For this review, we used a nearly 20-year-old vehicle with years of interior wear to test each car interior cleaner. Each cleaner was used on various surfaces within the car with a microfiber towel, except for the Armor All wipes.
Application: When considering the application of a cleaner, you want a product that can be used safely on all parts of your car interior without damaging or wearing down the upholstery. The products in this review that were made specifically for more sensitive materials scored well in this category. Cleaners that could be used safely on multiple different surfaces scored highest in this category.
Scent: With any cleaner, there’s a risk of overpowering or offensive scent. After cleaning, we determined the scent that the cleaner left behind in our vehicle. Cleaners that had a strong chemical smell scored lower in this category. The interior cleaners that left a subtle, pleasant smell after cleaning scored the highest.
Dust and Stain Removal: The purpose of an interior cleaner is to remove dust, grime, and stains that build up over time and wear down your car’s upholstery. During our cleaning process of each product, we compared each cleaner to see how easy stains were to remove and how much, if any, residue or dust was left on surfaces after cleaning.
UV Protection: UV rays can damage your car’s upholstery over time, especially if you consistently park your vehicle outside. We looked at each product’s contents and description to determine the degree of UV protection each cleaner offered. We also took note of how visible the protective coat was after cleaning different surfaces. Interior cleaners supplied with some form of UV protection to prevent cracking and fading scored highest in this category.
How We Score Products
Star ratings help us to provide you with an honest evaluation of each product we test, helping us to compare the items against each other to narrow down our best overall pick. For the car interior cleaners in this review, we calculated an overall average rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 stars.
- 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating is a well above average rating. If the car interior cleaner exceeds our expectations in one or all testing criteria that we considered most important throughout our testing process.
- 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating is an above-average score. For example, if the car interior cleaner left a subtle UV protectant layer, but did not compare to the barriers left behind among other products, you’d see a 4.0-star rating for UV protection.
- 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating is an average rating for the car interior cleaners in this review. If the car interior cleaner removed stains but left intense streaking behind, especially when compared to other cleaners, you’ll see an average rating.
- 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating is a below-average rating. If a cleaner in this review takes a lot of effort to remove small stains, you’d see a below-average rating.
- 1.0 Star: While rarely seen in our reviews of the best products, if a car interior cleaner is defective or cannot remove even the most surface-level stains from our vehicle, you’d see a well below-average 1.0-star rating.
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Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.
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*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.