Pros & Cons Of Steam-Cleaning Your Car To Get Rid Of Germs

Car detailing services are cashing in on the COVID-19 pandemic, inviting people to make their cars coronavirus free.

Car and Bike
2 min read
Detailing services are offering steam-cleaning and "germ-cleaning" services to disinfect cars during the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made the world sit up and relook at its hygiene habits. Of course, like every trend that's grabbing the headlines, people will try and cash in on it.

In the last few days, my social media timelines have been filled with ads for car-detailing services offering to "steam-clean" the car for a "germ-free" or "coronavirus-free" interior. Think about it. The car's door handles, steering, gear-lever and seats are hotbeds for all sorts of germs.

If you let someone else touch your car or drive it, chances are it can get contaminated. Even those few minutes when it was driven by a valet at a hotel or someone sought a lift in it are enough.

How do you sanitise the interiors of the car? Is this steam-cleaning really worth it? It is, but there are some caveats.


Pros of Steam Cleaning

Let's face it, steam has a temperature of over 100 degrees C at normal atmospheric pressure. And pressurised steam used by detailing services is even hotter. No bacteria or viruses can survive those temperatures.

It is a good idea to steam clean the interiors of the car as it will disinfect most of it. Steam can easily dislodge embedded dirt as well, making it easier to brush the surfaces and clean up.

Carpets, seats, steering, engine bay and roof-liner can all be steam cleaned. It will get rid of bad odours as well, temporarily.

But some precautions are needed.

Cons of Steam Cleaning

When the interiors of a car are steam-cleaned, they will get soggy and need time to dry out. Once steam cleaning is done, the car will need to be left to drive or blow-dried. Some detailers also vacuum-dry carpets and upholstery.

The high temperature of steam can have some damaging effects on sensitive electronic components in the car, so one has to ensure the detailer knows what he/she is doing. Misdirected hot steam can play havoc with electronics, especially in modern cars.

Steam can also strip surface wax from the paint on a car making it vulnerable to scratches and swirl marks. If the exterior is steam cleaned, it has to be followed up with a wax polish job.


Companies such as 3M offer a "germ-clean" package, which involves disinfecting the interior of the car along with dry-cleaning it.

Droom, an online car marketplace, is offering Droom Health which is an antimicrobial surface protection service for cars and two-wheelers. Prices for the service range between Rs 499 to Rs 1,799 depending on the vehicle.

Many private players in cities are offering steam-cleaning services as well.
At the end of the day, will steam cleaning kill viruses? Yes, it will. Just ensure it's done with care.

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