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The best car upholstery cleaner

Which car upholstery cleaner is best?

With the amount of time we spend in our cars, it becomes impossible to prevent all spills and stains. Whether it's from our morning coffee, a child’s snack or dirt tracked in after a hike, our car upholstery can take on blemishes leaving it looking less than new.  

Instead of taking your car to an expensive interior wash, consider investing in an upholstery cleaner to do the job at home. For a great, multipurpose clean, consider Shine Armor Car Interior Cleaner, which will work on a variety of fabrics to keep your car looking fresh.

What to know before you buy a car upholstery cleaner

It’s important to follow guidelines when buying upholstery cleaner for your car so you do not ruin your car’s interior. 


Car upholstery comes in a variety of materials, including fabric, leather or vinyl. Some cleaners may work for multiple car upholstery types, but some don’t. Check the product label to see if your car’s upholstery type is included. 

Cleaning intensity

Assess the type of cleaning you need to do for your car as certain cleaners will perform better on different tasks. For example, you may need a different cleaner to remove spots and stains than a cleaner you would use to do a deep clean of larger surfaces. 


Always read the directions for the car upholstery cleaner and pay attention to recommended cleaning methods. Before using a new product, check for colorfastness by testing the product in a hidden area to ensure the fabric won’t discolor or fade.

Car upholstery cleaner types

Spray upholstery cleaners

Using a spray cleaner is often the easiest cleaning method for car upholstery. To use a spray cleaner, spray the solution and let it soak for the recommended time. Then, pat the area with a cloth or scrub with a brush before soaking up the solution with a rag, sponge or paper towel.

Upholstery shampoos

Upholstery shampoos are more complicated than spray cleaners, and they involve multiple steps. The shampoo creates a lot of foam on your upholstery, which then dries into a residue that attracts the soil or stain. Leave the dried residue for an extended period of time, then vacuum up the residue and soil.

Low-foam vs. high-foam cleaners

In the past, high-foam cleaners were considered more effective than low-foam cleaners, but that’s not the case anymore. The surfactants, which create the foam, in high-foam cleaners don’t necessarily clean better, and they leave a residue that attracts soil. For a more modern, environmentally-friendly approach, choose a low-foam cleaner.

How much you can expect to spend on car upholstery cleaner

You can get a good car upholstery cleaner for between $9-$17 per bottle, but bottle sizes vary. 

Car upholstery cleaner FAQ

How do I clean my car’s upholstery?

A. First, vacuum your car’s upholstery to remove dust, dirt and crumbs. Then gather rags, paper towels, a sponge and a scrub brush. Closely read the directions for your selected cleaner, and apply the cleaner in the directed method.

I’ve applied a cleaner and it just isn’t working. What can I do?

A. If applying the car upholstery cleaner and wiping it away isn't working, you could try using an upholstery brush. The brush can help activate the cleaner, working up a lather and soaking it deeper into spots and stains.

What’s the best car upholstery cleaner to buy?

Top car upholstery cleaner

Shine Armor Car Interior Cleaner

What you need to know: This multi-purpose cleaner uses the latest nanotechnology and offers UV protection.

What you’ll love: It’s nongreasy and works well as a deep-stain remover to refresh your car’s interior.

What you should consider: It’s expensive for only 8 ounces per bottle.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top car upholstery cleaner for the money

Chemical Guys Nonsense Colorless and Odorless All Surface Cleaner

What you need to know: This gentle, low-foaming, powerful formula has naturally-derived citrus extracts and offers pH-balanced, color- and odor-free cleaning designed to remove dirt, grime and stains. 

What you’ll love: It has effective stain-removal properties, and it cleans without leaving the interior looking shiny or greasy.

What you should consider: The spray bottle design doesn’t allow the nozzle to be removed, so you’ll have to provide your own spray bottle if you need to dilute the solution.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Carfidant Ultimate Car Interior Cleaner

What you need to know: This is a great, multipurpose cleaner for leather, cloth and fabric, as well as vinyl and plastic dashboards.

What you’ll love: This gentle, but tough formula has no scent or harmful chemicals, and it can even be used as an external cleaner for your car, working on paint, engines, wheels and tires. It also acts as a bug, tar and bird poop remover. 

What you should consider: Some users report a duller finish than they’d like.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Fuller Brush Upholstery Cleaner

What you need to know: This American-made brand has been around since 1906, and it offers a rich, foamy solution for spots or soiled areas.

What you’ll love: It can be used on all carpets, including nylon, rayon, cotton, velour and other upholstery materials, and it cleans without leaving a sticky residue or requiring rinsing.

What you should consider: Some reviewers say the scent and cleaning power was just OK, not excellent.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Turtle Wax T-244R1 Power Out! Carpet and Mats Cleaner

What you need to know: This formula from a trusted car care brand has an odor eliminator to help remove odors caused by pets, cigarette smoke, food and mildew.

What you’ll love: A detachable micro scrub brush cap allows for cleaning in tight places, and the formula leaves a soil-repelling silicone shield after cleaning.

What you should consider: It’s inexpensive, but reviewers say it's not the most effective cleaner.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 


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Jane VanVooren Rogers writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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