How to Steam Clean Car Interior

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How to Steam Clean Car Interior

How to Steam Clean Car InteriorRegardless of how you use your car, it inevitably gets soiled after a while due to:

  • The transfer of dirt and dyes to the seats from clothing
  • Dirt and oil left on the radio controls, steering wheel, and shifter handle from your hands
  • The transfer of grime and dirt from boots or shoes
  • Oil left on the headrest from hair

Here’s where the best steam cleaner comes into play. It’s an ideal solution for lightly or heavily soiled car interiors. Keeping that in mind, this guide will walk you through the process of how to steam clean a car interior.

Why Should You Steam Clean a Car Interior?

Steaming is the perfect solution to get your car interior spick and span for the following reasons.

  • It removes the need to use toxic and harsh chemicals
  • It comes in handy for effectively cleaning upholstery and difficult-to-reach places
  • It’s useful in safely cleaning all types of surfaces
  • It lifts dirt and softens, which means you don’t need to scrub a stain for hours
  • It can be performed from the comfort of your home in a jiffy to get rid of dirt and grime before it leaves a permanent or stubborn stain
  • Steam cleaners are also cost-effective as they only require clean water to get the job done in a fraction of the time compared to other cleaning techniques

How to Steam Clean a Car Interior

Here’s how to use a steam cleaner to get your car interior smelling and looking good as new.

1. Steam Clean Fabric and Carpets

Typically, car upholstery and carpets are cleaned using a carpet cleaner, often mistaken as steam cleaning. However, most people don’t realize that carpet cleaners use water and a cleaning solution laden with chemicals to clean the fabric.

Although these cleaners can be pricey, they leave unsightly rings on fabric upholstery. Furthermore, they usually leave toxic chemical residue in your car. Contrarily, steam cleaning is an efficient and safe option.

Materials Required

  • A steam cleaner
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A triangular brush attachment best suited for steam cleaners

To get started, follow the steps below.

Vacuum the Carpets and Upholstery

Thoroughly get rid of as much dust and dirt from the seats and carpet for your steam cleaner to get the job done effectively. For the best outcome, a crevice vacuum tool will allow you to access the hard-to-reach areas around the pedals and seats.

Connect Your Steam Cleaner to a Triangular Brush

Attaching a bristled triangular tool to your steam cleaner will agitate the upholstery and lift the grime and dirt loosened by the steam.

Steam Clean the Carpet

Use the triangular brush attachment to begin the steam cleaning process by rubbing the bristles over the carpet and slowly over the floor. As you do so, make overlapping passes to avoid missing a spot.

As a tip, a crevice tool can come in handy to clean the tight spots out of reach for the triangular brush. Additionally, move swiftly enough to prevent the steam from collecting in one spot long enough to make the upholstery wet.

Steam Clean the Fabric Seats

Use the triangular brush on your steam cleaner to clean the fabric seats while making overlapping passes with the bristles against the heat. As you do so, lightly brush the seats to avoid pilling the fabric.

Vacuum the Carpet

Once you’re done with steam cleaning, you’ll need to vacuum the carpet of your car again to get rid of loose dirt and grime.

Vacuum the Carpet
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2. Steam Clean Vinyl, Leather, and Plastic

To steam clean the vinyl, leather, and plastic parts, you’ll require a soft attachment brush that won’t scratch your car’s interior finish.

Materials Required

  • A foam or cloth attachment compatible with a steam cleaner
  • A triangular brush attachment for steam cleaner
  • An excellent steam cleaner

To get the ball rolling, follow the steps below.

Use a Foam or Cloth Attachment on Your Steam Cleaner

For delicate surfaces, a microfiber cloth attachment gets the job done perfectly. Besides trapping dirt and grime in its fiber to avoid spreading it, the cloth doesn’t leave scratches.

As a tip, if you don’t have the attachment, you can improvise by wrapping a microfiber cloth and using it lightly on vinyl and plastic.

Steam Cleaning Vinyl and Plastic

Glide the attachment over the vinyl and plastic components of your car’s interior, such as the radio display, around the gearshift, and dashboard. In doing so, the fabric on the attachment will get rid of the oils, dust, dirt, and grime by absorbing them. As a tip, steam clean your steering wheel as well to eliminate any oil left on it by your hands.

Steam Cleaning Leather Seats

Use the carpet attachment wrapped with a microfiber cloth to clean leather car seats. As you do so, ensure the bristles are covered to avoid scratching the leather. Gently pass the steam cleaner over the leather seats to loosen the dirt while the microfiber cloth absorbs it.

Besides cleaning the leather, the steam rejuvenates it by infusing moisture. As a tip, steam cleaners are perfect for removing dye transfer stains from leather.

3. Steam Clean the Difficult-to-Reach Places

A steam cleaner with a jet nozzle or crevice tool will allow you to get to those hard-to-reach spots that are otherwise inaccessible.

Materials Required

  • Crevice tool for a steam cleaner
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A steam cleaner

To get the ball rolling, follow the steps below.

Use a Car Steam Cleaner

Position the tip of your car steam cleaner as close as you can to the filthy area. The tip comes in handy to access the dirt and grime between the car seats, console, crevices, and cracks of the plastic trim parts, and the cup holders and door pockets that are inaccessible via other cleaning techniques.

Dry the Area

Wipe the accessible areas of your car’s interior with a clean and dry microfiber cloth.

Vacuum the Area

After steaming your soiled car’s interior, it’s time to vacuum the area with a crevice tool to get rid of the loosened grime and dirt.

4. Steam Clean the Headliner

Although the headliner typically doesn’t require frequent cleaning, there’s no denying that it gathers dirt and dust from physical contact and airborne particles. It consists of foam glued to a pressed board with fabric attached to the foam surface.

If the glue comes into contact with water, it softens and loosens, causing the headliner to hang down or become loose and require replacement. Therefore, you need to be overly cautious when cleaning the headliner to avoid tearing or damaging it.

Materials Required

  • A clean microfiber cloth
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A steam cleaner

To begin the process, follow the steps below.

Prepare Your Steam Cleaner

Use a non-abrasive, flat tip covered in a microfiber cloth.

Steam Clean the Fabric

Quickly move the steam cleaner across the fabric of the headliner while ensuring you don’t focus on one spot for too long. As a tip, to avoid weakening and damaging the glue between the layers, swiftly pass the steam cleaner over the headliner faster than you cleaned your car carpet and seats.


With a steam cleaner at home, getting your car’s interior spick and span is hassle-free and cost-effective as you don’t have to rope in automobile detailers. You can get your car looking good and smelling fresh.

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