How to Steam Clean Your Car Interior?

Steam cleaning your car interior is an effective way to remove dirt, grime, and stains from various surfaces.

In this guide, we’ll explore the process of steam cleaning your car’s interior, including the necessary equipment, step-by-step instructions, and safety precautions. 

By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to achieve a thorough cleanse and refresh your vehicle’s interior. You may also be interested in a guide on how to deep clean your car interior.

What is Steam Cleaning?

Steam cleaning is a method of cleaning that uses hot, pressurized steam to dissolve and remove dirt, stains, and bacteria from surfaces. 

Unlike traditional cleaning methods that rely on chemicals, steam cleaning is a more eco-friendly and efficient options.

It penetrates deep into fabric and upholstery, effectively cleaning beyond the surface. A steam can be used on a variety of surfaces, including carpets, seats, dashboards, and door panels, making it a great solution for car interior cleaning.

DIY or Professional Steam Cleaning?

When it comes to steam cleaning your car interior, you have the option to either DIY or hire professional services. 

DIY steam cleaning can be cost-effective, as it only requires the purchase or rental of a steam cleaner. 

However, it’s important to consider the quality of the equipment and your skill level for achieving optimal results.

On the other hand, hiring professional steam cleaning services may cost more upfront, but you’ll benefit from their expertise and professional-grade equipment. They won’t miss any hard-to-reach areas or rush the project like some DIYers do. 

Professionals also have access to specialized tools and products that can remove tough stains and dirt.

What Equipment Do You Need for Steam Cleaning?

To effectively steam clean your car’s interior, you’ll need:

  1. Steam Cleaner: Obviously, a steam cleaner. Look for a steam cleaner with adjustable pressure settings and attachments suitable for different surfaces.
  2. Cleaning Solutions or Detergents: You’ll also need cleaning solutions or detergents specifically formulated for steam cleaning. These products are designed to enhance the cleaning power of the steam, making it easier to remove dirt, stains, and odors.
  3. Microfiber Cloths: Microfiber cloths are essential for wiping away dirt and grime after steam cleaning. These soft and absorbent cloths are perfect for leaving surfaces clean and streak-free. They also prevent scratching or damaging delicate materials.
  4. Brushes: In some cases, you may need brushes to agitate dirt or stains before steam cleaning.
  5. Vacuum Cleaner: Before steam cleaning, it’s important to thoroughly vacuum the interior of your car to remove loose dirt and debris.

Step-by-Step Guide to Steam Cleaning

1. Safety Practices and Precautions

When performing steam cleaning, prioritize your safety:

  • Protect yourself by wearing gloves and safety goggles.
  • Avoid pointing the steam cleaner nozzle at yourself or others.
  • Keep children and pets away from the steam cleaning area.
  • Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and proper use of the steam cleaner.

2. Preparing the Car

Before starting the steam cleaning process, take these steps to prepare your car:

  • Vacuum the interior to remove loose dirt and debris.
  • Remove personal items and large objects from the car.
  • Test the steam cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure compatibility and adjust the steam pressure as needed.

3. Using the Steam Cleaner

Once your car is prepared, it’s time to use the steam cleaner:

  • Fill the steam cleaner with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Attach the appropriate cleaning attachment for the surface you’re cleaning.
  • Begin steaming by holding the steam cleaner nozzle a few inches away from the surface.
  • Moving the nozzle in a back-and-forth motion, apply steam evenly and steadily.
  • Continue steaming until the surface is clean and any stains or grime are removed.

4. Steam Cleaning Different Interior Surfaces

Each interior surface requires specific attention and techniques:

  • For fabric upholstery and carpets, use the steam cleaner nozzle or brush attachment and work in small sections.
  • When cleaning leather surfaces, choose a specialized attachment and apply steam gently to avoid excessive moisture.
  • For hard surfaces like dashboards and door panels, use a microfiber cloth along with the steam cleaner to remove dirt and grime.

5. Detailing Small Areas and Crevices

It’s essential to pay attention to small areas and crevices:

  • Utilize smaller attachments or brushes to clean tight spaces and crevices, such as air vents, cup holders, and seat seams.
  • Apply steam directly to these areas, then use a cloth or brush to remove dirt or debris.

6. Drying and Finishing Touches

  • Use a clean, dry microfiber cloths to absorb excess moisture from the surfaces. Gently wipe down all the steamed areas, including seats, carpets, and the dashboard.
  • Open the windows or use fans to promote air circulation and aid in the drying process. This will help to remove any remaining moisture and prevent your car interior from becoming damp.
  • If necessary, use a fabric softener or scented spray to give your car interior a fresh smell. Choose a product specifically designed for car interiors and follow the instructions for application.
  • Consider applying fabric or leather protectants to prevent future stains and maintain the cleanliness of your car interior. These products create a barrier on the surfaces, making them easier to clean in the future.


That’s it! Start steam cleaning your car interior today and enjoy the benefits of a truly clean and sanitized space.

With the right knowledge and tools, you can achieve impressive results and maintain a fresh and healthy environment every time you step into your car.

If you are unsure about steam cleaning yourself, take your car to a professional like River Islands Car Salon!

We offer both vacuuming and steam cleaning and a deep car clean that includes sand, stain, and pet hair removal.

We serve:

Check out the videos below to see what steam cleaning looks like in action when done by professionals like us!