LAST UPDATED: January 22, 2021

The Best Car Upholstery Cleaners (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice chemical guys lighting fast carpet and upholstery stain extractor Chemical Guys Lighting Upholstery Stain Extractor
Best Value Turtle Wax T440R2W OXY Interior 1 Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Stain Remover Turtle Wax T440R2W OXY Interior 1 Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Stain Remover
Premium Pick carguys super cleaner CarGuys Super Cleaner

There’s something so satisfying about getting into a car with a pristinely clean interior. Shiny leather that looks like new, with spot and stain-free upholstery that has no sticky residues, no specks of dirt or dust on your dash, and sparklingly clean instrument panels. It’s like driving a brand new car when your vehicle’s interior has just been cleaned.

Let’s face it, your car’s upholstery is definitely going to take a beating over the life of your vehicle. Constantly tracking in mud, dirt, grass, snow, and sand can leave your car’s interior and floor mats with some stubborn stains and looking worn. Not to mention kids and pets who are taking a toll on your car’s upholstery, leaving behind pet hair, sticky residues, tough stains, and other signs of wear. 

Luckily, there’s a huge number of non-toxic, high-quality car upholstery cleaners on the market that are both safe and easy to use, and will leave your car’s interior looking and smelling brand new again. Here are some of our favorites.

The Best Car Upholstery Cleaners

Our third entry from the Chemical Guys and this one is a bit of a specialist super cleaner that’s meant to get rid of some serious stains. 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 prevent it from developing into a permanent stain.

Its powerful cleaning agents get to work fast and it is very simple and easy 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!

Key Features
  • Extremely Concentrated, Powerful Cleaning Action
  • Simple & Easy to Use
  • Gentle on Upholstery & Fabrics
Specification
  • Brand Chemical Guys
  • Model SPI_191_16
  • Weight 1.21 lbs

The Turtle Wax brand of car polishes and cleaners has long been a trusted name in the auto industry and the Turtle Wax OXY Interior 1 Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Stain Remover is no exception. This advanced multi-purpose deep cleaning formula cleans and deodorizes your car’s upholstery, carpet, vinyl, and fabrics in one easy step. It works by using a specially formulated oxygenated cleaner to encapsulate and remove deep and stubborn stains quickly and easily.

It will also get rid of offensive and stale odors left by smoke, pets, food, and more. It’s ideal not only for cleaning your car’s carpet, upholstery, and vinyl, but also for your boat, RV, and more. Thanks to the all-new detachable micro-scrub brush, this high-quality cleaner is able to get deep down into fabrics to give you an easy to use, targeted cleaning.

Key Features
  • Powerful Odor Eliminator
  • Detachable Scrubbing Brush 
  • Safe to use on a Range of Upholstery Types & Fabrics
Specification
  • Brand Turtle Wax
  • Model T440R2W
  • Weight 1.45 lbs

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, and the Car Guys Super Cleaner is a product that makes you do just that.

This high quality car upholstery cleaner 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 that is safe to use on a variety of interior surfaces, including carpets, upholstery, door panels, floor mats, and more, with the exception of glass and instrument panel screens. 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 to remove some of your most stubborn stains.

Key Features
  • Multi Surface Cleaner
  • Non-Greasy Finish
  • Effective Clean Lifts Away Dirt & Grime
Specification
  • Brand Car Guys
  • Model SC-18OZ-KIT
  • Weight 1.25 lbs

When it comes to gently and effectively cleaning tough stains out of all types of upholstery, the Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner Stain Remover gets the job done quickly and efficiently. It will clean and remove tough stains, eliminate offensive odors, prevent re-soiling of the same area, and refresh your car’s upholstery and carpets for a just-like-new look. 

With its unique stain lift technology, this multi-purpose cleaner can even lift away tough pet stains like urine, feces, and vomit while simultaneously neutralizing their bad odors, thanks to its patented odor elimination process. Use the attached fabric-safe brush to really get deep down into your car’s interior fabric to effectively clean and remove even some of your oldest stains. This super cleaner will definitely help keep your upholstery, carpet, and fabric looking cleaner and newer longer.

Key Features
  • Powerful, Foam Based Cleaner
  • Multi-Surface
  • Great on Upholstery, carpets, fabrics, and Floor Mats
Specification
  • Brand Woolite
  • Model 83524
  • Weight 1 lb

Another fantastic value product, this cleaner from Black Diamond comes in a huge 1 Quart size bottle for around $10 and makes car upholstery cleaning a cinch.

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.

Key Features
  • Large Size
  • Safe, Non Toxic Formula
  • Can be Used on Many Fabric & Upholstery Types
Specification
  • Brand Black Diamond
  • Model QCSR
  • Weight 1.98 lbs

Meguiar’s is another cleaning product manufacturer we like to see here at Car Bible, and this premium carpet and upholstery cleaner could well be one of the best products they’ve yet brought to market. It’s a heavy-duty super cleaner that will leave your car’s interior looking brand new.

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.

Key Features
  • Professional Strength Deep Cleaning Foam
  • Dries Without Leaving Residues
  • Quick Acting
Specification
  • Brand Meguiar’s
  • Model G9719
  • Weight 1.19 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 the Armor All Oxi Magic Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner product an excellent value. Still, there is no point buying it if it doesn’t do its job, no matter how much of a bargain it is. Rest assured that this high-quality car upholstery cleaner will leave your car’s interior looking like new.

This cleaner is formulated for deep cleaning and can tackle a range of deep 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, leaving the inside of your car smelling fresh and clean.

Key Features
  • Large size, Small Price
  • Tackles Deep, Ground in Dirt
  • Restores Dull and Dirty Upholstery
Specification
  • Brand Amour All
  • Model 78260
  • Weight 1.6 lbs

If the upholstery, carpets or floor mats (or even all of them!) have suffered heavy spot staining, then the Blue Coral Upholstery Cleaner is the one for you. It is specifically formulated to tackle a wide range of dirt and 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 do you need to clean blood out of your car? Hey, we don’t want to know your business, we’re all friends here.

Key Features
  • 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
Specification
  • Brand Blue Coral
  • Model DC22
  • Weight 1.5 lbs

Best Car Upholstery Cleaners 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 most effective and efficient 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 its best.

Cleaning car mats with car upholstery cleaner
An effective car upholstery cleaner is a must-have for any vehicle owner.

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 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
  • Brush
  • Sponge
  • 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 own special cleaners and also need to be 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 cleanability 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.

Car interior cleaned with upholstery cleaner
A car upholstery cleaner is integral to preserving your car’s interior.

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.

The Best Car Upholstery Cleaner FAQ’s:

Q. What is the best product to clean car upholstery with?

The best upholstery cleaner for your car is one that is designed specifically for your car’s upholstery, whether it’s fabric or leather, and proven to be effective against a variety of stains while still being appropriate and gentle enough for your particular type of upholstery so that you won’t end up inadvertently damaging the same upholstery you’re trying to clean.

Q. What do professionals clean car upholstery with?

Professionals use a wide variety of car upholstery cleaners depending on the fabric and the amount of dirt and stains, but the Chemical Guys Lightning Upholstery Stain Extractor and the Car Guys Super Cleaner tend to be two highly regarded products that are often relied on by professionals. 

Q. What is the best upholstery cleaner to buy?

We really like the Car Guys Super Cleaner. It’s a very versatile cleaner that’s suitable for a number of different car upholstery types, including vinyl, and has some premium cleaning power that can really knock out some of the most stubborn stains and heaviest dirt and grime. That being said, the best upholstery cleaner to buy is really based on personal preference, since there are so many great options on the market.

Q. What is the best way to clean dirty car seats?

If your car seats are made from vinyl or leather upholstery, they’re a lot easier to clean than if you have stains on your fabric upholstery. To effectively clean fabric upholstery, try no to let the stain set too long. If it’s fresh, try blotting up as much as you can with an absorbent microfiber cloth or towel. Don’t RUB IT AROUND! You’ll only spread the stain more. Use your chosen upholstery cleaner sparingly to start and add more carefully until the stain is removed. Blot away any excess cleaner with a damp cloth. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all you need to know about the best car upholstery cleaners and how to use them, don’t wait to go out and stock up. Whether you choose the Chemical Guys Lightning Upholstery Stain Extractor, the Car Guys Super Cleaner, or one of our other highly recommended upholstery cleaners, it’s definitely a product that is good to have on hand and ready to go before your upholstery stains get really bad or out of control. It’s a lot easier to maintain upholstery that looks new if you’re diligent about it and don’t wait too long in between cleanings. Do you have a favorite car upholstery cleaner that didn’t make our list? Hit us up in the comments and let us know what it is and why you love it.

Sources:

  1. How Often Should You Wash Your Car? – HowStuffWorks
  2. 5 Tips for Cleaning for Fall – HowStuffWorks
  3. 4 Tips For Protecting The Interior Of Your Car This Summer – HuffPost