The 10 Best Car Cleaning Products to Keep Your Vehicle Fresh

Our favorite is the Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Building Car Kit

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The Spruce / Amelia Manley

Keeping your car spick and span is good for resale purposes, but a clean car is also a more comfortable one. According to Chad Zani, auto-detailing expert of Detail Garage, giving your vehicle some TLC is vital year-round. However, he notes, "One time you should really clean your interior is before winter, as the dirt will be pushed further into surfaces when it is wet since most dirt is water-soluble." We compiled expert recommendations from Zani and researched items for washing, waxing, polishing, vacuuming, deodorizing, and disinfecting your ride.

Our favorite car cleaning product is the Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Building Car Kit because it has everything you need to make your car shine, from foam cannons to microfiber cloths.

Here are the best car cleaning products you can buy today.

Our Top Picks

Best Kit: Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Building Car Kit

4.5
Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Building Car Kit

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Comprehensive set

  • Foam cannon included

  • Compatible with many surfaces

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • May not need all of the included products

Our favorite car cleaning kit is the Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Building Car Kit because it takes all the guesswork out of cleaning your car. Instead of spending time researching and buying a bunch of products individually, opt for this comprehensive kit from Chemical Guys if you really want your car to shine. It has all the essentials for removing stains from your interior and sprucing up your car, including a detailing bucket, a foam cannon, a flagged trip wheel, a rim brush, a cyclone dirt trap, an easy-grip applicator pad, an anti-scratch wash mitt, a glass-cleaning cloth, and three multi-use microfiber towels.

This kit works amazingly well on plastic, leather, dashboards, glass, and navigation screens, so the interior of your car will be ready to show off in no time. As for actual cleaning solutions, you'll get a medley of products. This bundle comes with the brand's signature Butter Wet Wax, Silk Shine Dressing, Diablo Wheel Cleaner, and Speed Wipe—to name just a few. This is great for someone who wants to order the best kit and move on, but it might not work well for someone who has a few of these products already, because then you're double-buying.

Dimensions: 14.5 x 13.5 x 13 inches | Weight: 14 pounds | Material: Various | Color: Not applicable

Best Vacuum: BLACK+DECKER Flex Auto Compact Bagless Handheld Vacuum

4.7
BLACK+DECKER Flex Car Vacuum

Courtesy of BLACK+DECKER

What We Like
  • Powerful suction

  • Lightweight

  • Includes a crevice tool

What We Don't Like
  • Not cordless

If you're looking to banish crumbs, dirt, and even sand from your interior car mats, you need a powerful vacuum with the right attachments. The best car vacuum for the job is the Black+Decker BDH1200FVAV Flex Auto Vacuum. Measuring only a foot across and weighing just over three pounds, it's conveniently compact and lightweight, and it's powerful suction will surprise you.

The 16-foot power cord and 4-foot flexible hose make it easy to reach all around the inside of your car. And thanks to the handy crevice tool, you can access every nook and cranny, such as between seats, inside cup holders, and in the door compartments. There's also a flip-up brush that's great for the dash and upholstery.

Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 6.5 inches | Weight: 3.3 pounds | Material: Plastic | Color: Grey, red

Best Soap: Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Shampoo Superior Surface Cleaner

Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Car Wash Soap and Shampoo

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Multi-surface cleaner

  • pH-balanced

  • Concentrated solution

What We Don't Like
  • May leave slight residue

What's the best car-washing soap? Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Shampoo is our top pick. It's a pH-balanced foaming shampoo formulated to offer a deep clean on car exteriors without stripping the wax or sealant. It's also safe to use on vinyl, glass, rubber, and other trim pieces.

This car soap does an excellent job of getting rid of dirt, dust, grime, residues, and stuck-on particles while restoring your vehicle's shine. It's a concentrated formula, so add one to three ounces to a 5-gallon bucket and you'll be looking at a clean car in no time. We like that it can be used with a foam cannon, a pressure gun, or just an old-fashioned bucket of water. This cleaner is so sudsy that it could leave a slight residue behind, so make sure to thoroughly rinse when cleaning.

Dimensions: ‎4 x 2.4 x 6 inches | Weight: 1.1 pounds | Material: Soap | Color: Pink

Best Brush: Carrand Flow-Thru 10" Quad Wash Brush

Flow-Thru 10" Quad Wash Brush
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Versatile

  • Telescoping handle

What We Don't Like
  • Harder to control with hose connection

You'll also need a quality brush when washing your car. It's important that this brush is long enough to reach the entire roof of the car but gentle enough as to not scratch it. We're big fans of the Carrand 93072 Flow-Thru 10-foot Quad Wash Brush because it fits the bill, and it has a telescoping handle and all-sided head that locks into place.

The handle extends up to 71 inches, allowing you to reach all the way over the roof of your car. This car-washing brush also has a variable-slide water control valve that you can hook your hose to if you'd rather not use a bucket. Depending on the water pressure, this feature can make it harder to control.

Dimensions: 45 x 10 x 4 inches | Weight: 1.6 ounces | Material: Aluminum, nylon | Color: Black, white

Best Wax: Meguiar's G7016 Gold Class Carnauba Plus Premium Liquid Wax

4.5
Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Easy to apply

  • Short dry time

  • Mirror-like finish

What We Don't Like
  • Not long-lasting in rainy climates

Meguiar's has been making trusted auto-detailing products for over a century, and you can pretty much always count on quality. The brand's Ultimate Liquid Wax is our top pick for the best car wax because you can apply it in one step and the results on your car's exterior are stunning.

Not only does this synthetic polymer formula have a one-step easy application, but it also boasts a short dry time, superior protection from weather elements, and an affordable price tag. Whether you apply it by hand or use an electric polishing device, your car's paint will look restored with a mirror-like finish.

Dimensions: 4.5 x 3 x 8 inches | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Material: Synthetic polymers | Color: Clear

Best Rags: The Rag Company All-Purpose Microfiber Terry Cleaning Towels

All-Purpose Microfiber Terry Cleaning Towels
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Pack of 12

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Sheds lint before washing

  • Not sold individually

If you're cleaning your car often, it's wise to have some designated car-cleaning cloths on hand. Made of 80 percent polyester and 20 percent polyamide, The Rag Company's All-Purpose Terry Towels are exceptionally soft, absorbent, and durable enough to last through hundreds of washes.

They're 16 by 16 inches each and come in a range of colors from black to pink. We like that the microfiber material is designed to prevent scratches and streaks. While these rags might shed some lint before the first wash, you'll appreciate that they get softer over time, and are gentle enough to use on your car with confidence. However, Katie Berry, The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board member, does stress that you don't necessarily want your microfiber cloths to be too soft. "When your microfiber cloths begin to feel super soft, they're no longer as effective. That softness is a sign that the microfibers have shed, so what you're working with is just plain old cloth."

Dimensions: 16 x 16 inches | Weight: 1.3 pounds (full set) | Material: Polyester, polyamide | Colors: Black, green, gray, purple, pink, blue, white, yellow

Best for Interior Surfaces: Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant

Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Multi-surface solution

  • Gentle yet effective

  • Protects against fading

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for stubborn stains

Looking for an all-purpose solution for the interior of your car? The Total Interior Cleaner is an excellent option. This spray is suitable for use on matte and shiny surfaces, including plastic, vinyl, glass, wood, metal, various fabric upholstery materials, and even leather.

The gentle yet effective formula tackles dirt, dust, debris, grime, grease, fingerprints, oily residues—you name it. In addition to cleaning pretty much anything, it also protects against fading and UV rays. While it may not be ideal for stubborn stains, you can rest assured it won't ruin the finish or texture of your interior surfaces.

Dimensions: 3 x 1 x 8 inches | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Material: Liquid solution | Color: Clear

Best for Disinfecting: Chemical Guys HyperBan Complete Vehicle Antibacterial Disinfectant Cleaner

HyperBan Complete Vehicle Antibacterial Disinfectant Cleaner
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Kills 99.9 percent of germs

  • VOC-free

  • Deodorizes as you clean

What We Don't Like
  • Not suitable for leather

  • Not suitable for glass

If you're worried about germs and looking for a car disinfectant, we love Chemical Guys HyperBan Complete Vehicle Antibacterial Disinfectant, which promises to kill 99.9 percent of germs, including viruses and odor-causing bacteria. Zani points out that this step comes after properly cleaning you car. "You can not properly disinfect a dirty surface, so you have to clean the surface first and then disinfect it," he says. So after your car's interior is clean, get to work with HyperBan.

Though this disinfecting solution shouldn't be used on real leather, it's suitable for a range of other materials, including plastic, vinyl, metal, and other nonporous surfaces. We also appreciate that it doesn't contain any harsh chemicals like VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and it doesn't have a fumey smell.

Dimensions: 8.5 x 8 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 1.4 pounds | Material: Liquid solution | Color: Clear

Best for Leather: Leather Honey Leather Cleaner

Leather Honey
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Premixed solution

  • Natural formula

  • Works on all colors

What We Don't Like
  • May not spread easily

  • Need microfiber cloth to apply

Cleaning leather car seats? Reach for Leather Honey. This cleaning solution flaunts a non-toxic formula that works on any color of leather upholstery, whether in your car or on the leather furniture in your home. To apply, you'll need a microfiber cloth, which is sold separately.

Always test a small area before using a leather cleaner. Once you've tested a spot and are happy with the result, then it's time to put in the elbow grease. Leather Honey's concentrate is premixed, so you can apply it directly to your seats using a clean, damp cloth. Work in circles until you've cleaned it to your liking. While it might be tricky to spread in colder environments, you can always mix the concentrate with a little water to create a thinner consistency.

Dimensions: 7 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches | Weight: 9.5 ounces | Material: Concentrated solution | Color: All leather colors

Best for Cloth Upholstery: Armor All FreshFX Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner 3-in-1 Power Foam

FreshFX Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner 3-in-1 Power Foam
Courtesy of Walmart.
What We Like
  • Removable scrubber brush

  • Penetrates tough stains

  • Restores softness

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

  • Limited cleaning ability

If your car has cloth seats, your best bet is Armor All Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner. It sprays a rich foam that penetrates deep into the fibers of your seats and floor mats, breaking up residues, stuck-on dirt, and tough stains. While this is an excellent cleaner, note that any deep set-in stains might require an upholstery cleaner machine.

This Armor All cleaner won't discolor your car's fabric and even restores the soft, plush look and feel of these materials. The bristled brush makes it easy to scrub away stains, and you can remove it if needed when cleaning more delicate surfaces. It is scented, so if you're sensitive to smells, keep that in mind.

Dimensions: 2.8 x 3.9 x 11 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds | Material: Foaming solution | Color: Not applicable

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a car cleaning kit that includes everything, choose the Chemical Guys 16-Piece Arsenal Building Car Kit. It comes with 16 top-quality products to make your car shine inside and out. If you're just looking to wash the exterior, your best bet is Chemical Guys Mr. Pink Super Suds Shampoo. This foaming pink formula gently removes all kinds of grime and residue while restoring your car to its sparkly state.

What to Look for in a Car Cleaning Product

Material Compatibility

Some car cleaning products are designed to clean specific materials. If your car seats are leather, look for products designed to clean leather instead of cloth fabric cleaners. Using the wrong product on a sensitive material could ruin it. 

Not all products are specifically designed for certain materials—there are plenty of multi-purpose cleaning products on the market. Those products are generally safe to use on a variety of material types. Just check the label before purchasing to make sure it’s compatible with the materials in your car.

Ease of Use

If you aren’t a professional car detailer, you’re likely looking for user-friendly cleaning products. There are certain tools and supplies that take a little extra elbow grease and finesse to get them to work properly. Others are designed for the everyday vehicle owner and are easier to use.

Consider where you’ll be cleaning your car when purchasing car cleaning supplies. Tools like vacuums use electricity for power. If there’s not an outlet near where you’ll be cleaning your car, consider getting a battery-operated one or one with a long power cord.

New car owners may be better off with a car cleaning kit rather than purchasing individual items. This will make the process of keeping your car clean easy because you’ll have everything you need right off the bat. 

Cost

It’s no surprise that cost is a major factor when deciding which car cleaning supplies to purchase. Product prices vary widely, so you’re bound to find something within your budget. Before clicking the buy button, make sure you have a plan so you don’t spend too much money on a product that you will only need once a year.

FAQ
  • How do you clean a car’s interior?

    It’s as important to clean your car’s interior as the exterior. Remove the car mats to vacuum the carpets—and don’t forget to vacuum the area under the seats. Use vacuum attachments like crevice tools to clean your air vents and to reach all of the tight spaces in between the seats. 

    Depending on the material, use either leather or upholstery cleaner to keep your seats and other components in excellent condition. For hard surfaces, rubbing alcohol on a microfiber cloth can remove dirt and grime.

    Don’t forget to clean the windows. Some people swear by a combination of vinegar and alcohol to leave a streak-free shine.

  • Do car cleaning products expire?

    All products expire, and the expiration date can vary by manufacturer. For example, Meguiar states that its formulations are fully effective for three to five years—as long as the container has been tightly sealed and has not been frozen.

    Expiration dates can vary depending on the quality of the product, the type of product, and the storage temperature. As a general rule, if you notice a change in the product’s appearance or performance (or a rancid smell), throw it away. 

  • How do you store car cleaning products?

    Extreme heat and cold can negatively impact how long a product remains effective. It may be convenient to keep your cleaning products in the garage, but you might want to store them in another area of your home that has a more consistent temperature. The laundry room is one place to consider. A closet in your home with enough space might also be a better choice than the garage. Keeping all of your auto cleaning products in a plastic storage crate in a closet can make transportation much easier. If moving your products out of the garage isn’t an option, consider purchasing smaller quantities so you can use them up quickly. 

Why Trust The Spruce?

Theresa Holland is a freelance commerce writer specializing in home improvement, recreation, and lifestyle content. For this article, she interviewed Chad Zani, auto-detailing expert of Detail Garage for their product suggestions and insight into the importance of regularly cleaning your car. After compiling expert recommendations, Theresa considered a variety of cleaning solutions and tools, selecting those that stood out in terms of effectiveness, price, durability, versatility, and overall value. You can find more of her work on MyDomaine and Verywell Health.

Updated by
Lauren Murphy
Lauren Murphy
Lauren Murphy is a DIY expert and writer with over five years of hands-on experience cooking, crafting, and making home decor projects. She has a degree in Environmental Science from Western Washington University and continues to be passionate about environmentally friendly DIY projects. Lauren has also written for Earth 911, Forbes Advisor, and HuffPost.
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