Should You Cover Leather Car Seats?

Leather seats are a fantastic feature in a vehicle because they are generally easy to maintain, and a lot of people agree that they look nicer than cloth. If you recently purchased a vehicle with leather seats or just researching for a car you already own, you may be wondering how to properly care for your leather seats. Mainly, do my leather seats need to be covered? We've researched this to help you provide the best care for your car's leather interior.

While you can certainly purchase seat covers for your vehicle to cover the leather, it really isn't necessary in most cases. The leather on the seats in your vehicle is durable and will last a long time if you simply care for it properly. 

Keep reading to find the answer to some of the most asked questions when it comes to caring for the leather on your vehicle's seats. In this article, we discuss protecting your seats from UV rays and other weather conditions. Next, we look at how to soften tough leather, how to keep your leather seats from getting sticky, and things to keep off your leather seats. Finally, we cover how often to condition leather car seats. 

Leather seats in a typical everyday use car, Should You Cover Leather Car Seats?

Can Leather Seats be Covered?

As stated above, covering your vehicle's leather seats with seat covers is always an option. Most people opt against this as leather is easy to care for and provides such a classy look in a vehicle when maintained properly.

However, if you have purchased a used vehicle and the leather is beyond repair, your best bet economically may be to cover the seats with purchased covers rather than paying to fix or replace the current seats.

Should you Use a Seat Protector Underneath a Child's Car Seat?

To coincide with the previous topic of seat covers, you may wonder if you should purchase a seat protector to lessen the wear and tear of a car seat against the leather interior.

While this may help protect your vehicle's leather seats, many car seats actually cannot function properly when used in conjunction with a seat protector. Please reference your car seat instruction manual to find out if you can use a seat protector. 

Interior of a luxurious car with leather car seats and gorgeous lining on the dashboard

What's a Simple Way to Care for Leather Seats?

There are a few ways to care for leather, most of which we discuss in further detail below. However, perhaps the easiest way to maintain the appearance of your leather seats is to wipe the seats down with leather wipes weekly.

Although you should do this method in addition to conditioning, it should take place more often to keep up with the leather between use of the conditioner. Regular wipe-downs will also help against things that have been spilled on your seats. 

Try these Meguiar's Leather Wipes available on Amazon.

An important note: The best way to go about vehicle leather care is to start from the beginning of ownership and maintain a routine with wipe-downs and conditioning rather than waiting until your leather is already showing signs of wear and tear. Not only will this help keep up the appearance of your car interior, but it will also help the smell and even the vehicle's value. 

Does Leather Need UV Protection? 

In order to last and hold its appearance, leather does require a little bit of protection from the elements. Although the changes would be gradual, exposure to the sun's UV rays will eventually fade and potentially crack seats over time due to drying out the oils naturally found in leather.

To prevent this, you just need to condition your leather seats with the proper product. 

Try this leather cleaner and conditioner duo from Chemical Guys, available on Amazon.

If you live in a warm climate, you may opt for a sun shade that goes over your windshield to keep your car's interior cool and reduce the exposure of your leather to the sun.

If you are looking for a windshield cover, try this UV blocking shield on Amazon.

How do you Soften Leather Car Seats?

Over time, leather can become tough and hard, especially if it's been neglected. A good way to soften hard leather is to use leather conditioner.

The process of conditioning your seats should feel different than just wiping them down with leather wipes. Follow our simple guide below on how to use a leather conditioner and always reference the directions of the product you are using for clarity on instructions pertaining to the exact formula you are using. 

How to Use Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Properly:

  1. Apply the cleaning product onto a soft-bristled cleaning brush 
  2. Massage the product into the seat --be sure to get all the cracks and crevices
  3. Wipe the cleaner off gently with a microfiber towel
  4. Apply the conditioner with a microfiber applicator

If conditioning for softness, check back in a few days once the conditioner has been absorbed to see if the seat has softened. If not, you can repeat this process. Be careful to not use too much product. If overused, the conditioner will not be able to absorb fully and the seat will appear wet and sticky.

You'll find this brush works well, specifically suited for leather. Try it, from Amazon.

These microfiber applicators by Chemical Guys are handy for automotive detailing. Try them, from Amazon.

How do you keep leather seats from getting sticky?

Leather vehicle seats can become sticky for a number of reasons --things like body sweat or spills from drinks can dry on your leather and make them feel sticky. Luckily, it's an easy fix.

You can remove sticky spots on leather by cleaning with lukewarm water and mild soap. Do not use dish soap. Rub the mixture onto the sticky spot and then wipe it dry with a separate cloth. 

Brown leather seats in a luxurious high end car

What Should you Not Put on a Leather Car Seat?

Leather is generally durable by nature, think horse saddles, chaps, boots, and other leather items. All of those products are made of leather and built to take a beating. They can also last an extremely long time with the proper care.

Car seat leather is no different. Along with proper care and cleaning, you should consider not using wax-based products, or petroleum-based products on your leather seats. Hard bristle brushes are also a no-no when it comes to maintaining leather. Read below for more dos and don'ts of leather care.

A few things to remember it comes to caring for your leather seats:

  • Vacuum your seats prior to cleaning or conditioning to remove all debris.
  • Always remove or wipe your products dry with a separate cloth or applicator, do not let a wet product dry on the seat on its own. 
  • Don't apply or spray any products directly on the seat. Always use some sort of applicator.
  • Research products thoroughly to learn what you are putting onto your leather and follow the directions on the product for best results. 

How Often Should you Condition Leather Car Seats?

Generally speaking, it's best practice to condition the leather seats in your vehicle about once a month. Maintaining this practice will keep your leather looking fantastic and feeling soft and smooth for many many years.

Please note that this is just a general guide. The best point of reference on how often to condition your vehicle's seats will be the directions on the bottle of conditioner you've chosen to use. Commercial leather cleaners have been recommended above, but if you are looking for a clean, DIY formula, check out Simply Natural Hack's article on how to make your own leather cleaner and conditioner. 

Can you Condition Leather too Much?

To follow up on our last topic of conditioning, it's important to note that it is possible to over condition leather, both by frequency and volume.

If you are putting too much conditioner on your seats, or even conditioning them too often, your leather will not be able to properly absorb the oils as it will already be saturated. Therefore, it is key to follow the directions on the bottle of conditioner that you are using as to how much you use and how often you condition. 

Final Remarks

To sum up the article, leather seats do not need to be completely covered. However, they do need to be cared for. If you take care of the leather seats in your vehicle, they will look great for a very long time.

Using a quality leather softener will defend against most of the issues you will see that leather faces over time- cracking and hardening due to long-term use, fading and cracking from UV exposure, the sticky-ness from spills, etc. Invest in a good leather conditioner and use it routinely as directed. 

For other related topics, check out the following articles:

How to Condition Leather Car Seats Naturally

How to Repair Leather Car Seats

How to Clean Leather Car Seats [A Step-by-Step Guide]

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