Time to get to the nitty gritty of vehicle detailing…. the Interior!
Skip to the good stuff:
- Time to get to the nitty gritty of vehicle detailing…. the Interior!
- The Best Car Interior UV Protectors and Cleaners Reviewed
- Wait a second Mike, why do I need a car interior cleaner or dash protectant?
- Simple and Easy DIY Interior Cleaning Tips
Does your car or truck look like the inside of a trash can? We just finished up reviewing the best interior cleaner and dashboard protectant that you can safely use on your car or truck and we’re excited to tell you about them! Mike and I spent last weekend detailing a 2013 Jeep Cherokee that had a little too much fun in the mud. So we got to test out these products first hand!
5 Cleaners and Protectors for your dashboard and upholstery
Here is quick summary of the best interior car cleaner and best car dash cleaner that the guys and I at ScannerAnswers have tried so far.
|1||303 (30313-CSR) UV Protectant Spray for Vinyl,...||3,031 Reviews||from $2.53||Buy on Amazon|
|2||CarGuys Super Cleaner - Effective All Purpose...||1,778 Reviews||$16.99||Buy on Amazon|
|3||Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector, 2...||876 Reviews||$20.72||Buy on Amazon|
|4||KevianClean Interior Defense Car Vinyl Protectant...||159 Reviews||$23.95||Buy on Amazon|
|5||Armor All Oxi Magic Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner...||75 Reviews||$5.78||Buy on Amazon|
The Best Car Interior UV Protectors and Cleaners Reviewed
- 303 UV Protectant Spray – Best dashboard protector
- Car Guys Super Cleaner – A universal cleaner for car interiors of all kinds
- 3M Scotchgard – Best car interior protectant for fabric and upholstery
- KevianClean Interior Defense – Best natural, non toxic cleaner and protectant
- Armor All Oxi Magic – Best car upholstery cleaner
Baking soda and vinegar is a great homemade dash cleaner that will work just fine for most projects, and soap and water should take care of the cleaning of your vehicle. However, sometimes you’ll run into jobs where the kids (or wife!) have spilled McDonalds and ice cream and soda all over, and you’ve gotta break down and use some upholstery cleaner. And always, always, always, use some quality UV dashboard protectant to keep your dash from cracking open like the caverns of time.
So if you’re in the mood for a proper interior detailing, here are the best car upholstery cleaners and dashboard protectants. I’ve been driving or working around cars for as long as I can remember and I’ve used a LOT of car interior cleaning products in the past.
Here are my favorites.
1. 303 UV Protectant Spray
- 303 UV Protectant brightens surfaces and keeps them looking newer, longer. This formula provides superior UV protection for any rubber, finished leather, plastic, vinyl, eisenglass, PVC, gel coat &...
- 303 UV Protectant not only protects against fading, discoloration and cracking from harmful UV rays, but repels dust and stains too helping to extend your cleaning.Powerful UV blockers
- Rinse-free formula leaves a non-greasy, dry matte finish with no odor and is non toxic and water based. 100% free of grease-producing silicone oils and petroleum distillates.
After cleaning the dashboard and the door sidings, you will need to apply a light coat of UV protectant to guard the hard surfaces against oxidation and premature UV damage. For that, you will need the 303 UV Protectant Spray. If you want an awesome no-shine dash protectant, this stuff works great!
But first, here’s a minor caveat: this product costs around [see price] for a single 32 Fl. oz. spray bottle. It is a bit expensive compared to other dashboard protectants but the 303 UV Protectant is different since it comes with a non-toxic water-based formula that is free from petroleum distillates and silicone-based oils.
What I particularly like about the 303 UV Protectant Spray is it leaves a smooth and matte finish on the treated surfaces. There’s none of that overly glossy and oily finish.
The 303 UV Protectant should be applied on hard surfaces similar to the same procedures when applying polish to the paint. Spray a light mist on a small section at a time, use a dry towel to gently work the product on the surface, and wipe off the excess.
Vince wrote a bit more about his experience with this stuff that you can read here: 303 UV Protectant Review
- Water-based non-toxic formula
- Leaves behind a matte finish
- Easy to apply
- Lasting UV protection
- It’s a bit expensive
2. Car Guys Super Cleaner
- - THE HYPE IS REAL! - Are you tired of using cleaners that work, but not as good as you expected?! You won't experience that here! Our newly formulated multisurface cleaner is made with the newest...
- - REPLACE YOUR CABINET OF CHEMICALS! - Do you get confused by all the different types of cleaning supplies that are available? It gets frustrating fast! Just cleaning your vehicle requires some...
- - SUPER CLEAN ANY SURFACE! - This multi surface product works on absolutely every interior or exterior surface except glass and delicate instrument panel screens! That means this ONE PRODUCT will...
The Car Guys Super Cleaner is a reformulated multi-surface, water-based, and polymer-infused cleaner. This product is ideal to clean and revitalize the look of canvass, leather, fabric upholstery, carpets, plastic, rubber, metal, and vinyl surfaces. This product is also great for wood trim and is powerful enough to remove baked-on bird droppings and tree sap from the paint!
I like the fact that Car Guys is actually pushing this product as a genuine cleaner and not as a cleaner AND protectant. They are right when they say products that claim to clean and condition are never good enough for both jobs. It is either they don’t clean well, or they only offer marginal protection against UV rays. This product is a pure auto interior cleaner and requires the use of a separate dashboard protectant if you’re looking for an impressive degree in UV protection.
Since the Car Guys Super Cleaner is a multi-surface cleaner, you can also this product in your home or office. You can use this to clean your sofa or furniture and even your spa cover! This is also great to have in the boat since it can effectively clean and remove dirt and stains on metal and leather-covered surfaces.
Not bad for a cleaner priced at around [see price] for a 16 oz. spray bottle, right?
- Multi-surface cleaning power
- Water-based polymer formula
- Easy to use
- Nice, clean scent
- Affordable price
- Does not offer UV protection on hard plastic and rubber surfaces
3. 3M Scotchgard
- Strong fabric protection repels spills for easier cleanup
- Ideal for household items like upholstery, curtains, pillows, table linens, backpacks, luggage and more
- Perfect for use on clothing like shirts, dresses, silk ties, suits, outerwear, canvas shoes and more
The Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector is a consistent top-seller simply because it works. This product is not only good for the interior of your car since it is also designed to be used around the house and in the office.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this product before. I’m not in the liberty to discuss the ingredients of this cleaning formula, but the liquid is extremely flammable so I’m assuming it contains a blend of petroleum distillates and other chemicals.
Scotchgard is not exactly a cleaning product. You use this product after cleaning your interior upholstery to protect it from future spills and stains. The idea is to spray a liberal amount of the product in your fabric seats or interior carpeting to protect them from accidental spills. This product will form a protective barrier on the treated surface so you can simply wipe away the liquid spill with a cloth or paper towel without leaving a stain on the surface.
The effects don’t last forever. You will need to reapply the Scotchgard every 3 or 6 months. This product comes in two 10 oz. cans and is priced at around [see price]. A single can is enough to treat an average-sized couch or approximately five jackets.
This product is ideal to use on your couch, sofa, carpets, pillows, backpacks, shirts, and even on canvas shoes! Inside the car, it’s will work great on fabric seats and carpeting.
Take note that the Scotchgard is a fabric and upholstery protector. It is not designed to protect hard plastic surfaces and leather-covered upholstery and trim.
- Provides an invisible barrier to ward of spills and water stains
- Easy to apply
- Perfect for the car, home, or office
- Product is flammable and contains harsh chemicals
4. KevianClean Interior Defense
- CAR INTERIOR CLEANER; Cleans, conditions & polishes for sleek and lustrous interiors; Not oily, clean to touch, smells nice
- DASHBOARD SUN PROTECTOR; Best maximum UV protectant against aging, drying & cracking
- MULTI PURPOSE; Perfect for cars, trucks, boats & RV's; Great for new vinyl furniture and faux leather
The KevianClean Interior Defense cleaner and protectant costs around [see price] per 24 Fl. oz. bottle. If the price is a turn-off, wait until you hear what this product can do. This cleaner is ideal for hard interior surfaces like plastic, vinyl, rubber trim, and leather seats.
It is biodegradable, non-toxic, and contains no chemical irritants. This is good news if you have kids and pets in the car.
The KevianClean also has a light lavender scent. I particularly like the smell of this product since other cleaners have a harsh chemical scent.
What’s more, this cleaner is infused with top-grade carnauba wax to offer impressive levels of UV protection. The Interior Defense is formulated to clean the hard surfaces of your vehicle’s interior while protecting against drying, aging, cracking, and discoloration.
This cleaner is not only good for the interior since you can also use this on rubber bumpers, boats, and outside furniture. The product will also work on bonded or faux leather couches or sofas so you can clean those items with a simple spray and wipe!
While I admit the KevianClean Interior Defense is a bit pricey by today’s standards, it is hard to argue with the peace of mind you’ll get in using a water-based, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly product.
However, this product works best as a cleaner. I also found out the water-based formula can easily wash away when applied to exterior trim pieces when it rains. If you are going to use this product to clean your dashboard, remember to follow up with a light coat of UV protectant.
- Water-based and non-toxic formula
- Easy to apply
- Pleasant lavender scent
- Easily removes dirt and stains
- Not ideal for interior protection against UV
- It’s a bit expensive
5. Armor All Oxi Magic
Armor All is not only known for the original protectant that I have used since I was a kid but it’s also renowned for the Oxi Magic Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner. I’m not really sure what it means when the label says this product can deep clean using a ‘powerful oxygen action’, but this stuff is powerful enough to make the toughest stains disappear right from your very eyes!
A single 22 Fl. oz. spray bottle of the Armor All Oxi Magic Carpet Cleaner only costs around [see price]. This is a terrific deal since it’s designed to work on floor mats, carpets, upholstery, vinyl, and hard surfaces such as the dashboard and the door panels. I also tried this product on the headliner of my car and it worked brilliantly without needing much elbow grease.
For stubborn and deep-seated stains, the trick is to spray a liberal amount directly on the affected area and let it soak for a couple of minutes. After that, it is all just a matter of lightly rubbing the stain using a dry microfiber towel and you’re done!
Although I prefer using a water-based and non-toxic cleaner for my car, I have to admit that the Armor all Oxi Magic Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner is close to my heart since it is one of the easiest products to use when it comes to removing tough dirt and stains on the carpets and fabric seats of my ride.
- Powerful cleaning action
- Super easy to use
- Reasonable price
- Light, neutral scent
- Chemical-based formula
Wait a second Mike, why do I need a car interior cleaner or dash protectant?
We eat, drink, and virtually live inside our cars. This is the reason why it’s important to maintain a clean and sparkling interior. Besides the obvious health benefits and aesthetic looks, a well-maintained interior will significantly increase the resale value of your car when it’s time to sell it on the open market.
Unfortunately, it is a bit tough to keep everything spotless and clean. I am guilty of that fact ever since I spent a lot of time working with other cars. Luckily for us, we can count on the best car upholstery cleaners to get the job done.
But before you go out and buy the first bottle of cleaner you can find, you need to discern the difference between a cleaner and a protectant.
Suffice to say that you need both in order to complete the task at hand. You can think of it like detailing the paint. The proper way to clean the exterior is to wash the vehicle, apply polish, and finish off by treating the paint with a coat of carnauba wax.
Cleaning the dashboard and hard plastic interior trim is similar to waxing the paint. You will need to rid the surface of deep-seated dirt, smudge, and grime before applying a light coat of UV protectant. The last step is critical since the dashboard protectant will protect your dash from fading, cracking, peeling, and early deterioration.
When it comes to interior trim pieces, the seats, door sidings, and headliner, using a car upholstery cleaner is a must since it can make easy work on the dirtiest and most neglected parts of the interior.
If you have a short attention span like Vince, CleanMySpace did a nice little video on cleaning your interior.
Simple and Easy DIY Interior Cleaning Tips
The secret to maintaining a spotless and sanitary vehicle interior is to immediately clean or blot the spills as they happen. Yeah if you let that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sit in the 100* Florida sun, it’s gonna suck to clean!
Love going to the drive-thru but hate the ketchup stains in your seats or carpeting? When the inevitable happens and you don’t have a bottle of upholstery cleaner at hand, here are a couple of simple and easy DIY interior cleaning tips that might save the day.
- Always keep a roll of paper towel, tissue, clean microfiber towels, or baby wipes ready in the glove compartment. You will never know when you will need them the most. Trust me on this. It is also a good idea to keep a small bottle of rubbing alcohol since you can use this to remove stains in case of an emergency.
- Are there deep-seated stains in your carpets, headliner, and upholstery? Baking soda will do the trick. Simply mix ¼ cup of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water and use a toothbrush to work the cleaning solution into the stain.
- You can also clean the seats using a simple cleaning solution consisting of ¼ cup white vinegar, a few small drops of dish soap, and warm water. Mix everything in a spray bottle and use this to clean the fabric seats in your ride. Spray a light mist of the cleaning solution directly on the seats and wipe away the excess using a clean and dry microfiber towel. This really works if you don’t want to bother with a commercially available car upholstery cleaner.
- If you have a car or if you own multiple vehicles, do yourself a favor and buy a quality wet and dry vacuum cleaner. You can easily maintain the look of your interior by simply using the vacuum at least once a week. This is also helpful to easily dry the carpets or the seats if you spill water or soda all over your interior. You will thank yourself in the end.
If there are hard to remove dirt and stains in the interior of your ride, grab one of the best upholstery cleaners and best dashboard protectants to make the job easier and hassle-free. Make sure to have a stack of fresh and clean microfiber towels on hand since you will need a lot if your interior is extremely dirty.
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