Best Car Interior & Upholstery Cleaners: Give Your Car That “Just Detailed” Look
Learn about the best car interior cleaners and how they keep the inside of your car fresh and new
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PUBLISHED ON April 24, 2019
Just about every place you spend time needs constant cleaning: your home, your office, your car. While you go to great lengths to clean your home, your car may not get the same attention. An unclean car not only has an off-putting smell, but it also serves as a perfect place for germs to grow and breed. This is why picking the best car interior cleaner will save you time, keep you healthy, and protect your car’s interior at the same time. If you’re wondering what is the best car interior cleaner, this guide answers this and reviews the best car interior cleaning products on the market.
- Best Overall303 UV Protectant SpraySummarySummaryThis is an all-around cleaner and protectant that works on most surfaces inside the car. It gives you the kind of car interior detail that cleans and protects the inside of the car without the need to buy other products.ProsProsIt offers UV protection and works with most surfaces inside the car. It also repels dust and is non-toxic. It protects the interior of the car and leaves no odors with its dry matte finish.ConsConsThe detailer doesn't hide scuff marks or blemishes well. It’s not good for unfinished leather. Poor packaging is another issue.
- Best ValueChemical Guys SPI_663_16 InnerCleanSummarySummaryAs a value pick, this is an inexpensive detailer that gives you good value for your money. The low price tag doesn’t come at the cost of the functionality or features though.ProsProsQuick to spray and easy to wipe clean. The fresh scent chases bad odors inside the car. It has UV protection and is dust repellent.ConsConsThe pineapple scent can get too fruity inside the car. It may leave marks on the door panel. If you spill it, it stains yellow.
- Honorable MentionCarGuys Super CleanerSummarySummaryCarGuys Super Cleaner sets itself apart from the competition with its unique approach to cleaning dirt and grime. What you get here is an all-purpose cleaner that works both on the interior and exterior of the car. This unique approach gives it a detailing power that extends beyond the automotive realm.ProsProsThe multi-surface cleaner works on rubber, carpet, upholstery, vinyl, and leather. It uses nanotechnology to clear dust and grime at the molecular level.ConsConsIt doesn’t work on glass. After using on the dashboard, it might leave a greasy film. Use caution when using on leather, as it could leave splotchy stains.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Car Interior Cleaner
- Less excessive wear and tear. Cleaning the interior of the car is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Spilled substances and UV rays create cracks in the interior of the car. Without regular cleaning, a new car can look much older than its real age and mileage. Car interior cleaners keep upholstery, leather, and all other surfaces looking new and prevent discoloration and fading.
- Prevent health issues. When you shut the car door, the interior becomes a closed environment. This allows germs, dust, and other particles to circulate in the air, causing health issues and all sorts of allergies. A car interior cleaning spray prevents such health hazards and maintains the air quality inside the car.
- Better driving safety. A dirty windshield translates into poor visibility of your surroundings. The same goes for side and rear-view mirrors. Cleaning the interior as well as the exterior of your glass increases your ability to see what’s around you and minimizes road risks.
Types of Car Interior Cleaner
Car interior cleaning spray is quite popular and widely used. Sprays clean different surfaces inside the car, which saves you time and money. Some spray products protect against UV rays, which other detailing types don’t offer. Because they’re versatile, effective, and easy to use, many car owners prefer spray products over other car interior cleaner types.
Interior wipes help you reach all the nooks and crannies inside the car and give them a thorough cleaning. While the best car interior wipes can give you that “just detailed” appearance, they’re not that good against certain stains. Interior wipes also require more time and effort to clean the car than car interior sprays.
Car interior wax, sometimes called leather balm or leather cleaner, is specific for the leather surfaces inside your car. Despite this narrow scope, it does a good job cleaning, conditioning, and protecting the leather. The wax also protects against UV rays and gives the leather a rejuvenated look and supple feel.
Established in 1980, 303 Products has mainly focused on protecting surfaces from UV rays. It offers quick detailers, fabric guards, protectants, and cleaners for both indoor and outdoor living. It’s not just automotive; these products work well for boats and homes. Other products in this category include 303 Products Aerospace Protectant and 303 Aerospace Protectant Wipes.
Started as a small company operating in California in 1968, Chemical Guys aimed to make the right detailing products that all car enthusiasts would love. Over the years, that simple idea grew into a multinational company with presence in Europe and Asia. Their products now sell in more than 50 countries all over the world. Other top products include Complete Leather Care Kit and Chemical Guys MIC_506_12 Microfiber Towels.
When Frank Meguiar Jr. started this company from his own garage in California in 1901, he had no idea that one day it would grow this big. At the time, there were more carriages than cars, and Frank was making wax products. He soon turned his attention to cars and hasn’t looked back since. The company’s Ultimate Leather Balm is a top seller and so is it's Automotive Soft White Drill Brush.
Car Interior Cleaner Pricing
- Under $10: At this price range, you can get car interior detailers that work only on one or two surfaces. For example, wax products sell at this price range, but they only work on leather. You can also get car interior sprays for under $10, but the quality is not that great.
- $10-$20: The average car interior cleaner product sells within this price range. This includes high-quality sprays that sell in a single package.
- Over $20: Good-quality car vacuum cleaners and detailing kits usually sell at this price range. Large containers, ranging from 1 to 5 gallons, will sell at higher prices. Depending on how often you clean your car, you might opt for the gallon containers to save money in the long run.
One of the main features that you need to look for in a car interior cleaner is UV protection. UV rays are responsible for a lot of wear and tear in the car interior. They’re the reason the colors fade and the surfaces crack. The best car interior protectant is the one that has UV protection among other features. Most detailers that come in spray form have UV protection, unlike other types such as wipes and car vacuums.
Thanks to advances in technology, car detailing products not only clean stains and grime but also act as dust repellents. This means they’re still working on the surfaces of the car interior even after you’ve wiped them clean. Preventing dust from sticking to the dashboard and the seats is a key feature of the best car interior detailing products.
A product that only works on one or two surfaces is neither an economical option nor is it convenient. When you shop for the best car interior detailer, you’ll ideally want a product that works on most, if not all, of the different surfaces inside the car. That will save you time and money down the road.
The finish is one of the things, not all car interior detailers get right. Some products do manage to remove stains, only to leave a splotchy blob in its place. Having a matte finish is usually a must-have feature to check for in a car interior cleaner.
- Scent: Whether you like your car odorless or scented is up to you. Some people can’t enjoy a drive without having a pineapple or baby powder aroma wafting across their face. A car interior detailer’s scent is an important factor to consider when choosing your product. A pineapple scent might be nice, but when you spray it all over the inside of the car, it might get too fruity in there.
- Toxicity: A toxic car detailer is both a health and environmental hazard. Since you’re dealing with chemicals that remove grease, grime, and stains, the issue of toxicity needs to be taken into account. The ideal car interior detailer should be non-toxic and water-based so that it’s easy to clean off if you accidentally spill it inside the car.
Best Car Interior Cleaner Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: 303 UV Protectant Spray
The 303 UV Protectant Spray is the best overall pick simply because it offers better cleaning and protecting functionality than the other products in the market. As a protectant, it keeps the interior of the car looking new and prevents cracks, discolorization, and fading.
Since it works on various surfaces, the spray saves you the need to buy different products for different surfaces. It works well on rubber, vinyl, PVC, eisenglass, finished leather, fiberglass, and gel coat surfaces. This just about covers most surfaces inside the car.
Besides its protection features, 303 UV Protectant Spray also works as a dust repellent. This keeps dust from sticking to the dashboard, panel, and leather seats and allows for fast cleanup of these surfaces. The dry matte finish leaves the inside of the car looking clean without any odors. Since it’s water-based and non-toxic, any excess spraying can be cleaned off with a wipe without a fuss.
On the downside, the spray doesn’t hide scuff marks or blemishes well, and it doesn’t work on fabrics or unfinished leather. The packaging is also an issue since the bottle can be leaky.
Best Overall: Chemical Guys SPI_663_16 InnerClean
If you’re on a budget and don’t like to spend much on car interior detailers, Chemical Guys InnerClean gives you good value for your money. It’s easy to use and cleans quickly, which comes in handy when you want to give the car interior a quick cleaning.
Besides its ease of use, the detailer has advanced UV protection to keep cracks and the wear and tear at bay. It’s effective against dust and dirt on most plastic surfaces, including dashboards, door panels, steering wheels, and armrests as well as navigation screens.
Another perk you get with this detailer is that it comes in two scents, pineapple, and baby powder. It leaves behind a nice, fresh smell, and the dust repeller keeps the surfaces clean for a long time.
On the other hand, the Chemical Guys InnerClean Detailer doesn’t work on many surfaces such as glass, leather, rubber, or fabrics, which is a major letdown. The pineapple scent it leaves behind can be too strong and fruity. Also, be careful not to spill it inside the car, as it tends to leave a yellow stain.
Honorable Mention: CarGuys Super Cleaner
CarGuys Super Cleaner merits a place here because it’s a multi-surface, all-purpose cleaner. It breaks and removes the grime and dirt effectively, which sounds like a good option for someone looking for a one-stop car interior cleaner.
This cleaner works on lots of surfaces both on the inside of the car as well as the exterior. CarGuys Super Cleaner will also do a good job cleaning fabrics and upholstery. Although this versatility might make the cleaner too strong for certain surfaces, it leaves a clean, no-gloss, and odorless finish.
The cleaner doesn’t offer UV protection, which is a serious issue. It doesn’t repel dust either. Even though it works on most surfaces, it’s ineffective on glass and shouldn’t be used on panel screens. On leather, it has mixed results. It cleans stains well, but it might leave blotchy stains on finished leather and coats the dashboard with a greasy residue that’s not easy to get rid of.
- Make sure to pre-vacuum the interior of the car before you use the liquid cleaner. This allows you to get rid of all debris and dry dirt in advance and makes the cleaning process less messy.
- The interior of the car can be overwhelming when you start cleaning. So, break it down into smaller areas to make it manageable. Also, consider grouping similar surfaces together.
- Use a scrub on a difficult stain after you have sprayed it to break up the dirt or grime. Then use a wipe to mop it up.
- When you have a tough stain, it’s better to use a spray lightly a few times. Don’t go for heavy application because that might ruin the surface.
- You might not be able to clean the interior of the car in one go, especially if you have a lot of dirt and grime. Patience always pays off.
Q: Should I use the product full strength or have it diluted?
A: Most of the time, you can use the spray as is unless you have sensitive interior surfaces like dashboard navigation screens or some expensive leather in the car. In that case, it’s better to dilute the detailer just to be on the safe side.
Q: Do car interior detailers work on scratch marks?
A: Not really. They’re not effective against scuffs and scratch marks. They only work on removing dirt and grime.
Q: Can I clean glass with car interior detailers?
A: No. Almost all car interior cleaners don’t work on glass. This includes the all-purpose multi-surface products. If you accidentally use it on glass and it leaves a smear, you can use a glass cleaner product with a wiper to get it off.
Q: How often should I use the cleaner on the interior of my car?
A: For a good car cleaning, you can use them as much as you like—unless the product itself is too strong, in which case you can dilute it and use it carefully around certain delicate surfaces or on light-colored interiors.
Out of the many products in the market, we picked 303 UV Protectant Spray as the top car interior detailer. It works on various surfaces, has a matte finish, protects against UV damage, and is quite affordable.
For a value buy, Chemical Guys’ SPI_663_16 InnerClean excels with its low price, UV protection, and dust repelling features. It’s quick to apply and easy to use as well. Since it comes with two scents, it saves you on buying a car air freshener.