To put all the cleaning products through their paces, each had to tackle a number of challenges: generally grimy cushions, dirty short-pile carpet, short-pile carpet with tough, dried-in coffee staining, fabrics with rubbed-in chocolate, and we even marked a test fabric with pen-applied ink.
Obviously, each product’s performance against these challenges made up the bulk of the points. But we also factored in usability.
Is it easy, for instance, to use the product against small stains, rather than just on large areas? And is there any form of brush or cloth supplied to work in the solution?
And, although we don’t like chemical cleaner aromas, neither are we keen on strong, overpowering scents.
Finally, we appraise value for money. We factor price against quantity, but also note how much coverage each product provides.
Halfords Upholstery Cleaner – three stars
- Price: £3.50
If the bright-green bottle doesn’t catch your eye, this cleaner’s price certainly should: £3.50 for half a litre is comfortably less than most big-brand rivals.
But does the formulation deliver in the same way as the market leaders? Well, first impressions are good.
The nozzle spits out a sensible quantity of liquid per squeeze – perfect for tackling spot stains or larger areas.
Another plus point is the delicate, sweet aroma: it’s pleasant and far from overpowering.
But while the cleaner made short work of general grime, several applications were needed to shift dried-in coffee stains – and it did nothing in our ink test.
Autoglym Interior Shampoo – three stars
- Price: £7.50
A really versatile cleaner that’s usable on carpets, upholstery, and even plastics. Perfect, then, for a general spruce-up and refresh.
Like most of the automotive-based cleaners, application is simply a case of spray it on, give it a little time to work, and then agitate and wipe away with a damp cloth or sponge.
It works really well. It marginally beat the Halfords cleaner in the tough ink and coffee tests, even if the cheaper formulation worked better against general grime.
Ultimately, though, the performance isn’t quite good enough to justify that price, and we found the bubble-bath-like whiff a little strong.
Wilko Carpet Stain Remover – four stars
- Price: £0.75
As well as being the cheapest product here, you actually get 750ml instead of the usual 500ml from this high-street favourite’s own brand.
And, perhaps most surprisingly, it’s not a bad all-rounder.
Like Autoglym’s Interior Shampoo, this formulation made noticeable inroads in both the coffee and paint-on ink tests. And it quickly got to grips with more generalised grime.
But while there’s little to moan about in terms of outright performance, this is not the easiest product to use.
The spray is very directional, and foams up a little too much to make spot-cleaning isolated stains practical.
And, again, the smell becomes overpowering if tackling large areas.
OzKleen Carpet Power – five stars
Practical Caravan Editor’s Choice
- Price: £3.50
When the bottle proclaims ‘Shock! This product actually works!’ it has to be darned good to not disappoint.
And it is – we found that the formulation lives up to its claims. Granted, it didn’t completely vanquish our test coffee or ink stains, but it got to grips with both much quicker than others here.
With a few more applications, we’re confident that both would disappear completely.
Yet despite an ‘eager’ formulation, Carpet Power is classed as Woolsafe-approved.
Other points we like are the ‘barely there’ lavender scent and the dual-setting nozzle, which tailors output perfectly for spot cleaning or treating large areas. The price is keen, too, for the half-litre you get.
CarPlan Interior Valet – four stars
- Price: £5.00
A great cleaner to have in your armoury, even if the 400ml aerosol won’t go as far as the liquid trigger sprays.
It’s definitely a product best suited to tackling difficult stains, preferably just after they occur.
The fine but searching brush built into the lid really makes a difference. Not only did it allow us to work the foam into grime and coffee staining easily, but the results were also excellent and achieved quickly.
However, don’t get too enthusiastic: apply excessive pressure and the whole lot comes off, including the nozzle beneath.
This is definitely a contender for the top spot in our test, but poor results against the ink stain knocked it back by that critical final point.
Vanish Gold Carpet Care – one star
- Price: £7.00
Perhaps one of the best-known brand names here. And although seven quid may seem a bit steep, bear in mind that the giant can contains 600ml.
That said, 600ml of aerosol spray doesn’t compare well, from a coverage point of view, to the 500ml spray-on liquids here. So this has to work really well to be worth it.
In some ways it does. Although we quickly fell out with the dreadful nozzle, which spits foam out in all directions however carefully applied, this made short work of general grime.
But tougher stains proved to be a different matter. The ink test stumped it completely, and even the coffee staining took a lot of work to remove.
1001 Mousse – two stars
- Price: £2.50
Another well-known high-street brand name but, unlike Vanish, 1001 supplies this mainly as an aid to tackling isolated stains rather than for treating large areas. Hence the 350ml-capacity aerosol.
Application is much easier than the Vanish cleaner, thanks to a better-designed nozzle that deposits just the right amount of foam where you want it.
But, application aside, the two products are pretty much interchangeable. Again, generalised grime was a doddle to clean away.
And, as with the Vanish, the aroma is spot-on: clean and fresh smelling, but not overpowering.
Sadly, the ink and coffee stains proved to be challenges too far.
Turtle Wax Interior 1 – two stars
- Price: £5.00
With the way CarPlan’s Interior Valet used its integral brush to really get the cleaning foam deep down into fibres, we had high hopes for this one.
In fact, we half expected that the secret behind the CarPlan’s success was the brush itself.
But this formulation’s lacklustre performance suggests otherwise – particularly because its brush is better shaped, allowing more pressure to be applied.
Performance on general dirt was okay, but tougher stains needed several repeat applications before any significant improvement was noticeable.
It had no effect at all on the ink staining because the foam dried out too quickly.
To put all through their paces, each product had to tackle a number of challenges