You probably have a weekly cleaning schedule for your home and even ensure to hit the car wash the moment your car’s exterior starts looking a bit dirty. But when was the last time you cleaned your vehicle’s interior?

Ask any professional auto-detailer, and they will testify to the fact that the cabin of your car can get ultra dirty in the absence of credible car upholstery cleaners.

It’s a no-brainer that passengers will be introducing dust and dirt in your car, which will accumulate over time, particularly if you’re frequently commuting with the less-than-tidy kind of passengers – also known as children and pets. Keeping your automobile’s interior clean not only safeguards your hard-earned investment but can also reduce how stressed you might feel while driving.

Although car upholstery seems pretty durable, it goes through a pretty rough life cycle, so you must give it a little attention and care every now and then to ensure its longevity. As stated above, the product designed to sustain the upkeep of your car interior is a high-quality car upholstery cleaner.

There are several cleaners available on the market, and many credible brands such as Chemical Guys, Meguiar’s, Mothers, and ArmorAll are offering fantastic products. Therefore, we have chosen 11 different products that provide you with a broad range of options when selecting the best car upholstery cleaner to meet your needs.

We looked at products that don’t just remove ground-in grime, but also the marks and spills that naturally occur every day.

Read More Top 10 Best Plastic and Trim Restorers

1. Editor's Pick: CarGuys Super Cleaner

carguys super cleaner

Billed as one of the most versatile and effective multi-surface cleaners on the market, CarGuys Super Cleaner is our Editor’s Pick for the best car upholstery cleaner. Designed to work on a variety of interior and exterior surfaces, this product can be used to clean upholstery, fabric, canvas, leather, vinyl, plastic, rubber, grease, and even tree sap. Using a specially formulated water-based polymer formula, this cleaner is safe, non toxic, and doesn’t require to be rinsed by water after being used.

Although it’s safe to use on nearly all surfaces inside your car, avoid using the Super Cleaner on glass or any instrument panel screens, such as your gauge cluster or navigation. Otherwise, it can quickly become your go-to bottle for not only cleaning the upholstery in your car, but all the other surfaces inside the cabin.

2. Best for Floor Mats/Carpets: Blue Coral Upholstery Cleaner

blue coral upholstery cleaner dri-clean plus with odor eliminator

The Blue Coral Upholstery Cleaner is considered one of the more trusted car upholstery cleaners for the carpets or floor mats suffering from heavy spot staining. The product is especially formulated to handle a wide range of stains, the majority of which you presumed will never go away. Specifically, it is effective on tar, grease, coffee, ink, lipstick, and a range of other difficult stains including blood.

Moreover, the cap comes stocked with a stiff brush to get the chemically designed compound deep into the fabric to genuinely eradicate the baked in stains. According to regular users, the product does as its advertisement suggests and has saved them plenty in car seat shampooing. However, the Blue Coral cleaner is not very effective in removing pet remains.

3. Tuff Stuff Multi-Purpose Foam Cleaner

tuff stuff multipurpose foam cleaner

Among the professional grade car upholstery cleaners, Tuff Stuff Foam Cleaner maintains a fine reputation. Its strong foaming action will lift grime and dirt out of your car upholstery with ultra-efficiency. The product is effective on a broad array of surfaces but has really made its name for being one of the best car seat cleaners. This is because being a foam product, it truly renders a fantastic cleaning action when you spray and let it soak into the material.

Moreover, the cleaner will also deliver solid results when applied on harder materials like plastics and vinyl, making it an effective all-around cleaner. According to regular users, Tuff Stuff genuinely lives up to its advertised commitment of restoring your automobile’s upholstery to good-as-new status. Nonetheless, a few users do complain about the less than satisfactory results on vinyl door panels.

4. Chemical Guys Upholstery Odor Eliminator

chemical guys fabric clean carpet and upholstery shampoo

Chemical Guys is an international manufacturing company specializing in premium quality automobile care products. The company’s Upholstery Shampoo and Odor Eliminator is considered to be one of the most specialized car upholstery cleaners available today. The product is formulated especially for car fabrics and is manufactured with inbuilt biotechnology to combat grime and dirt at a molecular level for a thoroughly in-depth cleaning process.

More significantly, the cleaner is astonishingly mild and does not contain any abrasive-cleaning agents such as ammonia or bleach. The built-in odor eliminator also comes handy if your pets or kids often commute in the car. Lastly, the price is less than a 12-pack of beer and delivers solid performance even against old stubborn fluid marks.

5. Black Diamond Upholstery Cleaner

black diamond carpet and upholstery cleaner

This another excellent product in the aisle of budgeted car upholstery cleaners and is offered in a large 1 qt. size bottle by Black Diamond. The product has made its reputation for cleaning upholstery that has perhaps seen the rainbow days or hasn’t been cleaned for a while. This is all thanks to its cleansing agent, which is specially formulated to tackle new as well as old grime.

Moreover, due to its chemical formulation, the Black Diamond Upholstery Cleaner is perfectly capable of tackling different types of spills in your car, including coffee, ice cream, and pet stains. Additionally, despite being professional strength, the product is safe to use around pets and children. Therefore, you can spray down the vehicle’s interior without fretting about exhausting out the fumes before your family or friends climb inside.

Nonetheless, a few users have complained about discoloration when applied on lighter shade fabric.

6. Chemical Guys Lightning Fast Upholstery Stain Extractor

chemical guys lightning fast carpet and upholstery stain extractor

Our second entry from the Chemical Guys is also one of the most specialized car upholstery cleaners. It is specifically manufactured to tackle spot stains on soft fabrics such as carpets and upholstery, and particularly the fresh ones. Don’t let an accidental spillage ruin your evening by always keeping a bottle of Lightning Fast Upholstery Stain Extractor handy in your emergency kit.

Its strong cleaning agents offer a quick solution, and the trigger spray bottle is easy to use. You just have to spray it on, followed by a light scrubbing with a brush to break the stain, and then sweep away the remains with a microfiber cloth. Moreover, the Chemical Guys Upholstery Stain Extractor comes with inbuilt anti-bacterial enzymes and a potent anti-odor compound to completely disinfect surfaces for a sparkling finish.

Lastly, the product is designed to be ultra-gentle on the materials it cleanses without compromising its mighty cleaning power.

7. Meguiar’s G9719 Upholstery Cleaner

meguiar's carpet and upholstery cleaner

Auto-detailers worth their salt will confirm that the majority of Meguiar’s detailing products are the market leaders and its G9719 Upholstery Cleaner is one of the most sought-after car upholstery cleaners. Yes, the listed price is on the premium side, but the powerful formula in the foam offers an effortlessly deep cleaning capacity. Therefore, you can always carry one in your car emergency kit for well, spilled emergencies.

When using this product, you must wait for about 10 minutes before scrubbing after spraying the foam onto the tainted area. It’s recommended that you use an upholstery brush with tough bristles to effectively fight the dirt. Once applied, the dual-purpose G9719 will quickly break down the stubbornness of stains and the bad smells, leaving your car upholstery with a refreshing fragrance devoid of any chemicals.

Notwithstanding the above, the spray trigger and nozzle method can be improved for more user convenience.

8. Mothers 05424 Upholstery Cleaner

mothers carpet and upholstery cleaner

Say hello to one of the best car seat cleaners capable of lifting off tough dirt and hard-to-spot stains. The product is formulated with a balanced pH formula that will safeguard your car upholstery from discoloring when you spray upon them. Also, the environmentally safe trigger spray bottle is convenient to operate and takes a minimum amount of time to complete its cleaning action.

According to regular users of Mothers products, apart from everyday dirt and grime, the 05424 Upholstery Cleaner has the capacity to clean chocolate, food gravy stains, and even blood. Moreover, unlike many cheap cleaners with pungent odors, this product leaves behind a light mist after you meticulously vacuum your car interior. Lastly, it is admissible to use a nylon brush for scrubbing.

Notwithstanding the above, a few users have complained about the product not being effective in eliminating pet odors.

9. Turtle Wax T440R2W OXY

turtle wax oxy interior cleaner

Turtle Wax is a renowned automotive appearance products company that manufactures one of the best car upholstery cleaners for those on a budget. Any driver would tell you that ketchup, coffee, and oil are the most common type of stains and this Turtle Wax cleaner can handle all of them and more. The T440R2W OXY can be used on upholstery fabrics, car carpets, vinyl, and plastic to remove odors and stains with ease.

The product comes with a triple action formula that cleans, deodorizes, and safeguards the tainted spots for a thoroughly deep clean. Additionally, the bottle itself is packed with a micro-scrub brush that enables you to really scrub off the car interior work area for a deeper clean, and a microfiber towel to sweep the remains off.

According to regular users, the cleaner is good to rid your car of at least three years old stains.

10. Armor All Oxi Magic Upholstery Cleaner

armor all oxi-magic carpet and upholstery cleaner

In the league of no-nonsense car upholstery cleaners, Armor All holds a credible reputation. As the name suggests, the Oxi Magic Upholstery Cleaner can make most stubborn stains disappear magically. This is because it functions with potent oxygen-based action to effortlessly dissolve even ground-in stains.

Moreover, the cleaner sweeps deep into the fibers to crack up tough elements such as mud, cola, coffee, grass, ink, and motor oil to restore the original color. The Armor All cleaner is specifically designed for cleaning carpets, upholstery, fabric, vinyl, floor mats, and door panels. However, some users have a complaint about the product not effectively removing water stains.

Admittedly, the product does not have all the bells and whistles of more powerful and expensive products, but its decency lies in its affordability and reliable performance.

How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

Photo Credit: bogdanhoda via Shutterstock

We’re sure you spend a lot of time and money waxing and polishing your car to preserve its original paintwork, but how often do you clean its interior? Chances are your car’s upholstery is in need of some TLC.

Your leather upholstery or cloth car seats see a lot of use and live a hard life, which means they’re going to get very dirty. This is especially true if you regularly have passengers like kids or dogs that don’t seem to notice how messy they are or just don’t care!

Pick a sunny day to capitalize on the power of natural light to clean and speed dry your car seats after reading the following guidelines on how to clean cloth car seats with a bonus section on how to clean leather car seats.

How to Clean Cloth Car Seats

  1. First up, get rid of any large items of debris and crumbs from the upholstery with a soft-bristled brush or vacuum cleanerHow To Clean Cloth Car Seats- Step 1
  2. If your seats are littered with pet hair, it can become ingrained in the seat material, so you can use a pet hair brush to gently tease the hair into one corner before vacuuming it off.
  3. Use any credible car upholstery cleaner such as Meguiar’s D10801 Super Degreaser and spray on a portion of the seat, keeping in mind the manufacturer’s directions. 
  4. The ideal practice is to dampen the area without making it soaking wet, and gently clean with a soft-bristled brush.
  5. After leaving the cleaner on its own for a few minutes (unless instructed otherwise on the product label), use a microfiber cloth to gently rub or mop up the dampened area to dry it as much as you can. How To Clean Cloth Car Seats- Step 4
  6. It’s recommended to focus on small areas so that the cleaning detergent is not left in one place for longer than others and to make sure each part of the seat is deeply cleaned before scrubbing the next one.
  7. Lastly, ensure an even spread of car upholstery cleaner to prevent water stains upon drying.
  8. Let your car air out and dry naturally and make sure it gets good ventilation. Try to clean the seats when you know you won’t be needing the car for a while.

How To Clean Cloth Car Seats- Step 5Illustrations by Samrat Chakraborty.

How To Clean Leather Car Seats

  1. Cleaning leather car seats is very similar to cloth seats, except for a few critical differences.
  2. Leather, despite being a good repellent, is also fragile and inclined to abrasions, so you ought to be particularly gentle when using a vacuum with a plastic nozzle.
  3. An essential piece of advice on how to clean car seats with leather is to use a specific car leather upholstery cleaner, such as Chamberlain’s Leather Cleaner.
  4. You should follow the product directions and once you’ve applied the cleaner and left it on its own, mildly rub the treated portion of the seat with a microfiber towel.
  5. You will be able to see the brighter and less shiny side of leather, as pristine leather is commonly matte in appearance.
  6. Lastly, examine the transference of dirt onto your cloth until you are satisfied with the finishing.

Pay Attention to the Buckles and Straps

Remember, the buckles and straps are often forgotten as far as car seat cleaning is concerned. Never put the straps inside a dryer or a washing machine for a quick wash. Though some manufacturers may allow you to dip the straps in water, many will not — another reason to pick up that owners manual.

Car seat straps are made of webbing, and in the event of a car crash, they stretch, thereby reducing the intensity of force directed towards you. Tossing these seat straps in the dryer or washing machine will prematurely pluck all the stretch out of it.

According to seasoned detailers, you should only use gentle cleaners, as harsh soaps will damage the fibers of the seat straps by weakening its constraining capacity.

Cleaning the Cover

The best part of cleaning the cover is that a majority of vehicular seats come with removable fabric covers that are also machine-washable. However, getting the cover off is a rather tedious process, and if you haven’t befriended your manufacturer manual as yet, now’s a good time.

Top 10 Best Car Vacuums

Moreover, you can visit the manufacturer’s website or YouTube to see a few instructional videos on removing the cover. You can also film yourself removing the cover courtesy of your smartphone. It will help a great deal when it is time to put the cover back on. Pay special attention to whether they recommend air or machine drying the seat covers.

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.

Q & A

What Is Car Upholstery Cleaning?
Your car is a mandatory part of your everyday life as between the commute to work, health club, and PTA meetings, you perhaps spend hours inside your cozy metal machine. However, unlike at home, your dusty shoes are always on in the vehicle, and the probability is high that you occasionally consume food inside your car, apart from all the dirt your car’s interior catches from the environment. All of the above combines to leave you with a grimy car interior that requires deep cleaning. Therefore, if you’re using a credible car upholstery cleaner, it shall help you eliminate dirt, stains, odors, and residues leaving you with a freshly minted interior.
Why Should I Use A Car Upholstery Cleaner?
That’s because that household cleaner you’re planning to use on your car upholstery is only effective on kitchen countertops. What you need is an automotive-specific upholstery cleaner specifically formulated to clean and procure your car seats, vinyl, windows, and other parts. These upholstery cleaners integrate cleaning agents called surfactants, which assist in loosening and lifting fibers from the surface of your car seats.
What Do I Need To Clean Car Upholstery?
You need the following tools to clean your car upholstery: a vacuum cleaner, Leather conditioner, 2 buckets, a towel, a sponge, a chamois, any of your preferred car upholstery cleaners
Will All Of The Grime and Stains Come Out?
It primarily depends upon the stain and its stubbornness as some are tough or simply impossible to eliminate completely. However, if you’re using the best car upholstery cleaner which comes formulated with advanced stain removal processes, you can bet on almost all of them going away.
Can I Use A Car Upholstery Cleaner on My Tires?
Many products claim to be effective on car tires, in addition to doing interior cleansing jobs, such as the Armor All Oxi Magic Upholstery Cleaner. However, it is crucial to read the label or consult the manufacturer’s website before spraying any cleaning detergents on your wheels to avoid unwanted aftereffects.
Should I DIY or Leave It To The Professionals?
It’s admissible to clean everyday spills and dirt yourself with the help of one of the premium car upholstery cleaners detailed above. However, when the damage is severe and deep, you better take you may need to take your vehicle to a professional auto detailer.
What Do I Look For In A Car Upholstery Cleaner?
First, you need to establish what you have to clean? Is it the entire upholstery or a particular item such as the fabric, vinyl, carpet, or floor mats? This because even though its okay to have an all-purpose cleaner, but when it comes to specifics, you must go for specialized products. Moreover, it is feasible to check honest customer reviews on Amazon, and eBay for a pragmatic view of the product’s benefits.
Can I Use Car A Upholstery Cleaner On My Car's Carpets Too?
Yes, you can, if you’re using the right car upholstery cleaner for the job. For instance, you can use Chemical Guys Upholstery Odor Eliminator - to clean your car’s carpets with confidence.
What If The Stains Don't Come Out?
The car upholstery cleaners mentioned above can take care of almost all of your interior car stains, however, admittedly a few stubborn stains may remain. This could be due to a number of factors, either you took too long to take any action, or the damage was so severe that all you can do is to conceal it. Therefore, always keep a cleaner handy for any accidental spillage, and in the event that you find it impossible to completely remove a stain, consult an interior detailing specialist.