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Cleaning leather car seats

How To Clean Leather Car Seats

Despite being offered a selection of modern car interior fabrics in the showroom catalogue, good old-fashioned leather is still a very popular choice. It looks classy, smells good and is hard-wearing.

Once that brand-new sheen has gone though, leather will only remain as smart with a proper cleaning and care regime. This is how we would go about it:

You will need:

  • Leather cleaner designed for the purpose
  • Selection of microfibre cloths
  • Soft brush
  • Product to enhance and protect
  • Vacuum cleaner

How To Clean Leather Car Seats

Although it seems convenient, household products or simple soap and water won’t do the job, especially anything abrasive. You don’t want soap and water anywhere near that precious leather. Dried water stains are notoriously difficult and time-consuming to remove.

Products designed for leather will do a better job and the results will last longer. A clean damp, not wet, cloth will do for interim cleaning and to wipe away spillages but for best results use a suitable product.

If any damage to the leather is found, a tear say, it should be fixed immediately, otherwise it will only get worse. It is possible to do a good DIY repair but that’s the subject of a different article.


The first step is to give those seats a thorough vacuuming, using the tools to access difficult areas, getting into the crevices.


Any surface will attract dirt so it is best not to leave it until it is actually visible. Good leather will crease and age in use, something that is not unattractive, but does make it easier for dirt to lurk.

If in doubt, first do a ‘spot’ test on a less visible area to ensure the cleaner is compatible; otherwise do what it says on the tin. Apply the product sparingly to the cloth and wipe across the seat. Go for as even a spread as possible and work on small areas at a time to avoid the product drying. To deal with any stubborn stains or marks use a very soft brush to gently work the product into the material. Harder brushes may mark the leather or scrape the colour.

Top Tip: Put the cleaning product directly onto a clean cloth, not straight onto the leather, especially on seats with perforations. That’s the way to avoid overspray and product seeping inside the seats. Microfibre cloths are the most suitable, being non-abrasive with the ability to trap dirt in the fibres. Rough household cloths or towels may mark the material.

The Finishing Touch

Buff the seats and allow to air-dry when done and you’re all set. The seats will be cleaner and smell better, the product nourishing the leather.

Protective leather coating

For a professional detail there is a further step that’s worth taking, applying a protective coating. This is a job that needs absolute care and attention to detail but it is truly worthwhile. The application of a leather-specific coating will last for a long time and will not only protect against stains, liquid ingress and the fading effect of sunlight but will also make routine cleaning a whole lot easier. A good product will allow the leather to ‘breathe’ and feel natural in use.

How To Seal Leather Car Seats

Follow the vacuuming and cleaning regime as outlined above so that the seats are completely clean and dry. It is recommended that a mask is worn during this operation.

This process requires the user to follow the instructions supplied exactly. This is not a time for short cuts. Apply the product sparingly and evenly using the applicator provided. Then leave to fully dry.

There is no doubt that leather car seats hold a lot of traditional appeal and, looked after properly, will last a long time, ageing gracefully. Modern 21st Century production methods mean that care of leather is not as onerous as it once was; the fabric being factory treated. That said, the hide used is thinner than of old so it makes sense to keep it fresh and looking its best for longer. Come resale time you will be glad you did.

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