How does the inside of your car look? The truth is, the cabin of a car can get real dirty, real quick. Passengers themselves are going to introduce dirt and dust and over time that can really build up, especially if you are regularly transporting the dirtier kind of passenger – also known as pets and children!
Car upholstery is very hard wearing but it also has a pretty tough life. Therefore it needs a little care and attention every now and then to keep it looking its best. One of the best tools when you are doing that is a high quality Car Upholstery Cleaner. There are a number on the market these days, so we’ve set out to help you find the best one to meet your needs.
The Best Car Upholstery Cleaner
We don’t normally kick off with the Premium product on the list, but when we see the Car Guys name attached to any car-cleaning product it’s hard not to sit up and pay attention.
This product does indeed come with a premium price tag, being the most expensive on the list. However, in return for that outlay you are getting a pretty remarkable cleaning product, the main feature of which is that it is safe to use on virtually every surface in side the car with the exception of glass and instrument panel screens.
Other than that – this product can clean all upholstery, leather trim, plastics, vinyl and canvas amongst others. Not only that, but it is formulated to tackle dirt and grime on a molecular level, so if you let it soak into a stained material it can really get to work providing a truly deep level clean.
It also doesn’t leave behind the oily surface that some cleaners can – it is instead formulated to wipe away without a trace. The only thing it leaves behind in fact is a lovely, clean surface.
Multi Surface Cleaner
Effective Clean Lifts Away Dirt & Grime
- BrandCar Guys
- Weight1.25 lbs
Another great multi-purpose cleaner, this product from Tuff Stuff boasts a powerful foaming action to effectively lift dirt and grime out of upholstery. It is safe to use on quite a wide variety of surfaces, but it is really best deployed tackling soft upholstery (like seat covers) as well as carpets and floor mats. That’s because as a foam product, it really provides the best cleaning action when it can be sprayed on and left to soak in.
For a mid range price tag of around $10 you get a nice, big 22 ounce can so you can really go to town cleaning your car interior very thoroughly! It can also be used on harder materials like vinyl and plastics, making it a relatively cheap but effective all round deep cleaner.
Powerful, Foam Based Cleaner
Great on Upholstery, carpets & Floor Mats
- BrandTuff Stuff
- Weight1.71 lbs
The first of our more specialized cleaners and it is an early return for perennial CarBible favorites, the Car Guys. They make it onto so many of our best product lists because, frankly, they often are making some of the best products in whatever niche we are investigating.
Here they have a brought a high quality cleaner that is formulated just for fabrics. It benefits from a similar base formulation as the Multipurpose cleaner we discussed already, being designed with built in Biotechnology to tackle dirt and grime at a molecular level for truly deep cleaning action.
At the same time it’s remarkably mild, containing no abrasive-cleaning agents like bleach or ammonia. The built in odor eliminator could be particularly interesting for anyone whose pets (or kids!) are regularly in their car, adding their own unique bouquet of aromas to the upholstery.
All that and a price tag of around $10 makes this a product you really should be looking at, especially if your upholstery or carpets need some attention.
Specially Formulated for Fabrics
Deep Cleaning Biotechnology
No Toxic Chemicals, Bleach or Ammonia
- BrandCar Guys
- Weight1.1 lbs
Another fantastic value product, this cleaner from Black Diamond comes in a huge 1 Quart size bottle for around $10.
It’s therefore great to pick up if you are looking to tackle cleaning upholstery that has maybe seen better days or hasn’t been cleaned for a while. This is because it is designed to tackle both old and new grime. It’s also safe to use in domestic settings – on things like sofas – and with a formulation designed for inside the house means it is well equipped to tackle a number of in car spillages like coffee and pet stains.
It provides a professional strength clean but is still safe to use around children and pets, meaning you can spray down the car interior without having to worry about airing it all out before your passengers climb inside.
Safe, Non Toxic Formula
Can be Used on Many Fabric & Upholstery Types
- BrandBlack Diamond
- Weight1.98 lbs
Meguiar’s is another cleaning product manufacturer we like to see here at Car Bible, and this premium offering could well be one of the best products they’ve yet brought to market.
This is a professional strength cleaning foam that is designed to really get to work on deep stains and odors. It is also formulated to be fast acting, so you don’t have to spray on an application, go away and read War & Peace, then come back to finish the job.
The product is designed to start lifting stains and dirt straight away, and that is a very handy feature. Whilst the 19 ounce can is sufficient for a deep clean on all the upholstery in the car cabin, it is also great to just keep on hand for spot cleaning as and when you notice spills or dirt beginning to build up.
It leaves behind a lovely fresh odor too, and no sticky or greasy residues. Price wise we are well in the mid range and expect to drop round 10 bucks for a can of this stuff.
Professional Strength Deep Cleaning Foam
Dries Without Leaving Residues
- Weight1.19 lbs
The cleaner from Turtle Wax brings the usual level of deep clean that you would expect of any product in this range. It is formulated to tackle a range of ground in stains like coffee, grease and food stains. It even includes a very helpful, detachable scrubbing brush built into the cap that really helps you tackle ground in stains.
Where it really exceeds is in it’s odor elimination however. It is specially formulated with the mysterious compound Odor-X (not to be confused with Chemical X). Odor X works hard to not only eliminate bad odors – even really strong ones like tobacco smoke – but the product itself leaves behind a silicone shield to help prevent future soiling.
That means not only does it eliminate bad smells – and stains – the product works to stop them quickly reappearing.
Powerful Odor Eliminator
Detachable Scrubbing Brush
Safe to use on a Range of Upholstery Types & Fabrics
- BrandTurtle Wax
- Weight1.75 lbs
The first thing to note with this product is that you’ll get change from 10 bucks and a whole 22 Ounces of product to play with, which makes this product very good value. Still, there is no point buying it if it doesn’t do its job, no matter how much of a bargain it is.
This cleaner is formulated for deep cleaning, and can tackle a range of typical car stains such as motor oil, grass, cola and coffee. It works with a powerful Oxygen based action to gently but effectively dissolve and lift even ground in stains.
It may not have all the bells and whistles of more premium products, however this is a decent enough cleaner, formulated with powerful deep clean action for a really low price.
Large size, Small Price
Tackles Deep, Ground in Dirt
Restores Dull and Dirty Upholstery
- BrandAmour All
- Weight1.6 lbs
Our third entry from the Chemical Guys, and this one is a bit of a specialist product. This is designed for soft fabrics like upholstery and carpets, and it is specially formulated to tackle spot stains. So if a stain has just occurred then this is just the emergency product you need to tackle it before it can develop into a permanent stain.
Its powerful cleaning agents get to work fast and it is very simply to use. Simply spray on, agitate with a brush to work into the stain and then wipe away the residues (and the stain) with the microfiber cloth. Instant, fast action to stop stains in their tracks!
It also boasts a powerful anti-odor compound and built in anti-bacterial enzymes that work to disinfect surfaces for a completely clean finish. It is also formulated to be extremely gentle on the materials it cleans without affecting that awesome cleaning power.
Extremely Concentrated, Powerful Cleaning Action
Simple & Easy to Use
Gentle on Upholstery & Fabrics
- BrandChemical Guys
- Weight1.21 lbs
If the upholstery, carpets or floor mats (or even all of them!) have suffered heavy spot staining, then this product from Blue Coral could be the one for you. It is specifically formulated to tackle a wide range of stains, many of which you may assume (possibly wrongly!) that you were never going to get rid off.
It is effective on grease, coffee, lipstick and a range of other difficult stains including blood. Why you need to clean blood out of your car? Hey, we don’t want to know your business, we’re all friends here.
The cap even has a built in stiff brush to really help you to get the product deep into the weave of fabrics to really tackle those serious baked in stains.
Effective on a Range of Stains
Works on all Soft Part of Car Cabin (Upholstery, carpets, etc)
Built in Brush Cap for Ground in Stains
- BrandBlue Coral
- Weight1.5 lbs
Best Car Upholstery Cleaner Guide & FAQ
That completes our list of the best car upholstery cleaners on the market right now. But once you’ve decided which one is the best for you, you also need to know how to make the best use of your product.
Read on for our handy guide and some tips and tricks that, combined with the perfect upholstery cleaner, will help to leave your car interior looking it’s best.
How to Properly Clean Car Upholstery
Cleaning the upholstery of your car, especially the seats, may seem like a pretty straightforward operation. However, you can waste a lot of time and energy by not maximizing the potential of your upholstery cleaner – after all, it’s there to help you.
Here is our guide them to the easiest way to clean your upholstery and get the very best out of the upholstery cleaner you have selected.
First, a quick tool list:
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Bucket of Clean Water
- Microfiber Towel
- Umm…. Something else….
- What is it?
- Oh! One of the Car Upholstery Cleaners from our list above.
Start by popping the brush attachment onto your vacuum cleaner, then use it to deep clean all the loose pieces of debris – fumbled M&M’s, plastic Army men who have lost their squad, pet hair, Cheeto dust and anything else you need to get rid off.
The next stage is to deploy whatever upholstery cleaner you have chosen, and here it can make a big difference if you have gone for a foam based cleaner or a liquid, spray-style cleaner.
Remember: Before you proceed, just try out the cleaner on a piece of fabric that is out of sight. Most of these cleaners are pretty mild, and they have all been designed for use on a variety of surfaces and materials. Still, better safe than sorry…
If it’s foam, then you need to work it into the surface with a brush or a hard sponge paying particular attention to heavily stained areas.
For a spray, liberally coat the surfaces and gently scrub at any obvious stains.
Leave it to soak in if necessary, then with your bucket of water and your clothes work to remove the dirt and any excess cleaning product.
That’s about it really, just leave the upholstery to naturally air dry, and you should have lovely clean seats in no time at all.
What Type of Car Interior Fabric is the Easiest to Remove Stains From?
Generally speaking, the part of the car interior that is going to show the dirt fastest are carpets, floor mats and in particular seats.
The seats in your car are the most likely to become dirty for the simple reason they are in constant contact with you and your passengers. We’re not saying you’re dirty, but… well, you are! Don’t worry about it though, we’re all dirty too.
Turns out the average person sweats about 1.5 gallons a day. In hotter climates, it’s going to be even more. And that’s just sweat – there’s also dust and oils from your skin plus whatever else you bring in on your clothes. That’s not even getting to real dirt monsters like dogs and kids!
No, you’re probably not in the car all day but over time it can really start to build up, and hence why the car seats can quickly start to look grubby.
Unless you’re a rapper with Zebra skin upholstery, your car seats are probably one of three materials:
Leather – Easy to clean, hard wearing but not exactly cheap. They have their won special cleaners and also need to waxed and conditioned.
Vinyl – Also easy to clean as it can be simply wiped down most of the time. If you live in a hot area, however, Vinyl seats can feel like sitting down on the face of the sun, and you’ll lose approximately 95% of your body weight in sweat whilst sitting in traffic.
Fabric – Most cars these days have fabric seats. They are comfortable, they have nice colors and patterns to compliment cabin design and they are pretty comfortable to sit on in extremes of both heat & cold.
So which fabric is easiest to clean? Probably Vinyl has Leather’s wipe clean ability without the need for waxes and conditioners. It’s also a horrible material to sit on.
For everyday use, Fabric definitely has a lot going for it. It’s pretty comfortable in most weather conditions and it’s relatively easy to keep clean too – provided you pick up a good quality upholstery cleaner.
Tips for Removing Stains from Auto Upholstery
If you believe the product descriptions of most of the Upholstery cleaners, we as car drivers are regularly spilling coffee and spraying arterial blood all over our cars.
Course, we’re not doing that. The manufacturers merely highlight they clean these materials because they are easily recognized as serious stains that are a pain to shift. The fact they can clean these really tough stains, however, means that most ordinary stains can be tackled easily enough.
A few tips to make it easier still:
- Don’t leave it. Tackle the stain as soon as possible.
- Don’t scrub – at least not to start with. If it’s still wet, blot a stain with a kitchen towel or something else that’s absorbent to remove as much of the spillage as possible. Scrubbing at this point will just spread the stain.
- Apply Upholstery Cleaner – For best results always use Upholstery Cleaner. Apply as per product instructions. Let it soak in a bit to lift up the stain.
- Clean – Always wipe down with a cloth and fresh water.