Car Steam Cleaners Unleashed: The Definitive Guide to Finding the Best One for Car Detailing

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Updated on:

June 30, 2023

Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Car Steam Cleaner for Detailing

Compared to other cleaning methods, steam cleaning offers superior results. Steam cleaners are frequently the only tool to remove stubborn stains and filth that no other method will remove due to steam cleaner's combination of high pressure and high heat.

Such car upholstery cleaner machine is very popular on the car detailing industry. But it can be tough to figure out which steam cleaner is good since there are so many on the market. Depending on things like your budget and the area that you want to use a steam cleaner for, it is easy to find good steam cleaner that will satisfy your criteria.

In this article, we will provide information about different steam cleaners that will help you find the perfect one for your purpose.

Key Takeaways:

  • Car steam cleaners are highly effective in car detailing, thanks to their high pressure and heat. They can tackle tough stains, sanitize interiors, and eliminate odors.
  • Consider your budget and cleaning needs when choosing a steam cleaner. Commercial options like Fortador PRO Max and McCulloch are powerful and ideal for professional use. Personal steam cleaners like Fortador Volt Mini and Bissell are portable and versatile.
  • When selecting a steam cleaner, factors to consider include temperature, attachments, and water capacity. These features can vary depending on the model and can affect the cleaner's performance and suitability for different cleaning tasks.

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The Benefits of High-Pressure Steam Cleaners for Car Detailing

Pure water, which is less harmful to many of the materials in cars, can be used in place of a range of different cleaning solutions and chemicals in your car when using a steam cleaner. It can be used on a variety of surfaces because there are no solvents involved, including leather, cloth, carpet, plastics, trim materials, and even hard-to-reach areas.

Even while steam may effectively clean a variety of surfaces, when combined with the appropriate cleaning solutions, a steam cleaner can make your car's inside cleaner than you could have ever thought, in addition to making your windows spotless. Additionally, it makes cleaning more effortless by utilizing steam's cleaning ability to remove dirt and debris rather than scrubbing to remove stains and grime.

Understanding the Working Mechanism of Car Steam Cleaners

Simple tap water (or, preferably, filtered softened water, some steam cleaner required distilled water) is used in a steam cleaner. This water is heated to a temperature over its boiling point of 212°F/100°C and then forced out through a nozzle under pressure. All necessary pressure is produced simply by producing steam, which more than 1,700 times increases the volume of liquid water. No additional pump is necessary. Because of this, steam cleaners are frequently quite basic devices; the trigger or activation button may be the sole moving component.

The difficult dirt and stains that attach to your car's upholstery and other surfaces are broken up by the heat and moisture of the superheated steam as it emerges from the nozzle. This prevents the dirt and stains from sticking again. Because steam cleaners have a very low water content, cleaned surfaces will dry out quickly after you apply steam.

Additionally, steam at temperatures in the hundreds of degrees is incredibly effective at eliminating bacteria and viruses from soft surfaces like carpets and upholstery where other techniques fall short. Even the National Institutes of Health have demonstrated that it decreases household dust allergens and harmful substances.

Advantages of Steam Cleaning for Auto Detailing

Steam cleaning is the best method to use to deep clean car seats, floor mats, leather and more. Steam cleaner is the greatest tool for interior cleaning process due to its many benefits and advantages over other cleaning methods.

stain removal with steam extractor

1. Efficient Stain Removal for Car Seats and Carpets with Steam Cleaners

The cleaning power of a steam cleaner is very strong. Applying continuous steam on a stain will easily remove it in minutes without using any harsh chemicals. From food stains, grease, sunscreen, and other products that tend to stick to fabric, steam can remove it all!

steam sanitiing with high temperatre

2. Effective Sanitization and Disinfection of Car Interiors with Steam Cleaners

Steam cleaners do not only remove stains and dirt, but also kill any harmful bacteria. Due to the high heat and high pressure, up to 99.99% of bacteria gets killed when steam cleaning. Using just steam in the car interiors will leave the vehicle spotless and completely disinfected.

A powerful steam cleaner that reaches at least 170 °C makes steam an efficient ally since it contains bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal qualities and enables the restoration of ideal hygienic conditions. The high temperature dissolves even the toughest dirt, preventing the growth and transmission of pathogenic organisms to humans.

odor removal smoke smell removal

3. Odor Elimination of Smoke, Food, and Mold in Cars Using Steam Cleaners

Steam cleaning is a great solution if you tend to smoke in the car. Steam is able to eliminate odors from cigarettes, mold, pet odors, and more. You do not have to use any chemicals or sprays to kill the odor when you are steaming the car interior.

Learn more about best ozone generators for car for odor removal.
best auto detailing steamers

How to Select the Perfect Car Steam Cleaner for Your Requirements

Depending on what you plan to clean and how long the job will take, you can choose which steam cleaner to buy. A machine that can reach temperatures of 200°F is suitable for use in the home or in a small cleaning business.

A steamer with a minimum temperature of 250°F, preferably one with a pressure of at least 100 PSI, and the ability to produce continuous steam without the need for refills is required for larger or messier projects.

A good steam cleaning system, especially a commercial-grade steamer, will have a number of extra features. These features could be pressure gauge, adjustable steam pressure, an option for continuous steam flow, a separate detergent tank, a detail jet tool, and an hour counter so you can see how long is left in the tank or how much cleaning time has been completed. Another handy little addition for when it's time to put the machine away is an inbuilt cord wrap.

Key Considerations for Choosing an Ideal Car Steam Cleaner

Temperature is the most important factor since heat, which not only cleans but also destroys germs, gives steam its cleaning potential. Increased steam temperature, expressed in watts, dissolves sticky muck more effectively and makes surfaces cleaner. Additionally, having strong pressure sometimes facilitates the removal of dirt. High heat and pressure, however, are less safe to employ and can harm delicate surfaces.

Steam cleaners consume a lot of power, so even if there are some battery-powered models available, we opted for stronger corded types. Although using an extension cable will bring you as far as you need to go, take attention to the length of the hose and chord, which provides you a broader range. On the other hand, more potent units are typically heavier and larger, making them less portable and requiring more storage space.

To provide you a longer run time and enable you to complete projects without having to fill up halfway through, look for models with a respectable water capacity and good efficiency. Check over the attachments that come with the model you are considering as well. Some attachments are more suited for chairs and larger areas, while others are better suited for crannies and tight corners.

If you prefer a carpet cleaner that won't clean the hard surfaces in your car or vaporize water into steam, seek for models that are at least heated, as this should improve cleaning performance. Investigate the owner evaluations for information on the efficiency of the brush heads and the suction force to remove dirt and stains.

PRO selection: Car Steam Cleaners for Efficient Cleaning

There are many great steam cleaners on the market. To find the best one for you, you should first decide your budget and what is the it you want to use the steam cleaning machine for.

If you want to start a car detailing business, it is best to get a commercial machine that has enough power to detail many cars throughout the day. If you want a steam cleaner for personal use, like your home or office, you should look into more portable options.

Check our full list of car detailing equipment, tools and supplies.

High-Performance Steam Cleaners for Professional Car Detailing

Commercial steam cleaners tend to be much larger in size which lets those machines have a big boiler. This lets the machines have more power to produce steam. These steam cleaners heat up to at least 250°F and and have a PSI that is usually higher than 100.

Fortador PRO Max - vacuum steam cleaner

1. Fortador PRO Max: The Ultimate Vacuum Car Steam Cleaner

The effective Lamborghini burner powers the Diesel Hybrid Multi Purpose Steam Cleaner with Vacuum Fortador PRO Max/Max Deluxe. Giving both a steam cleaning and washing function, and having two different detergents available to remove stains while steaming from up to five guns at once (optional). 20 Bar, or 295 PSI, of steam pressure is used for many things, including car washes, shampooing automobile carpet and upholstery, and vacuuming.

Everything is contained in a single, contemporary-looking enclosure that is built of an environmentally friendly, corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy. Touch screen with automatic diagnostics: Alerts concerning routine maintenance and services, such as filter cleaning, boiler descale, and burner adjustment, provide you complete control over steam power.

In addition, this machine comes with a vacuum that has strong suction power. You can use an option of steam with vacuum in order to clean carpets and suck out all the dirt from them. It is very easy to revive any cloths that are stained if you use the double power of steam and vacuum.

Best overall, The seventh generation of the best steam cleaners is the Fortador PRO Max/Max Deluxe Vacuum Car Steam Cleaner | Car Shampooer, produced in Fortador's European manufacturing facility. It is the most potent vacuum-equipped automobile steamer available, with a roughly 50 HP engine that was produced to our specifications and supplied by the Lamborghini firm. Large water tanks eliminate the need for daily water refills. This model's performance includes 20 Bars of steam pressure at 0.6 l of diesel consumption per manhour.

McCulloch Commercial Steam Cleaner

2. McCulloch Commercial Car Steam Cleaner: Superior Cleaning Performance

The deluxe canister commercial-grade steam cleaner from McCulloch has 23 accessories and can clean practically every surface, including grout, windows, ceramic tile, furniture, BBQs, and worktops. It boasts four bars of pressure for really challenging operations and a 64-ounce water tank that produces 120 minutes of steam at just over 200°F.

This machine comes with various attachments that will assist you in cleaning different parts of your house or car. It is also very portable so it will be a great option if you do not have a lo of storage.

Astra Idromatic Diesel Steam Cleaner

3. Astra Idromatic Diesel Car Steam Cleaner: Versatile Cleaning Solution

The cleaning of industrial machines, sporting arenas and equipment, cleaning of animal housing and equipment, gum and graffiti removal, food industries, mobile car and recreational vehicle washing, and urban weeding are all recommended uses for this steamer. The final application is a little different because this machine includes a specialist weeding tool to aid in weed removal.

The Astra Steamer has various functions to make the operators more control over all the features. You can select whether water enters the machine directly from a water source or via a tank by turning a knob on the control board. Although the company promises that customers can add an additional outlet, the machine only comes with one steam outlet. With the addition of extra connections and pipes, operators can get steam directly from the pump and manually control it via an outlet tap. Knobs are used to manually control the majority of the device's operations. A diagnosis system for faults based on auditory and visual cues from the control panel will also be helpful to users.

Check our review for best vacuum steam cleaners for multiple uses.

User-Friendly and Effective Steam Cleaners for Personal Car Detailing

Not commercial steam cleaner tend to be smaller and less powerful. They are still great for any deep clean job like car cleaning and car detailing, home steam cleaning, and more.

COSTWAY 2000W Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner

1. COSTWAY 2000W Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner: Versatility and Power Combined

Consider the COSTWAY 2000W multi-purpose steam cleaner if you want a steam cleaner that is equally adept at cleaning your home and your car.

An enormous 1.5-liter water tank in this device heats up in five to six minutes. This offers continuous steam cleaning power for 30 to 45 minutes. Pressures of up to 4 bar and temperatures of steam as high as 226°F are possible (58 psi). COSTWAY designed this appliance with an uninterrupted steam release mechanism so you don't have to hold the trigger down all the time, making the cleaning task as simple as possible.

The child safety lock on the COSTWAY 2000w multi-purpose steam cleaner was designed with safety in mind to prevent your child from unintentionally burning themselves. A temperature control system that releases steam automatically if the boiler's pressure builds up is one of the additional safety features.

19 accessories, including a measuring cup, two extension tubes, an ironing brush, and more, are included with the COSTWAY 2000w steam cleaner as standard.

Bissell SteamShot

2. Bissell SteamShot Handheld Cleaner for Efficient Car Cleaning

Bissell produces 14 various types of steam cleaners, but only one is a handheld, the 1000-watt Device 39N7A SteamShot, which is a small yet practical model. It produces steam at 66 PSI up to 120°F/49°C, which isn't hot enough to disinfect, from a 200ml/7.4oz tank. But it's also not hot enough to harm any interior materials, which we regard as a feature. In comparison to high-temperature, high-pressure steamers, it is also much safer to work around.

Eight tools are included with the SteamShot steam cleaner, including an angle concentrator that is ideal for small seams inside a car. There are also three upholstery brushes. The cord's practical length is 20 feet. The item on Amazon and the one on the Bissell website, which adds an additional window squeegee for this model, give different descriptions of the accessories that are included.

Wagner AutoRight SteamMachine

3. Wagner AutoRight SteamMachine for Effective Car Cleaning

Seven tools are included with the AutoRight SteamMachine, most of which are sized to fit the numerous hard-to-reach places in a car. There are attachments designed specifically for hard surfaces and carpet, as well as for leather and fabric seats. It features a large 40-ounce tank that provides a long 35-minute steam time, but it only has an eight-foot cord and hose, so you must move it using the wheels or the integrated folding handle. It performs well at steam pressure of 55 PSI and steam temperature of 290 F. Although more expensive than other handhelds, this carpet steamer with a tank is nevertheless reasonably priced.

Learn more about best steam mops for your home.


You can check our guide for using steam cleaners for interior and exterior cleaning, windows, odor and mold removal and many other applications, like clay bar treatment and water spots removal from car.

About the Authors

Kris Traczynski
As the visionary behind Fortador Steamers, I've revolutionized the cleaning landscape across both the USA and Europe. With a profound understanding of the cleaning industry, I've fostered expertise that sets new standards. My journey is one of innovation, commitment, and a relentless pursuit of exce
Kristina Tretyakova
Distinguished as a South Florida Top-10 student in 2021. Studying Marketing and Business Administration at FIU. Proficient in daily operations and skilled in cleaning, auto detailing and copywriting.

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