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Ranking The 10 Best Car Steam Cleaners of 2018

The Best Auto Steam Cleaners Currently On Sale

You’ve tried everything but those stubborn upholstery stains and, worse yet, offensive odor simply will not relinquish their stinky grip on the interior of your car. Luckily, there is a tried and true solution to unsightly, stubborn stains and odors in your car. Just as the dry cleaners use steam to release stains and odors from your clothes, you can use a car steam cleaner to remove stains and eliminate odors from your vehicle’s upholstery and interior.

Steam is generated when water is heated to its gaseous state. When steam is applied to an upholstery stain, it heats up the microscopic molecules of the stain which causes them to vibrate.

This thermal reaction weakens the bonds that hold the molecules of the stain to the small fibers of your car’s upholstery. The stain is then lifted away leaving your upholstery spotless and odor free.

What is a Car Steamer?

A car steam cleaner is a specially-engineered cleaning tool that utilizes steam in order to remove stains, eliminate odors and disinfect surfaces. A car steamer utilizes the same principles and methods as household and dry-cleaning steamers only slightly modified for use on your car’s upholstery.

What Makes a Good Car Steam Cleaner?

A quality car steamer consists of a durable boiler, water refill tank, detergent tank, steam vacuum, replaceable heating element and multiple nozzle accessories.

Durable Boiler – The boiler is the most functionally important piece of car steam cleaners because it is what heats the water and boils it into steam.

Steam creates a lot of pressure, so quality automotive steam cleaners are built out of stainless steel or similarly tough material that will safely and efficiently endure that pressure for the life of the steam cleaner.

Replaceable Heating Element – The heating element is, unsurprisingly, the section of the steam cleaner which turns the electrical energy, provided by the battery or electrical cord, into thermal energy contained within the boiler.

The heating elements on automotive steam cleaners, like the boiler, have a hard job to do and are subject to lots of stress. Heating elements may need to be replaced several times over the life of a steamer.

Quality automotive steam cleaners will include a replaceable heating element so there is no need to replace the entire steam cleaner should the heating element suffer a failure or malfunction.

Refill Tank – One of the features of a high-quality car steam cleaner is the addition of a refill tank. Non-pressurized refill tanks are typically adjoined to the boiler and allow the user to add water to the steamer without having to turn off the machine and will enable the boiler to cool and depressurize, a process that can take up to twenty minutes.

Detergent Tank – Steam is a powerful cleaner, but automotive stains are notoriously stubborn. Sometimes cleaning agents are needed in conjunction with steam to lift those extra tricky stains from your upholstery.

The best car steam cleaners all include a detergent tank wherein the steamer can be filled with cleaning agents, soaps, and detergents to provide some extra cleaning power.

Steam Vacuum – Once that stain has been lifted, it needs to go somewhere. Quality car steam cleaners include a steam vacuum that enables you to suck up the dirt, grime, and dust from your upholstery directly into an extraction tank, which can then easily be emptied.

Car steam cleaners that do not include a steam vacuum require the user to take the extra step of wiping away the dirt and grime that has been lifted by the steamer.

Accessories – There are many different types of car interiors, upholstery, and stains that ruin them. A car steam cleaner can only be considered one of the best if it includes multiple steamer accessories to tackle all of the possible stains, dirt, and grime that might plague your vehicle.

These accessories may include various brushes, nozzles, and scrubbers that dig deep into stains and grime to remove them from all types of automotive surfaces.

Why do I Want to Use a Car Steam Cleaner?

There are a number of reasons why you would want to use a car steam cleaner on your vehicle, including financial reasons. The resale value of your vehicle depends significantly on the interior of your car.

To a prospective buyer, stained, dirty and grimy interior surfaces make your car look older, and your upholstery look grubby. Removing old stains and accumulated grime can improve the overall appearance of your vehicle which can only benefit your car’s total resale value.

Furthermore, it’s important to use a car steam cleaner instead of a household steam cleaner on your vehicle.

The road grime that accumulates outside, and within a vehicle is generally heavier, more difficult to remove, and could consist of hazardous substances that aren’t found in household stains.

Car steam cleaners are specially designed to tackle automotive stains. Using household steamers on automotive stains and road grime may cause the steamer to malfunction from use on substances it was never designed to tackle.  

Where to Buy a Car Steam Cleaner?

Car steam cleaners are available anywhere you buy your automotive products and in many home improvement and DIY stores.

Where to Rent a Car Steam Cleaner?

You can also rent car steam cleaners for less than the cost of purchasing one. However, it is recommended that you purchase a car steam cleaner that you can use whenever your vehicle is detailed, as cleaning your car should be considered regular maintenance.

How to Use a Car Steam Cleaner?

Most car steam cleaners are relatively intuitive and are simple enough to use following a quick read of the manufacturer’s instructions. However, in order to ensure the perfect steamed clean for your car, we have included instructions on how to properly steam clean your vehicle.

Prep the cleaning surface – It’s important to clear away any dirt, dust, and grime that can be cleaned with a quick sweep, brush or rinse.

Most car steam cleaners are pretty powerful, but there is no reason not to make the job easier on yourself and the steamer. Be sure to utilize a car vacuum as well to get rid of any excess dirt if you intend to use the steamer on your interior carpets and mats

Fill the car steam cleaner with water – Prior to plugging your car steamer into an electrical outlet, fill the machine’s water tank. Be sure not to overfill the tank as super hot excess water can boil over the tank and cause severe burns to the user.

Fill the car steam cleaner’s detergent tank – Fill the detergent tank with the desired cleaning solution. Remember that different stains and cleaning surfaces may require different cleaning solutions.

Utilizing the wrong solution on a cleaning surface may not completely remove the desired stain or, at worst, may even damage your vehicle or the steamer.

Attach Car Steam Cleaner Accessories – Assess the stain and cleaning surface to be steamed and attached the appropriate steamer accessory or nozzle. Brushes and scrubbing attachments work best on carpeted and polyester interiors while cloth pads work best on leather, vinyl, and synthetic surfaces.

The high-pressure nozzles work best on exterior surfaces, wheel, and tires.

Power Up the Car Steam Cleaner – This is where you plug the car steam cleaner into an electrical outlet. Be sure that the elliptical cord and plug are not wet from excess water before plugging it in.

Flip on the factory switch and wait the allotted time for the car steam cleaner’s boiler to heat up to the appropriate temperature.

Most car steam cleaners will indicate via a sound or light when they are hot and ready for use.

Steaming Time! Apply the steamer nozzle or brush to the cleaning surface and scrub thoroughly until the stain, dirt, and grime have been completely removed from the surface.

As previously mentioned, car steamers without vacuum attachments will require you to wipe away the dust and grime with a shop towel after steaming.

The cleaning surface will be hot after using the steamer so be sure to let it cool beforehand.

 Rinse and Repeat – The final step is to rinse or wipe down the cleaning surface and determine if further steaming is required. If the desired stain has not been entirely removed simply hit it again with the car steam cleaner until the stain is completely removed.

The Top Ten Best Car Steam Cleaners

There are a lot of car steam cleaners available, and most will at least get the job done. However, to be considered one of the top ten best car steam cleaners a machine must be as affordable as it is intuitive to use and effective on stains and road grime.

1. Dupray ONE Steam Cleaner

The ONE Steam Cleaner manufactured by Dupray is a powerfully engineered, compact steamer that is ideal the size for small vehicle interiors and is tough enough to handle even the most stubborn upholstery stains and dirt.

Dupray ONE Car Steam Cleaner

The boiler on the Dupray ONE Steam Cleaner is manufactured from stainless steel and provides up to 50 minutes of cleaning time per fill.

The intuitive control panel makes using the Dupray ONE Steam Cleaner easy, and its detachable stem hose and 16 additional accessories make it versatile enough to clean, sanitize and disinfect any automotive surface in any vehicle.

The best aspect about this powerful little steamer is its compact design. The entire Dupray ONE Steam Cleaner is only 17” wide and hardly larger than a 12” across and it can fit in your trunk, which makes it perfect for small cars, compact hatchbacks, and sports cars.

2. Vapamore MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaning System

In Italian, Primo means “first,” and after using the MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaning System manufactured by Vapamore, you’ll understand why they chose it for the name of their steam cleaning system.

Vapamore MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaning System

The MR-100 Primo is an automotive cleaning powerhouse and is an ideally suited car steam cleaner for the professional detailer or car collector. It was specially designed to provide an incredible factory clean without the use or need for harsh chemicals and cleaning agents.

The MR-100 Primos steaming power comes from a 1500-watt heating element which can heat its 1.6-liter boiler to over 220° and all for up to 60 minutes of clean time per tank.

The Vapamore MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaning System includes all the steam cleaning accessories and attachments that you could ever need and a lifetime warranty.

The MR-100 makes the list of ten best car steam cleaners because it is a versatile and intuitive all-around machine that is going to provide hours steaming power and an exceptional clean.

3. McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System

The McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System makes the 10 best car steam cleaners list because of its reputation for power and reliability.

McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System

The McCulloch MC1385 is a true multi-purpose steamer. It includes over 20 versatile and useful accessories that, when combined with its compact design, makes it the ideal car steam cleaner for any vehicle.

The MC135 is built with “four bar power” variable speed control which enables you to crank the steam pressure up to 58 psi of grease blasting power.  

On top of all these great features, the MC1385 also provides 120 minutes of steaming time and 1200 watts of heating power so you can ensure the deepest clean for your vehicle. The McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System is the largest car steam cleaner on our list and may be better suited in your garage than in your car’s trunk.

4. McCulloch MC1275 Handheld

Coming in just behind its bigger brother is the McCulloch MC1275 Handheld. This compact handheld steam cleaner packs all the steaming and cleaning power of the larger McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System into a smaller, more ergonomic design.

McCulloch MC1275 Handheld car steam cleaner

The McCulloch MC1275 handheld was designed for small spaces which makes it the perfect car steamer to keep in your trunk for when stains and spills happen on the road.

The MC1275 includes a 48-oz. water tank, 15-ft power cord, 9-ft hose, and is capable of generating up to 43 psi. What’s more, the McCulloch MC1275 handheld comes with 18 accessories and promises the same deep, chemical-free clean as the  McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam System.

The MC1275 is also the speed demon of this list of the 10 best car steam cleaners, as it only needs eight minutes to go from cold to white-hot cleaning power.

5. Comforday Pressurized Handheld Steam Cleaner

The feature that solidifies the Comforday Pressurized Handheld Steam Cleaner a place on our list of the 10 best car steam cleaners is its compact size.

Comforday Pressurized Handheld Steam Cleaner

The Comforday Pressurized Handheld Steam Cleaner is the versatile car steam cleaner everyone needs in their trunk. Easily the smallest car steam cleaner on our list, the Comforday Pressurized Handheld Steam Cleaner can fit in a shoe box and weighs as much as a football.

It’s the perfect size for in-car spills, whether they be on your upholstery or your clothes.

The Comforday Pressurized Handheld Steam Cleaner is also safe. It includes a safety lock and precise temperature controls. Its 1050 watt heating element, compact size, and 9 versatile attachments make it ideal for an on-the-go car steam cleaner that is as easy to use as it is to pack.

6. Wagner 915 On-Demand Power Steamer and Cleaner

Wagner 915 On-Demand Power Steamer and Cleaner is the automotive cleaning tool that your floor mats will thank you for buying.

Wagner 915 On-Demand Power Steamer and Cleaner

The Wagner 915 On-Demand Power Steamer and Cleaner includes several versatile flat surface cleaners that are perfect for steaming troublesome gunk, grease, and grime from floorboards, car mats, cargo areas and even the vehicle body.

The Wagner 915 is intuitive, light-weight and comes with multiple extension tubes and a 45-minute steam time.

7. Steamfast SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner

The Steamfast SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner is the heavy duty answer to any stubborn automotive grease stain. The Steamfast SF-370WH is lightweight and durable, perfect for easy storage in your car’s trunk.

Steamfast SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner

The Steamfast SF-370WH has a powerful boiler that is capable of producing steam of over 200°F which easily blasts through even the most stuck-on dirt and grime. The Steamfast SF-370WH is a multi-purpose steamer that is well-suited as a car steam cleaner.

Its large capacity tank allows for over 45 minutes of sustained steam cleaning while its versatile attachments make it ideally suited for steam-cleaning every surface inside your vehicle.

Where the Steamfast SF-370WH distinguishes itself from the rest of the car steam cleaners on this list is its marriage of power and affordability. For a very reasonable price, the Steamfast SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner provides 1500 watts of power for a sustained, high temperature cleaning steam that eats through even the most stubborn road grime and grease stains.

8. Prolux Prolift Liftaway 7-in-1 Steam Cleaner

Prolux has manufactured high-quality cleaning products for years, and they utilized every bit of that valuable experience when they developed the Prolux Prolift Liftaway 7-in-1 Steam Cleaner.

Prolux Prolift Liftaway 7 in 1 Steam Cleaner

The Prolux Prolift Liftaway 7-in-1 Steam Cleaner seamlessly blends form and function to create a versatile, powerful steamer that works flawlessly on automotive surfaces.

The Prolux Prolift includes 14 useful attachments, giving you the power to clean every inch of your vehicle both effortlessly and effectively.

It’s also efficient and compact. The Prolux Prolift Liftaway 7-in-1 Steam Cleaner has multiple storage options for easy storage in garages and car trunks, and its 61-ounce tank can be heated to more than 250°F in less than 10 minutes.

9. Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Upholstery Steam Cleaner

The engineers at Bissell were not very clever when they named the Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Upholstery Steam Cleaner, but they were very accurate.

Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Upholstery Steam Cleaner

Bissell 3624 SpotClean is the reliable and powerful upholstery steam cleaner that is effortlessly portable and perfect for the professional auto detailer and car collector alike.

The Bissell 3624 SpotClean is a compact yet powerful steam cleaner that is perfect for minivans and SUVs filled with messy children.

The Bissell 3624 SpotClean easily fits in your trunk and includes a ¾ gallon tank and an extra-long 22-ft cord so you can detail any car in the garage without moving the steamer.

Unlike the other car steam cleaners on the list, the Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Upholstery Steam Cleaner comes with its own specially-designed cleaning formula which works exceptionally well on automotive carpet and upholstery.

10. XTech Electric Handheld Steam Cleaner

The Xtech Electric Easy Handheld Steam Cleaner is the little engine that could on our list of 10 best car steam cleaners.

XTech Electric Handheld Steam Cleaner

Lightweight, portable, and powerful, the Xtech Electric Easy Handheld Steam Cleaner tackles stains as if it were one of the larger cleaners on the list.

It comes with 3 versatile attachments including a steam squeegee which is perfect for cleaning caked-on grease and grime from car windows and headlights.

While it isn’t necessarily as powerful as some of the full-fledged examples on our list, it does prove to be highly accessbile, mobile, and easy to use.

Conclusion

Keeping your car clean is essential. No one wants to be stuck driving a grimy car because driving a grimy car is nearly as bad as having to eat in a grimy kitchen.

Purchasing and regularly using a car steam cleaner on your car can cut through that disgusting grime and bring out the factory shine that caught your eye in the first place.

The car steam cleaners featured here are the 10 best of 2018 and are a guaranteed smart choice for any driver who wants to keep the car they drive as squeaky clean as the table they eat off of.

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Jacob Doyle
About Jacob Doyle

I am a Chicago-born writer with a thirst for everything automotive. I live by a simple rule; travel far, work hard and never stop writing. If I am not writing away, you can find me wrenching on my 1989 Ram Charger or wrecking something with wheels.

At Autowise, we envision ourselves as not just a automobile blog or an automobile news website, instead we see our website as a platform to connect all automobile enthusiast and provide them with all the information they need.

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