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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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON October 6, 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.
This ultra-sturdy and powerful steam cleaner for your car generates a great amount of steam in a short amount of time.
- 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
- 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
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.
- This compact cleaner weighs 5 pounds
- Comes packed with nine accessories for a better and more improved clean
- 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
This steam cleaner comes with two modes to let you know when it’s ready to start the cleaning process.
- 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
- Smaller wheels means it lacks mobility
- Wheels get caught up more easily on cords and holes
- Can take a while to heat up
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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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.