The 4 Best Carpet Cleaners For Cars

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by Andrea Hannah

If you’re dealing with spilled coffee stains or a crumb graveyard in your car, you may need more than the just any old car cleaning product. The best carpet cleaners for cars can get deep into your vehicle’s carpet fibers to lift stains and give your upholstery a second life. That said, it’s important to consider what kind of messes you’re dealing with and how versatile you want your cleaner to be before you buy.

There are some really excellent multipurpose car cleaners out there that work on everything from your leather seats to your dashboard to your mats and carpets. While that’s super convenient, you may want to opt for a foaming carpet cleaner for the really tough, stuck-on messes. A good foaming cleaner with a silicone brush can work wonders on deep-set spills and stains, and it’ll leave your car with a fresh scent.

For really awful messes like crushed-up granola bars and that sticky goop you can’t quite identify, you have to call in the big guns: a portable electric carpet cleaner. This cleaner pulls up stains and messes with suction, heat, and scrubbing simultaneously so you don’t have to. Just add a few drops of an excellent carpet cleaner for your car, and this handy machine will take care of the rest. It may seem like a huge investment compared to a spray solution and brush, but portable carpet cleaners can usually be used on other carpets in your home, too, making them a pretty versatile purchase.

With so many different automative carpet cleaners on the market, it’s not always easy to figure out which products actually work for you. To help you out, here’s a roundup of some excellent picks to help you get started.

1. The Best Multipurpose Cleaner

This multipurpose car cleaner works on everything from your carpets to your dashboard. All you have to do is spray the water-based, no-rinse formula generously on any stain, let it set for a minute, and scrub. The best part is you can also use this spray on leather and even on the exterior, making cleaning your vehicle easier than ever. This solution also comes with a microfiber towel you can use on surfaces and windows in your car as well.

According to one reviewer: “I got this product to clean stains on a carpet from a pet's vomit (that other stain removers didn't remove). Not only did it work for that, but I decided to also try it on two black spots on the (grey) carpet that had been there for years. I have no idea what the stains are from (no; not from a pet!) and no other cleaner did anything with them. It worked like magic!”

2. The Best With A Scrub Brush Attachment

For the toughest stains, you can’t beat this foaming carpet cleaner. This heavy-duty cleaner is formulated with with Odor-X technology to break apart stains and leave your carpet smelling super fresh. Plus, this foaming cleaner comes with its own silicone brush on the lid, so you can spray and scrub without needing any extra tools. This carpet cleaner is also safe for your upholstery. Once you’re done spraying and scrubbing, simply wipe your carpets or upholstery clean with a towel. You can even remove the brush to when you need to get into all those nooks and crannies in your car.

According to one reviewer: “It will get any stain out of any carpet. ANY STAIN. It works far better than ‘spot cleaning machines’ that you can find on the market for hundreds. Far better.Spray a little of this on. Scrub a bit. (30 seconds? A minute? It doesn't take much.) Wipe away with paper towel. Stain gone. Just. Like. That.”

3. The Best Kit

This carpet cleaning kit has everything you need to get your car’s interior in tip-top shape. It comes with a bottle of Chemical Guys’ high-powered citrus cleaner, with foams up when you start to scrub. The foam helps to lift dirt and debris to the surface so you can blot or wipe them away. This carpet cleaner also works on upholstery, as well. One note: While the manufacturer says the drill brush works on seats, many reviewers warn that it’s a bit tough for fabric or cloth seats. If that’s where your stains are, you may want to invest in Chemical Guys’ lighter-duty brush head that’s a bit more forgiving for soft fabrics. This kit also comes with a spray bottle so you can dilute the cleaner with warm water as needed, as well as an upholstery brush that you can attach to any hand drill. Just press the start button on your drill, and this stiff-bristled brush does all the scrubbing for you.

According to one reviewer: “Started using this product as a carpet cleaner for pet stains (in desperation). Wonderful results! No sight, or smell to give away anything but clean carpet always existed there! Cleaned super fast (5 minutes, or so). Love that dilutions can be varied depending on the characteristics of stains. Have now expanded usage to remove stains from multiple items of varied textures, and have been pleasantly surprised (no, amazed!) at [its] effectiveness.”

4. The Best Portable Carpet Cleaner For Cars

For deeply set-in stains or frequent messes, a portable carpet cleaner is a great purchase. Not only does this Bissell carpet cleaner tackle the inside of your car, but you can use it anywhere in your home, too. This cleaner works on car carpets, upholstery, stairs, and rugs and carpets in your home, as well. This genius little machine uses both powerful suction and “HeatWave” technology to pull up stains in a snap. It also comes with a 3-inch scrubber tool, as well as a 6-inch tool that works on larger surfaces, like your car seats. It even has a 20-foot cord so you can easily plug it into an outlet and carry it out to your car. While this carpet cleaner comes with a trial size of their best-selling carpet cleaning solution, you can also pick up the full-size solution here so you have enough for large jobs and future stains.

According to one reviewer: “I was very happy with the results when using this when I detailed the interior of my neighbor's car and it brought her cloth seats back from looking extremely dark and filthy to a near brand new completely clean look with a very pleasant scent. I'm really happy with this purchase and I can't wait to detail the interior of my vehicle and enjoy the process.”