Reviews

Best Steam Cleaners for Cars: Leave Your Car Spotless and Stain-Free

Clean away old stains, dirt, and gunk and leave the inside of your car looking fresh with these steam cleaners for cars.

Entering our 7th season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and with millions of YouTube and Facebook followers, The Drive is a leading authority of all things automotive.

The Drive on NBC The Drive on YouTube The Drive on Facebook

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON June 19, 2021

If you commute to work, frequently travel in your vehicle, or simply use it for a lot for errands, it can get dirty rather quickly. It's not uncommon for stains to appear on the seats over time or for pet fur to cling to the upholstery. It can be tough to thoroughly clean your car on a regular basis.

The good news is that a steam cleaner can help you get the job done with minimal effort. It's designed to provide deep cleaning in a short amount of time. There are many steam cleaners available online and in stores, and our buying guide will help you find the best options available.

Best Overall
McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

This ultra-sturdy and powerful steam cleaner for your car generates a great amount of steam in a short amount of time.

Pros
Pros
  • Large tank holds up to 48 ounces of water, giving you around 45 minutes or so of steam cleaning capability
  • Built with a high-quality set of large wheels, capable of rolling along without issue, making it extremely mobile
Cons
Cons
  • We do recommend wearing ear protection while operating the McCulloch MC1275, as it can be quite loud
  • You may also have to use more elbow grease to scrub areas the steamer cleaned
Best Overall
McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner
 
PurSteam Handheld Steam Cleaner
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

This is a great steam cleaner for those who need extra mobility to get around their vehicle. Its small size saves you time and energy.

Pros
Pros
  • This compact cleaner weighs 5 pounds
  • Comes packed with nine accessories for a better and more improved clean
Cons
Cons
  • May take a bit longer to fully heat up than it claims
  • Doesn’t seem to stay hot enough long enough, so you’ll be using your time waiting for it to heat back up again
PurSteam Handheld Steam Cleaner
 
Wagner Spraytech On Demand Steam Cleaner
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

This steam cleaner comes with two modes to let you know when it’s ready to start the cleaning process.

Pros
Pros
  • Comes with an 11-piece accessory set included with a jet nozzle, two extension wands, and a measuring cup
  • Tank holds 48 ounces of water for 45 minutes of cleaning power
Cons
Cons
  • Smaller wheels means it lacks mobility
  • Wheels get caught up more easily on cords and holes 
  • Can take a while to heat up
Wagner Spraytech On Demand Steam Cleaner

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Benefits of Steam Cleaner for Cars

  • Get a deep cleaning. A steam cleaner can remove built-in dirt and grime that goes beyond the surface. Letting a stain or caked-on dirt sit on a surface can worsen the problem over time. A high-quality steam cleaner will ensure that your upholstery has a longer lifespan.
  • Protect your seats and upholstery. Grime and dirt build up over time, and the dirt you inadvertently track into your vehicle can cause a big mess. If you don't clean your car regularly,  you may be forced to replace your seat or carpeting. A steam cleaner will keep your car's surface areas in tip-top condition by removing stains and dirt.
  • Boost your vehicle's resale value. A clean car is worth more than a dirty one. Should you decide to sell your vehicle, it's a good idea to clean it inside and out. While you could pay someone to do it for you, if you have a steam cleaner on hand, it's easy to get the job done.

Types of Steam Cleaner for Cars

Handheld

These are built and designed to reach those difficult to clean areas like tight spaces and underneath pedals. They are lightweight and convenient to use, making them ideal to bring on long car trips. However, they don’t come with a lot of power, so you’ll have to charge them after each use. Their smaller form makes them quicker to heat up, so you can use them quickly when absolutely necessary. 

Heavy Duty

These are thicker and heavier modules built to fight the toughest of stains. Their water tanks are larger as well, giving you more power and extending the amount of time you devote to deep cleaning the car interior. This saves you time and energy by not having to constantly refill the water. However, while they are larger, they do tend to be quite heavy, especially when loaded fully with water. To help alleviate the stress of moving something so cumbersome, many come with wheels for mobility.

Wagner

Based in Minneapolis, Wagner SprayTech Corp. produces a variety of painting and cleaning products. Founder Josef Wagner started the company in the late 1940s. We recommend the Wagner Spraytech On-Demand Steam Cleaner.

Top Brands

McCulloch

McCulloch has been in business since 1943. It was founded by Robert McCulloch in Wisconsin before moving the company to California. Originally named McCulloch Motors Corporation, it focuses on designing steam powered cleaners and garden equipment. One of its best products is the McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner.

Pure Enrichment

Pure Enrichment has been in business since 2010 and is based out of California. It markets and designs premium steam cleaners for vehicles, homes, and other everyday uses. It makes the PureClean XL Rolling Steam Cleaner.

Steam Cleaner for Cars Pricing

  • $35 to $100: Here you’ll find mainly a handheld variety of car steam cleaners. They are lighter and more compact with smaller water tanks.
  • $100 and up: Heavy-duty steam cleaners fit in this price range. They also may come with various sizes of extension hoses and head sizes. 

Key Features

Water Tank Size

The size of the water tank is a major component of what makes up a car steam cleaner. Having a smaller one means you don’t get as long of a clean and will have to refill the tank many times before you’re finished. Getting a larger one means you get an extended cleaning time. If you have multiple cars to clean or a larger vehicle, opting for a bigger tank is the way to go.

Portability

Some steam cleaners are more portable than others. Smaller options tend to be lighter weight, so they’re easier to maneuver around your vehicle. Larger options may be more heavy-duty and provide a more thorough cleaning depending on their wattage. Also, the size affects how easier they are to store when not in use.

Other Considerations

  • Accessories. Finding a car steam cleaner with multiple accessories will help you reach those difficult-to-clean places. The more extender hoses, nozzles, and cleaning heads you have, the better prepared you are to tackle any stains.
  • Chemical Free. One of the best parts about steam cleaners is they don’t come with any harsh chemicals. That means it is good for the environment and has no lingering smell or taste. However, you can get accessories that add chemicals like bleach and cleaners. 

Best Steam Cleaners for Cars Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner

This ultra-sturdy and powerful steam cleaner for your car generate a great amount of steam, making it one of the best at removing stains and giving your car that fresh new look. It comes equipped with 1500 watts of steam fighting power and is fully heated in about eight minutes. We also found it releases continuous steam, so you can focus on the spots that need the most attention.


The large tank holds up to 48 ounces of water, giving you around 45 minutes or so of steam cleaning capability. That’s plenty of time to make sure you get a nice even clean throughout your entire vehicle. A feature we enjoyed most is how extremely mobile it is. It’s built with a high-quality set of large wheels, capable of rolling along without issue. It comes complete with a 15-foot long power cord, capable of reaching the outlet while giving you enough maneuverability. It’s also fully loaded with 18 accessories, including brushes and floor mops.


We do recommend wearing ear protection while operating the McCulloch MC1275, as it can be quite loud in enclosed spaces. Some consumers also say the plastic is cheaply made and comes apart after several uses. You may also have to use more elbow grease to scrub areas the steamer cleaned.

Best Value
PurSteam Handheld Steam Cleaner

This is one of the best car steam cleaners for those who need extra mobility to get around their vehicle. There are no long hoses to get in the way of your cleaning routine. Its small size saves you time and energy from having to heft around larger steam cleaners. Coming in at about 12 inches by 10 inches, this compact cleaner weighs a whopping 5 pounds.


PurSteam says not to be fooled by its stature, this thing can put out quite a lot of power. It’s rated to generate up to 30 percent more steam power than other models, making it both a lightweight yet heavy-duty little steam cleaner. It also comes packed with nine accessories to help you on your cleaning mission. These include an adjustable nozzle to reach tight spaces and around or over corners. It’s also rated to heat up fully at around 3-4 minutes.


However, while PurSteam claims their handheld pressurized steam cleaner reaches a high temperature quickly, it may, in fact, take a bit longer to fully heat up to proper cleaning power. It also doesn’t seem to stay hot enough long enough, so you’ll be using your time waiting for it to heat back up again.

Honorable Mention
Wagner Spraytech On Demand Steam Cleaner

One of the best features we found about this steam cleaner is its ability to switch between its two modes for a continuous release of steam. It’s also easy to tell when you can start the steaming process; a green light informs you it’s good to go, while a red light means the water temperature is above 135 degrees Fahrenheit.


This multi-purpose steam cleaner also comes with an 11-piece accessory set included with a jet nozzle, two extension wands, and a handy measuring cup to help you reach deep crevices or behind small spaces to remove stains. The tank is able to hold up to 48 ounces of distilled water, giving you a lengthy running time of 45 continuous minutes. 


While this is one of the best steam cleaners we found, it lacks in mobility. The wheels are smaller than other heavy-duty steam cleaners, meaning they get caught up more easily on cords and holes. It also can take a while to heat up, while it may say it takes five minutes, you may be waiting a lot longer to reach steam levels.

Honorable Mention
McCulloch Canister Steam Cleaner with 20 Accessories

This steam cleaner comes with 20 accessories, including an angled nozzle, scrub pad, scraper, squeegee, and nylon brushes. It has a 48-ounce water tank that heats up in approximately 12 minutes and supplies up to 90 minutes of steam. It has a 10-foot-long steam hose and an 18-foot power cord. The steam pressure is 58 PSI.


Features include variable steam control as well as a steam lock for continuous steam. The machine is lightweight, rolls easily, and is easy to use. It comes with two extenders for the wand for extra maneuverability, and overall the accessories are very useful. The gauge is a nice extra, and the steamer is great for cleaning everything from your car seats to the engine compartment. The company also provides a two-year satisfaction guarantee.


However, the accessories have a tendency to pop off the wand, and there is no way to securely store the hose when you're not using the machine. Also, the steamer may exhibit slight problems with the pressure that cause it to occasionally squirt out water.

Honorable Mention
Pure Enrichment PureClean Steam Cleaner

The 18-piece Pure Enrichment steamer comes with a 1.5-liter water boiler that provides up to 45 minutes of steam. The power cord is 16 feet long and can be wrapped up for storage. It's safe to use this machine on a variety of surfaces, and the company includes a five-year warranty.  


This steamer is sturdy, well-built, and simple to use. It's ideal for hard-to-clean areas and is very lightweight and easy to maneuver. The steam is hot enough and the spray is powerful enough so you don't need to use a cleaning solution. The accessories are good-quality, and replacement pieces such as pads for the mop are available online.


One downside is the steamer does not have any storage for the attachments. Also, the brushes tend to wear out after a short period of use, and there have been some complaints that the steam is inconsistent and the handle gets very hot.

Honorable Mention
Steamfast Canister Cleaner with 15 Accessories

This steamer has a 48-ounce water tank that heats up in under 10 minutes and produces steam for up to 45 minutes. It comes with a 15-foot power cord with an integrated wrap, a carrying handle, a 6.5-foot hose, and 15 accessories, such as scrub tools, utility brushes, and a jet nozzle.


This machine has a very large water reservoir and is easy to move around. You can lock it into the "on" position so you do not have to hold the button down for continuous steam. It removes dirt and grime without the need for a cleaning solution, and it's very hot and powerful with consistent pressure.


The biggest complaint about this steamer is that most of the attachments are not very good and fall apart easily, particularly the scrub pads and brushes. Also, the extension wands are a little flimsy and bend with little pressure. The hose may also fray after a short period of time.

Honorable Mention
COSTWAY Multipurpose Steam Cleaner with 18 Accessories

This steam cleaner has a 51-ounce water tank that heats up in nine minutes to reach 226.4 degrees Fahrenheit. It produces up to 40 minutes of high-pressure steam. It has a trigger for continuous steam cleaning, is ETL-certified, and will automatically shut off when it runs out of water or the boiler temperature gets too high. The machine comes with a 16-foot power cord, two extenders, and 18 accessories.


The Costway steamer is powerful, sturdy, effective, and easy to use. It gets hot really fast, is easy to move around, and works well with both the extended mop and handheld steamer gun. It can access hard-to-reach corners and the instructions are easy to follow, so setup and operation are trouble-free.


One downside is that you can't control the temperature or the amount of steam that it emits. It also gets so hot that it can be hard to hold the handle without wearing a glove.

Honorable Mention
Comforday Multi-Purpose Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner

The Comforday steam cleaner comes with nine accessories to clean everything from your car's interior to its rims. It works on a variety of surface areas and is chemical-free. It produces pressurized steam for 15 to 20 minutes and gets as hot as 270 degrees Fahrenheit. The machine also has a safety lock and safety cap.


This steamer is designed for small cleaning jobs, and it's very portable and compact. It heats up quickly, is very easy to use, and the attachments are practical. It's great for removing stains from car upholstery, and it's an excellent value.


But since this is a smaller unit, it doesn't produce steam for a very long time. Also, the cord isn't particularly long, and you have to wait for the steamer to cool down once the steam stops in order to refill the water tank. There have also been some complaints that it doesn't have high enough pressure.

Honorable Mention
AutoRight Wagner Spraytech SteamMachine

The AutoRight Wagner Spraytech SteamMachine is designed to clean dirt, grime, and stains in your vehicle. It also removes grease and disinfects the surface areas. You can use the machine to clean the carpet, dashboard, leather, upholstery, windows, and more. The steamer has a built-in carrying handle, so it's easy to move around, and it provides 45 minutes of operation.


This machine has a 40-ounce boiler tank, a 1500-watt heating element, and 11 accessories, including brushes, nozzles, and other attachments. Other features include an eight-foot steam hose, a maximum pressure of 55 PSI, and 290 degrees of pressurized steaming power. Users report that it takes just seconds to remove layers of grime. The water capacity is good, and you can steam clean almost two entire vehicles using one tank.


One downside is that the storage compartment for the attachments is small and does not adequately accommodate them all. Also, there have been some complaints that the attachments aren't of the best quality.

Honorable Mention
Homegear X300 Pro Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner/Steamer

The Homegear X300 Pro Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner/Steamer deep cleans your car, home, and more without using any chemicals. It operates for 39 minutes and features 1500 watts, overheating protection, a 50-ounce water tank, and a five-foot hose. The X300 Pro takes 12 minutes to heat up and removes dirt and grime from the carpet, upholstery, cup holders, etc. 


You can also use this steam cleaner to clean windows, mirrors, and items at home, including appliances. It comes with 11 accessories, such as a funnel, multiple brushes, a measuring cup, a high-pressure nozzle, and extension tubes. 


However, it does not have suction and will not suck up any steam or water you release. It also weighs 12 pounds, so it may be a little bulky to move around inside or near your vehicle.

Tips

  • Before using a steam cleaner, use a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and grime. Then you can use the steam cleaner for a more thorough cleaning.
  • If your upholstery is particularly dirty, treat it with a cleaning product before using the steam cleaner. This will make it easier for you to remove stains and dirt.
  • After you use the steam cleaner on the upholstery and fabric in your vehicle, let it dry thoroughly since the machine will leave the areas feeling a little damp. You can open the doors and windows or use a blow dryer if necessary.

FAQs

Q: What is the best steam cleaner for cars?

There are a variety of high-quality steam cleaners available for your vehicle. We include several top-notch options in this list.

Q: How do you steam clean the inside of your car?

You can use a steam cleaner on the carpets, fabric, leather, plastic, and vinyl. If the machine has a crevice tool or a steam jet nozzle, you can also use it to clean hard-to-reach places, such as the vents, center console, deep door pockets, and cup holders. You can use the machine to clean the headliner if it gets dusty or dirty. Finally, a steam cleaner is excellent for removing sap, bugs, and tar from the windows.

Q: Is it safe to steam clean an engine?

Yes. However, it's a lot quicker to use a pressure washer and some degreaser to clean an engine. A steam cleaner may be good at reaching tight areas, but it's not very efficient for cleaning an entire engine.

Q: How much does it cost to steam clean a car? 

Getting your vehicle professionally detailed can be costly. Depending on the size of your vehicle, steam cleaning the interior or shampooing the carpet could cost around $75 or more. Leather upholstery cleaning can cost around $50. 

Q: Do I need a special kind of water to run a steam cleaner?

No, you can use normal tap water or water directly from the sink. Read the guidebook before using to determine if the steam cleaner requires vinegar mixed with the water as well.

Q: How hot does the water get?

You’ll want to use caution when handling a steam cleaner, as the water and steam can reach temperatures up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Take it slow and keep your hands, face, and skin away from the mouth of the cleaner.

Q: Why is there still some dirt left over after having used the steam cleaner?

While steam cleaners do a great job at cleaning stains and dirt from upholstery and carpet, they may leave some behind. This is normal and may require you to use a rag, cloth, or additional attachments to easily clean up. 

Q: Can I use a high-pressure steam cleaner to do more than just auto detailing?

Of course you can. Steam cleaners are great for cleaning kitchen tiles, grout, carpet, and those tough-to-reach places in your home.

Final Thoughts

For those who are dealing with old stains left behind in your car and want them gone with ease, consider the McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner.

You can also choose the PurSteam Handheld Steam Cleaner. It’s a more compact steam cleaner with a great amount of steam cleaning power.