Although the new Jeep Wrangler may be able to be hosed out, for most of us we need to be able to use a little more care when cleaning our car interior – but sometimes the old vacuum cleaner is just not going to cut it. Even with great car seat covers that can go in the washing machine, your seats and carpets still need more than running the vacuum over them to get them clean – particularly if you have children or pets that travel in your car!
There are different attachments that you can use with your standard vacuum cleaner that can help you get a really deep clean in upholstery, and even help to lift the pile up to make it look new again. But while your vacuum may be amazing if you are wanting to lift out smells (particularly scents like wet dog, spilt milk, and mushed biscuit), or to kill off germs and bacteria, then you need to look more at a good steam cleaning unit rather than just a normal household vacuum cleaner. More than this, you need to look at steam cleaners for cars which will provide better accessories and be easier to use that a steam cleaner designed for other purposes.
What Should You Be Looking For?
Obviously, there are going to be differences in my list to your list, but this will likely come down more to things like your car type, the space you have to clean or store your equipment, as well as things like what sort of upholstery you have and how disgusting your car can get. Despite this, there are a few things that you should consider when out looking for the best option.
This may just mean that you have a few things to keep in the back of your mind, but it may also mean that you end up creating a list of features and accessories that you absolutely don’t need – which could save you a bit.
How Hot Does It Get?
There are two main reasons to worry about what the water temperature is doing, the first being the hotter it is the better it is going to kill off any bacteria (or fleas) that have decided to spawn in your car’s interior. However, if you have children you need to be certain of your ability to ensure that you will be able to store and use your steam cleaner well away from them and that they won’t be able to play with it. The steam that comes out of most units is pretty high pressure, and if the temperature is that hot your children (or pets) could find themselves the victims of some very nasty burns (see here).
Part of this consideration should also go towards how fast it will heat up. Although you might think that something that heats up superfast would be a greater potential hazard, it is far more likely that people set a slow heating steam cleaner up and while they are waiting for it to heat up to the correct temperature, wander away and gather other supplies or get organized. Of course, leaving something that will shoot out steam at a minimum of 300°F unsupervised is a recipe for disaster.
Does It Need Chemicals?
Part of the selling point of using a steam cleaner is they usually are able to clean with just the steam vapour and pressure alone. However, you may find that less powerful models require additional cleaning chemicals. Although you may generally want to use just pure tap water, you may also want to enquire before you buy if you can use any additives in your water tank. Sometimes you may encounter particularly difficult stains that would benefit from extra treatment, and although you can use a separate spray bottle, it may be nice to be able to use your cleaner if you have several difficult jobs lined up.
Will It Reach?
You know where your power points are located, before you buy anything, run a tape (or plug in your vacuum) and see how far away from your socket it from where you will want to clean your car. Yes, you can use an extension cord, but if you go looking with this knowledge then you can make better decisions around which steamer will suit your needs. You should also look at how long, and flexible, the hose is. This may not be of particular concern if you have a 7-seater SUV or Transit van, but if you are cleaning a small 2 seater vehicle, you will want a hose that is going to be able to manoeuvre easily where you will want it to go.
Will It Handle The Pressure?
The steam pressure between each machine is surprisingly variable. For most people, you will be wanting something with really good pressure that is maintained at the same level for the entire time you are using it. Although there may be instances where a lower pressure is more desirable, so if this is something you are likely to need perhaps you could look at a machine that has a variable pressure option – these aren’t a common requirement, however, so you will need to look around.
Can You Accessorize?
The accessories lists with some of the steam cleaners on the market are truly impressive. Although you will need to ask yourself which ones you’d ever use – think about how many of your household vacuum cleaner accessories you’ve ever used. For the majority of times, the stock standard head is all that you will need, however you may also prefer a more flexible hose attachment and a fine nozzle. Before you’re completely sold on the model because the list of accessories looks amazing, go through them one by one and actually work out what each will do – then decide if they’re worth getting.