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.
The Top Ten Best Car Steam Cleaners
There are a lot of steam cleaners available, and most will at least get the job done. However, to be considered the best car steam cleaner a machine must be worth its price, intuitive to use and effective on stains and road grime.
What Makes a Good Steam Cleaner for Cars?
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 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 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 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 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 steam cleaner for cars 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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.