How To Remove Hand Sanitizer Stains From Car Interior

It is now common practice to sanitize your hands before touching your personal belongings. But what if, while doing this, you spilled some, and it stained your car interior? How can this be removed? We have the answers for you!

Hand sanitizer contains alcohol and various chemicals that may harm your car's interior. There are multiple ways to remove sanitizer stains, depending on the material.

In all cases, it's best to wipe off the sanitizer with a cloth or paper towel as soon as possible.

Leather and suede can be cleaned further using material-specific cleaners. Vinyl and plastic can be cleaned with mild detergents.

It is essential to familiarize oneself with the various method of stain removal to preserve the quality of your car interior. Keep reading this article as we further discuss this topic, and it may also answer some questions you have in mind.

Woman pouring a small amount of hand sanitizer, How To Remove Hand Sanitizer Stains From Car Interior

Hand Sanitizer Stain Removal In Car Interior

Depending on the manufacturer's design and the modifications done by the owner, a car's interior will have varying materials. The general rule is to treat these fabrics and surfaces the same way it is usually handled. This is why you might already be familiar with some of the steps discussed below.

Brushing and cleaning the car matting

Leather and Faux Leather

Leather elevates the overall appeal of any object used, primarily if adequately maintained. Hand sanitizers don't stain leather materials except those with alcohol content which may cause surface damage or discoloration.

The best way to remove hand sanitizer stain from leather is by using leather cleaner and conditioner. These are specifically created to correct imperfections on leather. The cleaner breaks down the gel stain for easier removal, while the conditioner helps restore the natural oil. Alternatively, you may use everyday household items like mild soap, vaseline, toothpaste, and white vinegar.

Faux leather

Dampen your cloth with the cleaner of your choice and rub onto the stain until it is lifted, then wipe it dry. Apply a thin coat of conditioner for two to three-time or until the affected area has improved. Allow the conditioner to be fully absorbed before applying the next layer.

Suede and Microsuede; also known as Polyester

Polyester and Suede look similar and have the same texture. Both are delicate, porous, and lack the natural protective layer that other fabrics have, making them prone to staining.

Avoid using harsh chemicals and drenching the fabric with water during the stain removal. Similar to leather, suede, and microsuede cleaners are sold to help clean these sensitive fabrics. Simply follow the instructions stated on the container and repeat the process as needed.

Another way to remove sanitizer stains is by buffing or manually removing the stain. You'll need extra effort and patience until you reach the desired outcome.

Grab the nearest nail file, emery board, or pencil eraser and gently buff off the stain. When the stain is gone, brush off the affected area to lift off particles and dirt that were flattened during the process.


Vinyl perhaps is the easiest to clean out of all the fabric choices out there. It is non-porous; therefore, it does not stain easily. Most of the time,  a simple soap and water solution will do the trick for any mark and dirt problems.

Lather, the affected area with mild detergent or soap, gently rub off the stain, and wipe it dry. For more stubborn spots, spray white vinegar on the affected area and let it sit for three to five minutes. Proceed with cleaning it off with soapy water.

As a last resort, use mineral spirits. If the sanitizer stain won't budge, it is alcohol-based and more challenging to remove. Dampen ample mineral spirit onto a clean cloth and dab on the stain. Leave it on for two to three minutes to dissolve the alcohol. When the time's up, wipe the excess liquid and let it dry.

Plastic and Glass

We can't overlook the plastic and glass components of the car interior, from the dashboard, mirror, window, and windshield to the brake and compartments.

Although it may not stain as quickly compared to fabric, there's still a high chance of it being stained, primarily if hand sanitizers are regularly used and spilled.

The best way to clean these is by using a non-abrasive, all-purpose cleaner, but if this is not readily available and you prefer to start with subtle solutions, use soapy water. Lather up the affected area and rub it off with a cloth or soft-bristled brushes. For a more natural approach, spray white vinegar and leave it on for three to five minutes, then wipe it clean.

And in case all of the recommended stain removal did not work, seek out professional help from shops that specializes in car interiors. Anything related to upholsteries and accessories is their field of expertise and business; therefore, they may know other ways to clean off the stubborn spot.

Another popular option among car owners is to allow the natural course of time and constant usage to remove the mark. With this method, the natural oil of our palms and regular cleaning will eventually lift off and diminish the appearance of stains.

Common Car Interior Stains and How To Remove Them

Car owner cleaning the car seat using a small green brush

Aside from hand sanitizer, there are other things such as food and beverages that can stain car interiors. This can't be avoided since most people treat their cars as their second home and are constantly subjected to external factors like dirt and pollution.

  • Coffee/Soda- wipe with soapy water to remove stain and sticky residue
  • Oil/Grease- apply baking soda paste to the affected area and let it dry, then brush the powder off
  • Crayon- use designated fabric or commercial cleaner
  • Blood- use mild detergent and gently rub off the stain
  • Mold/Mildew- for safety reasons, it is best to use a heavy-duty cleaner and have it professionally checked

Best Car Interior Cleaner

Woman pouring hand sanitizer

As previously mentioned, there are products specifically created to clean different fabrics and materials. We have compiled a list of our top picks for the best car interior cleaners. These can be easily bought in your local hardware store, in groceries, and even online.

Carfidant Ultimate Leather Cleaner

Check out the Carfidant Leather Cleaner on Amazon!

Starting the list is this cleaner that can wipe away years of accumulated dirt and grime. It received a high rating due to its being eco-friendly and multi-purpose; you can also use it on vinyl. Carfidant is fragrance-free which is perfect for people with sensitive noses.

Stoner Invisible Glass

Check out the Invisible Glass on Amazon!

There are many options in the market that rival Stoner, but this is our and most car owners' top pick. It doesn't leave streaks and cleans glass flawlessly, which is why it is also widely used at home. It is odorless and ammonia-free, which makes it safe for tinted glasses.

Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant

Check out Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant on Amazon!

This product serves a 2-in-1 purpose; it is a cleaner and protectant. It is safe on every surface: plastic, fabric, and glass. You can even use it on your car's interior touch screens. Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant is fragrance-free and doesn't leave a greasy residue.

Adam's Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant

Check out Adam's Total Interior Cleaner & Protectant on Amazon!

Like Chemical Guy, Adam's also serves as a cleaner and protectant, safe on all surfaces. The main difference is this one has a blueberry fragrance. It is water-based, non-silicone, and infused with UV absorbers which protect your interior from harsh sunlight.

Relentless Drive Car Upholstery Cleaner Kit

Check out the Relentless Drive Car Upholstery Cleaner Kit on Amazon!

This heavy-duty cleaner includes a scrubbing brush in its package. It is an overall surface cleaner but best used on carpets and floor mats. This is also marketed as an upholstery cleaner, but we suggest trying it out in a less visible area if it is compatible with your car seat fabric.

Armor All Car Cleaning Wipes

Check out the Armor All Car Cleaning Wipes on Amazon!

For a quick and easy fix, grab these cleaning wipes. One can contain 25 wipes and retails at a low price. It boasts excellent cleaning properties without drying surfaces. It is lint-free and leaves your hand grease-free.


Woman pouring a small amount of hand sanitizer

To save yourself the time and effort for had sanitizer stain removal, immediately wipe off spilled gel on the car surface. Any liquid, even water, if left unattended and stagnant, will leave marks.

Remember to test these removal methods in a hidden part before proceeding with the visibly affected area. Natural or chemical, since you'll be applying a foreign substance, there's always a risk for adverse effects.

If you found these articles useful, then check out other informational articles!

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