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Best Way to Clean Leather Car Seats

Leather Car Seats Interior
Reading Time: 4 minutes


Leather car seats are certainly a perk in a car if you have them. They come, however, with a catch. Leather car seats need to be maintained – they don’t clean themselves!

You can’t use any random process to clean leather car seats. If you don’t properly clean leather car seats, or you neglect cleaning them, it will show!

Don’t risk damaging leather car seats! Improper care of leather car seats will certainly affect your car’s value.

What you need when cleaning your leather car seats

  1. Hand-held or other portable vacuum allow you to clean dirt and other debris from your leather seats.

2. Seat cleaner solution with conditioner.

3. Microfiber cloth to use to apply the cleaning solution to your seats.

What to do to clean your leather car seats

To clean your leather car seats, you should follow a step-by-step procedure to make sure that you don’t accidentally damage your car seats.

Before applying any chemical solution to your leather seats, check your car manual first for any recommendations on how to take care of your leather seats. Your manufacturer’s car manual will likely contain recommended products to use and/or not use on your leather seats.

Step 1 – Vacuum

Use your handheld vacuum to vacuum away any dirt and other debris on your seat. Use the vacuum suction tools to be sure you clean debris that may be within crevices of your car seat.

It’s important to vacuum your seat first to avoid dirt or other debris from scratching your leather seat while you wipe using the cleaning solution.

Step 2 – Wipe your seat

Once finish vacuuming, take a clean microfiber cloth and wipe your seat down. This is to make sure you clean any dust or other dirt that was not picked up by the vacuum.

If you see any debris that can scratch your seat, be sure to remove it with your hand.

Step 3 – Use a leather cleaning solution as needed

If you leather car seats have a stain or appear dirty, use leather cleaning solution to clean it all up.

Depending on the amount of stain, spray the cleaning solution onto your microfiber cloth. Gently rub the microfiber cloth on your leather car seat.

As you clean your seat, check for rips and holes in your leather car seat. If there are any, be sure you do not increase the damage or get cleaning solution inside your seat.

When you are done, allow your leather car seat to dry.

Step 4 – Apply leather car seat conditioner

Next, before your mass apply leather conditioner to your seat, spot test the conditioner on a corner section. The purpose of the spot testing is to make sure the conditioner doesn’t discolor your car’s leather.

TIP: Always spot test in a section of your leather that will not be noticeable. This can either be the side of the car seat or inside the back-pocket.

After you spot test, if everything looks good, then it’s time to apply the leather condition to your leather seats. Put some leather conditioner on your microfiber cloth, and then begin gently applying it to your leather seats. You’ll have to test out how much to put, so as to not overdo it. You don’t want to put too much your seats will look and have this greasy feel to it.

What NOT TO DO when cleaning your leather car seats

It is very important to follow your manufacturer’s guidance on how best to clean and take care of the leather in your car.

Here is what NOT TO DO when cleaning your leather car seats:

  • Do not allow wet cleaning solutions to just dry on your leather seats. Make sure you thoroughly rub the leather conditioner onto your seat. Failing to do so, will make that specific spot where the conditioner dried stand out in comparison to the area around it.
  • Do not use any abrasive brush or other material when cleaning or applying leather conditioner to your seats. Abrasive material will damage your leather seats, and can potentially even rip your leather seats.
  • Don’t apply any solution directly to your seats, especially when using spray bottles. Apply the cleaning solution to your microfiber cloth, and then rub the solution onto your leather seat.
  • Make sure you read the instructions and guidance of the cleaning solution. If the solutions specifically excludes certain leather materials to not apply to, make sure you follow such guidance. This means you will need to review your car manual for the type of leather you have (or ask your car dealer).
  • Do not apply any random chemical or cleaning solution to your car seats. In other words, don’t use glass cleaner you have under the sink on your leather car seats to try and “clean” them. You are doing yourself a disservice. Using an inappropriate cleaning solution on your leather car seats can discolor your leather seats or even cause cracks and/or other unwanted damage. Remember this would all impact your car’s value when you decide to sell or return (if it’s a lease).
  • Do not over apply conditioner solution onto your leather seats. A few times a year should be sufficient.

The 411

If you have leather car seats, don’t automatically assume they are “easy” to clean compared to cloth seats. Cleaning and maintaining your car’s leather seats is like any other maintenance your car needs.

While following your manufacturer’s recommendations, with the right tools and cleaning solution, you can properly clean and maintain your car’s leather seats.

Happy cleaning!! ?