Having leather car seats look great, but they can be a struggle to clean if you haven't done it before and simply don't know what will work on them. You don't want to ruin them by using products that you aren't supposed to, so we researched the best ways to keep your leather seat mess-free while keeping the leather from being damage and keeping it nice and smooth and offer some tips and tricks below.
Here are the basic steps for cleaning car leather seats -
- Choose leather-specific products that won’t be too harsh and damage or darken the leather.
- Vacuum away any larger particles before you begin scrubbing.
- Use a microfiber towel to layer on the cleaner and wipe all of the leather surfaces.
- If necessary, take a delicate brush (horsehair brushes work great) and scrub the cleaner into the seat.
- Use another microfiber towel at the end of the process to dry it.
All of this information can be too much at once for a new leather seat owner, but we go into great detail about this cleaning process in the rest of this article. So, don’t worry! Keep reading, and we will break down the steps of the process and offer up some professional tips and tricks to get your seats as clean as possible.
Before you continue reading, let us say we hope you find the links here useful. If you purchase something through a link on this page, we may get a commission, so thank you!
How Do You Clean Leather Car Seats?
This question was answered briefly above, but for someone who has yet to clean their leather seats, this might seem more complicated than it is. So, we will break down the steps to take and offer tips on how to go about it to get the best look.
First, you need to get rid of the large pieces of dirt, dust, or food crumbs off the seat. When you open your car door, the wind can blow in all kinds of debris, and even leaves and dirt can cause some damage. So, get rid of all of it by vacuuming the seats thoroughly, making sure to get into the cracks of the seat to get everything.
Wipe Seats with a Specialized Cleaner
Next, you want to focus on the care of the leather by getting a chemical or all-natural cleaner that works for leather. There are some on the market, like Meguiar's Leather Cleaner that is specially designed to clean leather without damaging it and creates a supple feeling by conditioning it in the process.
Products like these are the ones that you should look for, so you preserve the leather for long-lasting use.
All-Natural Leather Cleaners
Now, if you want to use all-natural ingredients instead of chemicals cleaners, then you can opt for making your mixture at home. This is a wonderful option for those who have children in the house and don’t want to keep harmful chemicals in the home that they may get their hands on. If you're going to go the natural route, then here’s what you do:
- Clean out an empty spray bottle from another cleaner; it should be a natural one if possible, then let dry.
- Mix two parts white vinegar with one part water and linseed oil into the spray bottle and shake it until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
- Saturate the seats with the new mixture and use a cloth to rub in the cleaner.
If you choose to go with a homemade option, then you can also select an essential oil fragrance to add to the cleaner that can help cover up the poignant smell of the vinegar. Packets like Lagunamoon sets come with multiple oil fragrances that you can with mix choices like lavender and eucalyptus so you can have a fresh scent after you’ve finished.
Next, you want to use your cleaner spray and saturate the seat with the mixture or leather cleaner of your choice. You will want to have microfiber cloths on hand for this part, and you will take the fabric and wipe the cleaner so that it is spread on every inch of the leather seat.
Scrub Seats with a Soft Bristle Brush
Then, you will take a brush with soft bristles – which is essential so that you don’t scratch the leather surface – and scrub the cleaner into the seat. This will allow the cleaner to help bring the dirt from the seat up to the surface. You will want to scrub the entire seat in a circular motion to get the most dirt out as you can.
Wipe Clean with Microfiber Cloth
Finally, once you have sufficiently scrubbed down the leather car seat, you will use a new microfiber cloth to wipe away the dirt and grime from the surface of the seat. You don’t need to use any force when doing this since you already scrubbed it, so gently clean off the remaining residue. When you have wiped the whole car seat, the microfiber cloth that you used will be soiled and dark from the dirt.
This is a good sign because you can tell that the cleaner worked. That is also a good reason why you should purchase light-colored cloths, so, in the end, you can see how much dirt you got out of the seat. If the cleaner that you used didn't do much to darken the cloth with dirt, then you may have to try again and scrub for longer or consider switching to another cleaner to get better results.
Can I use water to clean leather car seats?
Although you can't clean a car seat using water alone, a mix of water with soap will get your leather seats clean. Saddle soap is a popular option to use for leather items because it is a soap that is made for leather saddles. It can be mixed with water and lathered up to clean your leather seats.
What household products can you use to clean leather?
There are a few different options that you can choose to clean the leather that you will already have in your home. Mixing water with dish soap is a good option for when you have nothing else that will work, although it is not the best overall, and adding olive oil or vinegar to the water will also help to clean and soften at the same time.
Can you use Windex on leather car seats?
Windex may be great to use around the house, but if you don’t even use it to clean bird poop off your window, then you don’t want to use it on expensive leather. Windex is a softer cleaner compared to many others, but it contains the one ingredient that you don’t want touching your leather car seats: alcohol.
Alcohol can cause the surface layer of your leather to break down the topcoat of your seat and leave it discolored, and more likely to sustain damage.
Can I use Clorox Wipes on Leather?
This answer is the same as the previous question, which is a huge, no! Clorox wipes contain alcohol that will leave your leather dulled and more brittle, just like Windex. So, these wipes should not be used on your leather seats.
Can You Use Baby Wipes on Leather?
Although baby wipes are soft and gentle enough for a baby’s bottom, that is the only place that these should be used. Baby wipes may not seem harmful, and you may not see the damage for some time, but they do also have alcohol, which will dry out and cause cracks in the leather over time.
Can You Use Armor All On Leather?
Not all armor all products are made to be used on leather, but many of them are perfectly safe to use to clean them. They even have leather wipes that you can use specifically for cleaning leather material that will also help leave your seats looking shiny and feeling softer.
Can You Use OxiClean On Leather?
OxiClean should not be used to clean the leather of your car. OxiClean may cause the leather to be more susceptible to damage by drying it out, like alcohol does, and may cause more problems over time. However, it can be used to clean the interior fabric on the car, which is a great thing to do before and after you go on a road trip.
How Do You Moisturize Leather?
Keeping leather soft and well moisturized can be done by using a leather conditioner. These conditioners are designed especially for leather material so that it soaks into the fibers and gives it strength against damage by softening the material. Products like Leather Honey can be purchased to moisturize your leather seats and will also give the surface a new shine.
How Do I Condition My Leather Car Seats Naturally?
To condition your leather seats naturally, you can use a mixture of water, vinegar, and linseed oil. You wipe this mixture lightly on with a cloth so that it is completely covered, and then let it air dry. This will soak into the seats and create the same moisturizing effect as the conditioning products.
Is Olive Oil Good For Leather Seats?
Although some oils are okay in minimal amounts when mixed with vinegar, you do not want to use olive oil on leather seats. At first, the effects will look like the oil is helping, but that is only because it is damaging the inside of the material that you can’t see. Over a length of time, the material will begin deteriorating from the inside out and cause cracks and oil spots to appear.
Is Vaseline Good For Leather?
Though it might not seem plausible, Vaseline can be used on leather seats to give them a softer texture. To use this method, you apply the Vaseline and allow it to sit and dry. Then you wipe off the remaining residue from the seat. This will help give it a shine and soften the feel of the leather too.
How to Clean Suede Car Seats
The process of cleaning suede is pretty similar to one for leather seats; however, you use a different product.
First, you clean off any debris and vacuum the seats for any large particles. Next, you want to spray a moderate amount of suede cleaner onto a microfiber cloth. Work the cleaner into the fabric gently and let it sit until dry. Lastly, you will blot the surface of the seat with a dry microfiber cloth to clean any remaining residue from the seat.
Many suede cleaners are made for shoes and will include a brush with the kit. It is not recommended to use this on suede seats because the bristles may be too rough. Because shoes don’t last as long, it doesn’t make as much of a difference with them. However, if you want to keep your car seats looking great the entire time you own it, then be gentle and use microfiber cloths.
Cleaning and maintaining your leather car seats are an essential part of keeping your vehicle looking like new. So, if its time for you to scrub your leather seats, read through this article again and get all the information you need about each step of the process.