Best Practices When Using Steam Cleaners for Auto Detailing

Whether you`re a regular car owner or a luxury car enthusiast, purchasing that brand new or pre-owned vehicle was likely one of your proudest moments. Detailing your car is an excellent preventative maintenance step you should consider to extend the life of your car. From maintaining a high resale value to simply retaining aesthetic appeal, there are many reasons to keep your vehicle in mint condition. When it comes to cleaning your car, one method stands out from the others: steam cleaning. Many factors have contributed to the rise of steam cleaning. Steam doesn`t need harsh chemicals or detergents like other cleaning methods do. The high temperatures of the steam cleaners easily remove dirt, odors, water streaks and kill bacteria. Using a steam cleaner is simple and with a few tips, you can get the most out of steam auto detailing your vehicle.

Before we look at the best practices when steam cleaning your car, here are the areas to use a steam cleaner in your car:

Interior and Exterior

You can use a quality steam cleaner for cars for both the vehicle`s interior and exterior. Steam cleaning effectively cleans mats, leather upholstery, door panels, dashboard trims, and all the hard-to-reach spots in your car interior. It also eliminates any lingering odors from stains and leaves the surfaces virtually dry as soon as cleaning is complete.

Steam cleaners also easily remove the dirt from every part of the vehicle`s exterior without much effort. Steam removes any residue on the wheels and the front and rear bumpers, including wax, tar, mud, and other compounds. With a steam cleaner, you can also clean the windows and side mirrors without any streaking.

Steam cleaners are versatile tools. Here are seven best practices to observe when using them for auto detailing.

Choose a Steam Cleaner Designed for Vehicles

Ensure you do some preliminary research before purchasing a steam cleaner. There are both household and vehicle steam cleaners on the market today. While they do have some similarities, a household steam cleaner isn`t designed to deal with the heavy stains, dirt, and potentially hazardous substances found mainly on the exterior of a car. Using these cleaners may result in poor cleaning results and damage the unit in the process.

For best results, ensure the steam cleaner you purchase is designed specifically for vehicles. If you have a sizable garage with convenient power access, it`s advisable to go for a heavy-duty steam cleaner. If you`re renting a unit, check for any leftover debris inside the attachments that may damage your vehicle.

Inspect The Hose Before Use

In a steam cleaner, the high hose pressure is essential for cleaning but can cause severe injury if one isn`t careful. Before cleaning, ensure the hose is not damaged or kinked and fits tightly into its compartment. Any steam leaks due to ruptures or improper connections may lead to serious injury, especially if you`re not wearing any protective equipment.

It`s advisable not to try and repair any damaged high-pressure hose without proper training or authorization from the company.  If your hose is even slightly damaged, replace it immediately. After use, ensure you properly roll up the hose and store it safely. Apart from preventing damage, proper storage prevents any injury that may arise from tripping over the hose.

Wear Protective Clothing

Typically, the hot water used in steam cleaners can reach temperatures of over 90 degrees Celsius. Without taking any safety measures, these temperatures can cause scalding or burns. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as face shields, rubber gloves, and boots when steam cleaning to avoid any unintentional injury. 

If you are scalded, get cool running water over the area immediately to prevent the burn from worsening. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Scalding burns can develop into life-threatening injuries if left untreated. Never direct steam or hot water to anyone when washing your car: such play may have serious consequences.

Pre-Clean the Vehicle

Even though a steam cleaner is a powerful cleaning tool, it`s prudent to clear away any loose dirt and other debris before using it. Wipe down any loose substances using a wet cloth on the car`s exterior, vacuum the interior surfaces and wipe the dashboard. This way, you can see which stained areas require special attention.

With the high pressure involved with steam cleaning, any loose debris could cause injury or damage to the car. If there are areas with troublesome stains first, it`ll be easier to identify them while pre-cleaning so you can start with them first. After that, you can give the entire vehicle a once-over with the steam cleaner to complete the task.

Be Careful of Reduced Visibility

Using steam cleaning equipment may create a vapor cloud that impairs visibility. Walking around in such poor visibility zones may result in injury through collisions or tripping and falling. Plan your cleaning work to avoid walking into such clouds by ensuring you always direct the steam away from yourself.

Avoiding the vapor clouds may not always work. In situations where you find yourself engulfed in a cloud, stop working immediately and wait for the steam to dissipate. If you`re working with someone else, make sure to warn them to stay away from the area. Make sure you wear protective goggles and face shields to prevent any eye damage.

Don`t Ignore the Car`s Ventilation System

Your car`s ventilatory system may be home to dust mites and many other hidden allergens. If left uncleaned, using the air conditioning unit may cause respiratory illness or irritation. The steam`s high temperature effectively eliminates these allergens from the shafts in the ventilation system. When cleaning the interior, blow the steam directly into the vents for a few seconds.

Steam cleaning the vents also eliminates any odors present. Depending on your unit`s level of power, it`s possible to damage the vents if you keep blowing hot steam at a specific surface for a significant period. Be sure to keep the hose moving, and don`t hold the steam stream inside the vents for too long: a few seconds should do the trick.

Beware of Electric Shock

It`s common knowledge that water and electricity don`t mix. Without proper safety measures, steam cleaning in a garage with an electric supply could spell disaster. Before steam cleaning your vehicle inside the garage, shut off the main power supply and ensure all electrical sockets are adequately covered. Never spray directly into any electrical equipment. Even without a power supply, the water may damage the appliances beyond repair.

When using a steam cleaner directly connected to the main water supply, ensure the unit is ground-fault protected. After cleaning, do not turn the electricity back on until you confirm that every electrical appliance and socket is completely dry. The effects of an electric injury can be fatal: exercise caution when handling electrical appliances before and after steam cleaning.

Bring Your Vehicle Back to Its Showroom Look

Cleaning your car may pale in comparison to other aspects of maintenance. That doesn`t mean that you should overlook regular cleaning sessions. After all, there`s just something so satisfying about driving a spotless vehicle around town. Purchasing your steam cleaner will drastically ease the cleaning process. While there are numerous steam cleaners available for various budgets, look for models with versatile attachments and adequate steam cleaning time per session.