example, the popular triangle-shaped brush attachment is more suitable for larger carpet areas and corners than the jet nozzle. Agitating and loosening dirt and stains with the brush while releasing steam deep-cleans the carpet fibers. Here are the steps:
- Pre-treat stubborn stains with a car carpet stain remover.
- Clean one section of the carpet at a time, starting at the back and working towards the front.
- Use slow, overlapping strokes, taking care not to miss any spots.
- Steam clean car mats.
- After steam cleaning, allow the carpet and mats to dry thoroughly. See below.
- At this point, empty the water tank after each use to minimize mineral build-up. Leave the equipment to cool before storing.
By all means, if you decide to hire someone to do this job, research how much does interior car detailing cost.
5. Dry the Car Interior
After you’ve finished steam cleaning, allow enough time for the interior to dry before driving again. For example, keep the doors and windows open. Alternatively, use a fan or blow dryer to speed up the drying time. Once the carpet is completely dry, replace the floor mats. Finish with your preferred car interior detailing products to shine and protect surfaces.
Another key point is steam cleaning your car interior requires attention to detail. If your busy schedule doesn’t allow time for car care, contact a car interior detailing service. DetailXPerts uses steam to transform your vehicle.
How to Use Steam Cleaner for Car Exterior
Your steam cleaner for car detailing is also perfect for removing dirt and grime from the exterior. With the same care and attention, you can use steam to clean and shine your paintwork and wheels. Here are some steps to follow:
- Attach the appropriate nozzle or brush for the surface you’re cleaning (e.g., wide nozzle for larger areas, detail nozzle for smaller spots).
- Begin steam cleaning the car’s exterior, starting from the top and moving down. Use the steam cleaner to dislodge dirt and grime.
- Pay special attention to areas with heavy contamination, such as the grille, front bumper, and wheel wells.
- Work in sections to ensure you cover the entire car.
- If you’re steam cleaning your tires and wheels, use an appropriate attachment on the steam cleaner. Alternatively, use a separate tire cleaner and wheel brushes to remove brake dust and grime.
- Afterward, use microfiber towels to dry the car thoroughly to prevent water spots.
Choosing Best Steam Cleaner for Cars
There is a wide range of steam cleaners available. Set your budget before you start your search. Remember that while higher-end models may offer more features and power, budget-friendly options can do a good job. Note, prices vary, so always shop around before buying from a trusted retailer. Here are some recommendations for the best steam cleaner for cars:
1. Best Budget Buy
- Price: $54.
- Weight: 3.96 lbs.
- Size: H 10 ins x W 6ins.
- Other: 1200W, 9.8’ extension power cord, 350ml tank. Includes nylon brushes, jet nozzle, bent nozzle, upholstery tool, and window cleaning tool.
2. Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
If you want to deep clean car interior like a pro, invest in the McCulloch MC1275 Canister Steam Cleaner. It has a 48 oz water tank, which gives you enough steam for a 45-minute cleaning session inside your car. Additionally, its 15-foot power cord makes it easier for you to move around your vehicle without relying on multiple power outlets.
- Price: $149.99.
- Weight: 9.95 lbs.
- Size: H 13.5 ins x W 10.5 ins.
- Other details: 1500W; 18 accessories; 48 fl. oz water tank; 45-minute continuous steam.
3. Lightweight and Longer Clean Time
Some lightweight models only have a short clean time of around 15 minutes. However, the Ewbank SC1000 Steam Dynamo Steam Cleaner weighs just over 7lbs and gives you 45 minutes of cleaning time. It is quick and easy to use. Moreover, its steam power is excellent when you want to know how to get bad smell out of car.
- Price: $179.99. See also Walmart for special deals.
- Weight: 7.7 lbs.
- Size: H 10 ins x 12 ins.
- Other details: 1500W; 51 fl. oz water tank; 45 minutes of steam cleaning per tank. Includes jug and funnel, towel, straight adaptor, extension wands, floor tool and adaptor, window cleaner, angled nozzle, and large and small nylon cleaning brushes.
4. Compact Design
If you’re looking for a compact model, the Bissell SpotClean Pro is a handy piece of equipment for your car interior detailing kit. Its portable design enables you to clean car interiors effortlessly. Also, a variety of brush options are great for tackling stains and deeply ingrained marks.
- Price: $180.
- Weight: 9.2 lbs.
- Size: H 14.5 ins x W 12 ins.
- Other details: Cord length 15 feet, 37 fl. oz water tank. Includes 3″ tough stain tool, deep stain tool, self-cleaning hose tool, and a trial-size PRO OXY Spot and Stain formula.
5. Lifetime Warranty
If you’re happy to pay more for the highest-quality model, go for one with a lifetime warranty. The Vapamore MR-100 Primo kills germs, mold and mildew in the dirtiest car interior – perfect when you want to know how to disinfect car interior. It is pricier than some other models, but you can put it to good use around the home, too. For example, use it as an effective bed bug treatment and steam cleaning clothes. Visit Vapamore website for a list of authorized sellers, such as Car Supplies Warehouse.
- Price: $349.
- Weight: 10.5 lbs.
- Size: H 15 ins x W 14 ins.
- Other details: 1500W; 60 minutes of cleaning per tank; 1.6 liter stainless steel boiler; power cord length 18 feet.
Tips for Researching Best Steam Cleaner for Cars
Do you prefer to carry out your own research? Here are some tips on choosing the best steam cleaner for cars.
- Look for the most up-to-date reviews and recommendations from sources like consumer review websites and car forums. This research will help you find steam cleaners that stand out for high-quality results.
- Look for features that make your task easier, such as variable steam pressure settings, different attachments for various surfaces, a large water reservoir for extended use, and quick heating times.
- Equally important, choose a steam cleaner that is easy to move and store.
To sum up, how to choose and use a steam cleaner for car detailing is easier with our guide and tips. However, every model is different so take time to read the instructions. Bear in mind you are working with hot pressurized steam. Therefore, use this equipment with caution to avoid burns. But after a couple of goes, you will find that a steam cleaner is the best way to cut through dirt and grime to leave your vehicle sanitized and fresh smelling.
Finally, if you want to learn more about using steam technology to achieve sanitized results, download our Eco Wash Benefit Guide: