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10 Most Reliable Steam Cleaners for Car Upholstery [2024]

steam cleaners for car upholstery

Want a device that will actually clean your car upholstery properly? In this article, we share 10 of the most reliable steam cleaners for car upholstery, that will finally bring fresh life to your seats and carpets.

Whether you are trying to maintain your car’s current condition, want to clean it up a bit to sell it, or even if you are trying to recondition an older car, steam cleaners play an important role in ensuring that you are able to remove most, if not all of the stains inside the car.

Fortunately, steam cleaners for car upholstery are some devices that are within reach for most car owners, with most between $100-200. Not only that, but as well as car upholstery, they can handle various household cleaning tasks and hard surfaces, making them a great general-use appliance to have. In saying that, the models shortlisted here are some of the most reliable steam cleaners for car upholstery specifically.

But first, let’s have a look at why a good steam clean is a better option for your auto upholstery, rather than other methods such as shampooing, or spot cleaning with soap or spray upholstery cleaner.

How Do Car Upholstery Steam Cleaners Work?

In order to function properly, a steam cleaner (aka steamer) relies exclusively on the high temperatures of steam as a means of breaking down the dirt, grime, as well as stains. Generally, steam cleaners are chemical free which makes them eco-friendly.

And although they do not use cleaning chemicals, the high temperature steam is also capable of disinfecting the surfaces that are clean. When used properly, the high temperatures of the steam are capable of effortlessly dissolving stubborn stains and getting rid of odors, which leaves your vehicle’s interior feeling fresh and looking great.

steam clean auto upholstery benefits
Steam is significantly more gentle on fabric auto upholstery than chemical-based cleaners.

Benefits of Steam Cleaners for Car Upholstery

Due to the sheer amount of use that a car undergoes, they are prone to spills and accumulating layers upon layers of dirt. While it may be possible to clean some issues associated with a car using traditional cleaning methods, these often leave behind residues that may actually damage the upholstery in the long term. Steam cleaners on the other hand have several distinct advantages that make them a perfect option.

Excellent Reasons to Use Steam Cleaners for Car Upholstery

#1 Efficient stain removal

A steam cleaner is able to penetrate deeply within the fabric, allowing it to break down and lift stubborn stains from their roots. This allows the steam cleaner to do a more thorough and efficient job which will leave your upholstery looking as if it just rolled out the showroom.

#2 Gentle on fabrics

When using harsh chemicals, it’s possible to easily damage upholstery and other fabric within a car, due to the strength of the chemicals and the scrubbing action. Steam cleaners on the other hand are gentler on upholstery materials, which reduces the amount of fading and deterioration. As a result, it is more suitable for just about anything within a car interior.

#3 Allergen and odor elimination

If you suffer from allergies or have found your car to gives off a less-than-desirable odor, then a steam cleaner is the perfect option. Not only is steam capable of cleaning, but is also excellent at disinfecting. The high temperatures quickly kill off any bacteria or viruses within the upholstery, and removes any allergens with ease. Say goodbye to those awful odors, as a steam cleaner will leave your car smelling fresh and clean every single time.

#4 Environmental friendliness

If you are concerned about environmental friendliness, then the concept of using a chemical free cleaning method is the perfect choice. Just about all steam cleaners operate without any chemicals at all, and rely purely on the power of steam. This makes them an environmentally friendly option.

car upholstery steam cleaners
Car upholstery steam cleaners should not only clean the seats, but other fabric and footwell carpets, as well.

What to Look for in Reliable Car Upholstery Steam Cleaners

While there are a number of excellent steam cleaners available on the market today, knowing what to look for when selecting a reliable car upholstery steam cleaner can save you a lot of money in the process.

Car Upholstery Steamer Considerations

Steam Temperature and Pressure

When dealing with cleaning a car, the upholstery is much more durable than delicate fabrics. As a result, in selecting a steam cleaner for use in a car, make sure to choose one that comes with both high temperature as well as pressure settings. This will give you more control as you tackle the tougher stains.

Attachments and Accessories

Attachments and accessories play a pivotal role in choosing a good steam cleaner, as you will need a wide assortment of attachments to get into all of the nooks and crannies of your car. Not only should you get the standard suction nozzle, but you also want attachments such as brushes and wands, to clean the hard, caked-on dirt in the center counsel, and armrests.

Water Tank Capacity

Keep in mind, that the size of the tank in the steam cleaner will also play an important role in tackling any upholstery project. Choosing a steam cleaner that has a larger tank, will allow you to go for longer periods of time without needing to refill. Take the time to consider just how large your vehicle is, and then choose a steam cleaner with an appropriate tank capacity.

Portability and Maneuverability

Because you will be cleaning your car in a driveway or on the curb, it is important to make sure that your steam cleaner is portable and easily maneuverable. While there are a number of great steam cleaners that are perfect for use around the house, they may not be the best option when it comes to cleaning all of the nooks and crannies within your car.

Durability and Brand Reputation

While it is nice to buy the cheapest steam cleaner available on the market, always remember that you get what you pay for. When you choose a product that is known for durability, you will be able to use it for years to come. Brand reputation plays an important role in selecting a top-notch steam cleaner for your car, so pay close attention to the reviews and feedback.

steam cleaners for car upholstery essential features
Steam cleaners for car upholstery should be portable, with a long cord so you can reach a powerpoint easily.

Car Upholstery Steam Cleaners – Brands & Models

While there are many, many steam cleaners on the market, not all of them are made equal for steam cleaning auto upholstery. Here, we have shortlisted the best models and brands we have found with specific focus on car upholstery. This means, steam cleaner models that are capable of cleaning and removing deep stains from car upholstery seats in fabric, leather and vinyl materials, the ability to clean the carpet in the footwell as well as other general car upholstery parts. We have also sought models that can clean the hard plastic surfaces throughout your vehicle interior, as well upholstery.

Top 10 Steam Cleaners for Car Upholstery (2024)

Ewbank Steam Dynamo Multi-Tool Steam Cleaner

The Ewbank Steam Dynamo is an extremely efficient and versatile steam cleaner that will help you remove even the toughest of stains from your car upholstery. Not only is this steam cleaner quiet and easy to use, but it can effectively dissolve just about any stain in a matter of seconds. With a 50-ounce Tank capacity, the steam cleaner will run for about 45 minutes at a time.

Website: View the Ewbank Steam Cleaner on Amazon.com

Type: Canister

Weight: 13 pounds

Tank Capacity: 50 ounces

Cord Length: 8 feet

Compatible Surfaces: Carpet, upholstery, plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • Multiple attachments
  • Long runtime
  • Large tank capacity

Weaknesses:

  • The cord is a bit short

Black+Decker 7-in-1 Steam-Mop (+Glove)

Nothing beats a multipurpose steam cleaner from Black+Decker. While not the best when it comes to removing stains from fabric upholstery and thick carpets, it does an excellent job on vinyl, leather, and plastic surfaces. It is lightweight, which makes it an excellent choice for maneuverability, but the small tank capacity means that you will need to constantly refill when cleaning a larger car.

Website: View the Black+Decker Steam Mop on BlackandDecker.com

Type: Mop

Weight: 6 pounds

Tank Capacity: 19.5 ounces

Cord Length: 20 feet

Compatible Surfaces: upholstery, plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Many attachments

Weaknesses:

  • Not the best at removing stains

Steamfast SF-375W Deluxe Multi-Purpose Canister Steam Cleaner

The Steamfast Deluxe has an impressive runtime, providing users with 90 minutes of cleaning ability with every tank. While it is not the best option for cleaning upholstery, it outperforms many other steam cleaners when it comes to plastics, vinyl, and leather. The steam cleaner also boasts 18 different attachments many of which are perfect for detail work, and getting into the small nooks and crannies of your car.

Website: View the Steamfast Steam Cleaner on Steamfast.com

Type: Canister

Weight: 10.7 pounds

Tank Capacity: 48 ounces

Cord Length: 17 feet

Compatible Surfaces: plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • Large cleaning head
  • 90-minute runtime
  • 18 attachments

Weaknesses:

  • Very Heavy
  • Not the best on fabric car upholstery

Pure Enrichment Rolling Steam Cleaner

With a tank capacity of 50 ounces, you will be able to run this steam cleaner for up to 45 minutes. The lightweight steam cleaner is excellent for cleaning just about any car, and thanks to its 16-foot cord, it is the perfect option for use in the driveway. While most other steam cleaners excel at cleaning hard surfaces, this particular model is great for both upholstery and hard surfaces.

Website: View the Pure Enrichment Steam Cleeaner on PureEnrichment.com

Type: Canister

Weight: 9.3 pounds

Tank Capacity: 50.7 ounces

Cord Length: 16 feet

Compatible Surfaces: carpet, upholstery, plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • 17 attachments
  • Works well on any upholstery

Weaknesses:

  • More expensive than other options

Bissell Revolution HydroSteam Carpet Cleaner

Weighing in at over 22 pounds, this particular steam cleaner is one of the heaviest on the market. However, the 128-ounce tank capacity lets it run for hours on end, and with 25 feet of cord, you can clean your car even if it’s out on the curb. While this particular steam cleaner is perfect for upholstery and carpet, it does not offer the best cleaning capabilities on plastic, vinyl, or leather.

Website: View the Bissell Hydrosteam Cleaner on Bissell.com

Type: Carpet cleaner

Weight: 22.5 pounds

Tank Capacity: 128 ounces

Cord Length: 25 feet

Compatible Surfaces: carpet, upholstery

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • All-in-one cleaner
  • Can clean carpets, as well as car upholstery
  • Great for all general upholstery cleaning

Weaknesses:

  • Bulky
  • Overpriced for what it is
  • Not the best for hard surfaces

Karcher SC 3 EasyFix 1-Speed Multipurpose Steam Cleaner

When it comes to a lightweight steam cleaner that can run for a long period of time, nothing beats the Karcher with its large 34-ounce tank. In order to help you with just about any type of cleaning project, you’ll find that this particular steam cleaner offers 3 different speeds which provides you with excellent cleaning capabilities. It also has one of the fastest warm-up times on the market today.

Website: View the Karcher Steam Cleaner on Karcher.com

Type: Canister

Weight: 9.2 pounds

Tank Capacity: 33.8 ounces

Cord Length: 13 feet

Compatible Surfaces: carpet, upholstery, plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • Large tank
  • Long runtime
  • Perfect for general upholstery cleaning
  • Great on hard surfaces

Weaknesses:

  • Tends to leak
  • Not for suitable for spot treating

Bissell SteamShot Hard Surface Steam Cleaner

This lightweight steam cleaner is perfect for getting into those hard-to-reach areas. The long power cord allows you to work on your car whether it’s and the driveway or out at the curb. Although it is the most portable of the steam cleaners, it is not the best option when it comes to cleaning upholstery or carpet. Nevertheless, its 1000 watts make it perfect for removing even the toughest of stains.

Website: View the Bissell SteamShot on Amazon.com

Type: Handheld

Weight: 3.83 pounds

Tank Capacity: 6.6 ounces

Cord Length: 20 feet

Compatible Surfaces: plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • Lightweight
  • Long power cord
  • Perfect for hard-to-reach areas

Weaknesses:

  • Small tank capacity

Wagner 915e Spraytech On-Demand Steam Cleaner

If you are looking for a perfect steam cleaner for use in the car, then look no further than the Wagner. This lightweight steam cleaner will run for 40 minutes on a full tank of water, and thanks to the 18 attachments, you can deep clean even the hardest-to-reach places in your car. Keep in mind that the length of the cord is rather short so you will need to use an extension cord when cleaning your car and the driveway.

Website: View the Wagner 915e Spraytech on Amazon.com

Type: Canister

Weight: 13 pounds

Tank Capacity: 40 ounces

Cord Length: 6 feet

Compatible Surfaces: carpet, upholstery, plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • Lightweight
  • Long steam hose
  • 18 attachments
  • All-in-one cleaning device

Weaknesses:

  • Short power cord

PurSteam 10-in-1 Steam Mop

Although being one of the most portable steam cleaners available on the market today, you will only be able to use the PurSteam for 25 minutes at a time. It takes a mere 17 seconds to heat the steam cleaner, which allows you to spend more time cleaning the car, and less time waiting for the water. Thanks to the large assortment of attachments, you can tackle just about any cleaning job with ease.

Website: View the PurSteam Steam Mop on Amazon.com

Type: Mop

Weight: 2.2 pounds

Tank Capacity: 12.8 ounces

Cord Length: 15.9 feet

Compatible Surfaces: carpet, upholstery, plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • Very efficient
  • 27 attachments

Weaknesses:

  • Small tank capacity

Daimer Steamer KleenJet Pro Plus 200S

When it comes to an all-around heavy-duty steam cleaner that can be used in the car, and around the home, look no further than the Daimer. This excellent steam cleaner can run for up to 4 hours on a single fill and also produces some of the hottest temperatures and highest pressures imaginable. Thanks to the 10-foot-long steam hose, you can even use this steam cleaner in a full-size van or station wagon.

Website: View the Daimer Kleenjet 200s Steamer on Daimer.com

Type: Canister

Weight: 23 pounds

Tank Capacity: 135 ounces

Cord Length: 16 feet

Compatible Surfaces: carpet, upholstery, plastic, vinyl, leather

Key Strengths for Automotive Upholstery:

  • Commercial grade
  • 30 attachments
  • Long-lasting

Weaknesses:

  • Very expensive
  • Heavy

FInal Thoughts on Steam Cleaners for Car Upholstery

This wraps up our article on the most reliable steam cleaners for automotive upholstery cleaning tasks. The main things to look for when purchasing a steam cleaner intended mainly for car upholstery cleaning are:

  • Portability. Unlike a general household steamer, you will want to need to take it outdoors and may be further from a powerpoint.
  • Maneuverability. It needs to be easy enough to move in and around the small space of a car.
  • Versatility. Ideally it should be capable of cleaning all your car surfaces, including seats, fabrics, carpets. Bonus points if it can clean your plastic surfaces, too.
  • Attachments. Cars are full of all sorts of awkward nooks and crannies; having an assortment of attachments will allow you to access them for cleaning.

For advice on other types of cleaning machines for your car, make sure to also check out our article on how to choose the best car upholstery cleaning machine for your needs, where we discuss other devices to consider apart from steamers.

Or, if you’ve decided that a steam cleaner isn’t for you, but your seats still need a freshen up, then check out our article on how to clean car upholstery seats, using inexpensive cleaners (plus a homemade cleaner recipe).