Using a steam cleaner for professional auto detailing is a fantastic idea to detail faster and more efficiently. Steam cleaners also help to sanitize which is a great selling point. A steam cleaner makes interior seats and floors a breeze, engine bays a cinch and crooks and crevices quicker to clean.

Steam cleaners use water, heat and pressure to direct steam into the areas needed. Steam cleaners come with an array of attachments for different applications. Most steam cleaners have the attachments needed for any auto detailing service that is offered to customers.

Most of the higher quality and commercial steam cleaners are made in Italy, they have perfected the steam cleaning machine and produce very high quality products. Let's go through the best steam cleaners for auto detailing professionals starting with the consumer-grade and then into the commercial-grade.

Most Affordable Auto Detailing Steam Cleaners

McCulloch MC1275 - Most affordable

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Starting out the McCulloch MC1275 heavy duty steam cleaner is perfect. It can heat up to 200 degrees and comes with multiple attachments useful for auto detailing.
With the McCulloch you will get about 45 minutes of continuous steam and it will take around 8 minutes to heat up. For some cars 45 minutes will work but for heavily soiled interiors it might be a little more work and steam to get them cleaned up completely.

With the McCulloch, it is not a continuous refill, this means that you will have to wait for the unit to cool down before you can refill it with water and have it be reheated again. The PSI for the MC1275 is only 43 PSI which is low for trying to get the heavy grime and gunk from an engine bay.

The MSRP for the MC1275 is $139.99 which is very affordable for those just starting their auto detailing business and need steam for specific areas or packages offered.

McCulloch MC1385

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The next step up is the McCulloch MC1385, this one has a larger tank capacity and which gives almost 2 hours of continuous steam. The power cord is also 3 feet longer which could be useful for those running the cord from a distance.

The MC1385 has a variable steam option which allows the choice of the level of steam output for a given moment. The maximum PSI for the MC1385 is 58 PSI which helps more to get the heavier soiled items cleaned. The price for this runs about $80 more than the MC1275 but the higher PSI and longer continuous steam time is a great upgrade.

The MSRP for the MC1385 is $219.99 which is a step up from the MC1275 but with the additional benefits above it can be worth it to some detailers.

Steamer Price Max
PSI
Max
Temp.
Max
Steam Time
Variable
Steam
Auto
Refill
Boiler
Capacity
Heat
Time
Cord
Length
McCulloch
MC1275
$139.99 43 250 deg 45 min No No 48 oz 8 min 15 ft
McCulloch
MC1385
$219.99 58 PSI 250 deg 120 min Yes No 64 oz 12 min 18 ft

Best Starter Commercial Auto Detailing Steam Cleaners

Vapor Systems VX5000

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Now we are getting into the commercial grade steamers, the Vapor Systems VX5000 is the first we will discuss. As you can tell this one is not as “pretty” as the consumer-geared McCullochs mentioned above but that's because it is more powerful and durable.

The VX5000 pushes out 65 PSI at 298 degrees. This machine is great for those who are starting out and want to have the extra PSI to really get work done faster than the consumer-grade models. The VX5000 has a stainless steal boiler and a lot of great attachments for any detailing need.

The VX5000 is a great commercial-grade starter before you get into the higher-end commercial steamers which have more PSI and auto refill capabilities.

The VX5000 MSRP is $895.00 which is an investment for those who are just starting out, plan to save up a couple of months of detailing before going into debt when possible.

Dupray Tosca

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The Dupray Tosca is another great mid-range commercial-grade steamer which is also powerful and durable like the VX5000.

The Dupray Tosca runs at 316 degrees Fahrenheit with 72.5 PSI. It also has a stainless steal boiler that will hold 1.05 gallons of water, given the higher PSI, the steam time will be about 90 minutes.

The Dupray Tosca also allows variable steam and will automatically shut off when the water is out. The Tosca also comes with a lot of great accessories for auto detailing.

The Dupray Tosca MSRP is a little more than the VX5000 at $1297 but it can often be cheaper at under $1000. The extra PSI and higher temperature are enough for most to go with the Tosca vs. the VX5000.

Chief Steamer 100 - Best specs for the price

The Chief Steamer 100 unit is another great commercial-grade unit for auto detailers starting out. The Chief Steamer 100, recently updated, comes with 110 PSI at 295 degrees which is the most PSI out of the starter commercial-grade steamers.

The Chief Steamer 100 is also the only one out of these 3 that has continuous refill capabilities. This is a huge bonus for this unit with it already having higher PSI and continuous refill, this makes the Chief Steamer 100 one of my favorite units in this article.

The Chief Steamer 100 is all Italian made and has a stainless steel boiler like the rest. The warranty on the boiler and heating element are lifetime and the rest of the internal parts is 3 years which is similar to the other warranties.

The boiler capacity is less than the other units but that is because it is not necessary to be large with the auto-refill capability.

The beauty of the Chief Steamer 100 is the price compared to the rest given the obvious upgrades. The MSRP for the Chief Steamer 100 is $999. This prices it in the middle of the others but an extra $100 for 35 more PSI and continuous refill is worth it.

Steamer Price Max
PSI
Max
Temp.
Max
Steam Time
Variable
Steam
Auto
Refill
Boiler
Capacity
Heat
Time
Cord
Length
VX5000 $895 65 298 deg 120 min Yes No 118 oz 12 min 15'
Dupray
Tosca
$1297 72.5 316 deg 90 min Yes No 134.4 oz 7 min 14'9"
Chief Steamer
100
$999 110 295 deg Unlimited Yes Yes 67.6 oz 9 min 13'

Best High-End Commercial Auto Detailing Steam Cleaners

Dupray Hill Injection

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Starting off the higher-end commercial grade steamers is the Dupray Hill Injection. This steamer is also made in Italy and is of very high quality. With the Dupray Hill Injection unit you get what is called continuous refill or auto-refill. This allows you to work for as long as your heart desires without having to wait for the unit to cool down to refill it.

The Dupray Hill Injection comes with a powerful 121 PSI at 347 degrees which is almost twice the PSI of the VX5000 and even more than twice the McCulloch's. Having higher PSI makes auto detailing more efficient because the time saved is crucial to remain profitable. Higher PSI also helps a lot when detailing an engine bay with all of the grease and build-up caked on.

Another benefit of the Dupray Hill Injection vs. the VX5000 or the McCulloch's is the ability to add a detergent for even quicker cleaning ability. Some detailers decide not to use detergent when steaming and stick to spraying it on the affected area separately for better control of the amount and dilution used for the task at hand. This feature is still a good for those starting out who don't have a specific amount of product and dilution nailed down yet.

The retail price for the Dupray Hill Injection is $2497. It is normally on sale for under $2000. The price is warranted for continuous refill and the PSI for those who will be using this a lot and on very dirty and grimy interiors and engine bays.

Chief Steamer 125

The Chief Steamer 125 is the next higher-end commercial grade unit, it is another solid steamer made in Italy with stainless steal parts. The Chief Steamer 125 pushes out 135 PSI after a recent update to get the extra 10 PSI. The steam temperature in the boiler is 350 degrees and at the wand is around 320 degrees.

The Chief Steamer 125 also has continuous refill and also has the ability to add detergent. As discussed with the Tosca this is a great feature for those who are looking to save some time applying product.

The steam and product amounts are controlled at the wand so you can adjust given the specific stain or surface being treated. The Chief Steamer 125 is truly an incredible machine and very well made, it will not break down. The customer service from Kevin at Chief Steamers is top-notch, he is always willing to help answer questions or advice.

This would be the steamer to get if you have the funds available. MSRP is $2,299 but it is often on sale for under $2000.

Steamer Price Max
PSI
Max
Temp.
Max
Steam Time
Variable
Steam
Auto
Refill
Boiler
Capacity
Heat
Time
Cord
Length
Dupray Hill
Injection
$2487 121 347 deg Unlimited Yes Yes 50 oz 7 min 14' 9"
Chief Steamer
125
$2299 135 350 deg Unlimited Yes Yes 101 oz 12 min 13'

Conclusion

We walked through three tiers of auto detailing steamers and the benefits/downsides of each. Having a steamer to detail cars is a great investment in your business, steam makes interiors and engine bays so much faster and easier to work with. It is definitely a big decision to be made, so hopefully this has helped you in your decision buying journey. Below is a table which includes all of the options for auto detailing steamers.

Steamer Price Max
PSI
Max
Temp.
Max
Steam Time
Variable
Steam
Auto
Refill
Boiler
Capacity
Heat
Time
Cord
Length
McCulloch
MC1275
$140 43 250 deg 45 min No No 48 oz 8 min 15 ft
McCulloch
MC1385
$220 58 250 deg 120 min Yes No 64 oz 12 min 15 ft
VX5000 $895 65 298 deg 120 min Yes No 118 oz 12 min 15'
Dupray Tosca $1297 72.5 316 deg 90 min Yes No 134.4 oz 7 min 14'9"
Chief Steamer
100
$999 110 295 deg Unlimited Yes Yes 67.6 oz 9 min 13'
Dupray
Hill Injection
$2487 121 347 deg Unlimited Yes Yes 50 oz 7 min 14' 9"
Chief Steamer
125
$2299 135 350 deg Unlimited Yes Yes 101 oz 12 min 13'

Once you get your steamer practice and train yourself with it to improve your time to detail.  The faster you can work while still providing quality work, the more you can make and the happier your customers will be.

As always, continue to serve, learn, and grow as an auto detailing professional.

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