Written By Andra DelMonico
Published Nov. 7, 2021

You can’t beat the effectiveness of steam cleaning. The heat and the moisture create a powerful scum and crud-busting combination. If you haven’t used a steam cleaner in your vehicle, then you aren’t getting the deepest clean possible. The steam can penetrate the smallest areas and deep into fabric to pull out the most stubborn dirt. Using a steam cleaner is a trick the professional detailers use to get the best show-ready results. Buying a steamer lets you do the detailing yourself. This guide will help you find the best steamer for your detailing kit.

Best Steam Cleaners for Cars Reviews & Recommendations

Start cleaning right away with the easy-to-push trigger on this steam cleaner. It heats the water in just 30 seconds for chemical-free cleaning action. The 1,000-watt power rating provides plenty of heating power for effective cleaning power. Using this handheld steamer to clean your car is easy, thanks to the 20-foot cord length and 10 included accessories. It comes with a flat scraping tool, grout brush, extension hose, angle concentrator, detail brush, window squeegee, and fabric steamer.

The tank capacity is small at 6.6 ounces, so you’ll frequently stop to refill with water. There is also no water level indicator, so running out will be a surprise. You’ll also need to be careful where you set it down because it easily tips over.

Specifications
  • Brand Bissell
  • Model Steam Shot
  • Tank Capacity 6.6 ounces
PROS

Easy-to-press trigger

1,000-watt power rating

20-foot cord length

10 accessories

CONS

No power switch

No water level indicator

Easily tips over

You can affordably start steam cleaning your car with this small and portable steamer. It comes in a fun bright yellow or blue color with a large handle. It can hold 8.45 ounces of water and weighs just 3.28 pounds, making it lightweight and less tiring on your hand and arm. The 1,050 watts of power helps it to effectively heat the water. You should be able to clean your vehicle for 15-20 minutes with hot steam before needing a refill. It comes with nine accessories for cleaning all of the surfaces of your car.

Unfortunately, while the manufacturer claims a long cleaning time between refills, you may not actually experience this. You can find yourself often stopping to refill. The trigger is also hard to press, making it difficult to use for those with dexterity issues.

Specifications
  • Brand Comforday
  • Model B07FTBZX8F
  • Tank Capacity 250 ml (8.45 ounces)
PROS

1,050 watts of power

Nine accessories

Hot steam for up to 15-20 minutes

CONS

Frequent stops to reheat

Hard to press the trigger

Doesn’t get hot enough

Easily carry your steam cleaner and accessories to anywhere you need it with the large storage bag that comes with this cleaner. It holds the steamer and the 11 accessories that come with it. Fill the six-ounce tank, wait about three minutes for it to heat up, and then enjoy up to ten minutes of uninterrupted steaming. The 15-foot power cord helps you to have plenty of maneuverability.

While you won’t have to stop too often to refill the water tank, it does start and stop a lot to heat the water repeatedly. It also takes a long time for this steamer to cool down, which slows down your refill time and makes the whole cleaning process longer. You’ll also need to be careful with the attachments because they tend to leak.

Specifications
  • Brand McCulloch
  • Model MC1230
  • Tank Capacity 6 ounces
PROS

Heats up in under three minutes

Up to 10 minutes of steam

11 included accessories

15-foot power cord

CONS

Frequent stops to reheat

Long cool downtime

Nozzles can leak

Clean for longer with the powerful 1,050-1,150 watt motor and oversized 8.45-ounce tank capacity of this steam cleaner. The included 10-piece accessory kit helps you to clean every surface of your car. Another nice feature is the 16.4-foot power cord that gives you more length to move about. Fill the tank, plug it in, and watch the LED indicator light. Wait about two minutes for the water to heat, and you are ready to clean.

One drawback of this steamer is that the larger tank and motor make it heavier than other cleaners. This can be tiring on your hand and arm. It also tends to leak because the attachments don’t create a solid seal.

Specifications
  • Brand Kiato
  • Model B08Q3N9N78
  • Tank Capacity 250ml (8.45 ounces)
PROS

1,050-1,150 watts

10-piece accessory kit

16.4-foot power cord

CONS

Feels heavy

Attachments leak

Loud during operation

So far we’ve had models that are built for mobility, and models that were a mixture of mobility and power, but now, with our second entry from McCulloch we have a product that is all about the power. The first thing you will notice is that this is an upright, canister design of steam cleaner.

Feel safe and confident when using your steam cleaner with one that has overheat protection and a safety lock. The water tank is a nice size at 11.8 ounces for longer cleaning between refills. Another unique feature of this steamer is that it is battery-powered, so you are not fighting with a power cord. However, this can also be a downfall because you need to wait for it to charge before use. A nine-piece accessory set also comes with it for versatility.

Because it’s battery-powered, it may not get as hot as you want. Combine this with the 900-1,050 watts of power, and this is one of the lower-powered steamers on this list. It can take three or four minutes before the water is hot enough to start cleaning.

Specifications
  • Brand Mosche
  • Model B07ZGFQTTL
  • Tank Capacity 0.35 liters (11.8 ounces)
PROS

900-1,050 watts

Unique safety lock

Works for up to 20 minutes straight

CONS

Takes three to four minutes to heat

Battery-powered

Weak pressure

How We Selected The Products 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

When comparing steam cleaners for cars, we focused on handheld models that are easier to maneuver within a vehicle. From there, we compared corded and battery-powered models. For the most part, the corded models have stronger power abilities, more steam pressure, and higher steam temperatures. We also looked at what came with the steamer, such as a storage bag and accessories. The best steam cleaners were those that came with plenty of attachments, could heat the water quickly, and had the right balance between tank capacity and overall weight. 

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

When looking for a car steam cleaner, it needs to have the right features to make cleaning your car easier. This includes a strong power rating that makes for fast and powerful water heating. It should also last a while, or you will spend more time refilling the water tank than actually cleaning. Attachments are nice because they let you get the small and hard-to-reach places clean. 

What to Consider When Buying a Steam Cleaner for Cars

Types of Steam Cleaner for Cars

Corded 

The most common type of car steam cleaner is the corded models. They come in a wide range of sizes and power ratings. You don’t necessarily need the biggest, strongest, and hottest if you keep your car clean and are just looking for some extra detailing. The constant connection to a power source helps them to effectively and consistently heat the water and expel it at the right pressure. This gives you consistent cleaning ability throughout your entire vehicle. The only frustration is dealing with the power cord. You will probably need an extension cord to reach all of the nooks and crannies in your car’s interior.  

Battery Powered 

There are some handheld steam cleaners that are battery-powered. These are nice because you are not limited by the length of the cord and can use them anywhere. Their downfall is that the battery makes them noticeably heavier, which can wear out your hand and arm faster. Steamers also suck up a lot of power, so they may not last long enough to clean your entire vehicle. The pressure and water heating may be strong initially but can taper off as the battery dies. Then you have to wait for the battery to recharge. You may also find that the water temperature and pressure are not as high as with the corded models. 

Steam Cleaners for Cars Key Features

Heating Ability 

A stronger and more powerful heating ability helps the steamer to heat the water faster and hotter. You’ll find steamers that have an initial heating speed of 30 seconds to several minutes. Also, look at the ongoing heating ability. Some steamers repeatedly stop and start during the cleaning process, which can delay your ability to clean. Water turns to steam at 100 degrees Celsius. Low-powered steamers can achieve this temperature, but this may not be hot enough. More powerful steamers can achieve temperatures that are up to double this. The higher heat may help stubborn dirt and stains to break loose. 

Tank Capacity 

A bigger tank capacity means you can put more water in it and run the steamer for longer. However, larger tanks are also heavier and larger, making them more stressful and awkward to move about in your car while cleaning. Consider the amount of pressure the steam cleaner produces. A small tank may last longer than a larger one if it pushes the steam out at a lower pressure. Additionally, consider how easy it is to refill the tank. Some steamers cool down quickly and make it easy to refill the tank, making it quick to get back to cleaning. Others have a long cool-down time, delaying your ability to refill the tank. 

Attachments 

Steam cleaning your car requires the right attachments. Choose a steamer with a variety of attachments so that you can clean all of the surfaces in your vehicle. The attachment should fit snugly to prevent leaking. A brush attachment is useful for scrubbing the fabrics. A  hard surface nozzle helps you clean the dashboard and controls. A narrow pointed nozzle makes it easy to get in the right corners and crevices. A hose is also a must-have attachment because it lets you get into small spaces where the steamer wouldn’t fit. When buying a steamer with several attachments, it’s also nice to have a case or bag that you can store them all in.


Steam Cleaners for Cars Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product and/or using it. That’s the case with us and steam cleaners for cars. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Don’t scrub too hard on the fabrics while steaming, or you can cause pilling. 
  • Steam clean your steering wheel to disinfect it and remove the oils left on it from your hands. 
  • You can use a steam cleaner to remove dye transfer stains on leather seats. Don’t use bristled heads on leather, or you can scratch it. 
  • If you use a microfiber cloth on your steamer attachment, occasionally reposition the towel when it starts to get dirty. 
  • Use distilled water in your steam cleaner. Tap water has minerals in it that could leave watermarks. It also creates scale on the inside of the cleaner that you’ll need to remove with vinegar. 

FAQs

Q: Is steam cleaning good for cars?

Using steam to clean your car is a great option because it disinfects and cleans without using harsh chemicals. The high temperature kills anything that’s potentially harmful while breaking up the stuck-on gunk.

Q: How do I steam clean my car?

Vacuum your car first to remove excess dust and dirt. Then use a brush head to break the dirt loose from the upholstery while applying the steam. Keep moving to prevent the steam from building up and soaking the fabric. Use a foam or cloth attachment for the hard surfaces.

Q: Can steam cleaning damage my car engine?

When done correctly, you can use steam to clean your engine’s exterior and bay. This removes oil, grease, and dirt that builds up. However, be sure not to let the water enter the engine, air intake, or distributor cap.

Q: Does steam cleaning remove stains?

Yes, it can. Steam reaches into the deepest crevices and grooves to clean everywhere. It can also penetrate deep into seat fabric and cushions, helping to remove deep-set stains. The heat and moisture from the steam break loose the liquid that’s creating the stain.

Q: Can you steam clean car windows?

Yes, you can steam clean your car windows and windshield. Using steam can help you remove dirt, grime, and grease from the glass without leaving behind any streaks or marks.

Final Thoughts

Our top pick for the best steam cleaner for cars is the Bissell SteamShot Deluxe Steam Cleaner with its long power cord, fast heating, and long run time. 

For a more budget-friendly option, the Comforday Multi-Purpose Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner is a great option with its bright styling, nine accessories, and powerful motor. 

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