Best Car Interior Cleaners – Buyer’s Guide

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Best Car Interior Cleaners

Best Car Interior Cleaners of 2019

Product TypeSizeType of cleaning surfaceProtect optionFeatures 
CarGuys Super Cleaner (Editor's Choice)CarGuys Super CleanerCar interior cleaner18 oz. (with towel) or 128 oz.Leather, vinyl, carpet upholstery, plastic, rubber, clothYesMay includes towelCheck Price
Meguiar's Complete Car Care KitMeguiar's Complete Car Care KitCar interior cleaner kit-All interior surfacesYesAll-in-one kit for any car enthusiastCheck Price
Chemical Guys Leather Care KitChemical Guys Leather Care KitCar interior leather cleaner kit2 x 16 oz. or 2 x 4 oz.LeatherYes-Check Price
Blue Magic Carpet Stain & Spot LifterBlue Magic Carpet Stain Spot LifterCarpet stain aerosol cleaner22 oz.Carpet--Check Price
TriNova Plastic & Trim RestorerTriNova Plastic and Trim RestorerCleaner for black car interior kit8 oz.Plastic and trimYesIncludes applicator padCheck Price

 

1. CarGuys Super Cleaner – Most Powerful Option for Plastic, Vinyl and Cloth Seats

Considering the extraordinarily high number of surfaces and materials that this cleaner is effective at removing filth from, it’s somewhat like the Swiss Army Knife of car interior cleaners. You can easily clean virtually every type of material or fabric that you are likely to encounter in a car interior with this one product alone. Though it’s not recommended that you use it on glass, it’s very easy to compensate for this with another product if you absolutely must clean your windows and windshield along with your interior.

This cleaner also has anti-static properties that neutralize all static electricity once it is applied to any surface. Since dirt, hair and other debris can be attracted to your car interior by static, this is highly useful for keeping things clean for some time after you’ve actually scrubbed everything down. It also offers UV protection for your dashboard, keeping it looking good for longer.

Though you’ll end up paying more for CarGuys Super Cleaner than you would for most other car interior cleaners – even in proportion to the amount of cleaner in the bottle – its impressive cleaning power makes the price worth it.

PROS:
  • Very powerful
  • Lifts dirt and grime at the molecular level to give a deep clean
  • Works on many materials, including upholstery, fabric, leather, vinyl, plastic, rubber, metals, and wood
  • Can remove grease, bird droppings, tree sap and other sticky substances
  • Has static-removing properties
  • Protects from UV damage
CONS:
  • Cannot be used to clean glass or the panel screens of certain delicate instruments
  • More expensive than most car interior cleaners

 

2. Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit – Best All Purpose Cleaner and Protectant

Assembled for those who want to leave nothing to chance when it comes to cleaning their cars, this kit is the most full-spectrum collection of car cleaning products that you’re likely to find in one place. It includes a total of 10 car cleaning products from Meguiar that are designed not only for the interior of your car, but for the exterior as well. The products specifically meant to clean your car’s interior are:

  • Quik Interior Detailer: An all-purpose interior cleaner effective on all sections of the interior and meant to give them a restored and rejuvenated look.
  • PlastX Clear Plastic Cleaner & Polish: Useful for cleaning the plastic screens and surfaces on your dashboard.
  • Soft Foam Applicator Pads: Soft pads or sponges that you can use to scrub out stains after you have applied your cleaner.
  • Microfiber Towels: Good for wiping down the interior after cleaning is complete.

Other products included in this set that are focused primarily on cleaning the exterior of your car are:

  • Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Gold Class Liquid Wax
  • Quik Detailer
  • Clay Bars
  • ScratchX 2.0
  • Microfiber Wash Mitt
PROS:
  • Extremely comprehensive and versatile set of products
  • Allows you to clean more than just your car’s interior if you should so desire
CONS:
  • Expensive

 

3. Chemical Guys Leather Care Kit – Best Choice for Leather

This kit includes two items. The first is a leather cleaner in a spray bottle meant to be applied either directly to your leather upholstery or dashboard, or to a brush which you then use to scrub that upholstery or dashboard. The second is a leather conditioner. The conditioner is meant to moisturize and restore the leather, preventing it from cracking or drying. As with the cleaner, you are supposed to apply the conditioner either directly to the leather itself, or to a sponge or towel which you then use to wipe down the leather.

Be sure to only apply the conditioner after you have finished cleaning.

The cleaner penetrates the leather material’s pores, lifting dust dirt, grime and oils to the surface where they can be easily removed. Neither the cleaner nor the conditioner leave any residue, keeping your car interior looking pristine. Both products are also odorless, ensuring that nothing will interfere with that alluring leather smell.

PROS:
  • Cleaner pulls dirt and dust to the surface where you can easily wipe it away
  • Conditioner rejuvenates leather
  • Odorless
  • Leaves no residue
  • Can be used on all kinds on leather beyond that which is found in cars, including on things like clothes and handbags
CONS:
  • Not meant for cleaning or conditioning any material besides leather

 

4. Blue Magic Carpet Stain & Spot Lifter – Budget Option for Car Carpets

This is an extremely powerful carpet cleaner which works to lift all manner of stains up to the surface of your car’s carpets immediately after it is sprayed onto whatever stained area you’ve chosen to target with it. It’s powerful enough to eliminate a broad spectrum of deep and persistent stains, including oil, water, coffee, tar, blood, wine, grease and urine. We think it’s wise to take care of what will likely be the dirtiest part of your car’s interior with something exceptionally powerful, and we think that this product is sure to be more than sufficient to meet your carpet cleaning needs.

It’s so powerful, in fact, that you may not even need to vacuum your carpets as a prelude to cleaning then. Even so, just for the sake of thoroughness, we recommend vacuuming them anyway.


Powerful as it is, though, this product is only a carpet cleaner. To clean other parts of your car’s interior, you will have to seek out something else.

PROS:
  • Inexpensive
  • Very powerful
  • Removes an extremely wide range of stains
CONS:
  • Only a carpet cleaner; not useful for cleaning other parts of a car’s interior

 

5. TriNova Plastic & Trim Restorer – Premium Pick for Black Interior

This product is meant to shine up and restore worn out plastic, vinyl and rubber surfaces. This makes it an excellent choice for cleaning and shining all of the screens across the breadth of your dashboard. If your car has vinyl upholstery, this can make your seats look virtually brand new. And you certainly can’t go wrong using it to clean up and restore the rubber on your carpets or the plastic or rubber floor mats that you might be using in your car.

Its versatility makes it useful not only when caring for the interior of your car, but for the exterior as well. You should be aware, though, that this product primarily serves a restorative function. Although it does have the ability to clean your interior, it’s far from the strongest cleaner out there. It may be best to apply it after you’ve cleaned the interior with a different product if things are especially dirty.

PROS:
  • Effective on a wide range of surfaces
  • Excellent dashboard cleaner and restorer
  • Has coating gel that repels rain, salt and dirt
CONS:
  • Not of much use if you need to clean leather seats
  • Primarily a restoring product

 

Buyer’s Guide

Now that we’ve discussed some excellent car interior cleaners and given you some idea of what they can do, we think it’s best to round out your understanding a bit more so that you’ll be a confident shopper when on the lookout for the best way to protect the inside of your car from the ravages of time and repeated use. Here, we’d like to give you some information that we think every prospective buyer of car cleaning products should have. We’ll be discussing the different parts of a car’s interior and their different characteristics, the qualities that we think every good car cleaning product should have and some general tips on how to to keep your car interior looking as orderly and close to immaculate as possible.

But first, let’s say a general word about why you should have a car interior cleaner on hand at all.

Why Should You Get a Car Interior Cleaner?

Eventually, just about everything that’s left to itself will fall apart and degrade. Leave food out in the open without preservatives or refrigeration, and it will rot. Leave your house completely without any maintenance or care for a year, and you’ll return to a crumbling, critter-infested nightmare. Drive a car around long enough without making sure that the engine and brakes are in good working order, and it will surely break down on you.

In short, things break down over time. The same is true for your car’s interior. If you refuse to take the trouble to clean it every so often, it will eventually morph into a pigsty. To prevent this, you need to have a few things, chief among them being a reliable and effective car interior cleaner.

Main Parts of a Car Interior

The typical car interior consists of a number of distinct parts or sections, each of which get dirty in their own ways and have their own particular cleaning needs and techniques best suited to them. To get the best overall cleaning for your whole car interior, you first have to know what the special characteristics of each of these sections are, how and to what degree they usually become dirty, and to what sorts of cleaning products or methods they best respond. Here, we’ll briefly discuss what these sections are and tell you what you need to know.

Upholstery

Car UpholsteryThis refers to the seats, seat covers, padding and other covers throughout the interior of the car, whether those are made of vinyl, leather or some other material. Frequently, car upholstery gets dirty over time as people riding in the car leave food crumbs or little bits of spilled drink throughout. People also sweat naturally and leave all sorts of skin oils on car seats. If you have dogs or other pets, they provide another source of dirt or hair that can easily get stuck in your upholstery.

Odors can seep into your upholstery and linger around because of all this. That means that any good upholstery cleaner will be able to seep into the upholstery and provide a deep clean that covers more than just the surface. It should also be able to remove odors and stains.

Carpets

Car CarpetCarpets are arguably the dirtiest parts of a car interior, the ones that get dirty the fastest and the ones that require the most maintenance to keep clean. The reasons for this are pretty clear. People place their feet onto carpets when sitting in a car and their shoes are generally laced with dirt and dust. To keep your car’s carpets clean, then, you’ll need an especially strong cleaner that penetrates deep into the fabric to eliminate filth of all kinds.

Dashboard

Car DashboardThe dashboard is at the front of your car’s interior and encompasses everything from your steering wheel to your speedometer, radio display and glove compartment. Since there are fiberglass or plastic screens covering the speedometer and radio display, you’ll need a cleaner that is effective at removing dust and filth from these surfaces.

The dashboard itself is generally covered with leather or some similar material. Unless you are especially messy or eat frequently in the car, your dashboard is not likely to be as dirty as the other parts of the interior. Nevertheless, dust will settle on the dashboard over time and leaving your car parked out in the sun may also cause some damage to its surface. To counteract these things, you’ll need an effective cleaner that keeps the dashboard surface shiny and new-looking.

Fabrics and Materials Commonly Found in Car Interiors and How to Clean Them

Every car is different in all sorts of ways. You’re likely to find any of a number of different types of fabrics inside of different cars and across different parts of a car’s interior. Each of them are vulnerable to being tarnished and blotted in their own ways and each have different cleaning techniques or products that work best on them.

Leather

This is popular material found in the upholstery and on the dashboards of all sorts of cars, particularly more high-end ones. It smells nice, especially when new, and it just plain looks cool. It’s generally easy to clean, as it tends to be smooth and stains generally do not seep very deeply into it. Despite this, you will need to wax and condition leather in order to keep it from losing its shine. There are many cleaners available that are specially designed for dealing with leather.

Vinyl

Vinyl upholstery, too, is generally easy to clean. A simple swipe will be sufficient for most purposes. Bear in mind, though, though that vinyl is an extremely strong heat conductor. Sitting in a car with vinyl seats while stuck in traffic on a hot day can fill like sitting on an open flame, and you’ll be almost sure to sweat under such circumstances. If you’ve experienced anything like that, you may need to conduct a deeper and more thorough cleaning of the vinyl in your car, requiring stronger cleaners.

Rubber

You’re only likely find rubber in your car’s carpets or floor mats. Rubber is quite easy to clean, especially is you spray it with water. Many stains can be washed off of a rubber carpet as easily as that, which is a good thing when you remember that the carpet is likely the dirtiest part of the whole interior.

Fabric

Fabric is soft and comfortable, but it unfortunately tends to absorb liquids rather easily, meaning that you’ll require extremely powerful cleaners to deal with stains coming from spilled drinks.

Good Qualities to Look For in Car Interior Cleaners

When looking for a car interior cleaner, you should shoot for one that has as many of the following desirable qualities as possible:

Strong cleaning ability

This one is a no-brainer. If you use a car cleaner and find that many of the same spots and stains that were on your upholstery before you used it are still there, that cleaner is probably worthless.

Quick-drying capability

This is a quality that relates to the usability of your car after its been cleaned. A cleaner that takes hours to dry, even if it happens to be an excellent cleaner, is going to massively inconvenience you, since your car will effectively be out of commission for that long drying period. Find a cleaner that dries quickly after you use it.

Versatility

Earlier, we discussed the different parts of a car’s interior, the different sorts of fabrics and materials that are likely to be found there and the different cleaning challenges that each of these presents. A good car interior cleaner should ideally be able to tackle a wide spectrum of these challenges. A cleaner that only suited to one type of fabric or one section of your car – even if it happens to be great for that specific purpose – is going to have limited applicability.

Some General Tips For Cleaning Your Car Interior

Lastly, here are some things that we think it pays to remember when cleaning the interior of your car, no matter which type of cleaner you happen to use. By following these steps, we think you’ll get the most use and value out of your cleaner of choice.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to start cleaning your cars interior: a good towel or two; a bucket filled with clean water; a sponge or brush; a vacuum cleaner; and the cleaner that you have chosen.
  • Pass over the interior with a vacuum before doing any other kind of cleaning. This will pick up any kind of visible debris like hair or little pieces of food, which will make things much easier for you as you continue cleaning. When vacuuming behind the seats or around the carpets, be sure to be thorough, as many things can end up getting stuck in those hard-to-reach areas.
  • Remove the floor mats in order to have better access to the carpets.
  • Apply your chosen cleaner to the parts of your car’s interior. How you should apply your cleaner depends on whether the cleaner is foam-based or a spray. If it is foam-based, apply it to the area that you wish to clean and then rub the foam in with your sponge or brush for a deeper clean. If it is a spray, spray the cleaner all over the surfaces that you wish to clean and then rub the stained or dirty areas with your sponge or brush. Be sure to be thorough but gentle here.
  • Let everything sit for between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • Scrub everything methodically with a damp towel. Go over every area on which you have deposited cleaner with your towel. Be thorough and careful. You may need to apply some force in order to get more stubborn stains out, but do not be so forceful as to damage the interior.
  • Use another towel to dry everything that you have just cleaned.
  • Leave the doors open and let everything fully dry off. If things are not clean enough for you, just repeat the above process until they are.

Conclusion

Throughout this guide, we’ve attempted not only to walk you through a selection of some of the finest car interior cleaners out there to be found, but also to get you up to speed on what there is to be cleaned in a car’s interior, what sorts of fabrics or materials you’re likely to find there and how best to actually go about cleaning the thing.

With the right cleaner, a good application of technique and just a dab of persistence and patience, we know that you’ll be able to get the interior of your car looking like it all just rolled off the showroom floor and feeling like an inviting place that your family and friends will be dying to take a ride in.

Ryan Chambers

I'm Ryan Chambers, an enthusiast of cars and pretty girls; I try to run, repair and equip my garage on my own. On the pages of this blog you'll find all information you'll need related to the operation and repair of a home garage.

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