What is the Best Tool for Car Wash Detailing - Steam Cleaner

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Updated on:

June 5, 2023

Why Steam Cleaner is the Best Tool for Car Wash and Auto Detailing

A steam cleaner for cars is the go-to piece of equipment in car detailing. When you start telling customers how much you can do for them, they will be amazed. When you thoroughly clean all of the areas possible with steam, they will be impressed by the results and want you back. Steam is safe and effective across almost every surface in a vehicle. The right commercial steamer will have flexibility and capabilities to do steam, car shampooing, detergent cleaning and other features.

Key Takeaways:

  • Steam cleaning with a car steamer is the best tool for car wash and auto detailing. It offers safe and effective cleaning across almost every surface in a vehicle.
  • The Fortador PRO Max vacuum steamer is a versatile and powerful tool that provides flexibility and capabilities for steam cleaning, car shampooing, extraction, and other cleaning techniques. It is recommended for thorough and professional car detailing.
  • Steam cleaning with a car steamer is not limited to the interior of the vehicle. It can also be used for exterior cleaning, including washing wheels, cleaning emblems, grills, and even engine steam cleaning. The Fortador PRO steamer is particularly suitable for exterior cleaning tasks.

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  1. What service and jobs you can do with steamer
  2. What accessories will be needed for steam cleaning
  3. Extra services can be offered

PS. High margin car detailing service

1. Car Steamer Methods

There are really two categories of procedures or methods when using a car steam cleaner. Cleaning with steam as the primary agent is the one that often comes to mind first. Here the steamer is used with different gun ends and application techniques. You will use the steamer at different angles and distances from the surface. You will also use microfiber cloths and other cloths to follow up and cleanse the surface of the dislodged particles, stains and debris.

Extraction is another cleaning technique. A high-quality professional car steam cleaner should have extraction capabilities. Extraction is seen by many as the best technique for carpet and car upholstery. Here you will use extraction ends to inject and extract water with or without cleaning agents from the seats and upholstery. You will see the soil and particles as they are extracted.

Check our complete guide for making best auto detailing equipment setup for your business.

1.1 Shampooing

A car shampooer is another feature some professional steam cleaner for cars have. This additional level of cleaning is often necessary for soiled carpets and interiors. The Fortador Pro Max steamer has all the capabilities you need for steaming, extracting and shampooing. That is important because you never really know what level of soil and dirt you encounter on a job until you get going. Get ready to clean it all without haste with Fortador.

1.2 Foaming

Snow foaming is a technique in which a cleaning foam is sprayed on the exterior of the car. This thick cleaning agent soaks deep in the paint, glass and other surfaces of the vehicle. The Fortador PRO Max steamer is capable of rinsing of snow foam. With two or three steam guns, no need to change hoses or tank hook ups. Just change your steam mode on touchscreen

Check out all of the potential cleaning areas a steam cleaner can take care of!

Leather seats cleaning with steam

1.3 Seats-Steamer

Upholstery is the primary contact surface in a vehicle. Passengers sit on it, and it is the main focus when people ask, “how is the car’s interior?” Steam cleaners can safely clean leather, fabric and other manmade materials. Steam cleaners can rehydrate and restore leather. For leather, you can use a microfiber cloth. As you come across stains on fabric, you can use a soft bristle brush to get them out.

seats shampooing with car steamer

1.4 Seats-Extractor

Cleaning seats with an extractor can give the best results. You will not only loosen dust, dirt and debris, you will powerfully pull it up from the fibers of the seat. You can use a shampoo with the extractor for the most complete cleaning job. After the car cleaning job is complete, you can protect the fabric from stains with a professional fabric protector if you wish.

stains removal from carpets with steamer

1.5 Carpets-Steamer

Carpet fibers house dirt and grime. Effectively clean and sanitize carpets with a steamer. We recommend you remove the floor mats and clean them separately. While they are out, steam clean the exposed flooring area.

carpets shampooing with steam machine

1.6 Carpets-Extractor

The Fortador Pro Plus can deliver a cleaning agent through the steamer. The cleaning agent will soak, loosen the dirt and break down stains. Different climates bring different types of car mat and carpet stains. Northern climates are famous for salt stains that build and crust up. Many drivers give up and accept those stains. A steamer can dissolve the salt stains as it penetrates the fibers for a refreshed look. Bring on the worst and clean it! The extractor can then be used to extract the steam and cleaning solution from the carpeting.

Learn more about best vacuum steam cleaners for car detailing.

Windows cleaning with steam

1.7 Windows washing

No need to use chemicals when you clean windows with steam. Clean exterior and interior windows streak-free by using the window steam tool. Don’t forget the moonroof. You can use a squeegee and a microfiber cloth to easily remove the residual steam.

1.8 Cup Holders

Cup holders get sticky and are tough to get in to and clean. Steam will liquify and dislodge pieces and stains and will easily wipe away with a cloth. Remember to clean the rear cup holders that may fold down from the rear seat armrest.

1.9 Glove Boxes

It is not always about just cleaning. It is also about a total clean and sanitized car. Take the items out of the glove box and put them in a zip lock bag. Flood the glove box with powerful and hot steam.

door panels and door jambs steam cleaning

1.10 Door Jambs or Foot Panels

These areas get greasy and are often overlooked. Door jams can get scuffed and grimy as passengers enter and exist cars. Shooting steam into this hard-to-clean section effectively dissipates the dirt. Easily steam these small sections and wipe clean with a cloth. No scrubbing necessary.

door jambs cleaning with steam cleaner

1.11 Door Panels

Steam these large surfaces clean. Door panels can get scuff marks that may take a little more effort. Using a brush as part of your technique to reduce or eliminate these marks.

1.12 Gas and Brake Pedals

Keep the key operating components of a car debris-free for the safest driving possible.

steaming of dashboard is safe

1.13 Dashboards

A dashboard is a high profile and focus area of a car’s interior. Dashboards house many functions and are always in front of passengers. Using steam to clean this hard surface works well.

1.14 Grab Handles

You can keep vinyl and leather grab handles clean and sanitized with a car steamer. Keeping these clean in standard vehicles, passenger vans and busses is more important than ever. Feel confident in the sanitation power of a car steamer.

blow dust from vents with steam

1.15 Ventilation

Just like a duct system in a home, the ventilation system in a vehicle gathers dust and dirt. Keep the air in the car cleaner by cleaning the ventilation system. Powering the steam through one section of the vents allows it to propel its way through the connected system. Showing customers this capability is always impressive.

seats belt cleaning with vapor

1.16 Seat Belts cleaning

Drivers and passengers use seat belts every trip. Seat belts are in constant contact with the people they protect in addition to the buckling and unbuckling. A steamer will blast and loosen dirt for easy removal.

steering wheel disinfection and cleaning with car steamer

1.17 Steering Wheels Detailing

Clean and sterilize this heavily-touched part of the car. A car steam cleaner will remove all the hidden dirt and grease that gets embedded in the steering wheel. Use a steamer on leather-wrapped and man-made steering wheels.

steam is safe for gear shift

1.18 Exhaust Pipes

Cleaning the outside of shiny chrome or other metal exhaust pipes will keep these pipes looking their best. Clean on an angle to keep the steam from firing straight up the pipe.

1.19 Gear Shifts

This is another high-touch mechanism of a car. Clean it well with steam.

trunk storage area cleaning

1.20 Trunk and Cargo Storage Areas

People load their groceries and many other items in these areas. Using a car shampooer on the carpeted areas and a steamer on the vinyl sections will keep these areas disinfected, ready for loading and showroom new.

1.21 Vinyl Floors

Vinyl floors are common in cargo and passenger vans. Using a car steamer for this large area will remove the oil, dirt and other materials that get tracked into the vehicle. The powerful jet of steam will propel even the smallest particles that get built up around edges and seat bases. We recommend you remove the rear seats, if possible, for a thorough cleaning.

baby seats steaming

1.22 Baby Seats

Steam sanitation takes on a higher importance here. Baby seats gather bacteria and become stained. Shampooing with a safe chemical and using an extractor will get the job done.

1.23 Running Boards

All that stepping to get in and out carries materials including shopping lot stains and gas station oil and gas. Using a steam cleaner is ideal for this sprawling surface

1.24 Mirrors

Keep the power side mirrors free to adjust. Steam cleaning them will make them streak-free clean. Apply a ceramic coating for a lasting touch.

steamer for clean between panels

1.25 Between Exterior Panels

There are many areas on a car and truck where panels meet each other. The rear window meeting the side metal panel is an example. Using the steamer with the proper end blasts any small particles that collect there.

1.26 Spoilers

Spoilers are known to add style and accentuate the sporty look of a car or truck. Follow all the curves, edges and crevices of the spoiler. Portions of them are hard to get to and clean. Keep them clean with steam.

exterior steam car washing

1.27 Full Exterior Washes

Use a cleaning or foaming agent if you wish. Steam is an effective and efficient way to wash any part of a car’s exterior.  

1.28 Bumpers and Fenders

Keep the front and back metal and rubber clean and shiny with steam cleaning. Applying the steam with consistent pressure will dissolve bugs and other things that have accumulated on the bumper. Use a protective coating, such as Kevlar, to protect the bumper going forward.

washing wheels with car steamer

1.29 Wheels deep cleaning

Road chemicals, dust, dirt, brake dust and many other substances build up on car and truck wheels. Steam washing them will dissolve and easily remove these invaders. A steamer is the perfect tool for this area as it gets into all of the curves and crevices in what can be a labyrinth of a wheel.

1.30 Tires washing

Tires are a highly visible part of a car or truck. Along with the size and detail, the appearance and condition of the tires complete the style and profile of the vehicle. Raised white to black letters or details on a tire hold many particles that dampen and dull the appearance. A cleaning agent if often needed for tires. Use a steamer to compliment the agent for a 100% clean and showroom drive-off look.

1.31 Wheel Wells

There may be road chemicals, tar and other materials that build up in the wheel wells. Safely get up and underneath the wheel wheels with a steamer.

engine steam cleaning is safe

1.32 Engine Steam Cleaning

There is nothing like a clean and shiny engine. Engines become coated with carbon, oil and other greasy materials. A steam cleaner can restore an engine’s appearance to its near original condition. Steam is the right choice for delivering the right balance of heat and pressure. There are electronic components that run the risk of disconnection if a standard pressure washer is used.

You will want to use a cleaning agent and a degreaser for engines. The Fortador Pro Plus steamer allows you to use up to two cleaning agents at a time to get the job done. With three guns, the steam function can be used concurrently with the cleaning chemical.

cleaning of air filters

1.33 Air Filters

Remove the air filter cover and steam clean a dirty air filter to rejuvenate the materials. A cleaner car operation in on the way.

1.34 Gas Tanks Lids

Keep the gas tank free of dust, dirt and grime with a good steam cleaning.

emblem cleaning with steam

1.35 Emblem Cleaning

Emblems often complete the look of a car or truck. Emblems are large across truck tail gates and stand out on cars. Make them showroom-shiny as you get in between each letter with steam. No grime and all shine.

1.36 Grill

Grills make a statement as a car pulls up. Finishes from mat black to shiny chrome will all look impressive with a car steamer cleaning. Bugs and other road debris will all be blasted off.

1.37 Truck Beds

Walk right up and get in the corners to clean a truck bed. No matter what it is used for, they all deserve a cleaning now and then. Debris of any kind, including leaves and small stones, will be blown and washed away with a steamer.

rooftop mechanizm cleaning

1.38 Hard to Reach Areas

Nothing is out of reach of your steam cleaner for cars. There are many parts of cars and trucks that steamers easily reach that are otherwise challenging for traditional car washing. Steam penetrates and reaches every surface, regardless of the angle and shape.

1.39 Hard to Clean Contaminants

Tar, tree sap, bird droppings, acidic rain are all things that can stick and challenge car surfaces. They can also challenge basic car cleaning techniques. Using a steamer can dissolve many of these invaders. They can be rinsed away or wiped off with a cloth when needed.

Learn more about water spot removal efficiently out of car paint and windows.

2. Recommended Cleaning Agents

Cleaning agents are very effective and can be used alongside car steamers. There are certain types of dirt and materials that adhere and stain deeper. These may require you to match their persistency with cleaning agents to draw them out. Below is a list of cleaning agents that can be used for effective and complete car cleaning services.

• Degreaser
• Tire shine
• Carpet cleaner
• Plastic cleaner
• Deep wheels cleaner
• Polymer additive for steam with shine effect
• Window coating
• Active foam for carpets

3. Accessories to Remember

There will be determined stains that require some gentle scrubbing. Using a steamer to loosen the dirt followed up by scrubbing the stained areas will result in completely clean cars. Below is a list of recommended cleaning tools.

• Brushes for engine cleaning
• Brushes for wheel cleaning
• Brushes for carpet cleaning
• Buckets
• Microfiber cloths
• Standard cloths
• Disposable hand towels

Learn more about microfiber towel washing in this guide

4. Do not Forget Other Vehicles for Traveling

Motorcycles, recreational vehicles, airplanes, boats and busses all need cleaning. With a steamer, you are well-equipped to clean anything with a motor that moves.

5. Other Ideas and Capabilities of a Car Steamer

5.1 Using a Steamer as a Mobile Car Wash

Mobile car washes are a growing service. Car steamers are the ideal piece of equipment for a mobile car wash. With the right steamer, you can easily market and center a business around it. A mobile car washer needs to be prepared for any cleaning situation that presents itself on the customer site. This includes the capability for multiple cleaning solutions, steam and large tanks.

The Fortador Pro Plus steamer is fully equipped to serve all the residential and commercial customer cleaning needs. There is an optional sliding bed for efficiencies and true mobile capabilities. You will always be ready for anything and will gain satisfied customers.

5.2 Prepping for a Ceramic Coating

A ceramic car coating protects every part of the vehicle. Cars, trucks, busses and more can be protected from the ultra-violet rays of the sun, road chemicals, harmful acid rain drops, potential scratches and much more.

A commercial-grade steamer will play a key role in preparing the exterior and interior of a car for a ceramic coating for multiple steps, including clay bar treatment.Properly cleaning the vehicle and preparing the surfaces is critical to effective administration and application of the ceramic coating. Fortador coating is a high-grade coating all customers will appreciate.

Learn more about full set of detailing equipment for mobile services

About the Authors

Ugur Sezmis
Renowned in the world of Professional Detailing, Fahrzeugaufbereitung is not only a master in restoring automotive brilliance but also a distinguished Rupes Trainer based in Germany. With a commitment to perfection, he enhances car aesthetics while sharing his expertise through top-notch training.
Sergey "Serg" Paskevich
Panama-based detailing pro, proud owner of Car Care Performance Detailing studio in Panama-City. Specializing in Paint Correction, Ceramic Coating, and comprehensive Car Detailing services

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