Best car upholstery cleaner 2018

Which is best for shifting nasty spills and stains from plastics and seats? Our upholstery cleaner test reveals all…

Dirty seats and upholstery can creep up on you, because you often don’t realise how grubby your cabin is until you’ve started cleaning. Constant use of the driver’s seat will see grime build up, particularly after a winter of wet and muddy clothes.

Our test searched for the best interior cleaner to remove not just ground-in grime, but the spills and marks that come from everyday use. So we applied ballpoint pen ink, butter and ground-in chocolate to a neglected rear seat, and tackled them with our cleaners.

We applied the products as per the instructions, and used minimal wiping. Progress was assessed after the seat had dried, then we looked at the price.


  • 1. Halfords Upholstery Cleaner
  • Reviews Halfords Upholstery Cleaner

    Price: Around £3.50 
    Size: 500ml

    The chain store giant makes it a hat-trick for its Upholstery Cleaner, which topped our test yet again. It was mighty close, though, particularly with the similarly no-frills Black Diamond cleaner.

    The heart of its victory was its ability to remove the ingrained grime from our test interior panel. The ink proved trickier to shift, with elements remaining, although it made good progress. It fared better on the chocolate and grease. A keen price helps in this closely matched test, but it remains an enormously effective cleaner. 

    Buy it from Halfords here

    Diamondbrite Upholstery Cleaner

    Price: Around £5
    Size: 500ml

    Foam cleaners have always been popular for fabrics and two make it into our top four. You need patience to get the best out of this product, which goes on in a thick foam with a sharp lemon perfume. It then needs to be left for 10 to 20 minutes to work on the grime before you wipe off with a damp cloth. It’s worth the wait as it worked well on all our test stains, the butter and ink in particular.

    Buy it from the Diamondbrite shop here

    Black Diamond Super Clean

    Price: Around £4 
    Size: 500ml

    If you buy only one interior cleaner, consider this bargain from Black Diamond. It gives best to more specialised products, picking up a commended award, but remains a very effective all-rounder. As with our winner it excelled at general grime removal, but crucially made good inroads on the chocolate, butter and ink. Versatile and easy on the pocket – a great combination.

    Buy it from Amazon here

    Simoniz Upholstery and Carpet Cleaner

    Price: Around £5 
    Size: 500ml

    This Simoniz is the one to buy if you want a brush with your upholstery cleaner. Even without the help of the plastic bristles, the thick foam with its pleasant sweet aroma worked well. It’s a much quicker process than with Diamondbrite as the foam only needs 30 seconds to penetrate before wiping away with a damp cloth. Yet another commendation for this consistent performer.

    Buy it from Amazon here

    Chipex Factory Finish Interior and Dashboard Cleaner

    Price: Around £13
    Size: 500ml

    This new product faced a tough challenge when it took on our top upholstery cleaners. Its task was made tougher as it’s designed to tackle hard and soft surfaces, instead of specialising in one. Chipex is applied by spraying on a cloth then wiping, and this counted against it when compared to Halfords’ winner here.

    A fair bit more chocolate was left, but only a little extra margarine. On the floor mat, its lack of dwell time didn’t help it loosen the ground-in grime. Chipex has an edge with its claim to leave an anti-static finish to slow dust build-up, plus we liked its ‘new car’ smell.

    For a the best leather cleaner see our group test here.

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