Can This Cheap Glass Cleaner Get Stains Out of Your Car’s Upholstery?

Updated: Apr. 25, 2023

Can you remove car upholstery stains with a glass cleaner from the dollar store? We tested this TikTok hack to find out if it actually works.

If you have upholstered car seats like me, they’re probably sporting a few stains. (I’m splurging on leather for my next car!) Plus, I have three kids, so you can imagine what my seats look like. From spilled Gatorade during a road trip to transporting sweaty flag football players after a game, my car has seen it all.

And while it’s great to get your car detailed, it’s an expense I rarely indulge in. So I’m always looking for quick tips on keeping the upholstery clean.

When I came across this TikTok video showing how to remove stains with a glass cleaner from the dollar store, I was intrigued. So I decided to test it out for myself.

@www.thebomb.c0m my seats look brand new #dollarstore #lifehack #cleancar ♬ original sound – sabrina

How It Works

Following the simple steps in the video, I sprayed the foam glass cleaner directly on the stained second row seats in my SUV. Then I worked the foam into the fabric with a small scrub brush. Last, I wiped the foam away with a microfiber cloth.

For optimal foaming, shake the can vigorously before spraying. And scrub right away. If you wait too long, the product soaks into the fabric and you don’t get as much foaming action.

What Pros Say

Before I started, I asked a professional cleaner about this hack. I talked to “The Cleaning Coach,” Leslie Reichert, author of The Joy of Green Cleaning. Because glass cleaner is meant for glass, I wanted to know if it was safe for car seats. According to Reichert, the answer is, probably. Here are a few tips for cleaning cloth car seats.

“Glass clear usually has ammonia or alcohol as an ingredient,” she says. “Both will cut through dark fabric stains caused by grease and body oils.” (This dollar store glass cleaner says “with ammonia” right on the can.)

However, when cleaning any kind of upholstery, Reichert suggests testing a small, inconspicuous spot first. “You always have to be careful spraying fabric with a liquid,” she says. “You can get lines where it dries and those water marks can be as nasty as the stains.

The Verdict

For me, this hack was a success. My car has black upholstery, which hides a lot, but the seats still sported a few spill marks and discoloration from body oils. The foaming glass cleaner worked like a charm!

The foam sprayed easily and provided thorough coverage of the area I wanted to clean. When I scrubbed with the brush, I worked up a nice lather and felt like it really worked its magic. (A liquid cleaner just disappears into the fabric). When I finished scrubbing wiped away the cleaner, the stains were gone.

Another unforeseen benefit: The foam cleaner worked on other parts of my car as well. I sprayed it on the dashboard, the steering wheel, and the insides of my doors. Then I wiped with a microfiber cloth and everything shined up nicely. And being a glass cleaner, I cleaned my windows with it, too!

I can’t say this works any better than other foaming car cleaners; this one is well-reviewed on Amazon. But most other car upholstery cleaners can’t clean the windows, so the versatility to clean multiple surfaces makes it a winner in my book. Plus, can we talk about the price? Not many car cleaners that can do all this for $1.25 per 13-ounce can. I’m sold! Have you tried this massage gun hack to clean your car?

Alternative Methods

For a DIY car seat cleaner, try this recipe: Mix two cups water, one cup vinegar and approximately a tablespoon of Dawn dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray lightly on any stains or especially dirty spots, scrub gently and rinse lightly with clean water. Finish by dabbing the spot with a microfiber cloth to absorb excess moisture.

For additional options, check out our list of the top car upholstery cleaners. The number one choice is Chemical Guys Nonsense Invisible Super Cleaner, which cleans every car surface possible — including the exterior!