Car Upholstery Protectant: Should I Scotchguard My Car?

The detailing industry is filled with products that are dubious at best. Many people question the effectiveness of wax and sealants, never mind car upholstery protectants.

In this article, I’ll tell you exactly what upholstery sealants are, whether you should scotchgard your car while introducing you to a number of alternatives.

What Is Upholstery Sealant & Protectant?

To put it simply, fabric protectors and sealants form a hydrophobic layer over fabrics which encourage liquids to bead and roll off rather than soaking in and staining.

In theory, using a fabric protectant like scotchgard or 303 should prevent water spotting and other liquids from staining.

I’ll tell you now, it’s not an immovable barrier.

While it’s useful in certain scenarios, unrealistic expectations will just lead to disappointment.

Should You Scothguard Your Car?

Applying Scotchgard or one of our recommended alternatives is certainly worth it.

While most people remain sceptical over fabric sealants and protectants, I’ve seen them work first hand and will continue to apply them to my car and anyone elses that I work on.

As someone that now owns an almost 18 year old Fiesta, I have horrible fabric seats that show every little stain and water spot.

After I spent hours and hours removing water stains from the seats, I was desperate for a way to prevent them. Thankfully I researched online and stumbled across these sealants.

Since then, every time it rains, I don’t need to worry about rolling up the windows. I know that my seats will be free of water spots regardless and even if they aren’t it’ll be much easier to clean them thanks to the fabric protectant I applied.

I figured, for $10 or so, even if scotchgard didn’t work, it’s not a huge loss.

Thankfully it did though.

The one that I used was Scotchgard Fabric Water Shield. It’s long lasting and is designed to waterproof all upholstery

While it’s made to be applied on household items and clothing, it works perfectly fine on car upholstery.

It’s super simple to use, just spray it on to your seats and let it dry.

It’ll dry completely clear and odourless too, you’ll never know that it’s there protecting your seats.

Since then, I’ve discovered Scothgard also do a car specific product. It’s called Scotchgard Auto Fabric & Carpet Protector.

I believe that it’s a very similar product, both work well, but the Auto protectant works better against oils and other typical car contaminants.

Scotchgard Alternatives

While scotchgard is good enough and will get the job done, sometimes you may want something better or different.

303 High Tech Fabric Guard

303 High Tech Fabric Guard

After I finished my can of scotchgard, I ordered 303 Fabric Guard.

If you don’t know 303, they’re known for their protective products. Offering one of the best trim dressings, fabric guards and even rubber seal protectant on the market.

303 High-Tech Fabric guard is extremely powerful and will protect your seats from the harshest of stains. It’s recommended to be used on Boats covers, Convertible Tops & Auto Interiors.

The fact that they recommend using it on a boat should tell you just how strong this product is.

The biggest downside has to be the cost.

It’s much more expensive than scotchgard coming in at 3x the price.

However, (In my opinion), the price is justifiable, it is the best fabric protectant that I have used. The money you save on interior detailing may justify the price on its own.

In all honesty, for a years protection, even if you were to use the whole bottle, it’s really not a huge expense.

Chemical Guys Fabric Guard

If you’re more interested in buying a fabric guard that’s released by an actual car detailing company, I’d recommend looking at the chemical guys fabric guard.

I don’t believe that it’s as good as 303, however, it’s much more reasonably priced and comes from a recognised detailing brand.

At just under half the price of 303, the Chemical Guys Fabric Guard creates and invisible shield that will help to repel both water and stains.

Not only that, it will also help to prevent unpleasant odors from lingering in your fabrics and even protect them from UV rays.

While it is primarily for car upholstery, if you’re interested in using it on other surfaces around the house, or even your clothing you certainly can.

The Chemical Guys suggest that the protection will last up to 12 months, this depends heavily on the level of use each surface gets after application.

You’ll probably need to apply it on the driver and passenger seat more often than the back seats.

This product is a nice middle-ground between scotchgard and 303, but it also offers some nice features that the others dont have.

Car Seat Covers

I’m not a fan of car seat covers myself. I think they’re pretty horrible, but they do have their uses.

If you know that you’re going to be taking your car on a road trip or having kids/pets in the car, why not just protect your seats using a cover?

Buying the right covers will protect your seats much better than any fabric sealants can. You’ll also be able to put them on and take them off at any time you like.

Just don’t go buying yourself animal print covers, making your car look tacky while offering very little in terms of protection.

I’d personally recommend using something similar to this.

So, Should You Protect Your Car Seats Using Fabric Protectant?


If you can afford the product, I’d certainly recommend trying out any of the protectants mentioned above.

As long as you have realistic expectations, you’ll be satisfied with the products and see the benefits that they provide.