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.

byHank O'Hop| UPDATED Oct 25, 2022 4:30 PM
Best Steam Cleaner for Cars: Leave Your Car Spotless

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Best Steam Cleaner for Cars Overall

McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

Summary
This ultra-sturdy and powerful steam cleaner for your car generates a great amount of steam in a short amount of time.
Pros
  • Tank holds up to 48 ounces
  • High-quality set of large wheels
  • Very mobile
Cons
  • Quite loud
  • May have to use more elbow grease to scrub some areas
Best Steam Cleaner for Cars Value

PurSteam Handheld Steam Cleaner

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
  • Compact 
  • Weighs five pounds
  • Comes with nine accessories
Cons
  • Takes a while to heat up
  • Doesn’t stay hot for long enough
Best Steam Cleaner for Cars Honorable Mention

Wagner Spraytech On-Demand Steam Cleaner

Summary
This steam cleaner comes with two modes to let you know when it’s ready to start the cleaning process.
Pros
  • 11-piece accessory set
  • Tank holds 48 ounces
  • 45 minutes of cleaning power
Cons
  • Small wheels 
  • Lacks mobility
  • Can take a while to heat up

Summary List

Our Methodology

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 ultra-sturdy and powerful steam cleaner for your car generates 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 1,500 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 loaded with 18 accessories, including brushes and floor mops. We do recommend wearing ear protection while operating the McCulloch, 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.

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.

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 40 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 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.
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 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.
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.
This steamer has a 48-ounce water tank that heats up in less than 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.
This steam cleaner has a 51-ounce water tank that heats up in nine minutes to reach 226 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.
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.

Our Verdict

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. 

Consider Secondhand

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. 

Secondhand Tips

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pricing 

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. 

FAQs 

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.

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