When you climb into your car, where’s the first place you look? Probably at your dashboard or center console.
Sitting in a vehicle with a dashboard covered in dust, hairs, or other contamination will play on your mind.
How will it affect you? It could be something as simple as not wanting to go for a drive or even making you feel unclean during your commute to work.
Cleaning a car dashboard is easy when you have the right dashboard cleaner.
Dashboard cleaners are specifically formulated for the materials used in the interior of your car. They’re strong enough to cleanse high levels of contamination, but not too strong that they leave behind any damage or greasy residue.
This article covers what to look for in a dashboard cleaner, which one you should buy, and how to create a homemade dashboard cleaner if you’re on a budget.
What To Look For In A Dashboard Cleaner
- Surface Type – A lot of dashboard cleaners are All-Purpose Cleaners diluted at a smaller ratio with some additives to make them unique.
Because of this, they’re useable on pretty much any surface that you would like, whether its’ PVC, Leather, Vinyl, or Rubber.
Some will even work on Fabric and Cloth, though you’re better off with a car upholstery cleaner for that.
Make sure to check which surfaces the products are safe to use on. There are some that are not recommended for leather use such as Sonax.
For the best results, you will want to buy a cleaner that’s suited to the material of your dashboard.
- Cleaning Ability – The second most important thing when picking a dashboard cleaner is cleaning power.
If you have a weak product that struggles to remove any meaningful dirt, you’re more or less giving your dashboard a glorified massage.
Cleaning power is very important. Each of the cleaners mentioned below will remove most dust, dirt, grime, or oils that may be on your car dashboard.
- Ingredients – Because the Dashboard and Trim cleaners are used on the inside of the vehicle, they have to be 100% safe.
Having harsh ingredients in an interior cleaner could not only damage the materials, but may also cause side effects to the people sat in the car.
(It’s a slightly different product but I left the Bilt-Hamber Wheel cleaner in my room and for weeks I woke up with a sore head).
Try to do your research beforehand, I personally avoid any cleaners that have Perchloroethylene (PERC) and Ammonia whenever possible.
Perc is known to cause dizziness and Ammonia exposure can lead to bronchitis.
Strong ingredients may also come with unpleasant smells that nobody wants in their cars.
- Anti-static additives – Some people may not value this property as much.
If you’re a pet owner or have another reason for hair being everywhere in your car, this is a huge plus.
Dashboard cleaners with Anti-Static qualities will prevent dust, hairs, and residue from clinging to your dashboard. This will also keep it cleaner for longer and make it easier to clean next time around.
- Protective Qualities – You may not know this but the sun is one of the biggest threats to the appearance of your car.
With the windshield being right above your dashboard, the sun can shine down on it all day, causing a lot of damage over time.
Using cleaning products that protect from UV Rays will significantly reduce the chances of your dashboard cracking or fading.
Another way to protect your dashboard from UV Rays is to use a quick wax or interior dressing.
best dashboard cleaner for cars
I’m going to be completely up-front with you. Not every product on this list will suit your needs.
Just because I enjoyed using a product, or found it useful in some way, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the product that you desire.
Here are 3 products that I found to be the best in their category.
The Best Dashboard Cleaner: CarGuys Super Cleaner
Cheapest Solution: ArmorAll Ultra Shine Protectant
My Go-To: Meguiars Ultimate Interior Detailer
If you want more in-depth analysis, below is a list of the 10 Best Dashboard Cleaners money can buy.
Read my thoughts & opinions on each of them before making an educated decision on which one to buy.
CarGuys Super Cleaner
Safe on Surfaces: Upholstery, Fabric, Canvas, Leather, Vinyl, Plastic, Rubber, Trim & More
Buy on Amazon: 18oz / 1 Gallon
The CarGuys Super Cleaner is the highest rated dashboard cleaner on Amazon with over 4500+ positive reviews.
It’s easy to use and can be applied to any piece of car upholstery that you want. It’s an All-Purpose Cleaner so really it can be used on a wide variety of things, not just car dashboards.
Don’t use it on glass or instrument clusters though, it leaves a hazy finish behind. Even the CarGuys warn against it.
When used correctly, this product provides great cleaning power that cleans most, if not all types of dashboard and door card grime you may have.
Whether it’s wiping your dashboard, a door card, or even cleaning your car seats you can do it all with the Car Guys super cleaner.
The super cleaner claims to be completely streak-free and smell free.
It seems to be the case, however, there is the odd report of customers being left with a streaky dashboard. Perhaps they were just using too much product?!
Unfortunately despite the “premium” price point, there are no added benefits to this product. It’s simply a cleaner, it doesn’t protect from UV Rays and it doesn’t offer anti-static qualities.
Because of this, you may choose to avoid the product completely, or buy a separate trim dressing product.
The “Super Cleaner” is a very nicely branded product that’s versatile and offers great cleaning power. It’s also completely free of any harmful substances and as a purchasing bonus, the 18oz bottle comes with a free towel.
I have to admit though, the fact you cant use it on the instrument cluster really sucks.
Buy the Car Guys Super Cleaner Today From Amazon.com
Meguiar’s Ultimate Interior Detailer
Safe on Surfaces: Nav Screens, Clusters, Upholstery, Fabric, Leather, Vinyl, Plastic, Rubber, Trim, & More
Buy on Amazon: 15oz
Meguiars Ultimate Interior Detailer is a product that I use often myself.
If you’re not familiar, Meguiars is one of the leading detailing brands and they produce many great products.
The main selling point for this one has to be the fact that it’s so easy to use. It cleans and protects ALL interior surfaces.
When cleaning my car, the steering wheel is always the most contaminated part. The Ultimate Interior Detailer made it look brand new, leaving behind a non-greasy, streak-free finish.
Meguiars also claim that it’s safe to use on more delicate areas such as the instrument cluster and LCD Screens. I’ve not found any evidence to suggest otherwise.
As for the smell, it seems to be hit or miss. I’ve not had any problems with it, but out of the people I’ve spoken to, 50% say it smells alright, the other 50% say it smells of puke.
The Added UV Protection seems to work well, not having to spend extra money on a trim dressing is definitely a bonus.
I’ve also found that despite not listing any “anti-static” features, the dry finish repels a lot of hairs and dust that may have otherwise stuck.
Meguiars Ultimate Interior Detailer is a versatile product that is also super convenient. The fact that it’s a leading detailing brand means that you can pick it up almost anywhere at very competitive price points.
Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant
Based in Southern California, Chemical Guys is one of the leading detailing brands. They manufacture many high-quality detailing products that almost always deliver.
Their Total Interior Cleaner is no different. It promises to clean and protect virtually all car interior surfaces, as well as glass and navigation screens.
The gentle formula is made to clean tough dirt and grime from your car interior, without leaving behind any spots, stains or etching.
Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner is also safe to use on sensitive areas such as your cluster and will not leave any streaks behind when used properly!
Most of the Chemical Guys products have a scent in them such as the Honey Dew foam, this one doesn’t though.
The smell of this product is best described as a mild, clean, bathroom, baby powder smell. It’s not a desirable smell, but it’s definitely not harsh on the nose like some detailing products.
As any leading dashboard cleaner should, this comes with additional UV Blockers and protectants. Helping to prevent your car dashboard from discoloration and cracking.
It’s a very similar product to Meguiars Ultimate Interior Detailer, except this has a slightly less controversial odor.
Depending on where you are in the world, and how easy it is to access this product, it’s definitely one you should try out.
It’s priced similarly to Meguiars and offers a versatile all-in-one option that will help to maintain a lean detailing setup.
Buy The Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant from Amazon.com
Adam’s Interior Detailer
If you’ve read any of my other articles, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Adams Polishes.
They’re a US ran business, all their products are made in the states and they guarantee customer satisfaction.
For their interior detailer, they teamed up with Microban to include extra antimicrobial technology.
This means that long after the application of the product, it will continue to prevent the growth of bacteria.
It also provides extra UV Blocking agents and prevents anti-static build-up.
As for the cleaning power, it’s exactly what you would expect.
Most leading dashboard cleaners have a similar level of cleaning power. They’re all very effective at removing grime, odor, and body oils.
The original Adams Interior Detailer does have a slight smell to it, but it’s nothing that will change the smell of your car.
You are able to get sweet pea or sweet almond-scented ones if you want.
Personally, I prefer the original as it neutralizes odors, allowing for an air-freshener to spice up the smell of your car.
I really like this product, it works great on all non-porous surfaces and comes in at a very competitive price.
If you were to buy a gallon of product, it’d work out cheaper than most of the other products on this list. That being said, your average weekend detailer will not need that much quantity.
Buy Adams Polishes Interior Detailer from Amazon.com
Armor All Ultra Shine Protectant
Safe on Surfaces: Vinyl, Rubber & Plastic
Buy on Amazon: 16oz
I’m going to be upfront with you on this one. ArmorAll Ultra Shine is probably one of the most limited products on this list, but, it’s also the cheapest.
If you’re looking for a cheap, all in one product that allows you to clean, shine & protect your car from UV damage, it’s not a bad shout.
It’s recommended to use ArmorAll on Vinyl, Rubber & Plastic surfaces.
This means you can clean the bulk of your interior with it. The dashboard, door cards, grab handles, vents, trim, and more.
I wouldn’t recommend taking it to any sensitive areas. I don’t trust it enough. The product dries very hard on leather and would likely interfere with any navigation screens.
That being said, when used on the correct surfaces, it leaves behind a dry gloss shine that’s streak-free and protects your interior.
For its price point, you can’t really go wrong.
It is a limited product and there is a slight chemical smell during the application process, but it cleans and protects for a fraction of the cost.
Buy ArmorAll Ultra Shine Protectant from Amazon.com
SHINE ARMOR Car Interior Cleaner
Safe on Surfaces: Leather, Pleather, Fabric, Cloth, Carpet, Vinyl, Canvas, Cloth, Plastic & More.
Buy on Amazon: 10oz
SHINE ARMOR’s Car Interior Cleaner is a promising product, but it doesn’t really fit in anywhere.
The branding is amazing, the bottle is very high quality and the product is formulated using the lasted Nanotechnology. It’s a premium dashboard cleaner.
With that being said, you have to pay more for a premium product.
Not only is it one of the more costly products on the list, but you’ll also find that it offers the least product, available only in a 10oz bottle.
It cleans most interior surfaces, it’s safe to use on navigational screens and cluster panels, but is it better than its competitors? Maybe.
It’s pleasantly smelling, leaves a streak-free finish, and even offers extra protection.
As well as enhanced UV Protection, it also has anti-static properties, preventing dust from sticking to your dashboard.
Other than the price point, it seems as though this product has it all.
Shine Armor also guarantee a risk-free purchase. If you don’t like the product they’ll happily make it right. They can do this because the product is so great, they don’t get many returns.
If you’re detailing as a hobby and don’t mind spending the extra bit of money, it’s certainly a good product. It may even make for a nice gift.
Though I wouldn’t choose it in a business setup or scenario where value for money matters.
Buy Shine Armor Car Interior Cleaner from Amazon.com
nextzett Cockpit Premium
Nextzett is a small German company that was founded way back in 1936.
Their original goal was to create a better polish, but, they later expanded into products like Cockpit Premium.
Cockpit premium is a little different from all the other products on this list. It’s not some hybrid, all-in-one car upholstery cleaner.
No, It’s a true dashboard cleaner, that is made to clean everything on a car dashboard. It’s 100% safe to use on your dashboard, steering wheel, instrument cluster, car speakers, vents, and even navigation screens.
Over time, Nextzett has developed this product to have 3-times as more cleaners. Meaning it kills grime, stains, and other contamination, leaving behind a streak-free anti-static finish.
Cockpit premium also comes with a nice citrus smell that stays around for a little while after application, but is not too intrusive.
When applying this cleaner to your dashboard, it will offer added protection from UV Rays. Most windscreens are developed to protect your dashboard from these anyway, but it’s always a nice bonus to have.
I have to say that Nextzett has got a nice product on their hands.
It’s slightly more expensive than Meguiars and Chemical Guys, but, it’s still priced well and offers a lot to the everyday detailer.
Buy Nextzett Cockpit Premium from Amazon.com
Turtle Wax Dash & Glass Interior Cleaner
Safe on Surfaces: Dashboards, Glass, Navigation Screens, Plastic, Rubber, Trim, Gloss surfaces
Buy on Amazon: 23oz
Everybody knows TurtleWax.
You can buy their products virtually everywhere and they pride themselves on quick and easy car care. This is exactly what the Dash & Glass cleaner promises.
It’s a one-step product designed to deliver maximum shine and protection in a matter of minutes.
When using other products that are only suitable for certain types of surfaces, you may take longer because you’re trying to avoid spraying it on undesirable surfaces.
Ever tried cleaning product or grease off a windscreen? It can take more than multiple attempts to remove it.
Thankfully Turtlewax allows for a carefree application. You can spray it pretty much anywhere without worrying.
Using this dash cleaner will give you great cleaning power, and very little worries, leaving behind a dry, streak-free, matte finish.
It doesn’t smell too bad either!
The one thing I would say is despite it claiming to be a glass cleaner, it’s not the best at cleaning glass. There are definitely better products for cleaning windshields and windows.
Turtle Wax Dash Cleaner will make your dashboard shine for a reasonable price.
It also offers additional UV Protection but is somewhat limited in applications.
It’s a great low-effort, carefree option for those that don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning their cars.
Buy TurtleWax Dash & Glass Cleaner from Amazon.com
Griot’s Garage Interior Cleaner
Griots Garage is a relatively popular company in the detailing world.
They pride themselves on being family-run and providing the finest quality products.
I must admit, I really enjoy looking at their products and bottles. They’re so simple but give off a classic vibe American vibe.
Anyway, onto the product in question.
While it’s not a dedicated dashboard cleaner, the Interior cleaner is safe to use on Vinyl, Leather, Plastics, and Trim.
It safely cleans all interior fabrics and hard surfaces such as your dashboard.
You’ll also be able to use it on your dash cluster and navigation screens as long as you’re conservative with the amount of product you use.
Griots Interior Cleaner leaves behind a shiny, dry finish that is both streak and stain free.
Admittedly it’s a very boring product. Griots call it “A No-Frills Cleaner” themselves.
There’s no scent, no dyes, and no added protection. All it does is clean.
If you want a product that does more, perhaps you should look at one of the before-mentioned dashboard cleaners.
Maybe you’ll still try out Griots Interior Cleaner and add some dressing afterward for extra protection.
Buy Griots Garage Interior Cleaner from Amazon.com
TriNova Interior Detailer
Safe on Surfaces: Dashboards, Navigation Screens, Plastic, Rubber, Trim, Gloss surfaces, Fabric, Leather, Vinyl and More
Buy on Amazon: 18oz
TriNova is a brand that first caught my attention when looking at foam cannons. Since then, I’ve researched them further and have been excited to try out their products.
If you haven’t already been paying attention, I love simple and sleek branding on my detailing products. It can really change how your detailing garage looks.
TriNovas interior detailer is safe to use on every non-porous interior surface. This means you’ll have no problem achieving a shiny, streak-free matte finish on vinyl, plastic, rubber and leather surfaces.
1 quick wipe of your dashboard using this product will remove any dirt, spills, or other unwanted grime, helping to keep the interior of your car spotless.
Once applied, this interior detailer will repel dust with its added anti-static properties, as well as protect your dashboard from UV rays preventing any cracking and fading.
The only potential risks you face when using this is getting it on the glass.
If you accidentally apply it to the glass, it will create a streak effect and you’ll have to clean it off using a degreaser based solution.
Other than that, you’re getting a very nice, premium interior detailer.
It works out at a competitive price, yes, it’s a slightly higher upfront cost, but at the same time, you get slightly more product too.
Buy TriNova Interior Detailer from Amazon.com
Homemade Dashboard Cleaner For Cars
In all honesty, if you have an extra $5-10 on a dashboard cleaner, it’s going to give you much better results. However, I’m aware that not everyone can do this.
If you’re stuck at home, wanting to wash your car but can’t afford new products or simply don’t want to wait for them, you can make a homemade solution.
It’s very very simple.
- Grab a spray bottle or basin
- Use a small quantity of dish soap or all-purpose cleaner
- Dilute it heavily with luke-warm water
- Profit! Now you have a homemade dashboard cleaner.
You can use vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and other types of cleaning products if you want but I’d recommend sticking to the steps above, it’s much safer and less smelly.
When creating your homemade cleaner try to use as little cleaning product as possible. It’s better to have a solution that’s too weak because you can always add more product.
If the solution is too strong initially and causes irreversible damage, you may have to spend hours on restoration or pay to get the dashboard fixed.
Now that you’ve decided on a dashboard cleaner, you should learn how to clean your car dashboard properly!