Most of us obviously care how the exterior of our car looks. Nothing beats a freshly washed car that’s shiny and sleek. But if you really care about your car, you shouldn’t neglect its interior. After all, that’s where you spend your time while driving. More importantly, if you care about your car’s resale value, then you need to maintain a clean cabin.
One of the biggest benefits of car interior cleaners is that quality ones will be formulated with UV blockers to help protect your cabin from fading or cracking. Ever seen cars with cracked dashboards or faded leather? There’s a good chance they didn’t regularly use interior cleaner.
Each day, your car tracks in more dust, dirt, and grime than you can see. The longer you go without caring for your cabin, the harder it will be to get it all cleaned up — just like the exterior of your car. Besides, detailing your interior takes a fraction of the time as washing the outside of your car. Combine an interior cleaner with one of our recommendations for best car vacuums and you’ll be on your way to a more relaxing and comfortable drive.
1. Top pick: Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant
The Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant from Chemical Guys is my top pick for an overall solid interior cleaner. I have this recommendation at the top of my list because it’s one solution that can pretty much be used for your entire interior. It’s a bit mild compared to other products, which I prefer when it comes to interior detailing and should be used if your cabin is in relatively good shape. If your seats are particularly stained, or your carpets are really dirty, you’ll probably need a stronger cleaner like our next option.
But for general maintenance and upkeep of your interior, this product can safely be used on your seats, dash, center console, navigation screen, floor mats, and carpets. Another reason why I prefer this interior cleaner is its natural finish. If you prefer something shiny or glossy, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Chemical Guys does say its interior cleaner is formulated with UV blockers to help prevent fading and cracking.
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2. Runner-up: Adam’s Polishes Interior Detailer with Microban
For something a bit stronger, there’s Adam’s Polishes Interior Detailer with Microban. Microban is a company that specializes in antimicrobial technologies and odor control solutions, helping companies create products that are cleaner, fresher, and more durable. Adam’s combined its interior detailer solution with Microban for a product that cleans and disinfects.
From my experience, it works really well but it does have a bit of a scent. Although Adam’s calls it a “Sweet Pea Scent,” it’s a bit more like blueberry to me. It’s not particularly noticeable, but it’s worth calling out for those who are sensitive to smells. It typically lingers for a day or two. This solution is safe to use on all surfaces found inside your car’s cabin, including the headliner and navigation screen.
Depending on the amount of cleaner you use, it could leave behind a glossy finish if that’s what you like. I did find that it was a little streaky on glossy painted surfaces, especially if it’s black.
3. Best odorless: Griot’s Garage Interior Cleaner
Those who want an interior cleaner that leaves behind no scent should check out this product from Griot’s Garage. I found this interior cleaner to be even milder than Chemical Guys’ product, but it also contains no dyes or additives. That means you can safely use it on all types of fabrics and hard surfaces, but it may take a bit of solution and some scrubbing to get out stubborn stains.
My biggest issue with the product is its bottle. It feels clumsy to use and user reviews state the same. I also don’t recommend using it on glass since it can streak. Instead, get a proper automotive glass cleaner to clean your windows.
This is my recommendation for Porsche owners who keep their car in great shape and don’t track in too much dust, dirt, or other contaminants into their interior. If you regularly wash your car and take good care of the interior, this mild interior cleaner is the perfect complement to your routine.
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4. Also consider: Shine Armor All Purpose Interior Cleaner
One brand that has really grown in popularity online over the last few years is Shine Armor. Based on user reviews, its interior cleaner does a great job, but it is a bit more expensive per ounce than our other recommendations. And despite the name Shine Armor, this interior cleaner won’t leave behind a greasy mess. Instead, you’ll get a clean, matte finish on your interior components.
Like many quality products, it’s formulated with UV protection to help prevent your interior from cracking or fading. You can safely use it on all types of surfaces and materials, including synthetic leather, carpets, plastic, rubber, and more.
It does leave behind a citrusy scent that isn’t too powerful. But worth mentioning if you’re sensitive to smells.
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5. Honorable mention: Meguiar’s Ultimate Interior Detailer
My final recommendation comes from Meguiar’s, a brand that offers a wide lineup of car care products that all perform consistently well. Its Ultimate Detailer is a product I used for many years before I switched over to Chemical Guys and Adam’s Polishes, but by no means is it a bad option. It’s competitively priced and will leave behind a satin finish to your components.
The biggest reason why I don’t use it as much anymore is its smell. Some of Meguiar’s products leave behind a pleasant scent, but I’m not a fan of its interior detailer. If scent doesn’t matter to you and you’ve been happy with the results from other Meguiar’s products, then you know what to expect with this one.
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Why should I use car interior cleaner?
We understand that many car enthusiasts mainly care about how their car’s exterior looks, but you spend pretty much all of your time inside your car. A recent study conducted by Aston University and Scrap Car Comparison found higher levels of germs inside cars than the average toilet. In addition, you want to protect that interior if you care about your car’s resale value. A faded dashboard or a cracked seat makes your car less appealing on the market. But more importantly, just like a clean house makes you feel more comfortable, a clean interior is just more pleasant to be in.
How often do I need to use car interior cleaner?
The biggest factor that impacts the answer to this question depends on your everyday driving conditions. If your daily commute is less than 15 miles and you aren’t tracking dirt, dust, and grime inside your vehicle, then you don’t need to clean your interior as often as someone who takes long drives with their dog. Another factor to consider is how often you drive with the windows down, as that can cause plenty of contaminants to enter your cabin.
Generally, I like to run through my interior after washing my car. Most of the time, general maintenance like this takes as little as 10 minutes to wipe down all the surfaces.
Be honest, can you really tell a difference between car interior cleaners?
Truthfully, probably not. If you were to hand me all five of my recommendations in unlabeled bottles with an average car interior that wasn’t all that dirty, they probably all perform very similarly. Where it does matter is how different they smell, and how effective they are on dirtier surfaces. You will definitely be able to tell a difference in performance if your leather seats are stained and you’re using a milder solution.
One other factor that will be different across car interior cleaners is the finish. Some interior cleaners leave behind a glossy, shiny finish, while others have a satin, matte finish. This largely comes down to personal preference, but I always found the glossy finish to attract dust afterwards.
Should I use interior cleaner on my windows?
Although many interior cleaners say they can safely be used on glass, I don’t recommend it. Just do yourself a favor and purchase a separate automotive glass cleaner to make your life easier. Some car interior cleaners will streak when used on glass, while others will leave behind a residue.