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Best Car Carpet Cleaner 2018

Get rid of stains and grime with the top 10 car carpet cleaners

Published September 12, 2018

Let’s face it; it doesn’t matter how hard you attempt to keep the car clean, the carpets become filthy. Your kids spill their cups, you track dirt in on your shoes, and food finds its way into the tiny corners. Once you know how to deal with dirty carpets, there’s no more reason to live with the stains and odors anymore. With the best car carpet cleaner product, you can make your car look like brand new once again.

Best Car Carpet Cleaner Buying Guide

If you’ve ever attempted to determine what the best car carpet cleaner available is, you know how difficult choosing the right one can be. The shelf at your auto parts store is filled with options; looking at them all is enough to end up with a headache, and that’s only a drop in the bucket compared to the options available online.

What many people don’t know is that many of them offer similar results, which is why we’ve created a list of your best options.

Here are a few things to consider when picking your next automotive carpet cleaner.

Effectiveness

Each product claims to be the best, so how do you determine which one truly is? The best way is to do your research and check the reviews from users just like you.

Other car owners often share their experiences and you can gauge the effectiveness of a given product through them. You may even track down reviewers with similar vehicles/interiors as you to make sure the product works well for your specific vehicle.

Spot and Stain Cleaning Ability

Most of us don’t want a simple cleaning. If that’s what we were after, we would just use a baking soda and vinegar combination or warm, soapy water. What we must have is that deep cleaning power that gets out those tough stains.

Quick-drying Formula

If you’ve read the back of some products, they tell you to wait hours before stepping on the carpet after use and that’s just not going to work for most of us. Instead, you want a cleaner that dries fast so you can get back in your car and get your business done.

Multi-Purpose Application

Multi-Purpose Application

Even though we’re specifically evaluating car cleaners, it’s possible to find the best formula in a multi-purpose product as well. If the cleanser removes spots and stains, deodorizes, and makes the car look like new, then it’s a winner. Save time and money!

Price

While we want to think that price doesn’t matter, it’s normally one of the first things most people look at. It’s tempting to purchase the cheapest product you can find, but you need to consider the trade-off in that. Oftentimes, you’ll have to use more product and put extra effort into the cleaning process.

Instead of just looking at the overall price, it’s best to break it down per ounce. In addition, several of the top products we review below are concentrated formulas. This means you get a lot more in the bottle than what you initially think. In fact, some of them require dilution with 20 parts of water; that’s a lot of extra product to consider.

Cleaning Your Car Carpets the Right Way

Having the top car carpet cleaner doesn’t mean your car will magically be clean; you still have to know how to use it properly. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you need to get the job done right:

1 – Remove any trash, debris, or visible particles. This reduces the effort required to clean your carpet.

2 – Take out the floor mats to allow for easier access to the carpets.

3 – Vacuum out the carpet completely. Make sure you utilize the attachments to reach every nook and cranny of the car. You’ll need to pay special attention to under your seats, between your front seat and console, plus under your dashboard. If you need help finding the best car vacuum for your needs or budget, we’ve got you covered.

4 – Apply the carpet cleaner to your car as directed. Many of them require time to sit – usually for about ten minutes. This allows the cleaner to penetrate deeply into your carpet. Make sure you follow the directions if you desire clean carpets.

5 – Brush your carpet in a circular motion. This further brings out any dirt and grime that got loosened by the cleaner. If you find that the stubborn stains or spots aren’t budging, try to reapply the cleaner again and allow it to sit longer. Then, follow the brushing step once again.

6 – Moisten a clean rag and lightly dampen your carpet. This step should remove any residue left from the cleaner. It’s like rinsing out the carpet, but some cleaners won’t require this step so make sure you read the directions.

7 – Roll down the windows and open the doors to help the carpet dry faster. Don’t ever allow your carpets to remain wet in a closed car or you’ll encourage the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Spot Cleaning vs. Shampooing

There are lots of ways to clean your car carpets and you’ll find numerous suggestions on what to use. The main confusion is what the difference between spot cleaning and shampooing is? Let’s take a closer look.

Spot cleaning works best on a few spots or stains. It’s the best way to deal with stains that have occurred recently and can be removed quickly. Most of the products we’ve listed work great for spot cleaning purposes.

shampooing car carpet

Shampooing is ideal for a deep clean but this generally also requires the use of an extractor so water isn’t allowed to sit in your carpet for extended periods of time. This is a longer process and will definitely require more drying time; the use of a wet/dry vacuum is strongly encouraged for a full shampoo.

Avoid DIY Car Carpet Cleaners

The Internet is full of DIY ideas for every problem out there, including how to clean your car carpets. While it’s tempting to give them a try, we have to warn against it. DIY carpet cleaners aren’t tested by professionals. This means you could damage your carpets in the process.

Instead, stick to one of the best specialty cleaners that are formulated to remove odors and stains. A carpet cleaner spray or stick is going to remove the grime far better than any DIY product and saves you lots of time.

Top 10 Best Car Carpet Cleaners

From our expert evaluations combined with customer reviews, we’ve narrowed the field down to the ten best car carpet cleaners. These are in no particular order; all with their own unique featured qualities.

10. Chemical Guys CWS_103_16 Fabric Clean Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo and Odor Eliminator

Chemical Guys Fabric Cleaner

The Chemical Guys consistently make high-quality car detailing products, so we knew they would make it to the list, no problem. This Chemical Guys Fabric Cleaner makes your carpet appear as though you’ve just driven away from the showroom.

It effectively breaks down stains to remove them, even when they’ve set for long periods. Use it on your carpet, upholstery, outdoor and indoor fabrics. This formula contains no toxic chemicals, solvents, ammonia, color damaging deterrents, or bleach. That’s good for your carpet and your hands.

The easy-to-use formula doesn’t require any hard scrubbing or rubbing to work. That means you don’t have to be a weightlifter to get those tough stains out; grandma can use it as well.

You’ll find that the Chemical Guys products are more expensive than most, but it’s for a good reason. Their products work! Another thing to keep in mind is that the solution is highly concentrated. You mix one part of the carpet cleaner to 20 parts of water – so it’s going to last you a long time. In fact, the cleaner comes in 16-ounce containers or a gallon if you need it on a larger scale. The bigger the bottle, the larger the value.

9. Armor All Oxi Magic Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner

ArmorAll Carpet Cleaner

If you’ve been around cars for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard of Armor All. It’s one of the best-selling products on the market, mainly because it works. They offer a solution for most car cleaning concerns and this formula is a must-have.

It works on your toughest stain – even mud, oil, grass, ink, and coffee. The Oxi cleaner is the same that’s used to brighten and clean laundry. It penetrates into the carpet fibers to break up that ground-in dirt.

With the deep cleaning, powerful Oxygen action, you’ll see the original beauty shine forth from your car upholstery and carpet.

The nice thing about this spray is the dual-action cleaning power. It’s so good we could easily add it to our best upholstery cleaner list as well.

What most people like about this application is the minimal work required to get the job done. You don’t have to scrub hard and the cleaner appears to remove stains from years past according to some of the top reviews. On top of that, the price is reasonable and it comes in a large 22-ounce spray bottle for easy application.

8. Chemical Guys SPI_191_16 Lightning Fast Carpet and Upholstery Stain Extractor

Chemical Guys Stain ExtractorYou didn’t think you would get through this list without another option from the Chemical Guys, did you? Prepare yourself, because it probably won’t be the last time either. With its advanced cleaning properties, this stain extractor keeps your car’s interior looking brand new, even after years of abuse.

We found that even though it’s labeled to use on your upholstery and carpet, there are other purposes for it as well. Many materials in and out of your car will benefit from the cleaning agents in this solution. Then, take it to your house and use it on the sofa, fabrics, and even sneakers.

What we love the most is the highly concentrated bottle that allows this product to last far longer than other cleaners. You need to add a good amount of water, and you’ll still receive impeccable cleaning capability.

This heavy-duty formula is safe to use and doesn’t strip your materials of their color or cause them to fade. It also features a hyper-cleaning technology that reduces odors so your car continues to smell fresh and clean. We all love that fresh-smelling car scent.

You can purchase this in a smaller container (4 oz) if you want to give it a try first, but that costs the most per ounce. Otherwise, it’s also offered as a 16-ounce or gallon container.

7. Meguiar’s G9719 Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner

Meguiar's Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner

Automobile detailers often trust Meguiar’s products for a deep clean on their client’s vehicles. This carpet and upholstery cleaner exceeds expectations as well. Not only does it allow for fast cleaning, it also dries quickly so that you can get back on the road faster.

Once it’s dry, there’s no residue of chemical scents like some products leave behind. It reaches deep into the carpet to remove stains and spots so you don’t have to work strenuously to make it happen. While removing stains, it effectively eliminates any odors left from the dirt in your vehicle.

Many people prefer the use of a foam such as this product. These formulas appear to soak deeper into carpets to get the ground-in dirt and debris. What’s great about this spray is that it works on a multitude of fabrics, so there are plenty of uses for it. Just be sure to test it on a small patch first.

The only thing that stands out is that the price is higher than many of the other products and it only comes in a 19-ounce bottle. With that said, the people who’ve used it can’t say enough good about it, so it must be worth the extra expense.

6. Blue Coral DC22 Upholstery Cleaner Dri-Clean Plus with Odor Eliminator

Blue Coral cleaner

When you’re in a hurry, the last thing you want to do is get out all your car cleaning equipment to remove a quick stain. That’s why the Blue Coral cleaner with the built-in brush is a fantastic option. Everything you need is attached and you don’t have to go hunting for supplies.

The integrated brush is right on the cap. When you’re done spraying and letting it sit, you simply scrub the carpet with the attached brush and go about your business. This simplifies the process of cleaning car upholstery, floor mats, and carpets.

Many people think this is the best car carpet cleaner on the market and great for older, ground-in particles and debris. This formula even comes with odor-eliminating technology to freshen up your surroundings.

Use this to remove coffee, tar, grease, blood stains, ink, lipstick, and more. It’s available in a big 22.8-ounce can and does cost slightly more than other options. Considering you don’t need to purchase a brush to get the job done, the price seems reasonable and worth it.

5. CarGuys Super Cleaner

CarGuys Super Cleaner

The best part about this CarGuys Super Cleaner is that it replaces most of the cleaning chemicals you currently own. If you prefer to purchase one cleaner to remove debris from the majority of surfaces, this is a great choice for you.

This must-have formula cleans rubber, plastic, vinyl, and leather. In fact, it’s not just for automobiles. Many people find success in the home, on the boat and even the patio umbrella in the backyard.

Another unique aspect of the cleaner is that it’s water-based. This means you don’t have any odors lingering around after use. In fact, they use nano-technology in their cleaning agents to ensure a deep clean with no leftover fragrance.

Save time and money on your car detailing jobs and get it all done with one bottle. It works on bird poop, tree sap, and grease with ease. Clean your metal surfaces, wood trim, carpets, and more.

If you’ve used other cleaning products that seem to leave behind a film, you’ll be happy to hear that this won’t do that. In fact, it even has a UV guard to help protect the color of your fabrics.

The best part is that the company offers a 100% money-back guarantee. That means, if you purchase it and don’t like it, they give you your money back. There aren’t many companies that are so sure of their product that they’re willing to do that. It’s a perk that we love.

They have two purchase options: a 16-ounce bottle with a towel for a reasonable price and a gallon jug for a better price per ounce. If you’re able to replace some of your other cleaners with this product, you’ll actually save some money in the long run.

4. Turtle Wax T-244R1 Power Out! Carpet and Mats Cleaner and Odor Eliminator

Turtle Wax carpet cleaner

It’s possible to get the best car carpet cleaner and stick to a budget. This Turtle Wax carpet cleaner is one of the lowest prices on our list but still comes with good reviews. It features a dual purpose of cleaning your upholstery and carpets, so you only need one product.

There’s even a micro-scrub brush included which saves you more money. Attach it to the cap when the product isn’t in use and it will be ready for your next application. Of course, some people prefer to purchase a larger, more robust brush, which is understandable.

Turtle Wax also uses Odor-X technology to eliminate odors coming from your vehicle. Overall, this provides a more enjoyable ride for you and your passengers. It also uses soil-repelling protection which keeps your carpet clean to avoid reapplication.

You can purchase the 18-ounce bottle by itself for a super price or buy it as part of the larger Carpet Stain & Odor Eliminator Kit the company offers. Of course, the lower price typically means this isn’t getting out the ground-in dirt like some of the higher-end products, but it does the job on everyday stains.

3. Blue Magic 900 Carpet Stain & Spot Lifter

Blue Magic Stain Lifter

If you’re looking for the easiest product to use, the Blue Magic Stain Lifter wins hands down. This formula is the easiest to apply and utilize. You simply spray it on the stain you wish to remove and wait a few minutes. When you’re finished waiting, drop a clean cloth or paper towel on the stain and gently dab it. That’s it! No scrubbing or vacuuming required to get the job done.

This process even works on fresh and old stains as well as anything water or oil-based. Use it to remove wine, urine, coffee, blood, tar or grease from a multitude of materials.

The best part is that the company offers a full money-back guarantee. So, if it doesn’t work as easily for you like the other customers, you simply return it for a full refund. We love products that offer guarantees like that.

The price is reasonable considering it comes in a larger 22-ounce container. If you wanted to save even more, Amazon offers it as a two-pack. You could keep one in the car and one in the house for other messes.

2. Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover

Nature’s Miracle cleaner

Kids aren’t the only messy beings inside the car; pet parents know how much their furry friends can destroy car carpets as well. That’s where Nature’s Miracle cleaner comes in handy. It’s guaranteed to remove deep-set odors and stains from a variety of materials.

Use it in the car for the upholstery or carpet and then take it inside for your furniture, floors, and more. It’s water-based and completely safe to use around pets plus it has a pleasant citrus scent that’s not overwhelming.

It even works on pet urine, feces, drool and vomit stains. Pet owners deserve to have nice cars and things as well while still loving their best friend. This trusted enzymatic cleaner makes that possible. You won’t have to choose between the two anymore.

Surprisingly, it works just as well on tile, hardwood, and linoleum. On top of that, it’s simple to use. Spray your stain with as much solution as possible to soak it. Let it sit for ten minutes. If you are simply removing odor, you don’t have to do anything else. The smell will dissipate as the spray dries. If you need to remove stains, just blot it up with a clean cloth and allow the area to dry for 24 hours. Tough stains might require scrubbing with a brush.

The formula is available in a variety of sizes, including 16-ounce, 24-ounce, 32-ounce, and a gallon. All of the sizes are reasonably priced and a lifesaver to pet owners and those who have to ride in the car with them.

1. Chemical Guys CWS20316 Foaming Citrus Fabric Clean Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo

Chemical Guys Foaming Citrus Carpet Cleaner

We couldn’t leave you without giving you one more Chemical Guys option. The Chemical Guys Foaming Citrus Carpet Cleaner is the perfect fabric cleaner for carpets, upholstery, and cloth materials. The professional-grade strength cleaner breaks down your toughest set-in stains with ease.

With its high-sudsing foam, you’ll watch it remove that stain and debris in minutes. It also works to eliminate any foul odors that have built up over time. Overall, you’re left with a new car look and feel.

Use it to remove the filth brought in on shoes, spilled beverages, sweat, body oils, dropped food, and more. All you need to do is dilute the formula and apply a light coating over the stain. Then, scrub it with your stiff cleaning brush. Blot away any remaining mess and let it air dry.

Unlike some other cleaners, this doesn’t feature heavy scents that mask the odor. Instead, the odor eliminating technology removes odors by battling them at the source.

The price for this and most Chemical Guys products are higher than most. With that in mind, they require dilution with 20 parts water, so you are getting a lot more out of these bottles than with the other cleaners. You can try it out with a 4-ounce bottle if you aren’t sure, but they also sell 16-ounce and 64-ounce containers as well if you have lots of work to do.

Our Final Thoughts

It’s hard to tell you that one of these choices is the best car carpet cleaner and better than the rest. They each seem to bring something unique to the table and have their own set of features. If you’re operating on a budget, the Turtle Wax might be the best option for you. If you prefer to get something more professional, then you really can’t go wrong with anything from the Chemical Guys.

Either way, you owe it to yourself, and the passengers of your car, to remove those stains and odors quickly. Enjoy the open road with a fresh smelling vehicle that looks new.

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Brian Jones
About Brian Jones

I am an ASE Certified Master Tech, but spend more time with my awesome family now than I do on cars. In my spare time, you'll still find me playing with tools, cars and many other "manly" gadgets.

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