Car Upholstery Cleaner Darren's simplified approach
Finding a top rated car upholstery cleaner is really an easy find, as most of them will produce acceptable results. But what if you are looking for something that is better than just "acceptable"?
The good news is that the industry has an almost endless selection of car interior cleaners to choose from. But with that said, the industry would also like to see your garage shelf filled with endless products; dedicated products for each material and each section of your car. And likely, many of you have already fallen prey to the industry and its endless slick marketing and advertising tactics.
"Darren, do I really need a dedicated car upholstery cleaner, a separate car leather cleaner, and a carpet shampoo? Surely there must be a product that can do more than a single job and do it effectively"
The Industry Has You Chasing Your Tail!
The most basic thing you need to learn about this industry and virtually every other industry is that big business has one goal and this goal is at the very top of their list....
figuring out ways to separate you from your money. Through fancy names, colorful packaging, and catchy slogans, car care companies have become very savvy at their quest to further empty your wallet every time you walk down the car care aisle of your favorite retailer or go online in search of the best car upholstery cleaner.
"What if I could show you a way to simplify your life by letting you in on a secret any professional detailer knows and uses in their business to become more efficient and more effective."
Darren's Top Rated Picks: Car Upholstery Cleaners in a concentrate formulation
Darren's Professional Tip: Once you have learned what I recommend professionally with these car interior cleaners, see my page on auto upholstery protectors to see how I am able to make my life easier as a professional, and how you can keep your cars interior looking new for as long as you own your car.
Below are my top two picks in what I consider the best car upholstery cleaners; regardless of how they are labeled.
The first section includes concentrates that you dilute down to the desired strength and are package with the professional in mind. Professionals will be going though far more car upholstery cleaner than a driveway detailer working on a single car or two.
The second section contains what are called ready-to-use (RTU) car upholstery cleaners designed and packaged for the enthusiast or driveway detail who will have limited use as compared to a professional in the business.
With that said, all these auto upholstery cleaners can be used to achieve truly professional grade results.
From shampooing to all-purpose cleaning of your car's interior.
Professional grade results.
Smaller container will save on any shipping costs using this link.
No sticky residue; no rinsing necessary.
Darren's Other Top Picks:
Ready to Use (RTU) for the driveway detailer, enthusiast, or a general all-around car owner.
If you are a driveway detailer or simply a car owner looking to keep your car's interior show room fresh, then a ready-to-use product will be more suited for your needs due to your limited use in maintaining only your personal cars.
The samples below are excellent products and will perform to professional level standards.
This is my first choice in an all-purpose scrub brush I use on all fabric in the easy to reach ares of car upholstery cleaning: floor mats, leather seats, fabric seats, some headliners, trunk carpeting, etc.
Occasionally the cheaper tool can be the better tool.
A winning balance between stiff and gentle bristles. (see below for additional scrub brushes I also carry and use with me)
My "go-to" scrub brush for virtually any car interior cleaning.
The winning balance between too soft and too stiff.
Not truly my very first choice (the Rubbermaid brush just above would be that one), but if you prefer the hand held version rather than having a handle like the Rubbermaid above, then this is the one for you.
Lower profile so it is able to go underneath areas within the interior cabin that the Rubbermaid brush with a handle will not be able to access (like when shampooing underneath car seating)
This is the exact bottle brush I use in my professional world.
More aggressive or stiff than the OXO brush below.
Since I use this on hard plastics and fabric within cars, I prefer the much stiffer version.
The softer OXO bottle brush below is not aggressive enough for manyu of the ways I like to use these bottle brushes when I am using any cleaner or on any surface. (no; I do not use these on car paint, clear instrument panels, or wood veneer within the car, but those are about the only surfaces/materials I don't use them on)
Amazing how many hard to reach areas these bottle brushes are ideal for: in-between car seats and center console, trunk carpeting to break loose dry debris, inside cup holders and side compartments, etc.
tighter, harder to reach areas of the interior. (one of my favorite
places to use this brush is when cleaning the carpeting/seat track
between the side of the front seats and in between the center console. )
Handle allows for greater leverage when using in tighter areas.
longer handle is also ideal for those tighter areas where a traditional
length tooth brush or other cleaning brush will not reach.
Ideal set with different diameters. (I keep one that I use wet when using one of these as a scrub brush in tight areas along with my car upholstery cleaner. If you purchase this set, it can allow you to not have to get the separate boars hair dusting brush just above as your dedicated wet detail brush.)
Use on vents, cup holders, or any intricate parts of the cars interior.
Boars hair is a very soft bristle.
Darren's Upholstery Cleaning Tips:
Vacuum any area you plan on cleaning FIRST!
Removing as much dry and loose debris is always a plus and will deliver better finished results as well as get you to the finished product quicker and easier.
You can also use scrub brush while vacuuming to further loosen and remove extra dirt before application of car upholstery cleaner.
Always follow manufacturers directions first; it's best to learn the rules first before you learn to break them with off-label uses.
Spray pre-vacuumed area with a light misting of upholstery cleaner, scrub with brush, mop up area with cloth. (as a rule, I prefer micro-fibers over cotton or terry cloth)
Repeat as necessary.
It is always better to do repeat applications rather than unrealistically think you are going to get everything in one overly saturated single round of upholstery cleaning.
Renting, using, or buying a heavy-duty and industrial hot water/carpet extractor is in most cases never, ever necessary. We are talking extreme cases of liquid spills if ever.
If your carpeting or upholstery is heavily soiled, it may require as many as 4-7 applications/steps in order to achieve acceptable results. Still much better and easier than using a carpet extractor or the traditional scrub and hose out floor mat with pressure water method. (as if you could do that with the rest of your car's upholstery anyways)
If you are one of those people in fear of using a car upholstery cleaner thinking that it will leave a sticky residue and "attract" dirt...forget about it. It's just not the case.
Vacuum cleaned area after it has dried completely to remove loosened dirt and lint from your cleaning efforts. If you have cleaned heavily soiled areas and you vacuum before the area has been allowed to dry, you will suck wet dirt to the top and will have to repeat your steps.
And let me be a voice of reason: there is no car upholstery cleaner or shampoo, cleaning method, or carpet extractor that is going to remove every last trace of dirt; it's just an unrealistic expectation. So if we are looking for a certain level of cleanliness and visual appearance, then why over-think the situation. I have used these methods for decades with superior results.
I have seen floor mats so heavily soiled that if this carpeting was in your house, any carpet cleaning professional would simply tell you that it will be cleaner, but still look dirty as the carpet has become permanently stained due to prolonged exposure to dirt and would need to simply be replaced. So let's once again keep a realistic perspective if you are dealing with excessively dirty floor mats.
Darren's "How to" Video
Darren's Professional Tip: Prevention is better and easier than the cure
Most people underestimate the power of fabric protectors. It is one way I
am able to produce the results I do over and over again for my long
term customers when it comes to upholstery cleaning. Use the link to see what I recommend in the form of car upholstery protectors.
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