Do Leather Car Seats Need Conditioning?

Leather seats make a great addition to the overall look of a car. They look beautiful and offer more comfort than other seating. In some instances, it can hold up better than other car seat materials. But, some may wonder if leather upholstery requires maintenance. More specifically, if you're wondering if leather car seats need conditioning; we've found the answer! 

The debate of leather car seats needing conditioning can be a confusing one. Some claim you won't need it because of the protective coating manufacturers use to treat the seats. Others will claim it makes a difference when you condition seats regularly. The actual recommendation is that your car seat won't need conditioning until after three years. Once it's older than three years, you will need regular conditioning to keep the leather in good shape. 

As you might have noticed searching online, there are so many conflicting arguments in the debate of conditioning leather car seats. Even with the answer above, there still might be some doubt. So, we'll need to explain things in detail to get you more comfortable with maintaining a leather car seat. Additionally, you might want to learn about other protective measures to keep them looking as good as new. If you'd like to learn this and more, keep reading ahead.

Black leather seat of a vehicle, Do Leather Car Seats Need Conditioning?

Investigating the Claims on Leather Seats

Let's first take a look at the claims that people make concerning conditioning on leather car seats. The first claim you might run into is that leather car seats don't need a conditioner. They won't need it because manufacturers apply a protective coating that is non-porous and holds an impenetrable barrier. 

So, if you were to apply a conditioner, it won't reach the leather that it's supposed to liven up. Instead, it will rest and smother the protective coating of the seat.

New leather seat in car

The Second Claim

The second claim is that you should use conditioner on leather seats routinely. Regardless of how brand new the seating is, using conditioner on it won't hurt. You would condition the seats every 2-6 months. It all depends on how active you are in using your vehicle. 

If you have kids or own pets, you need to use a conditioner on the seats every three months. Additionally, if there's excessive sunlight exposure on them, you would need to condition them sooner. Meaning, you would apply conditioner every two months. 

However, if you use your vehicle irregularly, you only need to use a conditioner every six months. So, as you can see, it all depends on your situation. 

Looking for an In-between

While it's true that modern leather car seats are coated with a protective layer, does that mean they wouldn't need a conditioner? Conversely, do you need to apply conditioner regularly? As it turns out, there's a silver lining to the debate. 

Yes, leather interiors contain a coating that helps prevent the leather from cracking or wearing out too quickly. However, like most coatings, they tend to wear out over time. So, what does this mean for you?

It means you will have to put in a bit more effort after the coating isn't as resistant as before. Only then would regular use of a conditioner be necessary. Now, let's put it all together.

Leather Seat Maintenance

So, if your leather car seat is relatively new, the protective coating will still be sufficient enough. As one user suggests, ColourLock has the details for what it takes to keep leather seats in their top shape. From the suggestions of CoulorLock, leather seating won't need conditioning if it's less than three years old. 

Instead, for newer seating, simple cleaning and applying an extra protection product will be enough. The protection product will serve as a way to prevent discoloration and abrasion damage. From here, the product will need to be reapplied every three months. 

For leather seating older than three years old, the need for a conditioner will be a requirement. At this age, the protective coating won't be as effective. So, the leather underneath will start showing signs of wearing out. If you want to keep the seats in the best condition, you'll need to provide regular cleaning, conditioning, and protection every 6-12 months. 

If you'd like to take a look at what the manufacturer recommends, here's a YouTube video of them briefly covering what they do to their seats: 


What To Make of It

Of course, this is only a guideline of how it should work. There are no answers set in stone. It will take some experience on your behalf to establish a routine where your seating will look the best. Everyone doesn't have the same conditions. So, you'll have to see what works and what doesn't. 

If you see cracks developing or it doesn't look as good as it used to, it could indicate that you need to use a conditioner. 

How To Protect Leather Car Seats From Stains

As mentioned above, protective coating is a product you will need to protect your seats from stains. It should be helpful in all stages of a leather seat's lifespan. If it's less than three years old, a cleaning and protective coating are all you'll need to keep the seats looking good as new. 

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

For three years and older, you will need a routine cleaning, conditioning, and coating. As you can see, the protective coating is necessary regardless of age. It helps keep the seating stain-resistant. 

Click here to see this leather protectant on Amazon.

Still, if you plan on applying the protective layer yourself, do so with caution. If you don't know what you're doing, you can easily damage or stain the leather. It's best to leave this to professionals. 

Nevertheless, here's a YouTube video showing the process of applying one: 


For the results of the coating, here's an additional video:


How Do You Keep Leather Car Seats From Cracking?

The next concern for many leather seat owners is cracking. How can someone prevent this from happening? You can do so with a few steps.

Minimize Sunlight Exposure

Overexposure to sunlight results in premature aging, drying, and cracking. Think of it like you would your own skin. The crucial factor here would be damage from ultraviolet rays. To minimize exposure, use window screens or shields when parking in a sunny area. 

Be Mindful of What Goes In Your Car

Although cars are the ultimate tool for convenience, it doesn't mean just about everything can go in there. With leather seats, you'll have to be more considerate if you're carrying cumbersome or sharp items.

For cumbersome objects, check to see if they can fit in the trunk first. If that's not possible, place protective padding over the seat before settling it down. 


Of course, making sure to keep up with maintaining the seats will prevent cracking. So, you don't want to let too much dirt build up. Additionally, if you drive regularly, your seating likely gets a lot of sun exposure.

So, you might need to use a conditioner on the seat to keep it from getting dry. Applying a protective coating will also slow down drying and the aging process. 

Does Heat Ruin Leather Car Seats?

Damaged car leather seat

Heat, like sunlight, does have the potential to ruin a leather car seat. If you have heated car seating, some suggest it's fine to use it. The only downside is that it will slowly age the leather. Still, it's not as bad as the heat coming from sunlight. 

As suggested above, if you're parking in a sunlit area, use window screens or shields. Additionally, if you must have heated seating, try to avoid using the highest setting. Leather will be able to handle moderate heat better. 

All in all, it's best to avoid too much heat in general. So, if you can do without heated seats, the leather might hold up for longer. 

How Do You Keep Leather Seats From Getting Hot?

Apart from using window screens/shields, there are other methods for keeping the heat away from your leather seats. If you want more options to prevent them from getting hot, you can: 

  • Avoid sunlit areas.
  • Use seat covers.
  • Alternatively, you can cover your seat with fabric if you can't use a seat cover. 
  • Use the air conditioner when necessary. 
  • Leave the windows slightly open. 

Are Leather Seats Hard To Maintain?

Leather car seats close up

Although leather is one of the more durable materials to go with, it does come with its fair share of responsibilities. As you might have noticed above, they require a lot of attention to detail and care to maintain. When you don't know how to care for a leather seat, you might ruin it when following the best practices for sustaining them. 

For this reason, some would recommend leaving it to a professional to apply a protective coating to the seats. The reason being, that if you don't know how to do it correctly, you might end up with stains and cracks where there shouldn't be. So, while they might be appealing to the eye and comforting, you have to make sure you're up to the task of keeping them in top shape. 

Final Takeaway

While searching online, finding answers can be tricky. On the topic of leather chairs and conditioners, we'll see a lot of conflicting claims. Still, we can find a middle ground that can help us know where to start. We hope you found the information above helpful!

Before you go, do you have other leather concerns? Do you own motorcycle leathers? If you're wondering if you can dry-clean them, check out our post here for more information.

Are you thinking about purchasing another car that includes leather seats? What about a Ford Bronco? If you'd like to see your options, check out our post here to find out more. Until next time!

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *