Nothing screams “luxury” better than leather. Whether you have a high-end sports car or a cheap and humble sedan, leather seats never fail to take your car interior up a notch. Just think about the look, the feel, and the scent of it that can effortlessly make a simple car look upscale.
The only challenge is that leather car seats can be a little tricky to clean and maintain.
If you’re looking for the best advice for cleaning and maintaining your leather car seats and car seat covers, you’re on the right page. Follow these steps to have a showroom-perfect leather car upholstery.
1. Identify the type of leather and care instructions
Before trying out a cool cleaning lifehack you saw online, consult your car manual for the specific instructions on how to properly care for your leather upholstery. You may also see the products to avoid.
Four major types of leather are commonly used in car seats are Aniline, Semi-Aniline, Full-Grain, and Corrected Grain leather. Most manufacturers disclose the type of leather used in the seats. To identify them yourself, have a quick test by adding a drop of water on your seat.
- Aniline (finest leather) – absorbs water as soon as it gets contact with the surface
- Semi-aniline – takes a little longer to absorb
- Pigmented leathers, like full-grain and corrected gran – will allow the water to slide.
2. Inspect your car seats
Also, see if your car seats and car seat covers have any pierced or perforated areas. If so, try not to get water, cleanser, and leather conditioner stuck down into the holes.
3. Use a vacuum
Vacuuming helps get rid of accumulated dust, which serves as an abrasive between the ridges of your upholstery or car seat cover. Use a vacuum hose and attachment to suck up any big particles of dirt. Do it with extreme care to avoid scratching the leather.
4. Pick the best cleaning product
Clean leather seats with household products
- If you’re looking to use a household cleaning agent with no abrasive chemicals, experts suggest this go-to combo: vinegar and water.
- For the solution, mix three parts white vinegar and one part water. Spray it onto the surface and wipe it off with a microfiber towel.
Clean leather seats with commercial products
- Not a believer of the tried and tested home remedy? You can always rely on an all-purpose cleaner or a special cleaning solution for leather.
Tip: Don’t forget to do a spot test. Find a hard-to-see area from your seat and spray a little solution. Clean it with a towel. Observe to make sure it does its job without damaging your upholstery and/or car seat cover.
Whatever product you use, never let a solution dry up.All the dirt lies in the solution after you scrub. By letting it dry, you allow the solution to sink back into your upholstery. That said, every time you scrub each section, make sure to wipe it off with a microfiber towel.
5. Use three levels of cleaning
Start with the least aggressive method to the most aggressive one.
Level 1: Light cleaning
- This is the least aggressive method. Here, you’ll only need a cleaning solution of your choice (vinegar solution, all-purpose cleaner, or designated leather cleaner) and a microfiber towel.
- Spray the solution onto the dirty surface and wipe it off with a towel using light to moderate pressure.
- It’s recommended to do this every month.
Level 2: Deep cleaning
- If the above method wasn’t enough, use a brush to deep-clean the leather.
- Spray the cleaner onto your seats and use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the leather gently. Use circular motions when scrubbing.
- If you have perforated seats, avoid spraying the cleaner directly onto the seats. Instead, spray it onto the brush or towel and use it to clean the surface. Wipe dry with a microfiber cloth.
Level 3: Steam cleaning
If the above methods didn’t work, it’s time to get a steamer. It works better than warm water, as it exfoliates the seat.
Spray some solution on the area. Put a microfiber towel over the steamer and use that cloth to clean the seat, wiping it in moderate pressure.
6. Condition your seats
Leather conditioning helps keep your car seats from stiffing. It will also preserve the color of your upholstery.
Before applying a leather conditioner, make sure the surface is all dried out. You may air out your seats overnight if needed. Once the seats are dry, put conditioner onto the surface and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
Don’t go cheap on your leather conditioner. Pick one that’s water-based and pH neutral. It shouldn’t also contain petroleum distillates, silicone, or waxes. Cheap conditioners tend to cling to the leather and have a greasy finish.
Protecting your leather car seats is key for healthy, luxurious-looking car seats.
If you want to retain the quality in the long run, it’s recommended to lightly clean your seats every month and deep clean it 3-4 times a year. Additionally, condition your seat every 3-5 weeks, especially if you want to prevent cracks and damage.
You should also refrain from exposing your car to direct sunlight, as it fades the color of your seat, damages the material, and makes it stiff. If possible, park your car in a garage or under the shade.
Author Bio: Mina Natividad is one of the daytime writers for TuffSeat Car Seat Covers, a leading supplier of genuine accessory seat covers to the Australian car market, offering vehicle-specific covers for top brands including. Toyota, Holden, Ford, Mitsubishi, Hino, Fuso, Isuzu Trucks, and more. She loves writing about automobiles, travel, and lifestyle.