How to steam clean car interior in 2022

How to steam clean car interior

Car owners are usually concerned with cleaning the outside of their car but don’t realize that the car interior is just as important. Buying a steam cleaner from the market is easy, but if you don’t know how to steam clean car interior, then it is a waste of money. Steam cleaning is one of the best options for interior cleaning.

Steam cleaning is a great way to keep your car in good condition. Over time, debris and dirt accumulate on a car’s knobs and buttons. You will not reach the vents or crevices where dirt settles with regular detailing tools. With steam cleaning, you can remove stains, eliminate bad smells, and clear away dirt and dust that accumulate over time.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to choose the best steam cleaner for your needs, which surfaces should be steam cleaned, and the best procedures to clean the car interior with steam.

Why should you clean your car interior with a steam cleaner?

How to steam clean car interior

No matter how you use a vehicle, its interior can become dirty and soiled over time. Cars can become contaminated due to dirt transferred through clothing, oil, dirt left on seat head covers and steering wheels by hands and heads, and grime from shoes.

Steam cleaners are recommended for several reasons;

  • By using steam, no harmful chemicals are released
  • The steam penetrates deeply into fabrics and upholstery, not just on the surface.
  • In some difficult-to-reach places, steam can help clean the interior.
  • With steam, you can safely clean any surface.
  • You don’t have to spend hours scrubbing a stain away because steam softens and removes dirt.
  • Dirt can be quickly cleaned at home with steam cleaning before leaving a permanent stain.
  • Furthermore, steam cleaners are economical, as they use only water and are faster than other methods.
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Which car seat materials work best with steam cleaners

You can clean your car seats with a steam cleaner, but it’s important to know what material you’re cleaning. The cloth car seats on this list are generally steam-friendly;

  • Nylon: Fabrics manufactured from nylon fibers are made from synthetic plastics. The material is generally heat-resistant, stain-resistant, and age-resistant.
  • Polyester: Polyester fabrics are water-resistant as well as ultraviolet rays. Like nylon, they are typically long-lasting.
  • Vinyl: Also known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Automotive components and upholstery are often made of this flame-resistant plastic.

How to steam clean car interior

As far as leather seats are concerned, there are two types: Faux leather and original leather. If you are not sure, check your owner’s manual:

  • Synthetic leather: Synthetic leather is usually made from PVC or polyurethane, another type of plastic. Synthetic leather is more durable than real leather. So you can clean this type of material with a steam cleaner.
  • Leather: Leather is the most expensive material on the list, and most are hesitant to use it. Leather car seats can be steamed, but do not do so too frequently. If the leather gets too moist or too hot, it will shrink over time.
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How to steam clean car interior ( Methods)

Method 1: Cleaning carpets with a steam cleaner

Carpets are usually cleaned with water and carpet cleaners. However, carpet cleaners use chemicals and water that can harm your health, your carpets, and possibly your car and leave residues that are harmful to the environment. These solutions are expensive and can cause your carpets to tear up. Maybe you’re wondering, what are the alternatives to those cleaning solutions?

A safer and more effective alternative to chemicals is steam cleaning.

Step 1: Vacuum the carpet:

To ensure your steam cleaner is most effective, make sure you remove all dirt and dust from the carpet and seats.


To vacuum-tight spaces around seats and pedals, a crevice vacuum is recommended.

Step 2: Steam clean the carpets with a triangular brush attachment

We recommend adding a triangular brush to the steam cleaner. Steam can loosen dirt deep within the upholstery and lift it to the surface using a bristled tool.

Slowly move the tool over the carpet while rubbing the bristles. Make sure that all carpeted areas are thoroughly cleaned with the triangular tool. Repeat the process to ensure all carpeted areas are thoroughly cleaned.


  • Make sure you move quickly enough to keep the steam from accumulating for too long.
  • If the triangular tool cannot reach tight spots, you can use a crevice tool.

Step 3: Vacuum the carpets one last time

Once the carpets have been steam cleaned, run a vacuum over them again to remove any loose dirt.

Method 2: Steam cleaning the car fabric seats

The majority of car owners and detailers use cleaners to clean car upholstery. Although this approach might be effective, it isn’t a permanent solution as these cleaners won’t remove deep stains. The best way to deep clean car seats is by using a steam cleaner. The following guidelines will help you use a steam cleaner correctly on the seats.

Step 1: Apply a cleaner to the stains

Using a good-quality upholstery cleaner will remove the odor and make it easier for the steam cleaner to remove stains. Always scrub the stain after applying the cleaner.

Step 2: Steam clean the fabric

Now that you’ve cleaned the stains with a cleaner, it’s time to do a steam cleaning. Steam your seats starting from the top, moving downward. When steaming fabric, do not drag it randomly, but rather use smooth, even motions over the seats.

Triangular attachments are the best way to steam clean fabric seats. These attachments deeply clean fabric seats.


Keep steam away from buckles and metal components in or around your seats. Steam cleaning can cause them to rust.

Step 3: Softly scrub away the stains

When you encounter residual stains, switch to a soft-bristled brush and use it to remove them. Do not focus on one spot too long or apply too much pressure.

Step 4: Remove moisture from the fabric

After steaming, wipe the areas with a clean microfiber cloth to remove extra moisture.

Method 3: Steam cleaning leather, plastic, and the vinyl material

When using a steam cleaner to clean leather, plastic, and vinyl materials, ensure that the attachment does not scratch the material.

How to steam clean car interior

Materials needed:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Leather, plastic, or vinyl cleaner
  • Steam cleaner with a triangular brush attachment

Step 1: Apply the cleaner to the material surface

Apply the cleaning solution on the surfaces of the materials but please always pick the right cleaner for your surfaces. If you are unsure which car materials you have, always try to consult the manual.

Step 2: Wipe the surface with a cloth

Microfiber cloths are best when cleaning sensitive surfaces since they do not scratch and trap dirt, keeping it from spreading.


  • To clean plastic and vinyl, use a microfiber cloth wrapped around your carpet attachment.

Step 3: Steam cleaning the plastic and vinyl surfaces

After cleaning the surfaces with a microfiber cloth, now it is time for steam cleaning. Cover the steam cleaner with a fabric cloth attachment when cleaning the plastic or vinyl surfaces. Dust, dirt, and oil will be absorbed and carried away by the fabric on the attachment.

It’s important to rub the attachment lightly over plastic and vinyl parts of your car, such as the dashboard, radio display, and gear shift.

Step 4: Steam cleaning the leather surfaces

To clean leather seats, wrap a microfiber cloth around the carpet attachment. Don’t let the bristles scratch the leather. Clean the leather gently with the steam cleaner while using the microfiber cloth to remove dirt.


In steaming leather surfaces, never let the steam cleaner sit on the spot for too long because the heat from the steamer will shrink out the leather.

Method 4: Cleaning hard-to-reach areas with the steam cleaner

Cleaning hard-to-reach areas is an important task on how to steam clean car interior. Many areas in our cars are difficult to clean with bare hands, which is why a steam cleaner is helpful. Use a steam cleaner with a crevice tool or steam jet nozzle to clean these areas.

Materials Required

  • Steam cleaner with a crevice tool attachment
  • A vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool attachment

Step 1: Cleaning with a steam cleaner

If possible, aim the steam cleaner tip at the dirty area. With the steam cleaner tip, you can clean vents on the dashboard, in between seats, inside cracks and crevices in plastic trim, as well as deep pockets in the door and cup holders that are otherwise difficult to reach. Apply steam directly to the dirty area.

Step 2: Wipe the surface

Once you have access to the area, wipe it with a microfiber cloth. Using steam can remove dust and dirt from areas you typically cannot access.

Step 3: Vacuum the areas thoroughly

Once you have steam cleaned heavily soiled areas like vents and door pockets, use a crevice tool to remove dirt from crevices.

Method 5: Steam the car’s headliner

Although the headliner does not require regular cleaning, airborne particles and physical contact will cause it to collect dust and dirt. If you smoke in your car, the particles from the smoke will pollute the roof.

The headliner is made from a foam-covered board, covered with fabric, and glued to it. If the glue is wet or softened, it may come loose, resulting in a hanging headliner that needs to be replaced. To avoid damaging or tearing the headliner, it must be cleaned carefully.

Materials Required

  • Cleaning cloth
  • Steam cleaner

Step 1: Cover the tip of the steam cleaner with a cloth

The steam cleaner’s tip should be covered with a cloth so that it can thoroughly clean the stains on the car’s headliner

Step 2: Clean the headliner with a steam cleaner

When using the steam cleaner on the headliner fabric, do not stay in one spot for too long. Make sure you overlap the steam cleaner passes just enough so nothing gets missed. Over-cleaning or cleaning one area too often can cause the layers to separate, damage the headliner, or the fabric to wrinkle.


Ensure the glue between the layers is not damaged. Steam the headliner twice as fast as you cleaned the seats and carpet.

Method 6: Steam cleaning car windows

Using the steam cleaner, you can remove stubborn sap, bugs, and tar from your exterior windows. As the steam softens the substance, it becomes easier to remove.

How to steam clean car interior

Materials required

Step 1: Cleaning windows with a squeegee attached to a steam cleaner

Install a squeegee attachment on your steam cleaner.

To get similar results as before, use a wide attachment covered with a microfiber cloth instead of a squeegee attachment.

Step 2: Steaming the windows

Start at the top and work your way down with the steam cleaner. Repeat as necessary.

Once contaminants have been loosened by steam, squeegee attachments will remove them from the glass.


It is also possible to clean your windshield flat, working the glass half at a time.

Step 3: Clean the leftover

Once you have steam cleaned your windows, you should clean up any dirt or residue left behind. Use a microfiber cloth to do this.

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Expert tips about steaming car interior

Let the car interior dry

It should take three to five hours for your car interior to dry. If you want to speed up the process, keep the windows open or park in a sunny spot. If you’re in a hurry, you can also use a fan.

Check the weather before cleaning your car’s interior

Checking the weather before steaming is a vital part of how to steam clean car interior. Steaming your car on a sunny day will prevent mold from taking hold of its interior.

What to look for when purchasing a steam cleaner

There are many types and sizes of steam cleaners. If you already have one, make sure you have both a soft-bristle brush attachment and a fabric steamer.

The following criteria should be considered if you are looking to buy one specifically for your vehicle:

  • The capacity of the tank: Do you own a big van, pickup, or SUV? There is a possibility of having to refill your tank every 10 minutes if you have a large tank capacity.
  • Attachments: A fabric steamer or attachment is an essential car seat accessory. Spread the steam evenly over the upholstery. There is no need for nozzles, generating concentrated streams of steam. It may be a good idea to have a brush head attachment on hand for scrubbing.
  • Choose a reputable brand: When you buy a steam cleaner, always choose a reputable brand since they will give you a guarantee and good customer service if the product fails.
How to steam clean car interior in 2022
How to steam clean car interior in 2022

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