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Best interior car cleaner 2023: Leave your cabin germ-free and smelling great

Desperately need to rid your car cabin of funk and gunk? The best interior car cleaners will do the job

“Tidy place, tidy mind,” so the saying goes. It’s certainly true of car interiors, where clutter, dirt and smells can create an environment that’s anything but relaxing or comfortable. That’s where the best car interior cleaners step in: these sprays can help you shift the grime to give your car a showroom fresh feel.
Without them, it’s hard to keep car interiors looking fresh. Dropped food, spilled drinks, dog hair, mud and snacks can all cause a real mess. And as the laws dictate, they will usually end up in the hardest to reach places.

There’s a huge number of interior car cleaners out there suitable for all budgets. But not all are suitable for your needs; some leave an overpowering smell that lingers, some leave a sticky or greasy residue that evokes memories of second-hand car forecourts. Our list avoids both.

It’s worth noting that some cleaners are better on some surfaces than others. Some are just for upholstery or carpet, others will clean vinyl and interior plastics, too. And there are dedicated leather cleaners, too. Our rundown will take you through the best on sale.

READ NEXT: The best car cleaning products you can buy

Best interior car cleaners: At a glance

How to choose the best interior car cleaners for you

How should I clean the inside of my car?

Before you reach for the car interior spray, spend a couple of minutes clearing your car of all the paraphernalia you’ve accumulated: rubbish, shopping bags, old parking tickets, spare shoes, your collection of ice scrapers and the like.

Next up is to vacuum throughout. Start with the seats, and don’t forget the crevices down the sides. Remove the mats and vacuum them separately before returning to the carpets, making sure you get into all the hard-to-reach spaces between the doors and the seats.

A car vacuum can make this job easy, thanks to slim crevice tools and carpet brushes, but a household vac should give equally good results. Cordless vacuums are helpful if you’re a long distance from a plug socket, especially if you live in an apartment, and don’t forget the coin-operated vacuum machines that are on many petrol station forecourts.

Now the ‘big dirt’ has gone, it’s time to grab the car interior cleaner. The precise process may vary, so read the instructions, but as a general rule you should spray the solution onto a clean microfibre cloth. Most of the grime will be below the window line: door panels, the centre console and all around the dashboard. The gearshift and handbrake gaiters can harbour lots of grot, so pay special attention to them too.

Cupholders and ashtrays are often the worst though. If you have rubber mats in the base of these, you can remove them to soak in water if they’re particularly nasty.

Try to avoid the cleaner touching the glass. If it happens, wipe it off with a clean cloth or use a separate glass cleaner.

What do car detailers use to clean car interiors?

Professional car detailers love a good clean, not least because they’re paid to give cars extra TLC. They normally opt for surface-specific cleaners, as these are formulated to ensure no marks are left behind. But bear in mind, they’re being paid for their time.

Pro detailers can spend up to four hours cleaning the interior of a car alone, using all manner of extra tools, such as air guns for the cubbies and steam cleaners for tough-to-shift detritus such as gum. They then split the cabin area into different materials, so as not to contaminate surfaces with the wrong cleaner. When you’re considering which one you’re going to pick, be honest about how much time you have to spend on getting your interior clean.

READ NEXT: Best car seats for children up to twelve years old

The best car interior cleaners you can buy in 2023

1. CarPlan Demon Clean Active Super Cleaner: Best cheap interior car cleaner

Price when reviewed: £5.99 | Check price at Halfords

The Demon Clean Active Super Cleaner is not going to break anyone’s budget. At only 53p per 100ml, it works on the interior and exterior of your vehicle, cutting easily through grease and oil. While it claims to be suitable for use on windows, you might find it leaves streaks on glass. However, it removes grime and dust effectively and leaves behind a lemony scent. It’s antibacterial too, making it brilliant value-for-money.

Key details – Size: 1l; Price per 100ml: 60p

Check price at Halfords

2. Sonax Xtreme Interior: Best all-round interior car cleaner

Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at AmazonThe Sonax Xtreme Interior is a great all-rounder. It has antibacterial qualities combined with stubborn dirt removal and odour elimination. It can take on most surface areas, from plastic trims to upholstered seats and roof linings. Neutralising smoke, pet and food smells, it can also be used in the house. Spray onto a cloth and get stuck in – it’s a doddle to apply and it’s reasonably priced too.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Price per 100ml: £3

3. Chipex Factory Finish Stain and Odour Buster: Best interior car cleaner for pet owners

Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at AmazonThere are few things we want less in our cars than the rancid smell of three-week-old dog or child vomit. While these things can’t be helped at the time, Chipex Factory Finish Stain and Odour Buster can definitely deal with the aftermath. The sooner, the better, of course. While it’s not the cheapest option, it claims to remove virtually all stains and odours, including wine, ink and chocolate. If you’re needing your interior prepped for sale, this Chipex gem is totally worth the investment.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Price per 100ml: £2.60

4. Dodo Juice Total Wipe Out: Best interior car cleaner for environmentally conscious drivers

Price when reviewed: £17 | Check price at AmazonDodo Juice Total Wipe Out is an all-purpose cleaner with a stiff upfront cost. However, this ‘works on anything’ cleaner offers great value-for-money as a little goes a long way. It’s worth noting (since some shoppers have been confused) that the 1l bottle is pre-diluted with a trigger spray, but the 5l refills are concentrated. We love this earth-friendly approach. What’s more, you can use it neat for tougher stains, or dilute with water for a general clean.

Key details – Size: 1l; Price per 100ml: £1.70

5. Autoglym Interior Cleaner and Sanitiser: Best interior car cleaner for parents

Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at AutoglymFor older cars that have sat for a while getting suitably fusty, or second-hand vehicles sporting an unwanted historic stench of the previous owner, Autoglym’s Interior Cleaner and Sanitiser is brilliant. Though it’s not especially budget-friendly, parents will love the fact it cleans and sanitises all kinds of surfaces, from fabric upholstery and carpets, to leather and plastics. It’s particularly adept at getting rid of those funny white scuffs on door cards too.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Price per 100ml: £2.60

Check price at Autoglym

6. Autoglym Interior Shampoo: Best all-purpose interior cleaner

Price when reviewed: £9 | Check price at HalfordsAutoglym says its Interior Shampoo “cleans and freshens carpets, fabric upholstery and plastics.” It has a scent not unlike a household polish, but was impressive at shifting dirt from door pulls and sticky fizzy drink residue without leaving any greasy or oily traces.

Given that it’s not a dedicated upholstery cleaner we were a little sceptical about its performance on fabrics, but were pleasantly surprised with how it tackled water stains on light grey seats. It’s perhaps a step or two behind specially-designed fabric cleaners, but if you’re looking for one spray that can do it all, the Autoglym is impressive.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Price per 100ml: £1.80

Check price at Halfords

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