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How to Clean Leather Seats in Seven Simple Steps

how to clean leather seats
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Cleaning Your Vehicle’s Leather Seats Is a Beginner Level Task You Can Complete in Less Than an Hour. Here is Everything You Need to Know to Clean Leather Seats Successfully at Home.

Leather seats provide a luxurious aesthetic for your car. For most people, they are more practical, durable, and stylish than vinyl or cloth seats. However, your car’s leather seats can dry, crack, and lose their classiness if they aren’t well-maintained.

Whether you spilled your morning coffee, camped out in a rugged, dusty location, or visited an ultra-sandy beach, cleaning your car’s leather should be a priority. It’s also important to know when to clean your leather seats and the right products to use. In this post, we will cover all you need to know about how to clean leather seats, including a step-by-step guide.

What Does Cleaning Leather Seats Involve?

Cleaning your vehicle’s leather seats begins with an inspection for holes, perforations, or any other damage. Leather seat cleaning also involves vacuuming to remove dust and wiping the material with leather cleaner to keep it smooth and supple.

Is It Safe To Clean Your Vehicle’s Leather Seats?

It’s perfectly safe to clean your leather seats yourself. Use a high-quality vacuum to collect dust. Most of the products you will use to wipe and clean the seats should be eco-friendly to protect the material from damage, discoloration, or scratching. Be sure to consult your vehicle’s manual before you buy cleaning products.

How Often Should You Clean Your Vehicle’s Leather Seats?

How often you clean the leather seats depends on how you use the vehicle. If you use the car for your daily commute, you may want to clean the leather seats every two weeks. If your vehicle spends many hours in the sun, consider applying conditioner to protect the vulnerable leather from drying and cracking. If you rarely use the car, you can clean your leather seats every three months.

What Are the Signs You Need To Clean Your Vehicle’s Leather Seats?

Leather is susceptible to everyday wear and tear and damage from exposure to elements, especially the sun. Knowing when it’s time to clean can help keep the material soft, shiny, and luxurious. Some of the signs that you need to clean your leather seat include:

  • Your car is full of food crumbs and liquid marks
  • You drive on a highly dusty road
  • The vehicle spends most of its time in a sunny, open space
  • The seats feel sticky with grease and grime
  • Your manual provides a specific timeline
  • You haven’t cleaned the seats in three months

Keep In Mind

Cleaning your vehicle’s leather seats isn’t a complex task, especially if you do it regularly. However, for extremely dirty seats, consider seeking professional help. An experienced car-cleaning company has the tools and technology to deep clean your car and remove all the dirt in your car’s interior, including the hard-to-reach areas around the leather seats.

Check your manual for the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning schedule and products for your make and model.

How To Clean Leather Seats

Here are steps you can take to clean your car’s leather seats:

Step 1: Check for damage or holes in the seats

Before you start cleaning, check the seats for any perforations or damages, such as tears, scratches, or holes. If there are any, be extra cautious when working on those areas to prevent liquid cleaning products from seeping into the inner foam and damaging it.

Step 2: Vacuum the dirt and debris from the leather seats

Use your vacuum cleaner to get rid of all the dirt and debris on the seats. Any dirt or dry food particles can scratch the seats as you wipe them off. Be careful not to scratch the seats with the vacuum itself.

Step 3: Conduct a spot test

If you’re using a leather cleaner for the first time, it’s essential to do a spot test to make sure the cleaner will not damage the leather. Apply a small amount on a hidden part of the seat and check for problems like melting and fizzing. If any discoloration or other problems occur, stop until you get a different type of leather cleaner. Otherwise, proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Clean the dirt, stains, and grime the vacuum couldn’t remove

Most dirt and grime may not come out when you vacuum the seats. Spray a microfiber towel with leather cleaner and gently wipe the dirt away. Avoid spraying the seats directly, especially if there are holes, to prevent the cleaner from seeping into the leather material.

Step 5: Deep clean the car seat with a brush and leather cleaner

Cover the holes, tears, or scratches if there are any. Spray the cleaner on the seats and gently scrub the stains with a soft-bristle brush. Avoid scrubbing aggressively to prevent damage, and avoid too much cleaner as it can saturate the seats and cause foul odors or mold growth.

Step 6: Wipe the seats clean

Wipe away the cleaner and dirt with a semi-dry microfiber cloth, then use a dry one to completely dry the seats. Leave no residue to avoid smells and prevent cracking and warping of the leather material.

Step 7: Apply leather conditioner

Leather can become dry and crack as it usually loses some of its natural oils. Conditioning helps add moisture and restores lost essential oils, which helps prevent cracks. Get a high-quality water-based leather conditioner that doesn’t contain petroleum distillates. Begin by checking if the conditioner is safe to use. Put an adequate amount on your microfiber cloth and rub the product gently onto the leather in a circular motion. Avoid using too much, as it can make the seats wet and greasy. Buff the extra conditioner using a clean, dry microfiber cloth, then let your vehicle sit.

Still Need Help?

Need help cleaning your leather seats, a repair, or an expert guide to purchasing cleaning materials? Get all the answers to your car-related questions anytime by joining our FIXD Mechanic Hotline, available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Disclaimer: The guidelines in this article are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual, repair guide, or a professional before attempting repairs.

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.

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About the Author

FIXD Research Team

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

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