Most people would naturally think an engine steam cleaner would be the best way (and most fun) to clean and detail a car engine. At least if you have watched any of the hundreds of videos where so-called professionals us a steamer to clean and detail a car engine.
I got sucked into getting a steam cleaner years ago due to all the hype used to promote these steamers. Sure they are cool toys to have and sure they make you feel like you are a professional, but are they really the best way to clean a car engine, or do you just naturally think they are the best way.
There seems to be a natural association with steam and cleaning car engines. But the more I dig in when people say they want a engine steam cleaner, the more I find a lot of people who have come to false conclusions or have been mislead by this industry.
I will tell you right now that the best engine steam cleaner doesn't exist! At least not in my professional opinion.
It's not that you couldn't find a quality steamer to clean your engine with, but it is one of the most inefficient ways to actually clean or detail a car engine.
What I can do with a home pressure washer and some degreaser in about 15 minutes, would take me an entire day with a steamer.
Seriously! Steamers are certainly effective at cleaning the tight areas of your car engine effectively and safely, but entirely inefficient in doing the entire engine!
And I don't know too many people that simply want to spot clean small areas of their car engine. Most people want the entire car engine and engine bay cleaned and degreased.
Darren's Tips: I really love this steamer. I just don't love it to steam clean my car engine. Unless of course you had a small area of your cars engine that only needs cleaning.
You can see my full write up on car steam cleaner if you want to see how I use these vapor steamers for various cleaning jobs for both my car and home.
I hate to be a buzz kill and you likely thought I would try and talk you into the perfect engine steam cleaner, but you are reading this from a guy who has cleaned and detailed car engines for over 30 years and I know there is a better way.
And for that reason I want to take you on a deep dive into this subject so you can become fully informed and make better decisions regarding your world and your car.
Whenever I am asked this question, I can almost guarantee a person is asking this based on outdated information. Also from a person who has probably never used an engine steam cleaner.
30 years ago there were professional services that used a combination of a pressure washer that also used super heated water to steam clean engines.
But this a thing of the past. Today, professional detailers like myself typically rely on a pressure washer and degreasers to clean and detail car engines.
The concept of steam cleaning an engine was based on high pressure, along with high heated water to perform the cleaning without the use of any chemicals.
Not only are these type of machines not available for home use, but the businesses that used to perform this type of service are no longer around (I have not seen this being done in over 30 years with one of the industrial steam cleaners)
Yes. At least in most cases.
Car engines and engine bays are made up of a million different components. (Yes, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point)
A true vapor steamer, like the modern day vapor steamers you can buy for home use employ the use of very small amount of water that is super heated.This super heated water is turned to super heated vapor that allows you do most types of cleaning without the use of traditional cleaning chemicals.
The high heat vapor also acts to disinfect while cleaning as the vapor is hot enough to kill many germs, viruses, and pathogens.
Most people become instantly fearful at the thought of any type of water getting on their car engine for good reasons. But these good reasons are mostly based on limited knowledge and experience.
Car engines of today are extremely water tight. As counter-intuitive as it may seem to a lay person, using water to clean your car engine is completely safe if basic common sense is applied. You can see my full tutorial on how to clean a car engine if you want to see the exact process and tools I use professionally.
Back in the day there were certain areas or components of a car engine that needed extra caution when getting wet, but today's modern engines are so water tight, it would be very hard to do any damage if you decided to use an engine steam cleaner or a pressure washer to clean a car engine.
Car engines and the engine bay itself is a very intricate area of any car. Because of the endless nuances, surfaces, materials, and components of a car engine, it becomes very difficult to thoroughly clean and detail a car engine without the use of water and some form of degreaser.
Vapor steam cleaners use super heated water that is extremely effective at cleaning and degreasing anything, particularly a car engine. But since a vapor steamer uses very little water and has a very small tip, it becomes a very inefficient way to go about cleaning the entire engine that is made up of endless surfaces, tight areas, and crevices.
You could spend an entire day trying to clean your car engine with a steamer as opposed to a pressure washer and some effective engine degreaser.
By now you should be at the point where you realize steam cleaning a car engine is not practical and a massive waste of time to accomplish something than can be done in a fraction of the time with the right equipment and products.
I have numerous pages that can walk you through this process using nothing more than basic brushes, degreaser, and a garden hose. You can see this at car engine cleaning.
If you want to amp up your car engine cleaning abilities, as well as have a handy piece of equipment around your house for other cleaning duties, you can see what I recommend as the best electric pressure washer.
I wish you much success in your detailing efforts!