7 Best Car Upholstery Cleaners in 2020

Our top choice for the best car upholstery cleaner is the CarGuys Super Cleaner. This versatile car interior cleaner removes dirt and grime from leather, vinyl, soft-touch plastics and cloth upholstery, is water-based and will not leave behind any streaks or residue.

In order to help you pick the best car upholstery cleaner for your DIY car care and detailing needs, we’ve put the top performing cleaners to the test. We looked for stain removing power, ease of use and versatility, favoring upholstery cleaners that were effective at getting out tough food, beverage and pet stains from all kinds of car seating and interior surfaces. Read on to see more about the CarGuys Super Cleaner and other high-quality car upholstery cleaners available for purchase.

Top 7 Best Car Upholstery Cleaners

 #1  CarGuys Super Car Upholstery Cleaner

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: This versatile carpet and upholstery cleaner works wonders on vinyl, leather and soft touch plastics as well as carpets and cloth car seats, and it requires no rinsing or special prep, saving time when cleaning your car.

Pros
  • Free from harsh chemical solvents
  • Leaves behind no residue
  • Powerful stain removal
Cons
  • Not for glass or clear plastics
  • Doesn’t include a conditioning agent or fabric softener

A highly versatile car upholstery cleaner, this Car Guys Super Cleaner is our pick for the best all purpose cleaner for car interior work. It provides for easy stain removal on vinyl, rubber and plastics and it works well for deep cleaning car seats and carpeted areas as well. An all-in-one car interior surface solution, it lets you perform a high quality DIY detail job in a surprisingly small amount of time.

Developed with the input of car detailing pros and experienced car upholstery cleaning services, this water-based polymer formula is safe for use on frequently touched surfaces like steering wheel covers and armrests. It’s also effective on hard plastic and metal, helping to dissolve sap, gunk and even bird feces. To keep your car smelling fresh too, check out our guide on the best natural air freshener.

 #2  Chemical Guys HOL315 Car Upholstery Cleaner

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: This DIY car interior cleaner kit comes with a handy scrubbing brush and a high quality sud like fabric cleaner, great for deep cleaning carpets, floor mats, seats, and headliner.

Pros
  • Scrubbing brush drill attachment included
  • Includes stain remover and spray bottle
  • Foaming deep cleaning for pro-quality fabric detailing
Cons
  • More specialized for fabrics and less effective on hard car interior surfaces
  • Power drill or rotary driver required for best results

If you have a drill or rotary driver, this may be the most convenient kit on the market for car interior cleaning. Just fit the included scrubbing brush attachment to your drill and give it a few sprays with a sud like carpet cleaner formula, and it does much of the work of a car upholstery cleaner machine but at a fraction of the cost.

Using this power scrubbing brush also saves time and makes it easier to perform a DIY deep cleaning. The included stain remover formula is dilutable and an empty spray bottle is included with the kit, so you can choose the ratio of cleaning solution to water. Once you’ve cleaned the inside of your car, you might want to tackle the exterior with the best ceramic coating for cars.

 #3  Aero Cosmetics Car Upholstery Cleaner

Award: BEST FOR STAIN REMOVING

WHY WE LIKE IT: Commercial airplane grade stain remover in a convenient spray bottle form, this is the best carpet and upholstery cleaner we’ve seen for getting out beverage stains, lotion and sunscreen spills.

Pros
  • Works on all types of car upholstery
  • No pre-mixing required
  • Safe for use on armrests and dashboards
Cons
  • For best results a wet towel is needed
  • Doesn’t come with a detail brush or scrubbing tools

If you’re looking to remove stubborn soda or coffee stains from car seat upholstery, this airplane-grade upholstery stain remover may be the best interior cleaner for you. It soaks up virtually any kind of stain, including food and beverage stains as well as stains from makeup, lotion and sunscreen. No dilution or premixing is required, though for best results you’ll want to spray first and then follow up with a wet towel before blotting the area dry.

This upholstery and carpet cleaner is good for cleaning floor mats, center console armrests, cloth door upholstery, and various interior plastics and vinyl. It also works well on leather seats, but you’ll want to use a brush to achieve the best deep-clean results. To make your interior cleanup easier, you’ll also want the best car garbage can.

 #4  Armor All Car Carpet & Fabric Spray Bottle Car Upholstery Cleaner

Award: BEST FOR RESTORING

WHY WE LIKE IT: Packaged in a convenient aerosol spray bottle form, this foaming car interior cleaner both gets rid of tough stains in car seats and carpets and helps condition car upholstery fabric and restore that new car look and feel.

Pros
  • Formula conditions and treats fabric
  • Easy to use, no pre-mixing or treatment required
  • Effectively removes pet stains, food and beverage stains
Cons
  • Doesn’t come with a scrubbing brush
  • Not as versatile for leather and vinyl surfaces as some car upholstery cleaners

This spray on car upholstery cleaner delivers foaming action that’s effective for deep cleaning fabric car seats, door panels and carpets. It performs well on a variety of different stains, doing a good job of getting out dirt, mud stains, coffee and soda spills, food and pet stains on most common types of cloth car upholstery.

It also acts as a fabric conditioner, helping to restore a “new car” look and feel to your car interior. Most recommend using a scrubbing brush or microfiber cloth, such as a clean shop rag. A small amount of water may be used to wipe up afterward. If you want to keep your seats crumb-free, you’ll also want the best car seat protector.

 #5  Bissell Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Award: BEST STAIN REMOVING VACUUM

WHY WE LIKE IT: This compact portable car upholstery cleaner machine uses a spot and stain formula and warm water plus directed suction for effective and time saving DIY car interior detailing.

Pros
  • Comes with brush attachment for tough jobs
  • Dual filters for better suction
  • Easy to remove and refill water tanks
Cons
  • Requires periodic filter changes
  • Doesn’t have a steamer function

This relatively inexpensive and very easy to use portable spot and stain remover is a great choice if you’re looking for the best car upholstery cleaner machine for DIY car interior cleaning. It helps get results approaching professional detail quality and is surprisingly convenient to use. Plus, it comes with a deep cleaning brush attachment that helps get tough dirt and pet hair out of car upholstery.

Some stains are especially stubborn and could take a long time to get rid of using just a wet rag and even the best car upholstery cleaner spray. But by pairing a vacuum function along with its warm water and spot cleaner formula, this car upholstery cleaner can save a great deal of time and effort and it delivers results comparable to those we’ve seen from car upholstery cleaning services. For another way to keep your car smelling fresh, try the best car diffuser.

 #6  Turtle Wax Power Out! Car Upholstery Cleaner

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: This budget-friendly spray formula car upholstery cleaner and odor eliminator carry a built-in detachable mini scrub brush, so all you need is a rag and this can in order to deep clean and deodorize your car upholstery.

Pros
  • Comes with a built-in scrubbing brush
  • Removable cap makes it great for tight spots
  • Effectively removes mildew odor
Cons
  • Made for carpets and not as effective on vinyl and leather-like surfaces
  • Lacks upholstery conditioning

This car upholstery cleaner spray comes in a convenient bottle with a detachable scrubbing brush on the cap. Thanks to the narrow angle V-shape of this included brush, it does a great job at cleaning out stains from hard to reach areas of carpeting. The spray formula includes advanced odor neutralizing compounds and has shown effectiveness on some of the toughest lingering odors like those of smoke and mildew.

While it’s not an all-in-one car upholstery cleaner DIY product, per se, this bargain-priced car cleaning spray is a great value, especially if you’re also looking to spot clean carpeting. It works for other types of upholstery as well, but not quite as conveniently. For car seating surfaces, for example, it’s recommended that you use a microfiber cloth instead of the included scrubbing brush.

 #7  Blue Coral 2-Pack Car Upholstery Cleaner

Award: MOST CONVENIENT

WHY WE LIKE IT: Available in a handy twin pack, this foaming car upholstery cleaner includes odor eliminator and a built-in scrubbing brush, making it a convenient all-in-one solution for getting stains out of carpets, floor mats and cloth car seat upholstery.

Pros
  • Fine-bristle deep cleaning brushes built-in
  • Eliminates odors from food and pet stains
  • Foaming spray lifts ground-in dirt
Cons
  • Doesn’t have fabric conditioning or protective properties
  • May leave residue on rubber and vinyl

This easy to use DIY car upholstery cleaner and fabric stain remover comes in a two pack with a pair of 22.8-oz cans of foaming cleanser. Each can comes with a built-in removable scrubbing brush, and these brushes are easy to use and actually perform well at lifting stains and dirt from cloth car seats and armrests, carpeting and floor mats.

This spot cleaner also has an odor eliminator and while its scent isn’t particularly strong, it does a decent job at getting rid of odors from food and beverage stains as well as pet stains and musty odors from dampness. Overall, if you’re looking for a convenient way to do car upholstery DIY cleaning in a short amount of time, this product is definitely worth a look.

How We Decided

In order to highlight the best car upholstery cleaners you can buy, we checked to make sure all the products under consideration worked to remove stains from the most common sources of car upholstery mishaps: we made sure they were able to get rid of most food, beverage and pet stains. The ability to dissolve grease and remove tough stains from makeup, art supplies, and paint was considered a bonus.

We looked for passive odor elimination and car sanitizing ability, and while not required, a pleasant and mild scent was considered acceptable. However, we steered away from products that primarily masked odors with an overpowering fragrance.

For all-in-one car upholstery cleaners we looked for effectiveness on multiple surfaces. We insisted on the effectiveness with vinyl, soft-touch plastics like dashboards and instrument panels. We also made sure these cleaning solutions worked on leather and leather-like surfaces such as MB-Tex and Leatherette, as well as cloth and carpeting.

Along with the interior cleaning DIY products, we included a car upholstery cleaner machine that performed as well as some car upholstery steam cleaner models, while being much lighter and easier to maintain.

Best Car Upholstery Cleaner Buyer’s Guide

Features to Consider

  1. Leather and Vinyl Conditioner
    Some car upholstery cleaners go beyond stain removal and purport to restore your car interior by conditioning and protecting leather, vinyl, and fabric surfaces. If you’re maintaining an older classic or looking to get the longest life out of your leather seats, a good leather conditioner is a must along with your car upholstery cleaner.
  2. Scent
    While this is often a matter of personal preference, most car detailers prefer odor eliminating products that don’t leave behind too strong of a fragrance. For best odor removal, look for an oxidizing cleaner or a nano-particle based odor-eliminating cleaner, but make sure they’re safe on the kind of fabrics and seating surfaces your car has.
  3. Prep Required
    Some DIY car upholstery cleaners require different preparation than others. If you’re looking for the best results and have a decent amount of time to put into cleaning the upholstery of your car, some of the best deep cleaning products require either pre-dilution with water, or to be used with a wet and a dry microfiber cloth for best results. If you’re in a hurry, you may prefer a water-based aerosol upholstery cleaner.
  4. Brush or Rag
    Some car upholstery cleaning kits come with a scrubbing brush or detail brush. Again, this is a boon to convenience and can be a big help for that once-in-a-while job, for example, if you’ve just picked up a used car or are putting your old car on the market.

Car Upholstery Cleaner FAQs

What is the best cleaner for car upholstery?

Depending on the upholstery type and the type of stain, some of the top performing car upholstery cleaner products are the Car Guys SuperCleaner, the Tuff Stuff multi-purpose cleaner, and the Meguiar’s upholstery cleaner. These dedicated products tend to be easier on upholstery and better remove stains than generic carpet cleaner from Walmart.

What is the best way to clean cloth car seats?

In general, the best way to clean cloth car seats is either using a steam cleaner, a combination warm-water cleaner and vacuum car upholstery cleaner machine or by using an upholstery cleaning product along with a damp microfiber towel.

How do you remove stains from car upholstery?

If you’re not using a car upholstery cleaner machine or a steam cleaner, the best method for stain removal usually involves spraying a spot cleaner solution and scrubbing with a detail brush, then wiping with a damp cloth.

Can you use carpet cleaner on car upholstery?

While carpet cleaner will usually give decent results on floor mats and car interior carpeting, it’s recommended that for car seats and fabric upholstery you only use a dedicated upholstery cleaner or a multipurpose carpet cleaner that also promises it’s safe for upholstery. Carpet cleaner isn’t usually the best choice for cleaning leather seats.

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Ryan Mcbride

Ryan McBride is a writer based in Los Angeles. He has contributed work to magazines and sites including Gayot, Spy, Paper, Ladygunn, 3AM and the Crab Creek Review. He writes consumer reviews, essays, science and tech journalism as well as literary and art criticism.

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