(A) A member of the Detail Buddy crew uses an Optima Steamer to clean the interior of this vehicle. (Photo Courtesy of Detail Buddy)
(B) Crews using an Optima steam cleaning system clean the exterior of this vehicle using a fraction of the water utilized in a traditional car wash. (Photo courtesy of Steamericas)
(C) Steam cleaning systems work well on all aspects of the vehicle. (Photo courtesy of Steamericas)
(D) Portability is a big feature of a steam cleaning system like the Optima Steamer which is easy to transport and can be used anywhere. (Photo Courtesy of Detail Buddy)
Why is it so good?
“We have a unique (patented) boiler system that allows quick preheating time, fuel efficiency and steam to be as dry as possible,” says Anderson. “In fact, our steamer can deliver all three stages of steam—superheated steam, saturated steam and wet steam. A reliable steamer for a carwash or detailing business should generate steam non-stop without any downtime, which is what the Optima Steamer was built to do. Lastly, but very important, the Optima Steamer has all major certifications required in the Americas.”
Anderson says they are a perfect addition for any carwash.
“If you have a tunnel wash, it can be used as a pre-wash system which will loosen hardened dirt, bird droppings, tar, and bug spots,” says Anderson. “Powerful steam is an excellent tool for removing brake dust from rims. My favourite application of steam for a carwash is cleaning door jambs and trunks. Traditionally this is all done manually, and the cleaning quality still isn’t very good. With just enough pressure, steam gets through nooks and crannies. Detailers especially love our steamers for cleaning and restoring interiors where steam can save them hours of time that would have been needed to do the same job using a conventional method.”
Anderson says many of their customers started to add specialty services that can be easily achieved by the Optima Steamer to their menu for an easy upsell, such as car seat or stroller sanitizing, deodorizing and engine bay cleaning.
On the issue of misconceptions, she said the most common question is whether steam is safe on paint and exterior surfaces in general.
“The temperature of steam coming out from the Optima Steamer is about 100C,” says Anderson. “However, it can increase to 110C if you are using steam on one spot for a prolonged time at the point-blank distance. Normally, you will keep about 10-20 cm of distance between the steam gun nozzle and the surface you are cleaning. Because steam is a form of vapour, it loses its temperature and pressure fairly quickly. At this range of distance, the temperature of steam will be much lower, about 40-50C. Most paint jobs are heat treated if done right, and car paint has much higher melting point than the temperature it will be exposed to by steam.”
People also ask about water consumption.
Anderson says an Optima Steamer uses a fraction of the water used by hot water pressure washers.
“Using steam, you are saving over 98 per cent of water consumption,” says Anderson. “A seasoned steam car wash/detailing technician can wash a sedan inside and out with less than one or two gallons of water. And you save over 80 per cent of chemical consumption.”
No waste water run-off means operators no longer need to place a mat before washing and pump waste water into the recovery tank. That saves a lot of prepping and post-cleanup time.
Anderson says they have customers throughout Canada, most notably in the Toronto and Montreal areas.
The steam carwash movement started in East Asia and then spread into Europe. The Middle Eastern and Oceanian markets followed and the U.S. market then began to grow quickly in the last few years. In addition to the diesel-run units sold here, Steamericas also sells electric units to larger car wash operations that have sufficient three phase power available.
The following video links were provided by Steamericas to demonstrate how a steam car wash works and why it is a growing industry.
1. Jay Leno’s Garage Video Segment; https://youtu.be/5bXmxRjjAw8
2. SJE/Optima Promo Video; https://youtu.be/a5yTiOgzqVo
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer based out of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org