WIPE clean, residue-free and that “new car” smell, the best car interior cleaners promise it all.
More and more of us drivers see our car as an extension of our home – in fact , a study found that two in five people used their car as a place to relax or work during lockdown.
From the grime of a muddy weekend, smudges from dropped food or those stubborn stains that not even elbow grease will shift, most of us would jump for joy for an all-purpose cleaner (APC) that really can “do it all”.
Forget kitchen cleaners — the surfaces in your car likely need more specialised products to clean them. What might be effective on shifting grease on a kitchen counter could spoil your high-gloss dashboard trim.
Car cleaning brands such as Autoglym and Dodo Juice have chemists that specially develop cleaners to work with the materials car manufacturers like to stick in the cabin.
The interior cleaner range is often budget friendly, and great when you’re travelling long distance or the kids are treating you as their personal chauffeur.
Some of the toughest stains have been put under the microscope in making these products, so your car’s interior can go from stinky (car air freshener, anyone?) and stain-ridden to scented and sparkling in no time.
Follow our guide to banish those stubborn stains while getting tough on grime and grease with the best car interior cleaners for 2021.
1. Autoglym Interior Shampoo
Autoglym Interior Shampoo 500ml, £5.86 (Was £9) from Amazon – buy here
Autoglym is well known as one of Britain’s top cleaning manufacturers, and for good reason; you can use the brand’s interior shampoo anywhere in the cabin of the car and on the outside as well.
From the gear stick and steering wheel to hub caps and grill, it blasts through grime and polishes to a gleam.
The Autoglym Interior Shampoo’s handy spray bottle makes it easy to get in to the corners but the company recommends using its specialist cleaner for any leather material.
Worth considering, if you opted for a higher spec trim.
2. CarPlan Demon Clean
- CarPlan Demon Clean Active Super Cleaner, £8.60 from Halfords – buy here
From its bright yellow colour and citrus smell, to its toughness when it comes to stains on all materials, CarPlan’s Demon Clean will clean everything from grimy bumpers to pesky marks on interior plastics.
Particularly suited to lighter coloured interiors which are prone to marking easily, it’s highly recommended by users for shifting stains that other cleaners don’t come close to moving.
Some users have said it can be too powerful, so check the care instructions on the bottle and on your car upholstery before using.
3. Armor All Multi-Purpose Cleaner
- Armor All Multi-Purpose Cleaner, £9.08 from Amazon – buy here
Ever thought of using all-purpose cleaner on carpets? Armor All’s multi-purpose cleaner can be used pretty much anywhere in the car except for on leather.
Spray it on those stubborn stains and ground-in muck on your carpets, or work it into grease marks and grime to get the car back to showroom standard.
From oil spots to grease and tar, this is a work horse that just loves being put through its paces in your vehicle.
Despite being one of the pricier options, it’s well worth the investment.
4. Dodo Juice Total Wipe Out
Dodo Juice DJWO500 3676, £19.90 from Amazon – buy here
This spray from Essex-based Dodo Juice is tough on dirt.
Colourless, it won’t stain carpets or lighter materials so you can use it anywhere in the cabin.
It does foam a little like shampoo and needs a rinse off, but this ready-to-use dilution will shift a lot.
For extra tough jobs, Dodo Juice sells a concentrate, too.
A little goes a long way and if you don’t have space for all the specific cleaners needed to get your car in tip-top condition, it makes easy, clutter-free work for those with less time.
5. Meguiar’s Carpet and Interior Cleaner
- Meguiar’s Carpet & Interior Cleaner, £10.99 from Amazon – buy here
Meguiar’s is a fairly big name in car care, and for good reason — drivers love how reliable its products are, with Amazon reviewers saying that this Carpet and Interior cleaner is the best about for removing stains from seats.
Various commenters have said that it effortlessly removes myriad stains including coffee, suncream, chocolate, ice cream, mud and even oil/grease.
This professional-strength cleaner is also great at cleaning vinyl, upholstery and seatbelts.
6. Auto Finesse Total Interior
Auto Finesse Total Interior 500ml, £8.95 from Halfords – buy now
Easily identifiable with the quirky logo, Auto Finesse Total Interior is low foaming and helps tackle those hard-to-remove grease spots.
Great on vinyl and plastics, it also takes on carpets and upholstery, meaning you don’t have to buy two separate products.
The odour screams “just cleaned” and will blitz through lingering smells in the cabin.
Users love this for its ability to work quickly — particularly on fabrics — without leaving any residue.
7. Halfords Dash & Trim Cleaner
Halfords Dash & Trim Cleaner 500ml, £4 from Halfords – buy here
At less than half the price of some of the other cleaners on this list, being on a budget needn’t prevent you from having a smart car interior.
Not only the cheapest of the bunch, the Halfords Dash and Trim cleaner also adds a protective layer to your dashboard, stopping the material from cracking, drying or fading in the sun.
Best used on plastic surfaces, it restores colour which instantly transforms the look of your cabin with minimal effort on your part.
8. Turtlewax dash and glass
Turtlewax Dash & Glass 500ml, £3.50 (Was £7) from Halfords – buy here
Turtlewax’s Dash and Glass is another cleaner that can save you money by doing two jobs for the one price.
With an easy wipe or two you can polish out any water marks, surface residue or grease spots while still keeping the cabin fresh and clean.
Use on your hard surfaces to get the best effect and rest assured that the finish offers UV protection, is made up of natural preserves such as Cocoa Butter, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.
9. CarPlan Interior Valet with Brush
CarPlan Interior Valet with Brush 400ml, £6 (Was £7) from Halfords – buy here
With a handy brush CarPlan’s Interior Valet is great for carpets and upholstery. Those stubborn stains shift quickly with this powerful foam cleaner.
Cleverly including a stain guard to repel dust, Interior Valet helps against dirt building up. Its fresh citrus scent helps blast away the old takeaway smell, leaving behind an odour mask that even beats wet dog and other lingering smells.
Though initially pricey, when 400ml bottle is compared with other 500ml ones on this list, the inclusion of the brush really helps offer value, saving you time. What price can you put on that?
10. The Chemical Guys Total Cleaner & Protectant
- The Chemical Guys Total Cleaner & Protectant, £14.99 – buy here
The cleaner by The Chemical Guys is even more versatile than the Armor All cleaner — it works on vinyl, plastic, carpet, cloth, glass (meaning you can use it on screens), wood and even leather.
The company claims that the unique formula will penetrate dirt, grime, fingerprints and grease without leaving any unsightly streaks.
It also contains UV blockers, which protects your car’s interior surface from the damaging effects of sunlight.
£14.99 is undoubtedly a lot for a cleaning product, but if you find you’re a fan you can buy a gallon of the cleaner to save yourself money.
11. Diamond Shine System Interior Car Cleaner
- Diamond Shine System Interior Car Cleaner with Mini Detailer Brush and Microfibre Cloth, £14.95 from Amazon – buy here
This cleaner from Diamond Shine is suitable for a variety of interior surfaces, and comes with both a mini detailer brush to help reach the nooks and crannies of your cabin, and a microfibre cloth which helps prevent any damage to seat leather.
It can also be used on air vents, dashboards, carpets and steering wheels.
The formula comprises a balanced pH and acid free solution, which Diamond Shine claims enhances the “natural appearance” of your car and keeps it fresher for longer.
And in case you don’t like the product, the company has a 30-day money back guarantee.
12. Ticarve Car Cleaning Gel
- Ticarve Car Cleaning Gel, £8.99 from Amazon – buy here
This Car Cleaning Gel by Ticarve is a bit different from the other products in this list — it’s designed to help you clean all the areas of your car that usual implements can’t get to — your vents, for example.
The “slime cleaner” can be pressed into your air vents — as well as onto your door handles, steering wheel and dashboard — and pull out all the dust that has been accumulating. It can also be used out of your car, to clean devices like computer keyboards.
This one has a sweet Sakura fragrance, so it smells good, too.
What is the best thing to clean a car dashboard?
Cleaning your dashboard can be tricky to clean properly because of all the small curves and edges.
Vacuum all the dust before you apply a cleaning product, making sure to reach as far as possible during the entire process. Our best car vacuum cleaners roundup might come in handy here.
For a dashboard with parts made from vinyl, plastic, or rubber, you will need to use a mild soap. Wet a microfiber cloth, and put the soap directly onto the cloth. Then wipe the surface with the moistened cloth to clean.
What is the best car upholstery cleaner?
The best car upholstery cleaner will depend on which car you own and what kind of stain you need to get rid of.
First things first, be sure to test any stain remover on a small spot before using it to avoid making more damage.
The best products require fewer applications and are formulated to work on all sorts of stains – although experts often recommend using a special product for leather.
Our favourite one is the CarPlan Demon Clean Active Super Cleaner, it effectively removes dirt and grease from windows, dashboards and plastic trims and we liked its fresh citrus scent.
It’s a bit on a pricier side but you can use it for the interior and the exterior of your car, saving you from buying extra products.
What is the best car glass cleaner?
Good news, we’ve tested out a selection of the top products on the market.
Read our roundup of the best car glass cleaners here.
If you’re planning on giving your car a bit of love, check out our selection of the best car wax, pressure washers, and car polish.
Looking for more motoring recommendations? Check out our dedicated Sun Selects motoring section.
Enjoyed our roundup of the best car interior cleaners? Browse our full range of Sun Selects recommendations.
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