Buyer's Guides Car Carpet Cleaners

Best Car Carpet Cleaner: Complete 2020 Buyer’s Guide

Corner of car

Regardless of how hard you try to maintain the interior in your car, dirt happens. Fortunately, with the use of the best car carpet cleaner, you can take back control and keep your car’s interior in excellent condition.

It’s impossible to prevent your car’s interior from getting dirty, especially if you have kids or pets. But with a powerful cleaner, you’ll be able to easily deal with dirty carpets and have your interior looking new again.

I’ve created this buyer’s guide, which discusses what factors you need to consider before you purchase a new cleaning product for your vehicle’s carpet, how using one of these products can keep your interior looking great, what to look for to ensure the product you use won’t damage your carpet or interior, and which products are currently crushing it.

I’ve also tested out many of the best-selling models, narrowing it down to six that have what it takes to handle even the dirtiest carpet.

Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of these models, their leading features, and how they rated.

Car Carpet Cleaner Comparison Chart

Product Type Volume Scent Rating
Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner

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All-Purpose 16 OZFresh
Griot's Garage Interior Cleaner

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All-Purpose 35 OZNone
Carfidant Car Interior Cleaner

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All-Purpose 18 OZNone
Chemical Guys Carpet &
Upholstery Shampoo

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Shampoo 16 OZCitrus
3D Upholstery &
Carpet Shampoo

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Shampoo 16 OZLemon
Turtle Wax Cleaner
and Stain Remover

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All-Purpose 18 OZFresh

Chemical Guys SPI22016 Cleaner & Protectant


Our Rating: (5/5)

This is a multi-purpose cleaner that will clean and protect all surfaces in your vehicle, not just your carpet. It can be used on carpets, wood dashboards, plastic, cloth, vinyl, leather, nav screens, windshields, and more. This product is designed to clean and protect every surface in your car’s interior, eliminating dirt, dust, and old stains. This type of versatile cleaning product will give you more bang for your buck. Use it on the windshield, dashboard, and spray it all over the carpets to keep the interior of your vehicle clean and smelling fresh. This formula contains UV blockers that will protect the different parts of the interior from sun damage. This will prevent fading and cracking on door panels, the dashboard, plastics, sun visors, center consoles, door panels, and cup holders. This formula will not leave behind a greasy residue.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Contains UV blockers
  • Mild scent
  • No greasy residue

Cons

  • Can leave streaks on glass

Conclusion

This versatile cleaner will not leave behind a greasy residue, features a mild scent that’s not overpowering, and will clean your vehicle, while also protecting the interior from future damage. The ability to use this product on most types of surfaces in a car’s interior is a huge selling point and one that will allow you to get more bang for your buck.

Griot’s Garage 11104 Interior Cleaner


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This cleaner is safe for use on all surfaces and material types, including leather. This formula is non-greasy, so it won’t leave any residue behind, although it can leave streaks on glass so you may want to stick to glass cleaner specific products for your windshield and windows. This product is fragrance-free and dye-free and will not cause spotting or fading. The cleaner will remove tough carpet stains, old stains from upholstery and floor mats, and can even shine the dash and other plastic and leather surfaces. It can also be used around the home to tackle tough stains, making it one of the most versatile products in my lineup.

Pros

  • Multipurpose
  • Can be used to treat older stains
  • Can be used to treat stains around the house
  • Large bottle

Cons

  • Cannot be used on glass

Conclusion

This multipurpose cleaner can handle cloth, leather, carpet, plastic, and just about any other type of surface, in the car and in the home. It doesn’t have an added scent, which makes it a great choice for people with sensitive noses. The product itself will not leave behind residue or cause fading or spotting.

Carfidant Ultimate Car Interior Cleaner


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This versatile cleaner is specifically designed to tackle tough carpet stains, but it can also be used to clean other surfaces in your vehicle, including upholstery, leather, the dashboard, plastic, and vinyl. This tough cleaner is gentle on the surfaces in your vehicle, so it can remove old stains but it won’t fade or damage fabric. If you’re tired of using chemical cleaners that have an overpowering scent, then you’ll love this fragrance-free product. The manufacturer also offers a one hundred percent satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with this product’s cleaning power, you can contact the manufacturer for a full refund.

Pros

  • All-purpose
  • Fragrance-free
  • Will not leave behind residue
  • Low price

Cons

  • Repeat treatment on old stains may be needed

Conclusion

This product will not leave behind a residue, will not cause streaking, and is a very versatile product, since it can be used on both the carpet and the other surfaces in your vehicle. This powerful formula is tough enough to take on older stains, completely revitalizing your carpet and restoring your dashboard, plastic, and vinyl surfaces in your vehicle.

Chemical Guys CWS Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This foaming carpet cleaner features a light citrus scent and works to remove stains by reaching deep down to break it up and lift it to the carpet’s surface. This powerful shampoo will also remove odors and will restore the look and feel of your carpet. This product can also be used on the interior and will not cause bleach spots or fading. The formula consists of an enzymatic odor eliminator, a biodegradable degreaser and contains naturally occurring microbes that will degrade organic compounds that cause stains and odors.

Pros

  • Contains powerful enzymatic odor eliminating enzymes
  • Works as a degreaser
  • Light citrus scent
  • Will not fade or bleach interior
  • Treats old stains

Cons

  • May require repeat treatments to get the results you’re looking for

Conclusion

This powerful carpet cleaner is highly concentrated so it should be diluted using twenty parts water and one-part cleaner, so a little of this product will go a long way. This product is free from any type of color damaging solvents and detergents and does not contain any bleach, ammonia, or harsh chemicals. This tough shampoo will treat pet stains, biodegradable stains, grease, and so much more.

3D Upholstery & Carpet Shampoo


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is an organic, green, car carpet cleaning shampoo that features an advanced formula that’s designed to deep clean your carpet, making it look new again. It’s also tough on stains and spots and gentle enough to be used on your car’s upholstery. The shampoo does not need to be rinsed out. Instead, you’ll spray down your carpet and/or your upholstery, then use a shop vac or microfiber cloth to remove the moisture.

Pros

  • Lemon scent
  • Organic
  • Designed to brighten carpets and upholstery
  • No need to rinse out formula

Cons

  • Repeat treatment required for older stains

Conclusion

This organic formula is free from any harsh chemicals and dyes. It will work on your car’s upholstery and carpet and leaves behind a fresh lemon scent. It’s also designed to naturally brighten your carpet and interior, restoring it back to its former glory. This product is safe to use around kids and pets and will not fade or damage even delicate carpet and upholstery.

Turtle Wax Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Stain Remover


Our Rating: (4/5)

This cleaner is designed to protect fabric and carpet, while deodorizing and deep cleaning. The oxygenated, formulated cleaner features impressive cleaning power and is designed for use on carpets, upholstery, vinyl, and plastic. This is a triple action formula that will deep clean and eliminate old stains and odors. It can be used in cars, around the home, and in RVs. It comes with a micro-scrub brush that cleans deep into the fibers of all types of fabrics. The brush is detachable for easier cleanup.

Pros

  • Fresh scent
  • Eliminates old stains and odors
  • Deep cleans
  • Can be used in RVs, cars, and around the home

Cons

  • Cannot be used on glass

Conclusion

This all-purpose cleaner is tough on stains, but gentle on carpet and upholstery. It’s fresh scent is not overwhelming, while the triple advanced formula itself will easily eliminate deep ground dirt and older stains. The included scrub brush will help you remove older stains and pet accidents and is detachable for easier use. This all-purpose product will restore your carpet and upholstery in as little as one application.

Car Carpet Cleaner Buyer’s Guide

A carpet cleaner can do wonders for your interior, even if you’re dealing with old stains or dirt and debris. But you can’t use just any type of product for a car’s carpet. You need one that’s loaded with some serious cleaning power, one that’s capable of getting to that deep-down dirt, in order to restore your interior back to its former glory. There are many products to choose from, each of which claims they can eliminate dirt and odors, but not all products will provide the type of cleaning power you need to treat old stains, pet accidents, or grease. You may also need a product that’s more versatile and can be used on more than just your car’s carpet. I’ve included many versatile cleaners in my lineup that are designed to handle any type of stain, however, before I dive into the types of cleaning products available, let’s go over the different benefits these types of cleaners offer, and how they work.

Car Carpet Cleaner Benefits

It’s only natural that your car’s interior can become dirty and cluttered, especially if you spend a significant portion of your time behind the wheel every day. If you can’t afford to have your car detailed by the pros, then purchasing a carpet cleaner is a great alternative and one that’s more cost effective. These products offer a wide range of benefits to any driver, such as:

  • When you fail to stay on top of routine car maintenance, the car’s interior can really suffer. In fact, the floor and seats can develop excessive wear and tear. Old stains, dust, dirt, and debris can eventually wear away at the upholstery. In order to keep your vehicle’s interior looking good for longer, it must be cleaned regularly.
  • When you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, you’re sitting in an enclosed environment. If you have allergies and your vehicle is loaded with dirt and dust, these particles can have a major impact on the air quality inside your vehicle. Keeping your vehicle’s interior clean can prevent triggering your allergies and other health-related issues that are linked to poor air quality. Additionally, the cleanliness of your car can also prevent stress.
  • Cleaning your car’s interior yourself can save you hundreds of dollars a year that would otherwise go toward paying for professional car detailing.
  • Your car will smell amazing.
  • Your vehicle is an important investment. Keeping your car’s interior clean will protect your investment by adding to its value. When a car’s value is estimated, the condition of the interior is always taken into account.
  • You can use this type of cleaner for more than just deep cleaning the interior of your vehicle. In fact, you can use it to spot clean the carpet in your home, and your furniture, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Other Important Features

Wash the car

Now that you know how you can benefit from owning your own carpet cleaner, you’re probably eager to start shopping for a model for your vehicle. However, before you hit that buy now button there are a few things you should consider when you’re shopping for a carpet cleaner that will ensure it suits your cleaning needs and your budget. Many of these leading products can be used on a variety of different material types and surfaces. This makes the product more versatile, allowing you to use a single product to clean your car’s carpets and interior, instead of spending a fortune on a variety of different cleaners.

Now, let’s begin by learning about the different cleaners available.

Types of Car Carpet Cleaners

There are several different types of cleaners, which you should choose based on the type of interior your car has, in addition to the types of stains you’re dealing with.

All-Purpose

This type of cleaner is a great choice. It’s very versatile and will work for a wide range of materials including leather, plastic, vinyl, carpet, glass, and more. You can use this kind of cleaner for all of the surfaces in your vehicle, not just the carpet.

Leading all-purpose cleaners are very versatile and can also be used around the home, in RVs, and boats. Their impressive dirt and odor eliminating power can also make them a good choice for treating tough stains on your carpet in the home.

Shampoo

If you’re cleaning one specific area of your vehicle, such as the carpet, then you may not need an all-purpose cleaner. Shampoos do a great job of removing surface dirt, which can make a huge difference in terms of how good your carpet looks, but they may not be powerful enough to reach that deep-down dirt. If you have old pet stains in your car’s carpet, then you need something that can eliminate odor as well. Some carpet shampoos will need to be rinsed out, while others feature a leave-in formula that will only require you to soak up any remaining moisture. Of course, not all shampoos will be effective with a single application, so it’s common that repeat treatment is required for older stains.

Read the Label

Most carpets in vehicles are manufactured using man-made materials, such as plastic. Read the label on the carpet cleaner to make sure it’s safe for use on carpets, plastic, and vinyl. Avoid products that are also designed to polish rubber and condition leather.

Formula Type

Some products are ready to use, while others come in a concentrated form. When you’re detailing your vehicle, you don’t want to use a product that’s highly concentrated unless you’re using it to clean an old stain. Concentrated cleaners are diluted by you, using water and a spray bottle. This type of formula can go a long way, but ready-made formulas are more convenient to use.

Rinse and Leave-In Products

Because your car is a small, enclosed space, airflow is minimal. Look for a product that can be used and left to air dry. If you want to rinse the carpet after use, in order to remove any remaining product, you’re only adding water to an area that will not dry quickly. This can lead to water stains and a mildew smell.

Treats Large Areas or Spot Cleans

Some products are designed specifically for spot treatment only and will come in a small bottle. If you use that type of formula to clean the entire carpet, you’ll end up wasting a lot of money. If you need to treat the entire carpet, look for a product that specifies it’s designed to clean larger areas.

Built-In Brush

You’ll need to use some elbow grease to remove dirt and stains. Some cleaners will come with a textured top or built-in brush that you can use to scrub your carpets and loosen up stuck-on dirt and tough stains. These brushes are designed to reach deep down to break up dirt stuck in the carpet’s fibers.

Deep Cleans

If your car’s carpet is in desperate need of a deep clean, then make sure the product you choose is compatible with a carpet extractor. If you can’t find information concerning whether or not it can be used in a carpet cleaning machine, don’t add the cleaner since this can damage the appliance. Instead, spray the carpet down with the product and operate the machine using only water in its water tank.

Carpet Protector

Carpet protectors can help to protect your carpet from future damage from dirt and even damage from the sun. It can help minimize future maintenance needs so cleanup will be faster and easier.

Compatibility

Before you buy, it’s important that you match the type of cleaner to the type of material in your vehicle. Make sure that the cleaner is compatible and will not end up bleaching the carpet. Avoid using your usual household cleaners to clean your carpet since these products can cause irreversible damage.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Make sure you look for eco-friendly products, which will also help reduce the chances of damaging your interior. Even if you end up not purchasing the right type of product for your carpet, it will contain milder ingredients, so there will be no harsh side effects. Many of the leading products contain chemical-free organic formulas, which make them safe for use around children and pets.

Stain Fighting Ability

You may only need a cleaner to get rid of daily dirt and grime, but if you’ve failed to stay on top of routine carpet maintenance, you didn’t clean up a spill right away, or you’re dealing with pet stains, then you want a product that’s able to penetrate deep down and eliminate old stains and odors. If you’re treating organic stains, such as pet messes, then look for a product that contains enzymes.

Consult Your Vehicle’s Manual

If you’re not sure what type of carpet your vehicle has, then it’s important to find out either directly on the manufacturer’s website or you can consult your vehicle’s manual. You may find important information regarding what types of cleaning chemicals to avoid, and which ones will work the best to keep your carpet clean and treat stains.

How to Use a Carpet Cleaner

Professional Cleaning

Finding the right type of cleaner for your car can be a challenge, plus you’ll also need to know how to correctly use it to achieve the best results. Below, you’ll find some tips on how to use a carpet cleaner to make your car’s interior look new again.

To clean your carpet, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Brush
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber towel

Make sure you purchase a cleaner that can handle a wide range of stain types, in addition to a product that can also be used on the upholstery. Some cleaners will come with a built-in brush on the cap that you can use to remove deep down stains.

Begin by vacuuming out your vehicle using a brush attachment to remove any large debris. Test out the cleaner on a small portion of the carpet that’s out of sight, to ensure it will not discolor the carpet. Most cleaners are pretty mild, however, it’s always best to check before you use it all over the carpet.

If you’ve purchased a foam cleaner, be sure you work it well into the carpet using a brush or sponge and use more of the product on heavily stained areas. You should allow the product to soak in and treat heavily stained areas for twenty minutes.

General Cleaning

If the cleaner has passed the spray test and it’s safe to use, take the cleaner and apply it liberally all over the carpet. Give it five to ten minutes to allow it to soak before scrubbing. This will be important if you’re treating old stains.

Try to clean the carpets when the temperature outdoors is between sixty and eighty degrees. In this temperature range cleaners will be more effective and won’t damage the upholstery when it’s too cold or hot.

If you’re dealing with older stains, then you may need to repeat the treatment until you’ve achieved the ideal results.

Open the car doors in order to ventilate the interior when you’re cleaning. This will prevent you from inhaling the fumes. The car doors should also remain open to allow the carpet to dry faster.

I recommend cleaning the carpet each time you wash your vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Time Should I Rinse My Carpet?

How often you should rinse your carpet depends on how dirty it was and how much cleaner was used. If the type of carpet cleaning product you used is designed to be rinsed out, continue to do so until the water is clean. If it’s a leave-in formula, then reapply the product until the rags you use to wipe away the product come back clean.

How Do I Shampoo My Car’s Carpet?

Use an all-purpose cleaner or a shampoo. Scrub the carpet using a stiff brush, then rinse the carpet out using a wet cloth. Go back and use dry towels to absorb any remaining liquid and attempt to get the carpet as dry as possible. Leave the car doors open and park in a place that gets plenty of ventilation in order to promote a faster drying time. This will help to prevent mildew.

Can I Put Car Carpet in the Washing Machine?

If you don’t own a power washer, then you can head to your local do it yourself car wash and power wash the floor mats. You can also place your floor mats in the washing machine and wash them using regular detergent.

How Do You Dry a Car Carpet?

In order to dry your vehicle’s carpet, you must get rid of any standing water. Next, you’ll use fans and towels to eliminate any excess moisture. Begin by soaking up any pooled water using a microfiber cloth. Next, you can use a shop vac and suck up any excess water.

Final Thoughts

The best car carpet cleaner will not contain harsh chemicals, which can discolor the carpet. It should deodorize your carpet, leaving your interior smelling clean and fresh. Additionally, it should be formulated to treat old stains, spills, and dirt. Many of the leading products can penetrate deep down to remove older stains, including pet stains. Make sure you choose a product based on the type of carpet in your vehicle, and stain type. The products I’ve included here scored well in a variety of areas including cleaning power, effectiveness, and scent. This guide and my product recommendations will help you choose the right product for your vehicle, and have your carpet looking good and smelling fresh in no time.