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Steamers: The Most Versatile Tool in Your Arsenal



Out of all of the tools in my arsenal, a steamer is hands down the most versatile and I use it on every single job.

A steamer is a very simple tool requiring nothing but a power outlet and de-ionized water, making it extremely cost effective after purchase. Yet, this one tool can really help out your detailing regimen in many ways.

Fabrics: It works great on fabrics as it allows you to get the fibers, and more importantly, the contamination very hot without saturating the surface with water. This allows you to clean easier and more effectively. The fact that you are not getting the fabric soaking wet is essential as it allows you to deep clean seats and carpets without having to wait for them to dry. It also allows you to thoroughly clean headliners while not compromising the glue that holds it together, just make sure you are not getting it too hot.

Leather: A steamer works wonders on leather. Just like cleaning your face, the heat opens up the pores of the leather and allows for an extremely deep clean. However, just like your face, make sure to moisturize afterward. Except use a nice leather conditioner instead of cocoa butter!

Nooks and Crannies: You know when you’re driving your Lamborghini and spill a bit of coffee between your seat and the center console, then it starts to smell and now you have to get a new car, again? Don’t worry, a steamer can clean that! The hinges of the doors, the brackets of the seats, even the inside of the vent system are perfect for the steamers as it shoots a jet of steam that will heat the area that is difficult to get to, so you do not need as much scrubbing force to remove it. You can even shoot it into one vent and it will circulate through the entire vent system and sanitize it. It is crucial that you only use de-ionized water for this, otherwise you will leave water spots that can be extremely difficult to clean.

Removing Clear Bra: Having a tough time removing clear bra and vinyl? A heat gun works but the additional lubrication that the steamer provides makes the job that much easier.

There are many kinds of steamers. From the amazing Vapor Systems VX5000 to the lower end, but still good, Vapamore MR-100 Primo. Get the one that fits your specific needs and you will wonder what you ever did without one.

If you already have a steamer, what do you use yours for?

Ian Martinez
Gloss Angeles
Irvine, CA
Instagram | YouTube

10 comments on Steamers: The Most Versatile Tool in Your Arsenal

  1. Brae says:

    I like to use mine also in the engine bay. I’m one that doesn’t like to use water in there. Car manufacturers these days have so many seals & channels to stop water getting in to the engine bay, so it makes sense not to clean in there with water. (I’ve stood there cringing watching a guy use a hot water blaster on a F430 engine bay!) A steamer can get in the little nooks & crannies where a brush wont reach/work. Also useful around head/tail lights where crud can build up & a water blaster just wont quite get it out. That extra bit of heat helps loosen the crud up a bit. Sadly doesn’t always get it all out, but some is better than none!

  2. Jeff P says:

    Steamers are also great for removing smoke smells in liners (don’t over treat this area) and for cleaning glass.

  3. Don Pavlica says:

    New to the game so stay with me. I enjoyed the above article. Being a rookie however I’m wondering where to start. I don’t want to sacrifice quality, longevity of the steamer, and customer satisfaction. Much to look at and I’m anxious to get started. Initially with my own vehicles as needed. Black Jeep, White Fusion and my new babe a 98 TA silver. The TA as u know is mostly fiberglass. Will I need different chemicals for the TA and Vettes. Another for stamped steel which most cars are.
    Thanks Ian

    • Ian says:

      Hello Don,

      As a beginner, a lower end steamer is a perfect purchase. It will get the job done that you need and not need to stand up to high volume of work. As far as chemicals a steamer is strictly de-ionized water. The substrate is not a huge difference since the temps do not get that high.

  4. Don Pavlica says:

    I use my ‘low end steamer’ daily. I have not been using the deionized water as you state I should. The small booklet that came with it states nothing about using only deionized water. Ok, now for a rookie… Can I use the spotless water that I now use to wash my cars. What damage is caused by not using deionized water. Is it to the steamer where the damage occurs or better yet what are the advantages of using deionized water?
    Anyway thanks for taking a few moments to respond to my previous question above.

    • Hello Don,

      We have found that deionized water is the best mainly for the reason that is will ever leave any water spots. We have used filtered water and when you are steaming vents it will leave water spots that you will then have to remove. Also if you put non-deionized water in the machine then it can no longer be pure from impurities and you are unable to fully flush out other water. Does it make a huge difference and is it a deal breaker? No really but a gallon of deionized water is a low cost item that can cover multiple vehicles so it is worth it to us.

      • Don Pavlica says:

        Thanks Ian. When I first searched for deionized water I was shocked by the cost. I’ll go back and continue searching.
        My Spotless Water system that I purchased from Detailed Image might be another way. Just fill up some gallon jugs and use that.
        Yes I am going to clean vents. So I will continue checking for deionized water.
        I’d like to see your comments about using the Spotless Water System.
        Thanks for your assistance.

  5. Ray Scott says:

    New to my steamer. Is deionized water the same as mineral water.

  6. Ray Scott says:

    Meant to say distilled water in above comment

    • It is similar and would work the same. Distilled is free of any minerals but deionized water goes through additional processes to remove the ions and is more pure and more likely to be completely pH neutral.

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