If you travel with kids or pets, you know how hard it is to remove the stains left behind on your car’s upholstery. Even the daily commute to work and back can create a hard to clean mess within any vehicle.
That is why it is so important to have a good car upholstery cleaner you can count on to remove unsightly stains and odors.
Use the following information to help you find the best car interior cleaner for your needs. We’ll discuss what features to look for and review some of the top products on the market as well as explain the best way to clean upholstery with each one.
If your seats are leather, we also have a separate guide on the best car leather conditioners.
Car Upholstery Buying Guide
Which Type of Solution is Best?
When it comes to searching for the best car carpet cleaner, you will discover a variety of solutions available. Some are designed to only work on specific types of fabrics while others will be able to tackle stains and dirt on vinyl, leather, and plastic.
If you want just one effective product to clean everything in your car’s interior, choose one of the multi-surface cleaners. Those that are happy with their current products and simply need to tackle a few tough stains will be happy with ones made specifically for fabrics.
Look for additional features such as odor elimination and UV protection that provide useful benefits.
What Kind of Bottle Works Best?
Car cleaners come in spray bottles, regular bottles, or aerosol cans. Spray bottles are the most eco-friendly in most cases, can be refilled, and are ideal for diluted solutions. Spray bottles will come with their own easy to squeeze trigger top. Aerosol cans contain a pressurized solution that usually comes out as foam. These are often designed with tough stains in mind. Your other option is a regular bottle. This is usually reserved for solutions that need diluted before using or refills for spray bottles.
Is it Better to Dilute the Cleaner?
All car interior cleaners will list on their label or in the manufacturer’s directions whether the product needs to be diluted or not. When given a choice, it is simply your personal preference that will make your decision.
Highly concentrated formulas will require you to add a specific amount of water before using. They may appear to cost more when compared to other bottles of the same size, but keep in mind that you will have much more actual cleaning product then the bottle could hold.
On the other hand, when buying a ready mixed solution, you are getting exactly what you see. Some people prefer ready mixed options for the simplicity while others appreciate the affordable price that often comes with higher concentrations.
The Best Car Upholstery Cleaners
This multi surface car upholstery cleaner tackles some of the worst dirt and stains on a variety of surfaces within your vehicle. In addition to the upholstered seats, you will be able to clean the door panels, steering wheel, and dashboard to a like new finish. It even works on rubber which makes it ideal for tires.
This one product can now replace several of your current vehicle cleaners. The reason it is the best vinyl cleaner as well as a good upholstery shampoo is that it takes advantage of the latest nano-technology. This means that it works on a variety of surfaces by efficiently lifting dirt, grime, and other debris at a molecular level.
Use this on both the interior and exterior of your car. It is an excellent deep cleaner for tough stains, a bug and tar solvent, and the ideal solution for floors and mats. It effectively handles all surfaces except glass and the instrument panel screen. Use it on fabric, upholstery, canvas, leather, and wood trim to remove a car’s most stubborn problems like bird poop, tree sap, and grease.
Each 18 ounce bottle comes with a spray top. Simply spray it on the area to be cleaned and wipe with a microfiber towel. There is no need to rinse with water. It is ammonia free and has no harsh chemicals in its formulation. Best of all, it is an environmentally friendly product made in the USA.
This patented blend comes in a 16 ounce spray bottle, and it can be used as a pre-treater or an upholstery cleaner all on its own. In addition to cleaning your car’s fabric covered seats and carpeted floors, it can handle the tires on the exterior. After you have cleaned the car to a like new finish, take it indoors for use on sneakers, sofas, and other fabric surfaces.
This simple to use application cleans stubborn stains while eliminating odors. It helps resist future stains, and it won’t fade or destroy the color of the upholstery. Begin by diluting the hyper concentrated formula. Mix one part solution to 20 parts water. Spray it on those tough stains and wipe clean. You can use a brush for stubborn dirt and grime followed by vacuuming. It is even safe to use in your favorite extractor machine.
Chemical Guys Lightning Fast Carpet & Upholstery Stain Extractor cleans and deodorizes with a solution specifically developed for the professionals. It lifts ground in dirt particles out of the fabric’s fibers in order to allow you to easily remove them. You’ll be left with a clean, fresh scented surface when finished without any sticky residue left behind. Use it with confidence on any stain derived from dirt, grease, coffee, wine, or soda.
When searching for the best car upholstery cleaner, Meguire’s G9719 is an excellent option as well as a terrific carpet cleaner. It comes in a 19 ounce pressurized spray bottle that produces an effective foam when it comes to lifting dirt and stains.
Use this professional strength cleaner to deep clean and eliminate odor from your car’s interior. The fast acting foam breaks down the dirt and grime that cause the most common stains in a vehicle. It dries quickly, and you won’t find any sticky residue left behind.
The dual purpose sprayer allows you to choose whether you want to spray stains directly or use the foam to penetrate and dissolve them. Once the stain is saturated with Meguire’s cleaner, wait ten minutes. Wipe it with a cloth or use a brush for harder to remove spots. Once the stain is gone, the area will be left with a pleasant, chemical free scent. This alone makes it a great product for those with kids or pets.
The Chemical Guys CWS20316 Cleaner can tackle ground in dirt and stains on all fabric and upholstered surfaces in your car. In addition, if you are looking for the best carpet cleaner, it can also leave carpets looking like they did brand new. The high sudsing action gently lifts the dirt so you can wipe it away while breaking down set in stains. It will even remove unpleasant odors and prevent new ones from developing by using odor eliminating technology.
This low moisture, detergent free product leaves all of your interior fabrics soft and clean without feeling wet. The quick dry results reduce the chances of mildew forming, and surfaces won’t be left with a crunchy feel once dry. This is the ideal cleaner for everyone from soccer moms to professional detailers.
It is easy to use, and comes in a high concentration that you will need to dilute before spraying on the surface to be cleaned. Mist all stains and dirty areas with a light coating, and then scrub with a stiff brush to loosen dirt and grime. Blot dry with a microfiber towel, and you’ll be left with a stain free interior that smells terrific.
Griot’s Garage Interior Cleaner is safe to use on all of your car’s interior fabric and hard surfaces. It may even be the best way to clean leather car seats as it contains no additives or dyes that can harm or discolor your interior. Best of all, there is no greasy residue left behind once you are finished cleaning. What it does leave behind is a layer of UV protection to keep your colors from fading over time. Use it on your seats, carpets, door panels, headliners, and dash.
It comes in a convenient 22 ounce spray bottle, and there is no need to dilute it. Simply spray all areas with ground in dirt and grime or stains. Allow it time to penetrate, and then wipe it away to reveal a clean, fresh surface. It is ideal for all of those tough stains on the floor mats as well as spills and mishaps left on seats. As a multi-purpose cleaner, having this one product will eliminate the need for an entire collection of various other cleaners.
This cleaner from Armor All provides a rich foam that reaches deep down into the fibers to break up dirt and hard to remove stains. It restores all of your car’s interior fabric surfaces to a plush, like-new look and feel. It is listed as a best auto upholstery cleaner due to its ability to clean the toughest vehicle dirt without discoloring carpets, seats, or headliners.
It is easy to use with a 22 ounce aerosol can. There is no need to dilute the product. Just spray it over the areas to be cleaned, and let it soak in. Use a brush on hard to remove spots. When finished, wipe clean. You will discover a fresh, clean surface that reminds you of when your vehicle was brand new. It works wonderfully on coffee stains, water marks, and other common problems, and can be used just as successfully inside the home on luggage, carpeting, and furniture.
Now that you know what to look for in a good car upholstery cleaner as well as which products come highly recommended, you should be able to find your ideal product. With the right solution and proper technique, your car will be looking as good as it did the day you bought it in no time at all.
If you liked this article, check out our piece on how to clean cloth seats at home.