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best car interior cleaner for upholstery

The Best Car Upholstery Cleaner 2019

Dirty carpets, seats and other car upholstery can be tough to remove without the correct products. Using a car upholster cleaner to remove stains and odors in your interior can make a huge difference to the finish and will be far easier to use.

The best car interior cleaner is the Meguiar’s G9719 Upholstery Cleaner, which provides professional strength for a deep clean of the carpets, headliners and cloth seats. For other car upholstery, we highly recommend the Adam’s Interior Detailer.

Car interior cleaners need to be able to clean, remove stains and odors whilst being safe to use inside of your vehicle. This is a tough job and we recommend that you stick to products from an automotive background to ensure maximum safety.

Best Interior Car Cleaner

Car Interior CleanerBrushSpecialty
Meguiar's G9719NoCarpets
Adam's Interior DetailerNoLeather, Vinyl, Plastics
Chemical Guys Lightning FastNoStain Remover
Turtle Wax 50838YesBudget
Mothers 05424NoBudget
Blue Coral DC22YesBudget

The interior of your car is where you spend your time driving but still people will neglect giving it a good clean. The exterior of the car will receive hundreds of dollars in detailing products each year, so why not spend the same inside the car?

Before using a car interior cleaner, you will want to ensure that the car has been vacuumed thoroughly beforehand. Spraying and working in a car upholstery cleaner can induce scratches and not be as effective. We highly recommend purchasing a vacuum for car detailing that comes with a range of attachments.

Your interior will become dirty very quickly and pickup all sorts of dirt and bad odors. Below is a list of the best car upholstery cleaners that are simple to use and effectively remove dirty, stains and bad odors.

Meguiar’s G9719 Carpet & Car Upholstery Cleaner

Meguair’s are a reputable detailing brand and their carpet and upholstery cleaner is highly rated for use on your cars upholstery and carpets. It has a professional strength formula that provides a deep clean to remove stains and odors.

Features of the G9719 Car Carpet Cleaner by Meguiar’s include:

  • Dual purpose sprayer for general or spot cleaning
  • Dries quickly without any residue
  • Fast acting foam
  • Ideal for carpet, cloth seats, headliner and more
  • Penetrates and dissolves stains
  • Fresh scent

Meguiar’s does not provide a brush with this cleaner, so we highly recommend that you purchase on to work the product in. In terms of using this cleaner, you will want to spray it onto the work area, wait 10 minutes and then work it into the dirt.

Although the Meguair’s G9719 is fairly expensive, it is by far the best car carpet cleaner and great for using on cloth seats and the headliner. It provides excellent deep cleaning and removes stains and odors easily.

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Adam’s Car Interior Detailer

For those looking to clean vinyl, leather and plastics inside their car, the Adam’s Interior Detailer is the perfect option. It comes in several different sizes and different scents that include pumpkin spice and even coffee.

Features of the Adam’s Interior Detailer includes:

  • Eliminates dirt, dust and body oils
  • Anti static and dust resistant
  • Advanced UV protection
  • Dual purpose sprayer
  • Ideal for leather, plastic, vinyl, dash and more
  • Odor neutralizers kill unwanted smells
  • Choice of scents available

Thanks to the leading automotive technology, this car interior cleaner is able to stay cleaner for longer periods of time. It is made with advanced polymers that are not greasy and prevent any dust build up and unwanted odors.

Overall, it is the best car interior cleaner for leather, vinyl and plastics that lasts far longer than alternatives. When used alongside the Meguair’s interior car cleaner above, you are able to achieve a professional finish to your cars interior.

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Turtle Wax Interior Car Cleaner

Turtle Wax are a huge detailing company that produce a range of affordable detailing products. This interior cleaner can be used on car carpets, upholstery fabrics, plastic and vinyls with the aim at removing stains and odors with ease.

Features of the Turtle Wax Car Interior Cleaner include:

  • Triple action formula that cleans, deodorizes and protects
  • “Micro Scrub” brush on the bottle
  • Formulated with oxygenated cleaners
  • Encapsulates and removes odors

Overall, it is a good all round auto upholstery cleaner that provides excellent value for money. The “Micro Scrub” brush saves you the hassle of purchasing an additional brush and has been designed specifically for your cars interior.

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Chemical Guys Car Stain Remover

The Chemical Guys Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner is a high concentrated formula that is specifically designed for auto upholstery. The powerful formula can fight heavy stains with ease without damaging any coloring of the upholstery.

In terms of the features of this Chemical Guys Cleaner, it includes:

  • Dilutable 20:1 formula
  • Hyper-cleaning formula removes tough stains
  • Cleans and deodorizes
  • Can be bought in bulk for extra value
  • Versatile formula
  • Advanced cleaning agents
  • Ideal for carpets and upholstery

Due to the high concentration (20:1), you may want to dilute the liquid with distilled water before use so that it lasts longer. However, if the stain is fairly tough and in large quantities, you may want to keep the formula strong.

Overall, the Chemical Guys Lightning Fast formula is the best stain remover for car upholstery that removes rapidly and is completely safe to use.

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Mothers Carpet & Auto Upholstery Cleaner

The Mothers 05424 one of the most popular car interior cleaners in the US and it is perfect for all car fabrics that have become covered in tough dirt or stains. It is is simply to apply with the trigger and effective on vinyl, velour, carpet and sheepskin.

Features of the Mothers 05424 include:

  • pH balanced formula
  • All fabric cleaner auto and home use
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Pulls out stubborn car stains

As it is a pH balanced formula it will not discolor the fabric you spray it on to, which is a common issue with other similarly priced cleaners. Overall, it is a cheap car upholstery cleaner that will work perfectly for tackling tough dirt and stains that have accumulated inside your car overtime.

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Blue Coral DC22 Auto Upholstery Cleaner

If you are looking for the cheapest car carpet cleaner that will last multiple applications and actually work, the Blue Coral DC22 Upholstery Cleaner is a great choice. It is not a large brand in the automotive industry but this cleaner is one of the most popular within this article.

In terms of the features of the Blue Coral DC22 Upholstery Cleaner, it include:

  • Effective brush on bottle cap
  • Lifts tough stains with ease
  • Bulk options for extra value
  • Easy grip of the bottle

Cleaning anything from coffee stains, tar or tough dirt, the Blue Coral carpet cleaner will easily remove it. It is a cheap car upholstery cleaner that can be stored in your car for when needed.

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Car Interior Cleaner Buying Guide

The interior of your car is where you will spend a lot of time. Therefore, its worthwhile keeping it clean and free of stains or bad odors. To do this, you will want to use a car upholstery cleaner that is safe to use inside of your car and avoid strong domestic alternatives. Many people can damage their upholster by using something that would be better used within their home.

When it comes to stuff stains and odors in the carpet, you will need to purchase an additional brush to work in the product. If you are still unable to remove the dirt, we recommend that you purchase a car steam cleaner and then use the carpet cleaner.

Below is a buying guide into the world of car interior cleaning and detailing to ensure that it is as “good as new” inside your car.

Car Upholstery Cleaner

Types of Car Interior Cleaner Products

Car interiors use various types of materials that include leather, vinyl, plastic, fabric, alcantara and much more. Therefore, it pays to purchase multiple types of car interior cleaner products for the best results rather than an “all in one” cleaner.

For example, the Meguair’s car carpet cleaner works great on carpets but when it comes to the leather, vinyl and plastics, it does not compare with the Adam’s Polishes interior detailer. We have used both of these products in this buying guide to provide visible results that you can replicate within your car interior.

How To Clean Your Car Carpets

The amount of dirt that can accumulate on the carpet is unbelievable. The carpet in the cars are usually a dark color to reduce the dirt visible. Using a vacuum to most car owners would be classed as “cleaning the car interior” but this is not the case.

If you were to clean your car carpets completely, the seats will need to be removed. This is an extreme case of car interior cleaning but take a look below are the amount of dirt underneath the middle seats of this car.

dirt under the seats

The amount of dirt underneath the seat can become fairly smelly depending on the type of dirt and the age of it. However, the simple fact of the matter is that a vacuum nozzle cannot reach to this dirt.

Below is a 10 step guide to cleaning your cars carpets so that they are completely free of dirt, bad smells and stains.

  1. Remove large objects or dirt.
  2. Remove car mats and place outside of the car.
  3. Remove car seats. (see video)
  4. Vacuum interior thoroughly.
  5. Choose upholstery cleaner and applicator/brush.
  6. Spray cleaner onto applicator and work it into carpet in a circular motion.
  7. Use a lightly damp wet to wipe off the cleaner residue.
  8. Open all doors and windows to allow the carpet to dry.
  9. Reinstall car seats if they were taken out.
  10. Vacuum car mats before placing them back into the car.

Some deep stains may require step 6 and 7 to be carried out more than once in order to remove it completely. If you have got chewing gum on your car carpets, stick to the old fashioned technique of freezing it with ice cubes. Avoid harsh chemicals that could damage your car carpets with permanent stains.

To remove the bad odors and stains from this carpet, we used the Meguiar’s G9719 Carpet & Car Upholstery Cleaner, which worked great.

cleaned carpet after removing seats

How To Clean Car Seats & Other Auto Upholstery

When it comes to cleaning other car upholstery such as the car seats, door cards, plastic panels and others, you may take a different approach to that of carpets. Fabric seats on the other hand will very similar but those with leather or vinyl seats will find it far easier when using a leather car seat cleaner.

Before using any car upholstery cleaner, you will want to ensure that any large or loose dirt is cleaned with a sponge and water beforehand. Once dry, you can use the cleaner without the need of scrubbing it in.

The majority of cleaner will work by simply spraying it onto the upholstery, letting it soak into the dirt to lift the stain and then wiping away. It is that simple and below is the result of doing exactly that on a leather headrest that was fairly dirty.

Car Interior Cleaner

We used the Adam’s Polishes interior detailer for this piece of dirt on the leather and it works great on other leather, vinyl and plastic auto upholstery.

Some car interior cleaners may only be suited towards certain types of materials and you should always read the instructions of use before spraying it everywhere in your car. Unless you have something fairly special i.e. Alcantara, then the majority are safe to use on a range of interior materials.

After cleaning any leather upholstery, we highly recommend that you use the best leather conditioner for cars afterwards. This will ensure that the leather remains protected from the sun and other elements.

Pleasant Scent

Once you have successfully cleaned and remove any odors from your car upholstery, there will be a distinctive smell as a result of using the cleaner. Many brands offer various smelling car interior cleaners and mixing things up is great fun. When testing out the Adam’s Polishes upholstery cleaners, we purchased some of there other cleaners as shown below.

We were surprised by how accurate the smell was and we highly recommend that you try them out for yourselves.

Upholstery Cleaner For Cars


When it comes to the interior of your car, you can spend hours cleaning and using a variety of products. Therefore, knowing the correct detailing products to use can help out massively and avoid any disappointing results.

Once you have finished the clean, we recommend treating yourself to a new car air freshener to maintain the pleasant smell.

The interior will always come dirty overtime but cleaning it on a regular basis with the best car upholstery cleaner you can buy will make it far less stressful.

We highly recommend that you combine interior cleaners for the best finish inside of your car. By this statement, we suggest that you choose a dedicated carpet cleaner such as the Meguiar’s and an auto upholstery cleaner such as the Adam’s Interior detailer for other upholstery such as leather, vinyl and plastics.

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