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These days, just owning an aesthetically pleasing vehicle isn’t enough. Like most new vehicles, the smell and shine fade and in order to maintain the cleanliness and good looks of your car, you’ll have to put some work in. Not only on your car’s exterior but most importantly, the interior. Interior cleaners are usually quite affordable, with some exceptions, but normally the price isn’t much cause for concern.
As you might expect, there are a number of different products used to clean the inside of your car. This might be obvious to some but there are a variety of parts in your car’s interior, such as the windows, seats, dashboard, and more.
In order to get the best cleaning results for your vehicle, you’ll need to use a variety of products. Most people will recommend “universal” cleaners but in the end, they end up lacking in one area or another.
The Best Car Interior Cleaner
We decided to create a list of the best options in a variety of categories in order to get your vehicle as clean as possible.
1. Best for Dashboard and Trim
Meguiar’s Vinyl/Rubber Cleaner and Protectant
This product may be advertised for Boats and RVs specifically but you can use it just the same on your vehicle. Meguiar’s Vinyl/Rubber Cleaner and Protectant are used for dashboard and trim cleaning. It’s made out of a premium mixture of ingredients that offer a safe, deep clean.
This results in a sparkling shine and high-level of protection for your plastic, rubber, and vinyl surfaces. Most importantly, after using this product, the surface of your dashboard and trim will have a clean, rich, and natural sheen instead of an artificial, greasy plastic look like Armor-all.
The Dashboard and trim are parts that are usually exposed to sun rays most often and are very delicate. It’s no wonder this product is advertised to RV owners as their “homes” tend to sit and absorb harmful UV rays daily. The conditioners in this particular product will help prevent the surfaces from cracking, drying out and the overall damage caused by the sun.
- Pros: Formulated conditioners that help prevent surfaces from drying out. Relatively cheap based on the surface you’re detailing.
- Cons: Some have noted the smell after an application is a bit unpleasant. Not the best for extremely dirty surfaces.
2. Best for Carpet and Upholstery
Meguiar’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
The next stop is the carpet and the upholstery of your vehicle. The Meguiar’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner is a go-to product for these parts of your car’s interior.
This product utilizes a strong cleaning foam that works perfectly for removing stubborn stains and odors. The foam acts really fast and it quickly breaks down the stains. It also dries rapidly and, most importantly, it leaves no residue.
This product has two different modes of operation. It can deliver a spray pattern, or it can be used to deliver foam to a single spot. You just need to pull the trigger a couple of times repeatedly for the first method, or pull the trigger once and hold for the another.
In order to get the best results, you’ll need to apply the spray first, then wait for at least 10 minutes for it to soak in. After that, just use a cloth to wipe and scrub away the cleaning solution.
- Pros: Affordable and relatively easy to use. Two different modes of operation. Significant results as fast as 10 minutes
- Cons: While the smell is pleasant, some people may not like it. It’s still better than smelling chemicals.
3. Best for Leather Interior
Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
If you have a leather interior, this kit by Chemical Guys might be exactly what you need in order to keep your leather clean and conditioned. This kit includes two 16 ounce bottles. One bottle serves as a leather cleaner and the other one as a conditioner.
Unlike some options, these products leave no residue and won’t result in fiber deterioration.
When it comes to the cleaner, not only will this product not harm the leather, due to its pH balance, it will preserve the leather strength, appearance, and overall durability. The cleaner’s formula is designed to penetrate the pores of the leather, in order to lift and suspend oils and dirt that might be found in it.
The conditioner’s formula is designed with stain guard meant to bind with leather fibers so that it minimizes the ability of oils and dirt to attach to the leather surface.
Most importantly, you’ll see significant results after just one application. Your leather surface will be fresh and clean again!
- Pros: Comes as individual products: cleaner and conditioner. Works to penetrate pores to lift dirt and oils. Easy to use.
- Cons: Might leave an over-scented, strong smell that will take a couple of days to dissipate.
4. Best for Glass
Sprayway Glass Cleaner
At last, we’ve come to the window cleaning. Having clean glass windows, mirrors and windshield is extremely important, as 100% visibility is what you need at all times while driving.
The Sprayway Glass Cleaner Aerosol Spray is a great product to use on glass parts of your vehicle. It is made out of a powerful formula that will quickly clean and dissolve your windows from grease, grit, and grime.
One of the biggest advantages of this particular spray product is that it leaves absolutely no streaks or residue because it is applied in the form of a foam. It is also ammonia free!
It’s also very simple to use, and this is how it works:
Firstly, shake well and remove the cap. Hold the bottle about 8 to 12 inches away from the surface and spray the surface. Then use a microfiber glass-cleaning cloth to wipe it away.
- Pros: No streaks or residue like other glass cleaning products. Affordable.
- Cons: Note that this product contains perfume-grade alcohol for improved cleaning.
5. Best in Microfiber Towels
VibraWipe Microfiber Cloth
Most detailing experts will tell you that a Microfiber towel is like the holy grail when it comes to detailing. They are multi purpose and can be used for drying, buffing, and wiping away dirt. Experts and enthusiasts alike have long since moved on from the days of paper towels and abrasive options.
As you know, you can’t do everything by just spraying a cleaner or a conditioner onto a particular surface. You always have to use something to clean and wipe up the surface after. That’s where a microfiber cloth comes in. In this case, we recommended the VibraWipe Microfiber Cloths.
These microfiber cloths come in a pack of 8 and unlike most other options, these are reusable and machine washable. Usually, microfiber is notorious for fraying and unraveling after machine washing, so this is a huge bonus.
These come in a variety of pastel colors that allow you to color-code in order to prevent color bleeding.
The cloths are designed to be gentle but strong and efficient at the same time. Another reason people opt to use Microfiber cloths is as the name implies, their “micro” fibers are capable of lifting the smallest of particles. By using them, you’ll find that the cloths clean gently and they remove dirt like a magnet.
These cloths are extremely absorbent and are reported to hold up to 5 times their weight in liquid.
Truly, the only thing you have to consider when you’re thinking about buying these cloths is their size. Some may find them too small for their detailing requirements. Then again you get eight and swapping out cloths periodically isn’t a bad idea.
- Pros: Super absorbent. Works gently and is able to pick up the finest of particulates. Machine washable means no fraying and unraveling like the competition.
- Cons: One size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Then again these come in an 8 pack.
What to Look for in Interior Car Cleaner
As you can tell, we aren’t huge fans of “Universal” cleaners. Especially when there are specialized options that target specific areas of your vehicle’s interior. In most cases, a universal option is going to be lacking in one way or another. Whether it be the way it cleans upholstery or removes stains from carpet.
In most cases, there are going to be five areas that need frequent detailing; the dashboard, carpet, upholstery, windows, and general trim. Cleaning these areas is fairly straightforward due to how we outlined things above.
Dashboard and Trim
For the dashboard and trim, we recommended using Meguiar’s Vinyl/Rubber Cleaner and Protectant. Spray the solution on the dashboard and wipe up with a microfiber fiber. If your dash is a bit dirtier, create a soapy water mixture before using the protectant to get up most of the particulates before you apply the Meguiar’s solution.
Seats/Upholstery and Carpet
For your seats, determine the type of upholstery cleaner you’ll need. If you have leather seats, you’ll need something that can penetrate the leather pores and lift dirt and grime. You also want something that can treat and condition the leather so that it doesn’t dry out and crack due to exposure to the sun. In this case, Chemical guys two-step solution works wonders.
If you have fabric upholstery then you want something that can deep clean this material. Meguiar’s carpet and upholstery cleaner work perfectly at both spot treatments and for large affected areas. This product also features a fresh smelling scent that makes your stained seats smell and look brand new.
Windows and Glass
In many cases, people will suggest products in this area that aren’t meant for vehicles. We recommended SprayWay because it is a streakless window cleaner. It produces a foam capable of dissolving particulates that are on the surface of the glass and it also is able to be wiped away and not leave streaks or film.
Other Cleaning Tools?
The main thing we left off this list is a vacuum cleaner. Truly, you won’t need a portable vacuum cleaner as it will end up just being a gadget you won’t use.
As long as you have a vacuum that has a hose attachment and decent suction power, you are off to a good start. If you don’t have a vacuum, consider going to a car wash, they usually have strong outdoor vacuums for 25 cents a minute.
The majority of people who drive a vehicle like having a shiny ride. However, fewer drivers make an effort when it comes to their vehicle’s interior. As the saying goes, you can only polish a turd so much, it’s still a turd.
It’s essential to understand that by regularly cleaning the interior of your car, not only are you making it look good, but you’re also preserving it from damage and retaining resale value.
These products all serve a particular purpose and will help clean the interior as a whole. Stay away from universal cleaners that will only provide a semi-decent job.
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