We spend so much time in our cars that they are almost like our second homes, and yet we don’t seem to prioritize cleaning them as much as we do our houses. Whether it is going through the drive-through, taking the dogs’ home from the park or just having kids in general, this inside of any car can get so grubby so quickly. Plus, there is nothing worse than unexpectedly giving someone a ride and then remembering that your car is a bit of a pigsty.
Getting a new motor a pretty expensive treat, and keeping it clean will not only look and smell better but can also help to improve the longevity of your upholstery. We know that cars can easily get so dirty, but it can still be a challenge keeping on top of the build-up.
There is an abundance of upholstery cleaners available on today’s market, promising to eliminate dirt, tackle stubborn stains and keep the insides of your car smelling sweet. However, not all car upholstery cleaners are created as equals, and it can be difficult to pick the perfect one for the job. If you are looking to give the inside of your car the TLC that it needs, check out our extensive buyer’s guide and review, which also includes a breakdown of our top 10 best car upholstery cleaners. Making sure that you always have the right tools to make cleaning your car a breeze.
- Features to Consider in Good Car Upholstery Cleaner
- Top 10 Best Car Upholstery Cleaner 2023
- 1. Car Guys Super Cleaner
- 2. Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner
- 3. Chemical Guys Fabric Clean Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo & Odor Eliminator
- 4. Turtle Wax Power Out! Carpets and Mats Cleaner
- 5. Adam’s Leather and Interior Cleaner
- 6. Armor All Oxi Magic Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
- 7. Tuff Stuff Multi-Purpose Foam Cleaner
- 8. Black Diamond Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
- 9. Mothers Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
- 10. Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner Stain Remover
- Guide to Buying the Best Car Upholstery Cleaner
- Bottom Line
Features to Consider in Good Car Upholstery Cleaner
We have sifted through the bestsellers and the new kids on the block to discover the best car upholstery cleaners of 2023. Read on for our top favorites!
There are several different points to consider when it comes to choosing the right car upholstery cleaner, with the majority discussed at a later point. However, the most important factor to consider is the type of upholstery in your vehicle. Fabrics for upholstery tend to be hardwearing and durable, and strong enough to stand up to the challenges of everyday life. Some of the car upholstery cleaners reviewed below are suitable for a whole host of surfaces, whereas there may be exceptions with others. It is critical that you check the manufacturer’s instructions on the bottle before you begin. Furthermore, we would always recommend a patch test, just to be on the safe side.
Possibly the most common type, nylon is a highly tough and durable material that is often used for upholstery for auto, marine, and home. It is available in a rainbow of colors and designs, with an abundance of plain and painted options available. Nylon is weaved which means that it is difficult to tear and it does have some stain resistance. However, due to its porous structure, dirt and grime can easily become embedded inside the fabric, and you will need to regularly vacuum to keep anything clean. Due to its huge popularity, the vast majority of cleaners are great for nylon.
Polyester is also a pretty popular choice, specifically polytetrafluoroethylene, which is also known as Teflon. This is a UV resistant material that will not suffer due to chemicals or damp. It is relatively easy to keep clean, and with a small amount of care, you can easily maintain polyester upholstery. However, some types of polyester have been designed to mimic the look and feel of leather or suede, and these tend to be more textured and porous, and thus susceptible to getting dirty quite quickly.
Vinyl is a non-porous material, with poly chloride vinyl (PVC) being a particularly popular choice. It is a great option for young families and pet owners, as vinyl upholstery can easily be wiped clean. However, they can be particularly prone to sticky residues. Vinyl is already relatively durable, difficult to tear, and available in a wide assortment of designs.
Seen as the premium material when it comes to luxury upholstery, leather car seats provide ultimate comfort. However, leather can easily crack, tear or fade, it can be particularly prone to sun damage and may require regular maintenance to ensure that it maintains condition. However, leather is relatively easy to clean, just ensure that you choose a leather specific cleaner and regularly condition your upholstery to promote longevity.
Top 10 Best Car Upholstery Cleaner 2023
1. Car Guys Super Cleaner
The water-based polymer formula utilizes nanotechnology to clean your car at the molecular level. It is simple to use and super effective. Wiping away without a trace, there is no need to rinse with water and this product will leave behind a light, fresh scent. Plus, the CarGuys Super Cleaner is environmentally friendly and consists of zero ammonia or harmful chemicals. Moreover, CarGuys Super Cleaner is an ultra-versatile car cleaner that offers excellent multi-surface cleaning potential. It has the ability to clean just about any interior or exterior surface, the only exceptions being glass and delicate panel screens.
Price-wise, the CarGuys Super Cleaner is affordable without comprising on quality. However, there have been some suggestions online that it may leave splotchy marks behind when used on leather, and there is a risk of residue being left behind. Several reviews have also stated that there was a greasy film left behind, particularly when they were cleaning their dashboards. Furthermore, it should also be noted that this cleaner does not include UV protection.
Whether you are looking for an effective spot cleaner for particularly stubborn stains or to clean your entire car with just one product, the CarGuys Super Cleaner offers a unique approach to keeping your upholstery pristine. It is a premium product that is one of the most trusted cleaners on the market, and overall, you can always rely on the CarGuys for a quality auto product. Furthermore, their guarantee means that if you are unsatisfied with your purchase for any reason, the CarGuys will give you a full refund.
- Excellent cleaning performance
- Does not require rinsing
- No residue
- Not suitable for glass or panel screens
- High end price
2. Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner
Ensuring a deep clean every time, the strong foaming action of the Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner will work to easily get rid of stains and lift away dirt and debris. It also works well as a spot cleaner, getting to work fast on deep stains and old marks in no time at all. Furthermore, this is a multi-purpose option that has excellent versatility. Although originally designed for cleaning the inside of your car, it also works effectively at cleaning the exterior too!
This cleaner is super easy to use and features a well-designed nozzle that can both spray large areas and stubborn spots. Furthermore, the dual-action trigger has been ergonomically designed for comfort during use. This product particularly shines when it comes to getting rid of oil and grease, dissolving grime and yet still leaving behind no residue; just a light citrus fragrance and a super clean finish.
The Meguiars all-purpose cleaner will not only leave your upholstery sparkling clean, but it will also recondition to the material; enhancing comfort, feel and appearance with their innovative combination of softeners and optical brighteners. Although a little expensive, particularly when compared to the other upholstery cleaners discussed here, this product is sure to last. Plus, Meguiars are so confident in their car upholstery cleaning products that they offer a 3-year warranty on your purchase, so you can shop with that all-important peace of mind.
Offering a clear that dries fast without leaving behind any residue, penetrating strains and lifting grime away from the fabric, you are sure to be impressed with Meguiars.
- Excellent cleaning performance
- Dual purpose nozzle
- Concentrate can be varied to suit needs
- Contains fabric softeners and optical brighteners
- Clean fresh odor
- Need to dilute
- A bit pricey
3. Chemical Guys Fabric Clean Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo & Odor Eliminator
Although tough on dirt, this cleaner is gentle on fabrics, and it completely safe to use for a wide range of different materials. If the interior of your car needs some serious decontamination, the deep-cleaning formula has a fabulous ability to tackle particularly stubborn stains, with a high suds cleaning process that will separate and lift away dirt and grime. However, it should be highlighted that some online reviews have suggested that this cleaner may struggle to combat faded biological stains. The Chemical Guys Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo will also completely get rid of bad smells, using an enzymatic odor eliminator to get rid of odors and leaving behind a fresh scent. Moreover, due to their use of non-toxic chemicals, the Chemical Guys Fabric Clean is a great choice for anyone who wishes to avoid their car being filled with a strong chemical aroma.
Regardless of the lack of toxicity, when it comes to cutting through grease the Chemical Guys Lightning Fast Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner can only be described as being aggressive. The Chemical Guy’s product utilizes advanced cleaning agents and the optical brighteners will serve to restore and improve the color of your fabric. There is no ammonia or bleach in this cleaner, it will not leave behind a sticky residue and there is no rinsing required. However, you will need to dilute it before use, with Chemical Guys advising that you will need twenty parts water to one part cleaner. Finally, several reviews online have also noted the manner in which such a small amount of this cleaner is required, with many highlighting its cost-effectiveness and affordability.
- Strong on stains
- Tough on dirt
- Gentle on Fabrics
- Pleasant Aroma
- No toxic chemicals
- Need to dilute before use
- Not always effective
4. Turtle Wax Power Out! Carpets and Mats Cleaner
Featuring a triple-action formula that aims to clean, deodorize and protect, this oxygenated cleaner has an excellent reputation for being super powerful. This is further affirmed amongst reviews across the web, with many users that the Turtle Wax Car Interior Cleaner is a great all-round stain remover that has the ability to tackle grease, food, and even oil stains with ease.
The attached brush on the bottle itself is an excellent touch, and it is even removable so you can choose your method of application. This innovative micro-scrubbing applicator will get right into the nooks and crannies of your car upholstery; tackling the stain directly at the source. Their patented Odor-C formula will eliminate bad smells, including smoke, pet, food, and damp; keeping your car smelling like new for longer. Furthermore, the Turtle Wax Power Out! Carpets and Mats Cleaner will leave behind a silicone shield that is water-repellent, which will protect your upholstery and keep your car looking newer for longer.
There have, however, been some online reviews that have indicated that the brush attachment on this cleaning bottle may cause some damage if used aggressively. Moreover, some users have reported that there are some issues with the bottle design, with the nozzle getting clogged on occasion. Regardless, the majority of reviews online for the Turtle Wax Power Out! Carpets and Mats Cleaner are positive, and it is available at a great value price.
- Oxygenated Cleaner
- Powerful performance
- Great stain remover
- Attachable Brush
- Eliminates Odors
- Durable protective shield
- Possible damage if brush used too aggressively
- Some issues with nozzle design
5. Adam’s Leather and Interior Cleaner
Maintain quality and sheen, the advanced technology will ensure that your seats look fab and fresh for longer. It should also be noted that the Adams Leather and Interior Cleaner is a completely clear liquid, which will reduce any risk of color transfer or dyeing. The product is relatively easy to use. You can choose from either the typical spray bottle or opt for the foaming option, which is perfect for very dirty upholstery. If you do go for the spray, create a cross-hatch pattern whilst spraying to ensure even coverage. The innovative technology will help to keep your car cleaner for longer, resisting dust and dirt and repelling water and oils. This versatile product provides a gentle yet intense, deep cleaning and hydration for leather interiors. However, if you are using this cleaner for leather upholstery, you may also wish to pair it with Adam’s Leather conditioner.
Leaving behind just a fresh scent and a slightly shiny finish, Adams Leather and Interior Cleaner offers professional quality cleaning at home. It is anti-static and dust resistant, and there is even a whole host of gorgeous scents available, whether you prefer something light and breezy or something a little bit more unusual, such as their pumpkin spice or coffee. However, this is a high-end product when it comes to price, and there are more affordable options available.
- Premium Cleaner
- Variety of aromas
- UV resistance
- Gentle enough to clean leather
- Advanced Technology
- Some issues with prep
6. Armor All Oxi Magic Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
This is a really good choice for tackling ground-in dirt and grease, but it is not particularly cost-effective. It is slightly more expensive than some of the other cleaners discussed here, particularly when you consider capacity and performance in the equation. Whilst this product can be used on some fabrics, vinyl, and carpet, it is not quite as versatile as some of the other products discussed. It should not be used on instrument panels, clear plastics, leather, wood, wool or anywhere else that is at risk of damage by water. Online reviews have also indicated that this does have a particularly strong smell, so you may wish to avoid it if you have a sensitive nose. If you are using this product, it is advised that you open your car windows and let it air out before going for a drive. Furthermore, several reviews online have indicated that the Armor All Oxi Magic Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner does take a little too long to dry.
- Top quality cleaning performance
- Poweful stain remover
- Oxy action
- Restore and condition
- Easy to Use
- Takes a little while to dry
- Strong aroma
- High Price
7. Tuff Stuff Multi-Purpose Foam Cleaner
The Tuff Stuff Multi-Purpose cleaner has a strong foaming action, which works to lift away dirt and dust from your car upholstery. Effective on a wide array of surfaces, Tuff Stuff provides a cleaner that is super-efficient and it promises an excellent finish. Plus, it is ultra-versatile and can be used in your home as well as your car, boat, RV or anywhere else. The Tuff Stuff Cleaner is effective on vinyl, carpets, chrome, fabric upholstery, screen windows, fans, tiles and a whole host of other washable or painted surfaces. Simply spray the cleaner liberally on the surface, allow the strong foaming action around 30 seconds to do its business, and then scrub with a cloth or sponge. Finish off by wiping clean with a dry cloth.
There have been some suggestions amongst online reviews that have indicated that this performance of this product is limited when cleaning vinyl door panels and that the nozzle on the bottle may get clogged on occasion. Moreover, there have been some suggestions online that the Tuff Stuff Cleaner may leave behind blotchy marks on lighter or tan upholsteries. Such cases have been few and far between, but a patch test is recommended, just to be on the safe side.
It does not have UV protection, unfortunately, but this powerful car cleaner is unscented, and the vast majority of reviews online are 5 stars. Moreover, the Tuff Stuff Car cleaner is available at a great value price. If you are looking to get even more for your money, check out the multi-buy bundles that they have available. If you clean upholstery regularly, or use Tuff Stuff in your home, as well as your car, marine, RV, or anywhere else, you may wish to invest to save cash in the future.
- Premium stain removing product
- Great value products
- Easy to Use
- Fresh scent
- No UV protection
- Issues with dispenser
- Marks left on lighter upholsteries
8. Black Diamond Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
The Black Diamond Super Clean Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner uses the latest technology to create a chemical formula that is tough on dirt and stains. It is more than equipped to cope with the common spillages and stains of everyday life, including coffee and pet stains. It also includes optical brighteners to restore and condition your upholstery, maintaining that brand new car vibe. This cleaner is a safe non-toxic formula; it is completely safe to use, phosphate-free biodegradable and even hypoallergenic! As a result, this is great for use in your car, marine, auto, RV or anywhere else. It is an efficient cleaner for a wide range of surfaces, including cotton, wool, microfiber, and nylon. However, there have been some suggestions online that this cleaner may slightly discolor lighter colored fabrics, so as always do your patch test.
It is also noted that some Black Diamond reviewers have reported that this product alone did not tackle some stubborn stains. If this is an issue, you could pair this product with the Black Diamond Spot Remover for maximum performance. However, you can shop the Black Diamond Car and Upholstery cleaner with peace of mind. The company is so confident that you will fall in love with its cleaning performance, that they offer a full money-back guarantee.
Overall, the Black Diamond cleaner is a simple enough spray-on cleaner that will get the job done. Just spray onto the area, leave for two minutes, and then clean up with a cloth, sponge or super soft brush.
- Excellent Value for Money
- Safe for kids and pets
- Efficient cleaning
- Not quite as effective on some stains
- May discolour lighter materials
9. Mothers Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner
With a massive 24 ounce capacity, the Mothers Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner is a super affordable option that particularly effective at tackling the caked-on diet. Furthermore, it is pH balanced so this top product from Mothers will not leave marks or stain your upholstery in any way. It is a water-based product, that is also environmentally friendly, and suitable for home, marine or auto usage. It is super easy to use, just spray on and then use a microfiber cloth, towel or sponge to clean up.
Good for the planet as well as the car, Mothers cleaner is a sound product but it is lacking the performance abilities of some of the other upholstery cleaners discussed. It is not quite as effective at eliminating bad odors and there have been some complaints regarding its ability to lift oil or grease stains. Overall, whilst it does have its limitations, the Mothers Capet and Upholstery Fabric Cleaner is a strong yet gentle way of maintaining clean carpets and upholstery.
- pH Balanced,
- Environmentally Friendly
- Easy to use
- Strong Aroma
10. Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner Stain Remover
Making getting rid of those stubborn stains a simple task, this non-toxic cleaning solution is easy to use and dries quickly. Safe for your fur babies, actual kids, and the environment, this is an affordable product that performs well. With fast-acting stain lift technology, Woolite’s is also a non-abrasive cleaner that is heavy-duty yet gentle on fabrics. Although fairly versatile, this product should not be used on wool fibers or polypropylene.
The inclusion of a brush on the bottle itself certainly makes application easier, and the stain- lift technology will ensure that there is not a mark left behind. For particularly stubborn stains, you can leave the product in place for up to two hours, and it should simply wipe away. However, if it is a particularly deeps stain, online users have suggested that this may require more than one application for the perfect finish. Leaving your car looking and smelling fresh, the Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner and Stain Remover is a solid choice.
- Ideal for the pet owner
- Stain lift technology
- Safe for the environment
- Non-toxic and non-abrasive
- May require a couple of applications
Guide to Buying the Best Car Upholstery Cleaner
Shampooing your car seats is an excellent way to keep your vehicle looking like new, but regular valets can get expensive. As a result, a decent upholstery cleaner is sure to be your friend. However, it can be difficult to shop the ideal one amongst the many. As well as the type of material, there are several points to consider when making your purchase, including:
Although not all car upholstery cleaners are created as equals, the type of cleaner that you choose will depend on the material, as discussed previously. Read the instructions that came with your car, as very often manufacturers will indicate the most effective way of cleaning the vehicle’s interior. For example, some upholstery may need a water-based cleaner, whilst this could cause damage to other materials.
Ease of Use
Choose the car upholstery cleaner that has the best cleaning methods for you. Whether you just want a quick and easy product that will do the job in no time, or looking for something that will offer a deep clean, it is also important to consider how easy it is to use the product. For example, some of our top ten favorites come equipped already with an attachable brush or microfiber cloth, others will need tools. Also consider whether you would prefer something that is quick-drying, to reduce the amount of time that your vehicle is out of use.
If you or anyone in your family is sensitive to any particular chemicals, you should also check the ingredients on your chosen cleaner. Many of the cleaners discussed are non-toxic, and safe for children and pets.
Some of us can be sensitive to particular aromas, and no one really wants their car smelling like the local swimming pool. Car upholstery cleaners have varied odors, and it may be wise to check the scent before you purchase.
You can certainly get premium quality car upholstery cleaners without the hefty price tag. However, as always, the likelihood is the more you pay, the better the product. If you are counting the pennies and would to prefer to stick to a budget, choose one of the more affordable options available.
Do you have any tips for cleaning the upholstery on my car?
If you are planning on cleaning the car, you can get it done in no time at all with our top tips!
All you need to do is:
- Try out the cleaner on a small indiscrete area for 24 hours prior to cleaning. This will ensure that it does not leave any permanent marks or stains on your specific upholstery.
- To keep your car looking great, routine cleaning is the way to go. Regular cleaning will help to prolong your car’s upholstery life, and it is recommended that you vacuum around once a month.
- Always give your vehicle a good clear out before you begin, and use the vacuum cleaner to get rid of loose dirt and debris.
- Although it might not always be possible, try to tackle stains as much as possible.
- Concentrate on the high traffic areas, as it is here where dirt can get particularly ground in.
- Use a crevice tool to get into all those nooks and crannies.
- Remember to always keep cleaning products out of the reach of children and pets.
- Finally, always read the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly and check to see what surfaces that cleaner is suitable for.
Do I need to do a patch test?
Before using a new product on your car upholstery, it is certainly recommended that you do a patch test to ensure color fastness. Simply apply a small amount of the cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area and leave for 24 hours to see if it leaves a mark or the dyes in the fabric run. All cleaners are ultimately different, and even if you have used a similar cleaner from a different brand before, a patch test is still recommended.
What tools will I need?
You may require a few other tools for the job, including:
- A scrubbing brush,
- Fresh clean water,
- Microfiber cloth,
- A detailed brush is also effective. It can be a super effective tool for working up a lather and getting into the tight corners.
- If you are looking to keep the interior of your car looking new for longer, consider using a fabric protector after you have cleaned.
Unfortunately, spillages are inevitable and it can certainly be a challenge keeping your car in tip-top condition. As a result, cleaning your cap upholstery can be a bit of a tough job, but with the right products and armed with all the information, your car is sure to have that just-out-of-the-garage freshness in no time at all. This extensive buyers guide and review has provided an in-depth look at the world of auto-detailing, and the multiple car and upholstery cleaners that are currently available. Shop our top ten favorites, with a wide variety of capabilities that will keep your ride looking brand new and get rid of the ground-in grubbiness with ease.