The Best Way to Clean Leather Car Seats
June 30th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
Who doesn’t love leather car seats? They add style and class to the interior of your vehicle, and they look and feel luxurious.
However, leather car seats come with strings attached. If you neglect them, it becomes apparent very fast. Dust and dirt are frequent culprits, and forgetting to condition your leather seat can cause them, over time, to harden and crack.
So, they require a little more work than regular car seats, but they are worth it. Maintaining leather seats in their very best condition will make them look good, make you feel good, and may even boost your car’s resale value.
Here is the best way to clean leather car seats in 7 simple steps:
Step 1: Inspect for holes
If you have perforated leather car seats, or if they are scratched and nicked up, liquid cleaning products could seep inside the holes and damage your leather seats.
If you spot holes, don’t spray cleaner directly on the seats. Instead, squirt some cleaner onto a bristle brush and use it to clean the leather. When finished, dry the seat with a microfiber cloth.
If the cleaner does accidentally get into any holes, quickly dry them out using a hairdryer and dry cloth.
Step 2: Vacuum
It is very important to vacuum away any dirt and other debris before you start wiping the seats. If you don’t get rid of the grit first, any dirt that attaches to the cloth when you wipe, could scratch the seats.
As you vacuum your leather car seats, use the suction hose to get at hard-to-access cracks and crevices. Be extra careful that the vacuum itself doesn’t scratch your seats.
Step 3: Clean dirt and stains the vacuum couldn’t get
Check the surface of your seats. If you haven’t cleaned them for a while, you might see a layer of dirt and grime that has accumulated over time. How to remove stains from leather car seats?
You can either buy a leather cleaner at the store, or make one yourself by mixing 1 part vinegar and 2 parts linseed oil in a bowl or bottle. Spray the cleaner onto a dry towel and gently rub it over the seats. Rinse the cloth and repeat the process until the spots disappear. Let the area dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
For deeply embedded stains, spray a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush with the cleaner, and gently scrub the leather to remove any hard-to-get-at dirt. Make sure not to spray the seats directly, especially if there are any holes it could seep into.
Removing stains from leather car seats is really that easy! But be sure not to overdo it with the cleaner – when used too much, the moisture could soak into the seats and cause an odor and mold to form. To learn how to get smell out of leather seats, scroll down below.
Step 4: Do a wipe-down
Use a clean and dry microfiber cloth to remove any residue leftover from the leather cleaner and any remaining dirt.
Step 5: Apply conditioner
Why conditioner? Over time, leather can become dry and even cracked, usually because it loses some of its natural oils. Regular conditioning adds moisture, restores its essential oils and vibrancy, and helps prevent cracks in the leather.
Since the whole point of the conditioner is to replenish the leather’s natural oils, get a high-quality, water-based conditioner that does not contain chemicals like petroleum distillates.
Here are the instructions on how to condition leather car seats:
Start by applying a small amount as a spot test. The idea here is to make sure the cleaner doesn’t discolor or stain your seats, so find a part of your car that is less visible, just in case. Gently rub it in with a microfiber cloth.
If your test-run works as planned, apply the conditioner evenly into your seats, according to the product instructions. Pour a small amount onto a dry cloth; don’t be too generous with it, as doing so will leave a wet, greasy residue over your seats. Use the cloth to gently massage the conditioner into the leather seats.
Step 6: Let the conditioner soak in
When finished, put your car in the shade, so sunlight doesn’t interfere with the conditioner. Leave it there for at least an hour, if not longer – even overnight – so the conditioner has time to soak in.
Step 7: Final wipe down
Use a microfiber cloth to buff the seats, making sure to wipe off any residue from the conditioner.
Learning how to condition leather car seats is that simple!
How to clean white leather
White leather can be cleaned with liquid or non-liquid cleaners. You can make a liquid solution yourself by mixing one part mild soap with 8-parts warm water, then spraying the solution on any stains, and using a cloth to gently rub the area. Non-liquid cleaners include cornstarch or saddle soap.
How to get smell out of leather seats
Learning how to get smell out of leather seats is not that hard. An odor emanating from your leather seats means bacteria is growing. To kill the bacteria and remove the smell, you can buy leather cleaner at the store and apply it to the area in question.
Alternatively, you can create your own solution by combining one part white vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle. Spraying the source gives you more precision, so you don’t soak the seat. After spraying the spot, let it sit for five minutes, then wipe off any remaining residue. If the odor remains, repeat the steps until it’s gone.
By the way, steam cleaning is another good option that won’t harm your leather seats.
The more time dirt has to build up and accumulate, the harder it is to clean. To look its best, leather upholstery needs plenty of TLC on a consistent basis. Regular cleaning and conditioning will help keep your car’s leather seats soft and luxurious for many years to come.
The key is to establish a regular cleaning routine; make sure you calendar it, so you don’t forget.
- Lightly clean your leather seats every month.
- Wipe down your seats with a damp (not soaked) cloth whenever you wash your car.
- Deep clean and condition them three to four times a year.
- If you have silver- or white-colored leather seats, you should check them for dirt buildup and clean them more frequently than dark-colored leather seats.
What not to do
Now that you know how to condition leather car seats, just be careful not to over-condition them. A few times a year is sufficient.
Before you clean or apply any products, don’t forget to consult your vehicle owner’s manual. It may include specific instructions on how to clean your leather car seats.
Avoid using chemical-based household cleaners on your leather seats. Instead of preserving your beautiful leather seats, chemicals can stain them, create fading or cracking, and erode their protective coating.
When cleaning your leather seats, don’t use objects that could scratch or cut them. A soft-bristled brush or toothbrush is recommended.
Save your Windex for your car windows. It is not suitable for your leather seats, as its ingredients could dry out the leather and cause discoloration.
To recap, in this blog we explored the best way to clean leather car seats, how to remove stains from leather car seats, how to get smell out of leather seats, and how to condition leather car seats.
It doesn’t take much physical exertion to clean your leather car seats, but just remember, if you want to keep them soft and smooth, cleaning them on a regular basis is essential.
If you give them plenty of love – vacuuming them, removing surface dirt, and cleaning and conditioning the seats consistently – they will keep their good looks for many years to come.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Mount Vernon a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing customers in Mount Vernon, Washington as well as Skagit County neighborhood.
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