In the detailing industry, we are constantly hit with the new release of very specific products: cleaners, conditioners, protectants, etc., seeing a multitude of different products for the same surfaces. Unfortunately, this has lead to a bit of over saturation in the market and confusion as to what to use on what material. It’s become so much more complicated than it really needs to be… Enter; Steam – Perhaps the number one most versatile product available. It’s safe on most any surface, has virtually no cost other than the initial investment of a machine, and continues to blow my mind every time I find a new use for it. Seriously.
I remember when I was first developing skills in the trade, the amount of products there was for each scenario was overwhelming. I think the marketing these days is trying to sell a product needed for every single different type of situation. Instead of having a huge arsenal of products for all these situations, why not simplify to a few products or less, and really hone in on your specific methods. Steam was that gateway for me, and it all started with Larry Kosilla from AMMO NYC. (If you haven’t checked him out, be sure to do so. He’s fantastic and has helped my career immensely. On top of being a great guy, he’s informative, and you can take something away from every video no matter your skill level)
The reason it’s so effective is largely credited to the fairly high heat, vapor, and pressure, all at once. It gets into and under everything, allowing dirt to be removed quickly and easily. I have found steam to be a killer option for many different purposes. To name a few:
- Interior cleaning – Toss that oily, residue leaving protectant, the strong APC cleaners and degreasers, and try out steam. I have found using a light mist of Meguiar’s APC (D101) heavily diluted right before steaming helps break some things up. Steam away, and follow with a microfiber.
- Barn find inspections – In this case, you’re not super worried about creating light marring, so a simple steam wash allows you to get it clean without leaking water into potentially deteriorated seals. Lots of steam, lots of microfibers, and a small amount of “scrubbing” action. Follow your steamer head with the towel and “collect” the debris it lifts up.
- Engine bay and door jam cleaning – This is where steam really shines. These two areas are generally one of the greasiest areas on a vehicle. A few light sprits of APC usually helps, but following with the steamer, sometimes a brush, and a microfiber allows for great results.
- Final wipe down – This is a tip I learned from a close detail friend. In 2+ step correction work, you are sometimes left with a vehicle with some residue, dust, and tape adhesive before your final polish. Use the steamer to clean things up, blow stuff out, and lightly wipe away and dust, debris, and residue before moving onto your final polishing step. This minimizes contaminants and maximizes your correction results.
As you can see, the opportunities with steam literally are endless. We’ve also used it on wheels, tires, brake calipers, bumpers for bugs, headliners, and more. Check it out, see what it’s about, and see how you can cut time off your detail, but better yet, be more effective and skilled in your craft.
See photos below for some areas steam was put to good use:
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