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What's the Difference between a Steamer and an Extractor?

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

If you've never gotten your car professionally detailed you probably had no idea that these tools were used to achieve such great results on your cars interior.

On the other hand. If you've had your cars interior professional detailed before, more than likely the detailer used a steamer or extractor depending on the condition your vehicle called for.

This is referred to as "Shampooing" in the car detailing world. It could be done on both your seats, floor mats, and carpets. Nonetheless even though both of these tools are different, the end result remains the same and that's a much cleaner, better smelling interior so you can enjoy your daily ride.

Considering your Budget

The reality of it is, no matter how much money you spend or what brand you use when you are considering between a steamer and an extractor you'll more than likely still get the same high quality results if you shampoo properly.

Prices can range from $100-$3,000+ depending on your budget, experience, and the level of professionalism and you will quickly come to find out that the differences between the two are very minimal it's just a different price tag.

Which one is best to start with?

The best tool to use is the one you either already have, or simply the one you can afford to get at the time. For beginners, we recommend starting off with a steamer, this will keep the mess low and the quality high.

Let me explain, so you bring out the steamer and it's steaming hot, smoky and you start to agitate the cars interior with the different attachments. The great thing about the steamer is that it's doing a ton of things all at once.

The steamer will disinfect, it will lift any bad odors and smells, will also helping get rid of any ugly stain. This is why we recommend it for beginners, let the steamer do everything you need it to and your detail experience won't so hard.

Using the steamer could be done near the end of the detail where as the extractor will most likely be done first because of the mess it creates.

Extractor too messy?

Now i'll be honest, for the past year or so we've used a steamer to shampoo seats and clean off carpets. It wasn't until recently that an extractor made it's way into our collection of tools.

My first experience with the extractor was amazing, it was satisfying knowing that all the water and dirt was being lifted off the seats and wasn't sitting there after we've left.

The extractor is by far a luxury more than a necessity, we still prefer using the steamer over the extractor but with time we've realize how much of a mess it actually creates.

As well all know, the extractor has a water spray on the nozzle and that water breaks up the dirt and the brush agitates and sucks up and the chemicals and dirt from the seats or carpet.

Doing this can easily become messy and you'll quickly come to find that you have to wipe off the surfaces on the interior to keep up with timing.

Which One Should I get???

As we've already mentioned, start off with a high quality steamer. There's a ton of options on amazon for under $200 and the results will all be the same!

Don't waste too much time considering between tools and products but rather focus on which one could make your job easier and the detailing process more efficient so that you can finish in a decent amount of time.

The choice is yours, thanks for reading.

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