What's the difference between a steamer and an extractor?
Often times our customers will refer to these pieces of equipment not really knowing what they do. Which makes total sense, the world of car detailing can get a bit confusing. Both tools if used correctly can create amazing results and can be used to clean certain types of messes up.
Most often times, this equipment will be used when it comes to shampooing an interior. What most detailers really mean is this service that uses the following tools are meant for a deeper level a clean. Just as with anything, car detailing comes in levels of thoroughness. If the car is relatively clean, then most times a full interior shampoo/cleaning wouldn't make sense versus a car that is not regularly cleaned or has been through some spills and stains.
Oftentimes when it comes to the level of clean, the detailer will have to take into consideration the clients budget. In a perfect world, us detailers would love to clean every car to perfection but that isn't feasible as not everyone wants that level of clean or would like to pay for that level of clean.
Prices for auto detailing services can range from $80-$3000+.
When it comes to steaming and extracting, the general thought is that this services for the full interior should range anywhere from $200-$300 + and can be way more if the car has been severely neglected and has seen better days.
Typically when it comes to auto detailing, we take the approach where first we start off with the least aggressive method and work our way up. Similarly, you wouldn't do surgery for a small cut, not every tool needs to be used when detailing.
Typically, if the car is not heavily dirty or has small spot stains, the steamer will suffice. Also, if there is any DIY'ers that are looking to clean their car, I would recommend a steamer be used as typically you can purchase a steamer for roughly $150 and a decent extractor can cost $400+.
Both have their pros and cons, if you have a heavy spill that has made its way into fabric, then an extractor would make sense as the steamer would only disinfect and and possibly not completely remove the embedded liquid as a extractor would.
When it comes to our specific full interior shampoo service, we use both of these machines depending on what needs to be done for that specific task.
For any aspiring mobile auto detailer looking to get into the business, I would recommend the steamer route before grabbing an extractor. While eventually I would recommend grabbing both, the steamer will be more versatile for you in the start of things.
Little by little work up with what you have and as you start collecting equipment, the detailing will become easier and more efficient with the proper tools.