Best interior trim cleaner 2020

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After weeks of treading mud into your car, and meals on the move because the weather discourages eating outdoors, its cabin will need a spring clean. This applies to cars that have been used daily, or those classic or weekend fun machines that have just been stored away from the worst of the weather, because dust will have gathered on interior surfaces.

We’re focusing on smartening up plastic trim such as centre consoles and dashboards. Vacuuming the interior to remove crumbs and grit is a good place to start. Use a paintbrush, with any metal parts taped up to protect the plastic, to loosen particles trapped in trim panel cracks and heater vents.

Auto Express product awards winners

For mud and other marks you will need a specialist solution. Some of these aim to shift stains and leave a protective finish, while others, often called all-purpose cleaners or APCs, are designed to just remove grime. 

How we tested them

Our test focused on cleaning power. We ground chocolate and butter into a sectioned-off panel, applied each cleaner following its instructions, then used limited wiping and assessed progress after the panel had dried. The tests were repeated several times to ensure a reliable result. Our evaluation also took into account price, although this played a relatively small role.

Verdict

Once again Dodo Juice grabs first place with its impressive cleaning abilites while Autobrite close the gap behind them as they place second. Gtechniq finish a solid third place with only the slimest of margins between it and Autobrite.

  1. Dodo Juice Total Wipe Out Refill Concentrate
  2. Autobrite Direct Citrus Wash
  3. Gtechniq W5 Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner

Reviews

Dodo Juice Total Wipe Out Refill Concentrate

Dodo Juice’s all-purpose cleaner has impressed ever since we started testing it back in 2016, with a series of final-four finishes and now three wins. We’ve tried it in its ready-mixed and refill concentrate forms, and we tested the latter this time. It was diluted to a 10:1 ratio, so the pack made five litres. However we use it the cleaning power seems the same, leaving just traces of the chocolate each time, and no sign of the butter.

Autobrite Direct Citrus Wash

We’ve tested Citrus Wash previously as a bug cleaner, which makes this a true all-purpose cleaner. Autobrite Direct claims it will safely clean just about any surface, and can be used as a pre-wash to loosen grime. It can also be diluted up to 100:1 to stretch the pack even further. We used it neat and it was very close between Citrus Wash and our champion, but Dodo Juice’s price advantage just gave it the win.

Gtechniq W5 Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner

The performance of Gtechniq’s products has impressed us for a long time, but too often they have been pushed down the order by less-expensive rivals. So it’s good to see W5 make it through to our top four in this very tight test. As the name suggests, it is another cleaner with a citrus formula that can be used on a variety of surfaces. It can also be diluted 10:1, although we used it neat to tackle our chocolate and butter.

CarPlan Demon Clean

It is hard to ignore the low price we found in B&M when looking at CarPlan’s Demon Clean. And that’s for a litre pack, making it the budget buy here if you don’t want to find a spare trigger pack for a diluted Total Wipe Out. But Demon Clean is not just about the price: its citrus-fragranced formula can be used both inside and out, and made good progress on our marks, even if it was a little off the best products.

Auto Curators Gentle Interior Cleanser

  • Price: £16
  • Size: 1,000ml
  • Rating: 4 stars

Dodo Juice may have kept its crown, but new products round out our top four, led by Auto Curators which impresses again. It can be used on fabrics as well as hard surfaces – ideal if storage is limited.

For plastics spray it on a cloth before wiping. It precisely matched our winner on the test trim over both attempts, but trails on price. If you want a pleasant smell, go for Auto Curators with its citrus aroma.

Buy it from Auto Curators here

Halfords Dash & Trim Cleaner

  • Price: Around £4
  • Size: 500ml
  • Rating: 4 stars

Halfords has certainly found something when it comes to interior cleaning. It’s our current upholstery favourite and now Dash & Trim Cleaner finishes a close third in this test.

It was a touch behind our top two, leaving traces of the tricky chocolate and margarine on the panel. But, ignoring the Dodo Juice, it was the cheapest on test, showing pricier cleaners how it should be done.

Buy it from Halfords here

Farécla G3 Professional Super Dressing

  • Price: Around £9
  • Size: 500ml
  • Rating: 4 stars

New Farécla Super Dressing is the only one of our top four that aims to leave a finish. Our fine grain test panel certainly looked clean, but there was no over-the-top gloss. It earns its place here mainly on cleaning power, though; it was one of the few to shift our ground-in chocolate after two gos. It made good inroads on the margarine, too. Super Dressing can also be used to add a shine to engine bays after cleaning.

Buy it from G3 Pro here

Chipex Factory Finish Interior and Dashboard Cleaner

  • Price: Around £13
  • Size: 500ml
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

This new product faced a real challenge when it took on our top trim 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 those above.

Compared to the winner a fair bit more chocolate was left, but only a little extra margarine. Its lack of dwell time didn’t help it loosen the ground-in grime as well. It made visible progress on the marks, but it was a step behind the winners.  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.

Buy it from Chipex here

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