Steam Extractor vs. Steam Cleaner: Unveiling the Ultimate Showdown

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Updated on:

June 30, 2023

Steam extractor vs. Steam cleaner | Which is better?

Professional carwashers and detailers have been debating whether a carpet extractor or vapor steam cleaner is the better option for their commercial needs for years. Both of these machines have their own perks and disadvantages, so it is hard to figure out which is the best option for deep cleaning.

The steam cleaning industry only picked up a couple years ago. Traditional methods of car cleaning industry, like using a microfiber with cleaning spray, was the most common option. But ever since steam cleaning has joined the market and new steam cleaners have been developed, dry steam cleaning and steam extractors have gained more attention car detailing world.

Deciding on whether to get a steam cleaner or steam extractor, also called steam vacuum, can be a hard task since there are some many advantages in both equipment. In this article, we will describe all the pros of both machines so you can decide which one is best for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Carpet extractors and steam cleaners are debated among carwashers and detailers for commercial cleaning. Steam cleaning offers dry steam and extraction advantages.
  • Steam cleaners use hot vapor to forcefully remove dirt, debris, and bacteria. Carpet extractors deep clean without soaking surfaces.
  • Choose based on specific cleaning needs. Recommended vacuum steam cleaners: Fortador PRO Max, Fortador Volt Electra, Bissell SteamShot, Seahawk, Carmen Super Inox™

Table of Contents (Show)

Table of Contents (Hide)

Top 5 Vacuum Steam Cleaners and Extractors for Commercial Cleaning

1. Fortador PRO Max: The Ultimate Diesel Vacuum Steam Cleaner and Extractor

Fortador PRO Max diesel vacuum steam cleaner and steam extractor

The Fortador PRO Max is the steam cleaning system to take into consideration if your company performs a lot of carpet and upholstery cleaning since its diesel-powered professional steam cleaner offers practical all-in-one features with high capabilities. Your operators will be able to do a variety of jobs with the adaptable accessories that come with this equipment, and the constant steam will also increase their productivity.

The PRO Max provides you with the steam pressure you need to efficiently remove dirt, stains, mold, viruses, and debris at a pressure of 20 bars (295 PSI). It also boasts a remarkable output of 363 pounds of steam per hour, which makes it appropriate for a high-volume cleaning operation and non stop cleaning.

The fact that this device comes with three guns—two steam cannons and a dual hose gun for vacuum extraction and shampooing—is another fantastic feature. Three operators can use the unit concurrently thanks to this function, which boosts production and efficiency.

2. Fortador Volt Electra: Full Electric Vacuum Steam Cleaner for Versatile Cleaning

Fortador Volt Electra full electric vacuum steam cleaner

Perfect universal vacuum steam cleaner with built-in vacuum for extraction. Compact size and light weight for industrial grade equipment. Operated from 240V power source delivering 175PSI steam and 1100W suction.

Long 30-ft steam hose with gun for cleaning and sanitizing operation and 15-ft dual hose for shampooing of furniture, car interior and carpets.

Deteregnt tank for carpet and upholstery cleaning and stains removal.

Can be used for mobile service and as a stationary unit in cleaning and detailing business.

3. Bissell SteamShot: Powerful Handheld Steam Cleaner for Precision Cleaning

Bissell SteamShot Handheld Steam Cleaner

Handheld models are frequently the most convenient for use and storage, and you may save a lot of money by choosing this little Bissell SteamShot that can clean a range of areas. Although it's not as effective as a steam mop for cleaning floors, it's great for getting into tight spots, such as between kitchen appliances or grout in the bathroom. The small six-ounce tank, which can only be used for approximately ten minutes at a time, is pleasantly simple to replenish and reheats in less than a minute.

4. Seahawk Steam Vacuum: The Perfect Combination of Steam and Vacuum Cleaning

Seahawk steam vacuum

Because you can steam, vacuum, or do both at once, the Seahawk is special.

For difficult cleaning tasks, like cleaning mattresses, you can use the steam feature to penetrate stains while simultaneously vacuuming away loose dirt and debris. You can simply add steam as necessary because the steam trigger is on the hose. The Seahawk's 298 degrees F of steam can kill bacteria, viruses, and more, clearing your home or small office of germs and allergens.

The vacuum function assists in removing dirt, hair, and other debris that the steam function or the extraction feature may have lifted. Utilize the steam feature first, and then the vacuum suction.

5. Carmen Super Inox™ Steam Extractor: Professional Grade Cleaner with Wet/Dry Vacuum

Carmen Super Inox™ Steam Extractor

With a professional steam cleaner that has a built-in wet/dry vacuum and detergent injection, you can get a deeper clean.

Both models offer full performance and versatility, whether you choose the 120 V base model or the superior 220 V version, which generates twice as much hot water steam and has 20% more vacuum suction. For the toughest cleaning jobs, such automobile detailing, gum removal, grout cleaning, or bathroom detailing, the Carmen Super Inox steam extractor is ideal. This business-friendly professional steam vacuum has continuous refill technology, adjustable steam pressure, and heavy-duty accessories.

This extractor guarantees easy storage and great quality at a commercial grade level. As advertised, this unit is great to use to detail upholstery, carpets, any other tough fabricated places.

Understanding the Power of Steam: How Does It Work for Cleaning?

steam temperature by disance

There is a boiler on every boat. The hot, pressurized water inside the boiler will turn into steam, or more properly, hot dry vapor, which is a gas. Vapor expands violently and disappears as it comes into contact with the atmosphere, as all gases do. Due to their small size, vapor molecules can enter any surface's pores. All dirt, debris, and bacteria are violently forced to the surface when the heated vapor molecules come in touch with the cool surface in the pores. Additionally, due to the extreme heat of the vapor, bacteria and all other organisms are destroyed. Surfaces that were clear of any substances that were not initially on that surface are the end result.

Additionally, because you are cleaning with hot vapor that only contains around 5% water, the surface dries very rapidly. When using steam to clean a vehicle's inside, the interior will be virtually entirely dry when you are finished.

How Carpet Extractors Deep Clean Without Soaking Surfaces

Traditional steam extractors utilize inline or tank-based heating components. A sprayer head is used to disseminate the water in a fine mist once it has been heated to the proper temperature (but not boiled). While spraying, much of the moisture is also removed.

They are the preferred option for deep cleaning tasks due to their straightforward pump-and-nozzle systems, ease of setup, and vacuuming capabilities. They're perfect for removing dirt and grime from car interiors because their nozzles are also somewhat streamlined and can fit in small areas, as the name implies.

A carpet extractor wets the damaged area while sucking up extra moisture and undesirable particulates with just a few passes over the material's surface. To reduce drying time, it is advised to employ this cleaning technique in a warm setting. Otherwise, you can speed up this procedure by turning on the heater or drying by hand.

How Steam Cleaners Effectively Remove Dirt and Debris

In order to remove surface-level dirt and debris, vapor steam cleaners produce dry steam inside the machine using a built-in boiler. In the area of auto detailing, they are best suited for exterior and interior automobile cleaning jobs. You can steam clean hard surfaces as well as clean windows, clean leather, and carpets. The finest results are obtained when hand cleaning is paired with using a vapor steam cleaner on the outer body of the car in question.

You should spend money on a machine with a high steam output volume for external work. For interior jobs, smaller, less potent units are more appropriate. A vapor steam cleaner uses substantially less water than other types of cleaners because of the way it is made. To achieve the best results, it is not necessary to apply excess moisture on a surface. In reality, you'll achieve the shortest drying times by using what is technically a gas rather than a liquid which a steamer provides.

You can learn more about best vacuum steam cleaners in this guide.

Pros and Cons of Carpet Extractors for Commercial Cleaning

cons and pros of steam extractors


A carpet extractor is required for dirtier chores, such as cleaning floor carpeting in cars that are caked in grime and debris, to get rid of annoying buildup. It works swiftly and effectively to clean upholstery, and if used correctly by a skilled user, it won't soak the target surface.

It is the perfect option for tough cleaning jobs, like carpet cleaning, thanks to its powerful vacuum suction alone as well as its ability to handle heat and dampness. Carpet extractors sustain pressure, require little maintenance over many years, and typically have a large water capacity, reducing the need for regular refills. Many of these systems also come with extra brush alternatives to handle particular chores, a sufficiently length suction hose, and an intuitive design.


Anyone who has ever used one has a fatal fear of overwetting the interior. All surfaces will be fairly wet after a few passes over them, and drying time will be increased.

If a car is kept too damp in the summer or in hot locations, there is a good chance that mold or mildew can grow, which will produce unpleasant scents. Due to the fact that used cars' doors are frequently left closed for a long time after a detail, this issue has arisen. In colder climates, interior glass may condense or even produce ice, which would require much longer drying times.

A steam vacuum second drawback, which is not their fault, is that they can only be used on carpets and fabrics. Nowadays, a lot more automobiles have leather interiors, which limits what the carpet extractor can do.

Pros and Cons of Steam Cleaners: A Comprehensive Analysis

cos and pros of steam cleaner


These work well for cleaning surfaces at the surface level. On painted surfaces, leather, glass (including windows), carpet, and other hard surfaces, they can be used without any risk.

Additionally, they are quite effective in removing particles from ventilation and small places when operated properly and with the appropriate attachments. This makes them a popular option for carwash operators looking to offer the most complete cleaning services possible. This covers locations like dashboards and console areas, cup holders, heat and air blowers, and door hardware on vehicles.

In addition, because steamers don't apply liquid to surfaces, any surfaces you use them on can dry in a flash, which is fantastic when you have a long line of clients waiting to have their cars cleaned.

A steam cleaner does not only merely clean the surface, but it is also great to use for sanitizing. Up to 99.99% of germs are killed when cleaning with steam. This is a great to use in bacteria filled places like bathrooms, kitchen counter tops, and floors.

Learn more about cleaning furniture with steam to remove stains


The disadvantages of steam cleaning are mostly applicable when using a low quality steamer. Some steamers are unable to get hot enough therefore they can not produce steam at the right temperature. In addition, steamers can lose pressure way too quickly and have low water capacities that makes the machine require a refill more often. If a steam cleaner has low pressure, that can also make it not powerful, barely having any effectiveness on cleaning stains and dirty surfaces.

Many steamers on the market do not possess a lot of additional accessories, like brush, and have short hoses that can affect you workflow drastically.

If you need steam mop learn more in this guide.

About the Authors

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.
Lev Tretyakov
With over 25 years in the industry, I bring extensive sales expertise in heavy equipment across diverse sectors. Pioneered the first CAD/CAM school in CIS countries. Proud owner of Miami's premier auto detailing hub, Totaal Steam Detailing, hailed as the finest in Miami-Dade by Google.

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