Car Steamer vs. Extractor

Car Steamer vs. Extractor

Have you taken your car to a professional detailer and seen that they use an assortment of tools and products to deliver amazing results for you?

If you’ve had  your interior thoroughly cleaned, it’s most likely than not that the detailer used a steamer or an extractor (if your car’s condition called for it).

A lot of people refer to this as shampooing your seats or floor mats. Although there are major differences between the extractor and steamer, the end result is the same; a MUCH cleaner interior.

This blog post is great if you’re either looking to buy a steamer or extractor but you’re just not sure of what will best fit you, or if you simply want to expand your knowledge before you get your car detailed.

A Few Notes On The Steamer And Extractor

There are many steamers and extractors on the market to choose from. Prices will range between $200 and all the way up to $2500. The type of steamer or extractor you’re going to buy is going to be highly dependent on you situation.

If you’re brand new to detailing and you want to detail your own car or you want to start your own detailing business, I’d highly recommend starting off with the least expensive option- or at least don’t stretch your budget to try and afford an expensive one.

At one point, I spent $1,000 for a steamer, a few months later, I sold it and bought me a $200 steamer. Yes, there are completely different in terms of quality and features, but the $200 steamer is still getting me the same results that the $1,000 steamer was giving me.

And just because you do buy an expensive steamer or extractor does not mean that you’re going to get better results. Just like my example above, I had a top-of-the-line $1,000 steamer and now I have a $200 steamer. I still get GREAT results with the less-expensive steamer.

The Steamer

The steamer has a water tank that heats up to a certain level (depending on your steamer, this will highly vary), then once you pull the trigger on the wand, the steamer releases a strong mist of steam.

If the steamer is pretty strong, it can actually clean stains, cup holders, vents, engines, etc… on it’s own without adding any type of solution to the surface. But typically, you’ll see a brush attached to the end of the wand so it can have the steamer spraying plus the agitation of a brush.

While you’re cleaning your carpet mats, you’ll spray the solution onto the mat, agitate it with the steam and brush, and then mop up any remaining residue with a dry towel. This will give you amazing results.

The Extractor

Just like the steamer, the extractor has a water that heats up to a certain level and it also has a recovery tank because it sucks the water back up.

The way it works is you’ll spray the water directly into the carpet and as you’re moving the wand back, it is simultaneously vacuuming the water at the same time.

So it shoots the water into the carpet fibers and then it sucks it right back up. That way the water doesn’t stay in the fabric too long because that can also bring problems like wicking, over-saturation, and so forth.

Which One Is Right For Me

You’d really need to take a look at your situation and see what direction you’d like to go in. Personally, I’d prefer the steamer over the extractor because of the versatility. With a steamer, you can clean leather and cloth seats, carpet mats, vinyl, plastic, headliner, engine, etc..

An extractor you can only clean carpet flooring, carpet mats, and cloth seats.

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