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
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PUBLISHED ON June 25, 2019
You spend a lot of time in your car. Whether it’s commuting to work, driving for fun, or carpooling with friends, your car gets a lot of use. All that time spent inside the car means it will get dirty; seats get stains, the carpet is muddy and gross, and animal fur clings to everything. Cleaning it every now and then only gets rid of the stuff on the surface. What will really get the tough stuff out is a steam cleaner. Here’s our list of the best steam cleaners for cars to leave your car looking brand new.
- Best OverallMcCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Steam CleanerSummarySummaryThis ultra-sturdy and powerful steam cleaner for your car generate a great amount of steam in a short amount of time.ProsProsThe large tank holds up to 48 ounces of water, giving you around 45 minutes or so of steam cleaning capability. It’s built with a high-quality set of large wheels, capable of rolling along without issue, making it extremely mobile.ConsConsWe 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 ValuePurSteam Handheld Steam CleanerSummarySummaryThis is a great steam cleaner for those who need extra mobility to get around their vehicle. Its small size saves you time and energy.ProsProsThis compact cleaner weighs 5 pounds and comes packed with nine accessories for a better and more improved clean.ConsConsIt may take a bit longer to fully heat up than it claims. 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 MentionWagner Spraytech On Demand Steam CleanerSummarySummaryThis steam cleaner comes with two modes to let you know when it’s ready to start the cleaning process.ProsProsIt comes with an 11-piece accessory set included with a jet nozzle, two extension wands, and a measuring cup. The tank holds 48 ounces of water for 45 minutes of cleaning power.ConsConsHowever, the smaller wheels mean it lacks in mobility. They get caught up more easily on cords and holes. It also can take a while to heat up.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Steam Cleaner for Cars
- Prevent further damage. Though it may not look like it, leaving a stain or caked on dirt and mud in your car may lead to further problems. Having a steam cleaner for your car will make sure you clean more than just what’s on the surface. It can get rid of stains so your upholstery lasts longer.
- Save money. Over time, the buildup of all the grime and who knows what else you carry in on the bottom of your shoes will spread. If you wait too long or don’t clean enough, you may have to throw a seat or two out and replace them with a new one. Using a steam cleaner in your car helps keep the upholstery looking new and can even get rid of stains and other gunk.
- Increase resale value. If you ever want to sell your car, then having it spotless inside and out is one way to make sure it stands out. You could get it detailed yourself, but having a steam cleaner saves you money and time. Plus, it will look like you got it professionally detailed before the sale.
Types of Steam Cleaner 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.
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 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 - $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.
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.
- 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 Cleaner for Cars Reviews & Recommendations 2019
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 three to four 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.
- You’ll want to use a standard vacuum cleaner to suck up any surface dirt or debris. Afterward, you should use the steam cleaner to get a deeper and purer finish.
- To help make sure your car’s upholstery is as clean as possible, treat it with a cleaner first to start breaking down the stains or dirt. Then hit it with the steam cleaner.
- You’ll want to make sure the upholstery and any fabric in the car fully dries. Steam cleaners will leave behind a wet streak, but it shouldn’t be soaking. Open the doors and windows to air dry and use a blow dryer to speed along the process.
Q: Do I need a special kind of water to run a steam cleaner?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Of course you can. Steam cleaners are great for cleaning kitchen tiles, grout, carpet, and those tough-to-reach places in your home.
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.