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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
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Old 04-28-2011, 08:45 AM
JL2672a JL2672a is offline
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DIY - Steam cleaning your interior and exterior

I'm thinking about buying a portable steam cleaner for the home. Does anyone use one of these to wash the interior and exterior of their car? Is it safe for the exterior finish? How about leather and wood panels?
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:28 AM
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Kilgore Trout Kilgore Trout is offline
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By "steam cleaner," do you mean one of those floor gizmos that actually boils water and generates steam, or do you mean something like "The little green cleaning machine." I've used both. I found the former to be marginally useful, and the later to do a good job with upholstery and carpet, but not be particularly useful elsewhere.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:36 AM
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Maybe for carpets, but there are dozens of tried-n-tested products for both exterior/paint and leather
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by 1985mb View Post
Maybe for carpets, but there are dozens of tried-n-tested products for both exterior/paint and leather
+1

If you do end up steaming things, i would be really careful. Steaming is a non abrasive method of removing/loosening the glue of the trim.
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Old 04-28-2011, 12:23 PM
JL2672a JL2672a is offline
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I ended up ordering one of these:

http://www.amazon.com/McCulloch-MC-1.../dp/B0000DF0RB

Hope it'll do the job of cleaning the brake dust off those wheels and maybe even the road gunk off the lower side panels just behind the wheels. Will report back on how well it works.






Naturally, I'd love to have the machine this guy has, but unfortunately, it costs around $8k and is a professional detailer's tool.





This kind of tool must be what they use to steam clean engines. That'd make brake dust history!

Last edited by JL2672a; 04-28-2011 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 04-28-2011, 12:36 PM
JL2672a JL2672a is offline
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+1

If you do end up steaming things, i would be really careful. Steaming is a non abrasive method of removing/loosening the glue of the trim.

+1 for reminding me not to steam the trim and melt the glue. I'll keep it to metal surfaces and carpeting for now.
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Old 04-28-2011, 01:54 PM
Ilovemycar Ilovemycar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JL2672a View Post
I ended up ordering one of these:

http://www.amazon.com/McCulloch-MC-1.../dp/B0000DF0RB

Hope it'll do the job of cleaning the brake dust off those wheels and maybe even the road gunk off the lower side panels just behind the wheels. Will report back on how well it works.

Naturally, I'd love to have the machine this guy has, but unfortunately, it costs around $8k and is a professional detailer's tool.

This kind of tool must be what they use to steam clean engines. That'd make brake dust history!
What prompted the steam cleaning idea for everything? I'm just curious, thanks. Is that video basically for someone who doesn't have access to a hose or something, in the middle of nowhere? I know that no-rinse washes are very convenient for apartment dwellers, no need for a hose, but is that you?

For tar, for the very rare occasions that I clean it off, I simply use a MF with WD40. With paint, for washing, maybe the most important focus is to not scratch or abrade (you could say the same for claying). I don't see how this would be the ideal method, but what do I know.

For the wheels, I spray on some sonax, agitate, rinse off. Effective and easy.

I have a hoover steam vacuum, where I can use the handheld hose attachment for the cloth seats in my truck. It helped significantly, not perfectly, but this vehicle is very old.

For carpets, I typically will just spray some medium strength APC, agitate, rinse. APC is super cheap, I think my large meg's bottle might last my lifetime.

So far as I know, here is the best way to wash your car, I think anyways. Get two buckets, one with the wash, the other with water and a grit guard. Total cost is like $15 there? Decent MF mitts are cheap, and what I do like about the meguiars is no thumb, which makes it more easily reversible. I've been using a lambswool with thumb, and I really dislike the thumb. I also have a bunch of those megs as there was a buy 3 get one free deal at amazon recently. Look up two bucket method. Ok the mitt is like $6.

http://www.amazon.com/Meguiars-X3002...4023997&sr=1-1

Take it one step further, add a foam gun to your hose. It has a quick release, so it's super easy and more convenient than you'd think. You see, then the wash gets to start lubricating the grime/dirt off without requiring you to mechanically apply it by hand (more chance for abrasion/swirls). See, it's all about avoiding abrasion. The two bucket method is the same thing, taking as much abrasive dirt off the mitt in the water-only bucket with the help of the grit guard.

I used the gun recently with a water bucket + guard recently, but it's possible the next time I still might use two bucket method along with the foam gun. It might be overkill, but I feel safer about it as the suds of my gold class wash don't look anything like the pro pics in the detailing subforum. Not that I expected it to, but I rather be safe than sorry. Since I was doing two-bucket anyways, the only lost time by adding the foam gun into my process is about 5 seconds (remember, it's quick release, right off the nozzle).

I got this, which is at 4oz per gallon, however I didn't notice the one with multi settings.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000XTK940

http://www.amazon.com/Gilmour-75QGFM...4023328&sr=1-1
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  #8  
Old 04-28-2011, 03:40 PM
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Have a expert detailer do this, it will end up being done correctly, and better, than you ever can.
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  #9  
Old 04-28-2011, 04:47 PM
Ilovemycar Ilovemycar is offline
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Originally Posted by RaceBlood View Post
Have a expert detailer do this, it will end up being done correctly, and better, than you ever can.
I respectfully disagree. I've actually hired the most famous and well reviewed guy in my area (recommended by name by Porsche and Ferrari dealerships). I watched his technique, and noted all of the products he used. I've just started learning how to do this stuff like a year ago, and I'm confident that I can match what he does up all the way up to his $350 service. I cannot yet match his $450 service, or beyond, because I am wary to take a rotary to my paint, not that I'm even close to needing it.

Orbitals, there just isn't any worry at all for me. I really wish I had a Flex DA in addition to my PC.

All it takes is the willingness to read up, throw down some money for the products, and be prepared to sweat and apply a bunch of elbow grease. It is not rocket science.

In fact, there are some enthusiasts here that I would trust as much as your average pro detailer, maybe in some regards, I'd trust them more.
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:38 PM
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There is no way on God's green earth that I would use that thing as a substitute for a sponge and two buckets of water. Something tells me that all you would do is create swirls. Of course, the guy in the video is a detailer who is going to wax the car afterward so who knows what he uses to cover his tracks.

I love my foam gun; and combined with a double bucket technique, it really doesn't use all that much water. Plus, the suds really do lubricate and loosen most of the dust and dirt. I rarely see much residue on my mf sponge except around the wheel wells where there's always brake dust residue, and the usual bugs on the front.

I also have a hard time envisioning the steam cleaner magically making brake dust disappear. I can make brake dust wash off with soap and water due to my Rejex/Armorall Brake Dust Repellent combo, but it still requires a sponge, suds and a soft brush to reach into all the tight spots.

I'm with ILMC, there is a ton of information available if you just read, and you could spend the greater part of a weekend just watching videos on youtube on how to properly wash a car.
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Old 04-28-2011, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordic_Kat View Post
There is no way on God's green earth that I would use that thing as a substitute for a sponge and two buckets of water. Something tells me that all you would do is create swirls. Of course, the guy in the video is a detailer who is going to wax the car afterward so who knows what he uses to cover his tracks.

I love my foam gun; and combined with a double bucket technique, it really doesn't use all that much water. Plus, the suds really do lubricate and loosen most of the dust and dirt. I rarely see much residue on my mf sponge except around the wheel wells where there's always brake dust residue, and the usual bugs on the front.

I also have a hard time envisioning the steam cleaner magically making brake dust disappear. I can make brake dust wash off with soap and water due to my Rejex/Armorall Brake Dust Repellent combo, but it still requires a sponge, suds and a soft brush to reach into all the tight spots.

I'm with ILMC, there is a ton of information available if you just read, and you could spend the greater part of a weekend just watching videos on youtube on how to properly wash a car.
Couldn't agree more!
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:17 PM
brentster brentster is offline
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I got a handheld portable steamer a few years ago for some reason and recently tried it on my engine. Honestly, just grabbing a wet rag and agitating with my hand did a heck of a lot more good then the steam did.

I do LOVE my Gilmour foam gun though!!!!!
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Old 04-29-2011, 05:32 AM
schmatt schmatt is offline
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This looks like something for people that can't wash a car outside. You could clean a car inside of a garage without needing any drainage. I could see how this helps loosen all the dirt. I use the steam floor cleaner and it actually cleans my tile floors a lot better than any mop and soap ever did. Personally, I would just stick with soap and water. I don't think it would be worth the money. As far as cleaning the interior, I would just stick with the normal proven methods and products. You don't want to experiment with your own vehicle. It could end up costing you a lot if it doesn't work.
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Old 04-29-2011, 01:22 PM
Ilovemycar Ilovemycar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmatt View Post
This looks like something for people that can't wash a car outside. You could clean a car inside of a garage without needing any drainage. I could see how this helps loosen all the dirt. I use the steam floor cleaner and it actually cleans my tile floors a lot better than any mop and soap ever did. Personally, I would just stick with soap and water. I don't think it would be worth the money. As far as cleaning the interior, I would just stick with the normal proven methods and products. You don't want to experiment with your own vehicle. It could end up costing you a lot if it doesn't work.
I would still use a no rinse wash like Optimum over the steam clean. I am going to go out on a limb and say that BMW paint is a bit softer than a garage floor, and any blemish on the floor won't bother me quite as much as it would on the paint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brentster View Post
I got a handheld portable steamer a few years ago for some reason and recently tried it on my engine. Honestly, just grabbing a wet rag and agitating with my hand did a heck of a lot more good then the steam did.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilovemycar View Post
. . . I'm confident that I can match what he does up all the way up to his $350 service. I cannot yet match his $450 service, or beyond, because I am wary to take a rotary to my paint, not that I'm even close to needing it.
The engine bay detail, that brings up a point for me. While I can't match my detailer's $450 package, I can blow by its value once I add an engine bay detail (very easy, just degreaser and brush), and/or headlight restoration (have 3M & Megs kits, as well as more sandpaper), and/or leather rejuvenation (with leatherique). Again, I've learned all this just in the last year. Therefore if anyone tells me that a detailer will do a better job than I *ever* can, I will disagree . . .

OP, return the steam cleaner, and get some sonax or p21s wheel cleaner, a wheel brush, lugnut brush (carrand), can of wd40, APC, couple of buckets, car wash soap, MF mitt, WW (waffle weave) MF drying towels. That's right, for the price of that steam cleaner, you can buy this entire list, and probably still have some money left in the pocket to boot.
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Old 04-29-2011, 01:30 PM
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Orient330iNYC Orient330iNYC is online now
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i tried a steam cleaner years ago on the brake dust. it did nothing to remove it... scrubbing by hand worked better
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Old 04-29-2011, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JL2672a View Post
I'm thinking about buying a portable steam cleaner for the home. Does anyone use one of these to wash the interior and exterior of their car? Is it safe for the exterior finish? How about leather and wood panels?
Dirt is glued to a surface with what may be called oily substances. Heat liquifies solid deposits and reduces viscosity of such substances, enabling the force of moving water or 'steam' to slough them away.

Usually there's a surfactant based cleaner in the steam that emulsifies the 'oils,' causing much faster and more effective/complete removal.

Heated or 'steam' cleaners are excellent for curvilinear reshaping, re: plastic parts. They also make adhesive removal a snap - debadgers take note!

BUT....'steam' heat is not needed for surfactants (car wash soap to most of us) to do a great job. Elbow grease and water spray is.
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Old 04-29-2011, 03:34 PM
brentster brentster is offline
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What its great for is cleaning our microwave. I don't wanna spray cleaning solutions where we do most of our "cooking". lol The steam makes quick work of the crud that sticks inside there.
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Old 04-29-2011, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JL2672a View Post
I'm thinking about buying a portable steam cleaner for the home. Does anyone use one of these to wash the interior and exterior of their car? Is it safe for the exterior finish? How about leather and wood panels?
For the interior carpet, you want an extractor, and a GOOD one too. The last thing you want is excess water in the carpet or pad. Expect to pay quite a bit for a good one and if you remove the seats, BMW specifies the bolts CANNOT be reused. Just something to think about. For spot cleaning, the 303 Carpet cleaner is really good, zero smell.
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