5 Steps To Steam Clean Your Car Engine And Make It Shine

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Just like every part of a vehicle, the engine can get dirty, and it may need to be cleaned. This is why it is important to know how to steam clean a car engine. Honestly, the best option for cleaning your car engine and the engine bay is to take it to a professional who can do a thorough job and do it safely without damaging any key engine and electrical components. However, not everyone has the extra money to spend on a professional engine bay and engine cleaning. Professional engine cleaning services can cost upwards of $500 or more. If you are looking to save some money, then you could do the engine cleaning yourself at a fraction of the cost. 

Steam Clean Your Car Engine 1 1 5 Steps To Steam Clean Your Car Engine And Make It Shine

Table of Contents

How do you steam clean your car engine? 

The basic steps to steam cleaning your car engine include:

  1. Prepare the engine and engine bay for cleaning. 
  2. Remove any larger debris from under the hood. 
  3. Apply degreaser to the engine and the other parts under the hood.
  4. Use a steam cleaner to remove the degreaser.
  5. Wipe everything clean and let it dry.

Once you have removed all of the degreasers from the car engine and all the other components in the engine bay and under the hood, then you will need to give the entire area a good rinse with cold water. After the rinse is complete, you can go ahead and use a rag to wipe clean and dry off everything. 

Once the engine and other components are dry, you may consider applying metallic wax and other products to the engine and other car parts to help protect them from future damage. 

As this is only a brief description, let us take a deeper dive into all the steps that go into steam cleaning your car engine at home as well as some of the products that you may want to consider to help you in the process.

How to steam clean a car engine at home

As discussed before, if you are looking to steam clean your car at home, it only takes a few basic steps and a couple of hours of your time to do a pretty good job.

One of the first and most important steps includes preparing the engine and engine bay to be cleaned. The reason why this step is so important is that a steam cleaner uses hot water, and if that water gets into any of the electrical components, it could cause some trouble down the road. 

Let us take a look at how to properly prepare your engine for a steam cleaning as well as the rest of the steps it takes to steam clean your car engine at home.

Steam Clean Your Car Engine 1 5 Steps To Steam Clean Your Car Engine And Make It Shine

1. Prepare engine and engine bay for cleaning

Steam cleaning can be an extremely effective way to clean your car’s engine and under-the-hood components. However, if not done properly, the hot water that is highly pressurized and applied under the hood could cause more damage than good. When you are ready to steam clean your car engine, take the following steps.

Turn off your car and let the engine cool down for several hours

It is never a good idea to work on your car anytime the engine is warm. Not only is it a safety issue, but it can cause damage to your vehicle as well. When it comes to steam cleaning, if you apply water to a hot engine, even if that water is hot, it can cause cracks to form and other damage if the water and the engine are at two greatly different temperatures. 

A crack to the engine block or head gasket is a potentially easy way to destroy your vehicle that will cost incredible amounts of money to fix.

Cover all electrical components and remove the battery

Once your vehicle has cooled down, go ahead and remove the battery. You could leave the battery in and simply cover it, however, if it can be easily removed, why even take the risk? After you have removed the battery, you are going to want to take aluminum foil and start wrapping up all the different electrical components starting with the cables that previously were connected to the battery. 

Go ahead and wrap the metallic ends of the battery cables with the aluminum foil. After the battery cables are properly protected, move on to any sensors or circuits that are exposed and that could come into contact with the water. 

Also, make sure you cover the alternator as the alternator is the main electrical component tasked with keeping your battery charged. At this time, you should also locate the fuse box for your car engine and cover that as well. 

2. Remove debris

Although the hood of your car is closed most of the time, debris like leaves, grass, sand, and dirt can easily get in and find little nooks and crannies to get stuck. Do not worry about the dirt and sand so much as those will be removed with the water, but where you can, remove the larger debris like leaves and grass to get ready for the steam clean.

If you want to do a once-over with a rag to remove some of the dirt and sand, it may help the degreaser be more effective when applied later.

3. Apply engine degreaser

Applying a degreaser to the engine and the other metallic components under the hood may not be 100% necessary, but it doesn’t hurt if you are looking for the best cleaning possible. 

Degreaser can do wonders when it comes to removing grime and dirt that may not as easily be removed with water alone. That is why it may be in your best interest to use a degreaser generously under the hood to help your engine get the best possible cleaning. Imagine the degreaser as the soap before the bath.

4. Apply steam and pressurized hot water

Once your car engine and the other parts under the hood have been coated with a nice thick layer of degreaser, it is time to bust out the steam cleaner and get to work. Use the steam cleaner like you would any other type of pressure washer.

Make sure you are comfortable with the different settings and attachment nozzles you may have available to use when appropriate. 

Target the dirtiest areas first and concentrate that highly pressurized water on the grime to forcefully spray it away. You should be able to see your engine and the other grimy and dirty components slowly become brighter and shinier as the grime is lifted. Take your time and make sure you do not miss anything. 

5. Rinse and wipe clean

After you have removed as much dirt and grime as possible with the steam cleaner, go ahead and grab your normal garden hose and give the entire area a good rinse with cool regular water. 

Make sure when you are rinsing the engine, and under the hood all the degreaser has been properly removed, and you only see clear, clean water dripping off the engine. 

After the rinse is complete, you should take a rag and wipe every component clean. Start with the engine and make sure to use the rag to get into all the cracks and pockets in and around the engine. Next, move on to the other car parts and wipe them clean as well. 

You should see that your rag is clean and that you are not still removing degreaser or dirt and grime. If you see dirt and grime on your rag, you may want to turn the steam cleaner or hose back on again and give everything another once over. 

Once you have rinsed everything off and wiped it all down with a rag, let your vehicle dry for several hours before driving. After a few hours, this would be the time you could apply some metallic wax, rubber hose protection waxes, and any other preventative care products you may want to use. 

Also, after your vehicle is completely dry, go ahead and remove all the aluminum foil you used to cover the electrical components and reconnect the battery. Your car engine and engine bay are now clean, and your vehicle is ready to be driven.