The Best Steam Cleaners for Car Detailing

best car steam cleaner While steam cleaners may not be magic wands, they do make it a lot easier to detail cars. Steam loosens worked-in dirt and minimizes the need to spend a lot of time and effort scrubbing hard-to-reach places.

We have reviewed the best steam cleaners for car detailing on the market. Let’s have a look!

Our Top List

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1

McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam Cleaner

2

Dupray Hill Injection Commercial Steam Cleaner

3

Dupray One Steam Cleaner for Car Detailing

4

Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner

5

McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

6

Wagner Spraytech 915e On-Demand Steam Cleaner


1. McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Car Steam Cleaner

McCulloch MC1385 Deluxe Canister Steam Cleaner

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The MC1385 is a gem at the top of most of our steam cleaning lists. It offers robust features at an affordable price point. With the 23 accessories included, you can tailor this steamer to fit your needs perfectly. Only the McCulloch customer service is somewhat lackluster, but that takes nothing away from this top notch device.

This steamer is perfect in small spaces with lots of hard-to-reach areas. We find it especially useful for cleaning the wheel rims! You can hit them with high pressure steam and blast most dirt right off the spokes. The variable steam makes it a good choice for a variety of surfaces and different levels of grime.

Key Features:

  • Accessories Included: 23
  • Water Reservoir Size: 64 ounces
  • Heat-up Time: 15 minutes
  • Power Cord Length: 18 feet
  • Steam Hose Length: 10 feet
  • Steam Heat: 212 degrees
  • Continuous Cleaning Time: 120 minutes
  • Weight: 13 pounds

Pros

  • Long reach
  • Large water reservoir
  • Lightweight
  • Variable steam
  • Easy to fix
  • Easy to modify

Cons

  • Customer service could be better. Luckily, the steam cleaner itself is top notch.

2. Dupray Hill Injection Commercial Steam Cleaner

Dupray Hill Injection Commercial Steam Cleaner

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This commercial steam cleaner from Dupray transforms cleaning from chore to art form. From the dual tank design to the high-quality stainless steel boiler, this unit exudes quality.

The Hill Injection heats steam beyond 212 degrees all the way up to 345 degrees. Superheated steam quickly removes ground-in stains and thoroughly sanitizes. This superheated steam is the right choice if you spend a significant amount of time cleaning and want to make sure your surfaces are sterilized. It is a commercial device after all and perfect for car detailers.

High-quality materials speak to the durability of this steamer. Beyond being aesthetically pleasing, the stainless steel boiler and casing is incredibly functional. In addition, the accessories are insulated and feel heavy-duty to my hand.

Dupray’s customer service is responsive, but if you receive a defective unit, you are responsible for the return shipping. In addition, Dupray requires a video of a defect before applying the warranty. While that may not be a problem for most issues, it can be a safety hazard if the boiler is the malfunctioning component.

Overall, this is a top-of-the-line steam cleaner. If you spend a lot of time cleaning or if you prefer to have the very best, this steamer might be the right choice for you. It is easy to understand, easy to use, and makes cleaning remarkably faster and easier.

Key Features:

  • Accessories Included: 27
  • Water Reservoir Size: dual tank
  • Heat-up Time: 8 minutes
  • Power Cord Length: 14.75 inches
  • Steam Hose Length: 10 feet
  • Steam Heat: 345 degrees
  • Continuous Cleaning Time: infinite – dual tank design
  • Weight: 28 pounds

Pros

  • Intuitive digital control panel
  • High-quality materials
  • Superheated sanitizing steam
  • Dual-tank design
  • Detergent tank
  • Sturdy, well-insulated accessories

Cons

  • We have found no issue. This is a beast and worth the high price tag.

3. Dupray One Steam Cleaner for Car Detailing

Dupray One Steam Cleaner for Car Detailing

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Weighing in at only 10 pounds, this smaller Dupray unit is ideal for smaller areas and also great for commercial use. Variable steam control means that you can change the amount of steam for different surfaces. The boiler may be made from high-quality stainless steel, but the other components are plastic.

Because the Dupray One has a single-tank design, it will need to cool a bit before you can refill it. However, each 50-minute session is very productive, as the superheated steam removes ground-in grime like it’s nothing.

Storage is the only problem. The power cord does not clinch onto itself, resulting in a messy bird’s nest if you do not modify a holder or purchase a storage bin for it. In addition, the handle is either stored propped against the wall or laid flat.

If you can handle a slightly messy storage, this lightweight steamer might be the right choice for your lifestyle. Plan on purchasing extra pads because the ones included with this steamer tend to wear out quickly. The Dupray One is an incredibly effective little steamer that offers built-in breaks at the end of each hour of cleaning.

Key Features:

  • Accessories Included: 16
  • Water Reservoir Size: 39 ounces
  • Heat-up Time: 8 minutes
  • Power Cord Length: 16+ feet
  • Steam Hose Length: 6 feet
  • Steam Heat: 303 degrees
  • Continuous Cleaning Time: 50 minutes
  • Weight: 10 pounds

Pros

  • Superheated 303-degree steam
  • Lightweight
  • Long hose
  • Safety features
  • Stainless steel boiler
  • Variable steam
  • Heats up quickly

Cons

  • Could use a larger water tank
  • Somewhat messy cable holder

4. Dupray Neat Multipurpose Steam Cleaner

Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner

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The Dupray Neat is the residential alternative to the other Dupray steamers listed above. It is perfectly fine for detailing your own car at home.

Harnessing the power of 275-degree steam makes for incredibly easy cleaning with this sleek device. Unlike other steam cleaners, you can use your own towels or microfiber pads. While this steam cleaner may not be made for commercial environments, it is wonderful for small to medium-sized jobs.

The attachments and carrying handle feel well made and sturdy, but they do get uncomfortably warm after an extended period of steam.

Unless you are cleaning in an enclosed space with an echo, the Dupray Neat is a remarkably quiet machine. Also, we found that with the large reservoir, we completed our cleaning goals and moved on to cleaning surfaces we had not planned on cleaning without having to refill the reservoir. Because it is lightweight, it is easy to move from one car to another.

Ergonomically, this compact steamer performed pretty well. Our only complaint is that the mop attachment does not have a swivel. This oversight results in a stiff back and mild frustration.

Key Features:

  • Accessories Included: 17
  • Water Reservoir Size: 54 ounces
  • Heat-up Time: 7 minutes
  • Power Cord Length: 16 feet
  • Steam Hose Length: 6.5 feet
  • Steam Heat: 275 degrees
  • Continuous Cleaning Time: 50 minutes
  • Weight: 9 pounds

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Chic design
  • Long hose and electrical cord
  • 275-degree steam
  • Quiet
  • Compatible with any microfiber cloth or towel
  • Quality accessories

Cons

  • Takes seven-minutes to heat up

5. McCulloch MC1275 Car Steam Cleaner

McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

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The McCulloch MC1275 might be right for your cleaning jobs if you plan on steaming sprees of about 30 minutes each. While it may clean in shorter spurts than other steamers, the MC1275 holds its own when it comes to cleaning power. However, the affordable price point does come at the cost of some longevity.

If you are new to steam cleaning, the McCulloch MC1275 is a fantastic entry-level machine. It comes with a versatile assortment of accessories, easy instructions, and enough steam power to tackle heavy-duty jobs. We were able to clean off old bubblegum and get all of the crusted-on gunk out of the cup holders.

When it comes to loosening ground-in grime, the MC1275 can compete with bigger, more expensive models. However, it is louder, made from cheaper materials, and steams in shorter spurts. If you can live with those issues, the MC1275 is worth considering.

Key Features:

  • Accessories Included: 18
  • Water Reservoir Size: 48 ounces
  • Heat-up Time: 8 minutes
  • Power Cord Length: 15.7 feet
  • Steam Hose Length: 10 feet
  • Steam Heat: 212 degrees
  • Continuous Cleaning Time: 45 minutes
  • Weight: 12 pounds

Pros

  • Short heat up time
  • Long hose & electrical cord
  • Large water reservoir
  • Plenty of accessories
  • Wheels

Cons

  • Has a slightly bulky design

6. Wagner Spraytech 915e On-Demand Steam Cleaner

Wagner Spraytech 915e On-Demand Steam Cleaner

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Although the Wagner Spraytech 915e is not the most lightweight steam cleaner, it is the easiest to move from car to car. The Spraytech 915e is an affordable way to dip your toes in the water before committing to a more expensive option. Of course, you might like this one so much you never upgrade to that bigger unit.

Surprisingly, the most irritating aspect of this steam cleaner was a power cord that was too short. Do not judge the steam cleaner solely by the cord length though, as this issue is easily solved with an extension cord.

This steamer can clean for about 40 minutes at a stretch. For a moderately dirty vehicle, I found it took me one reservoir refill. That means letting it cool down completely before refilling it and letting it heat back up to temperature.

Like many other steam cleaners, the power cord and hose do not clip onto the unit. Invest in a storage bin, and you will not have to worry. Because this steamer’s two biggest problems have inexpensive fixes, it is definitely worth considering.

Key Features:

  • Accessories Included: 18
  • Water Reservoir Size: 40 ounces
  • Heat-up Time: 9 minutes
  • Power Cord Length: About 6 feet
  • Steam Hose Length: 8 feet
  • Steam Heat: 212 degrees
  • Continuous Cleaning Time: 40 minutes
  • Weight: 13 pounds

Pros

  • 18 attachments
  • Effective steamer
  • Highly portable
  • Long hose
  • Compartment for most used accessories on unit

Cons

  • Short electrical cord

What is the best car steam cleaner?

McCulloch MC1385

9.7

Performance

9.9/10

Ease of Use

9.6/10

Instructions

9.7/10

Design

9.7/10

Quality

9.8/10

Pros

  • Long reach
  • Large water reservoir
  • Lightweight
  • 23 accessories
  • Easy to modify

Cons

  • Power cord could be a bit longer

While there is no single steam cleaner that works best for everyone, the McCulloch MC1385 is the best balance between size, price, and functionality. It is also our top general steam cleaner, not just when it comes to car detailing. All of the steamers on this list effectively obliterate gunk, but the MC1385 offers commercial cleaning power at a household price. At 13 pounds, it is easy to move from one vehicle to another, and has a large enough water reservoir to detail a vehicle without having to stop to refill.

Tips for Car Steam Cleaners

Automobile interiors give steam cleaners a place to shine because of all the nooks, crannies, and hard-to-reach angles. Instead of trying to twist and finagle yourself into a position to scrub out dirt, you blast some steam and wipe it away. You might also want to check out our list of car detailing vacuums.

Maybe you have seen the videos showing how cleaning via steam is magical. While it might look as easy as waving a magic wand, there are a few tips to keep in mind to make your steam-detailing journey a success.

1) Not a Pressure Washer

Pressurized steam is not the same as pressure washing. Instead of blasting nastiness away, steam cleaners help break dirt and grime away to make it easier to wipe up. A steam cleaner is not sorcery: it is a tool to make cleaning easier.

2) Remember Your Towel

To make the most of your steam cleaner, you will want to have plenty of extra towels on hand. Remember that steam will return to its liquid state as it cools. When you wipe the extra water away, you will also wipe the filth away!

3) Give It Time to Heat Up

It takes time to heat all that water up to 212 degrees or higher. One of the easiest ways to ensure success is actually to sit back and wait. Be patient and give your unit plenty of time to convert that water to steam.

4) Let It Cool Down

Unless you choose the dual-tank steam cleaner, you will need to give your steam cleaner time to cool down before refilling the water reservoir. That can be difficult – when you have cleaning momentum, you want to keep going. Failure to give the unit time to cool down will result in belching and splatter.

5) Plan the Storage Now

One of the most common complaints is that cords, hoses, and accessories do not store conveniently on the steaming unit itself. Instead of getting frustrated when it arrives, you can sink into effortless organization by choosing a storage bin for your unit and a resealable bag for the accessories.

6) Be Safe

While it may seem obvious, remember to protect your skin and your hearing. For units that superheat steam, it may be a good idea to invest in heat-insulated gloves. If a steam cleaner is loud in enclosed spaces, remember your hearing protection.

7) Pick Your Weapon

Like a snowflake, each stain is unique. Selecting the correct attachment can make all the difference in removing it with minimum effort. If you are not sure, read the manual to determine what the correct attachment and approach is.

8) Replacing Accessories

Each steam cleaner comes with a respectable variety of accessories. Due to steam’s heat, nylon and heavy-duty plastic brushes will warp over time and need to be replaced. Instead of being surprised and disappointed when this happens, build this cost into your steam-cleaner budget.

steam cleaner for car detailing

Car Steam Cleaner FAQ

1) Will a steam cleaner eliminate all the scrubbing?

Using your steam cleaner properly can significantly reduce the amount of time spent scrubbing, but will not eliminate it entirely. Since these steam cleaners do not have a suction method, you will still need to at least wipe the condensed steam away. Hopefully, the stain will come with the moisture.

2) Does detailing my car with steam mean I can get away from using chemicals to clean my car?

Yes! Since the steam is only hot water, there is no need to use chemicals to detail your car with a steam cleaner. It is why such devices have become very popular for home use.

3) Do I still need to pretreat stains like I would without a steam cleaner?

Whether you need to pre-treat a stain depends on what kind of material is stained, what made the stain, and personal preference. A steam cleaner may make it easier to wipe away, but you may still need to pretreat the stain prior to cleaning it with steam to remove it completely.

4) What is “superheated steam” and does it really sanitize?

Steam heated above water’s boiling point of 212 degrees is called “superheated” and behaves more like other gasses than steam heated only to 212 degrees. According to Ohio State University, superheated steam is more effective at penetrating and denaturing bacteria.

5) What kind of water works best in steam cleaners?

To prevent buildup in the water reservoir or boiler tank, it may be a good idea to use distilled water. Some of the Dupray models are compatible with tap water, but you will want to read and follow the instructions for your unit.

6) What else can I do with my steam cleaner?

A steam cleaner is a big investment. It might make you feel better to know that while each of these steam cleaners are stars in the car, they are also incredible at cleaning inside the home ad well. Each one was phenomenal at cleaning tiles with grout, getting tough stains off bathtubs, and making quick work of grime indoors.

7) Can I use a meat thermometer to measure how hot the steam is?

No, a meat thermometer is not able to accurately measure steam’s heat. The best tool to use is a thermometer designed to measure the temperature of steam. If you do not have one of those on hand, a good rule of thumb to remember is that water boils at 212 degrees, so if there is steam, it is at least that hot. Do not try to measure steam’s temperature with exposed skin, as this can result in second-degree burns.

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