Just the thought of car detailing may have some of us groaning, either because we have a weekend eaten up getting our vehicle sparkly clean to look forward to, or because we’re about to part ways with quite a bit of money. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Rather than dabble with dubious chemical solutions and sudsy buckets of water in an attempt to save our pockets, a smaller-scale version of the steam cleaning employed in commercial car maintenance settings can make the job of keeping our cars looking good as new so much simpler.
A good machine quickly and efficiently heats up water into low-moisture, high pressure steam, which then proceeds to penetrate deep into the porous surfaces of everything from your car seat upholstery to the rubber treads of your tires and forces out the dirt, grime and muck embedded into them. Compared to many hours spent scrubbing, washing and repeating, all you have to do is simply wipe the loosened grime away following a thorough steam cleaning session – and the best part is, a good, versatile machine can be used to clean practically any element of your car, inside and out, without the need for a plethora of tools. Take a look at our picks for the best portable steam cleaner for cars.
McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
This rugged workhorse of a steam cleaner packs an impressive wallop despite its stature – with a tank capacity of 48 ounces, the unit can heat up water in less than 8 minutes and trigger a continuous stream of highly pressurized steam for up to 45 minutes straight. This, along with the lock switch that lets you blast steam uninterrupted without having to get your fingers cramped repeatedly pressing the trigger, makes this a brilliant unit to use for a task as extensive as car detailing, without as many frequent breaks to refill the tank. An extra-long power cord gives you better flexibility and more reach as you work on cleaning out your car inside and out, on-board storage ensuring everything you need is close at hand.
The jet nozzle directs focused blasts of steam where it’s needed, with a variety of diverse attachments included with the unit to give your car a thorough steam cleaning. The squeegee attachment lets you leave your windscreen and windows completely spotless, removing the worst of caked-up grime and scum, while the triangle brush lets you handle all the mud, dirt and grime crusting up your floormats, headliners, ceiling and side panels, steam getting deep into the surface to push out all the dirt from the inside while the bristles tease them out. The triangle brush and microfiber pads can also be used to clean out your dashboard and the upholstery of your car seats, removing the worst of deep-seated dust and dirt and pulling out stains and spills, while the regular steam jet nozzle lets you access nooks and crannies too narrow for a regular vacuum cleaner to reach. The pressurized steam also works wonders to melt through old, dried up grease and oil, making prepwork and car detailing a breeze for the amateur DIY-er.
The best part, though, is the unit is versatile enough for a bunch of other applications apart from just car detailing. The cleaner’s fantastic steam blowing capabilities and assortment of attachments (18 in total) make it brilliant for multiple home uses, with mop attachments to leave your floors squeaky clean to brass and nylon utility brushes for anything from scraping off grease from your stove and oven grills to debris stuck to your tire rims – all without the use of harsh and potentially toxic chemicals.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
BISSELL Multi-Purpose Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner
A portable, handheld unit perfect for getting into all those hard to reach places inside your car or the nooks and crannies of your tire treads or rims, don’t be fooled by how compact and lightweight this machine is (weighing just 4 pounds). Capable of heating up water to pressurized steam at temperatures of 250 to 270°F, this steam cleaner can get even the most stubborn of grease stains, spills, grit and grime off your car in a matter of minutes. With a continuous steam blasting capacity of 20 minutes, the unit is compatible with a handful of accessories including a spray cup for tackling doors and windows, an elongated spray cup nozzle to get into those narrow corners and hard to reach crevices, and even a towel sleeve to be used when steam cleaning fabrics and upholstery.
Wagner 0282014 On-Demand 915 Power Steamer
With an eight-foot long hose to give you maximum reach and flexibility to get at every inch of your car, this heavyweight of a steam cleaner features two modes of power trigger-enabled steam control at the tips of your fingers, letting you easily and conveniently switch between bursts of steam where needed, to continuous steam cleaning. The unit comes with a squeegee attachment perfect for your windscreen and windows, utility brush attachments to get at the grit packed hard into your tires, treads and elsewhere, as well as attachments to let you clean your floormats and seats until they’re good as new.
AutoRight C900054.M Red SteamMachine Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner
Offering firepower – or should we say steampower – at 290°F, no amount of dirt, muck or stains is a match for this steam cleaner. Featuring a 40-ounce water tank for up to 45 minutes of continuous steam blasting, a lock trigger ensuring you don’t have to keep pressing it down as you work, the unit also comes with on-board storage to let you keep the accessories you need on hand, making switching them around as you work away that much simpler. A variety of accessories let you do anything from cleaning out your windows and windscreen with the squeegee attachment to tackling those dust-streaked vinyl dashboards, muddy carpeting and floormats, or dulled-out paint job of the car body. Built-in wheels make for additional portability, a grip handle handy for carrying it to wherever you need it.
- WikiHow: https://www.wikihow.com/Detail-a-Car-with-a-Steam-Cleaner
- Making Lemonade: http://makinglemonadeblog.com/how-to-use-a-steam-machine-cleaner-steamer/
- Achoo! Allergy: https://www.achooallergy.com/learning/steam-cleaning-101-top-seven-reasons-to-steam-clean/
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto_detailing