Best Steam Cleaner for Cars: Leave Your Car Spotless
Say goodbye to spills because these steam cleaners will keep your car’s interior sparkling clean.
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McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
- Tank holds up to 48 ounces
- High-quality set of large wheels
- Very mobile
- Quite loud
- May have to use more elbow grease to scrub some areas
PurSteam Handheld Steam Cleaner
- Weighs five pounds
- Comes with nine accessories
- Takes a while to heat up
- Doesn’t stay hot for long enough
Wagner Spraytech On-Demand Steam Cleaner
- 11-piece accessory set
- Tank holds 48 ounces
- 45 minutes of cleaning power
- Small wheels
- Lacks mobility
- Can take a while to heat up
Best Overall: McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
Best Value: PurSteam Handheld Steam Cleaner
Honorable Mention: Wagner Spraytech On-Demand Steam Cleaner
Most Accessories: McCulloch Canister Steam Cleaner
Most Reliable: Pure Enrichment PureClean Steam Cleaner
Easiest to Use: Steamfast Canister Cleaner
Most Powerful: Costway Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner
Best Pressurized Cleaner: Comforday Multi-Purpose Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner
To select these car steam cleaners as the top choices, I took a close look at the many options available. I considered every kind of steam cleaner, from big and bulky with car-friendly attachments to compact and perfectly portable. Those that were the most effective at tackling dirt and stains, including long-ago formed stains, were prioritized. I also compared these steam cleaners to one another based on details such as ease of use, size and weight, power source, tank capacity, cleaning accessory options, and the ability to use within the confines of a car.
Best Steam Cleaner for Cars Reviews & Recommendations
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.
Sturdy and powerful in the face of even super-stubborn stains, the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner is my pick for the best overall steam cleaner for cars. However, if you’re looking for something that offers a combination of great value and easy mobility, the PurSteam Handheld Steam Cleaner is another option I highly recommend.
When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place we look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. It also has the benefit of you not having to cut open an Amazon box inside an Amazon box with bubble wrap around the part.
If those options above don’t have what you need, your local salvage yard is great for car parts, while swap meets are a great resource you should absolutely tap. Just Google either and head on down.
To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner.
- Always check the accessories; missing accessories, or broken or cracked accessories, can make a steam cleaner essentially useless when you need to clean (and reach) inside your car.
- If you’re opting for a portable steam cleaner, ask about the battery life. Batteries can degrade over time, and you may need to purchase a new battery to get good longevity if you’re opting for a secondhand machine.
What to Consider When Buying Steam Cleaners for Cars
Ready to start your search for an effective, easy-to-use steam cleaner for your car? Keep these all-important details in mind as you check out different models.
Types of Steam Cleaners for Cars
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.
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.
Steam Cleaners for Cars 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.
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.
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.
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.
You’ll find a wide variety of car steam cleaners priced between $35 and $100. They are lighter and more compact with smaller water tanks. For $100 or more, you’ll find heavy-duty steam cleaners that also may come with various sizes of extension hoses and head sizes.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
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.
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.
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.
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 it to determine if the steam cleaner requires vinegar mixed with the water.
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 might leave some behind. This is normal and might require you to use a rag, cloth, or additional attachments to easily clean up.
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.