How to Clean Your Car's Leather Seats

Your car's leather seats may look good and elegant when brand new, but maintaining it becomes a bit more challenging the more it gets old and worn down.

Most car leather seats, particularly those that were made a decade or two, have added protective coatings to make them more durable and resistant to wear-and-tear. Cleaning them regularly can help make them last much longer. Still, this coating will eventually wear out, but the rule remains the same: Keep your leather clean before you add anything else.

Keep These In Mind First

Here are some things you should know before you start cleaning:

Tip #1. The best cleaners are those that are specifically made for leather seats. If you're scrimping pesos, you can actually use laundry detergent or vinegar to effectively clean your leather.

Detergent Solution

For a detergent solution, you can fill a spray bottle with warm water plus a rounded teaspoon of detergent. Spray them on the seats, lightly scrub, and rinse with warm water. Make sure to dry the seats thoroughly.

Vinegar Solution

For a vinegar solution, get a spray bottle and fill three-quarters full with vinegar. Add in warm water to fill the bottle up. You can make this solution more effective if you combine one part white vinegar with 2 parts linseed oil in a bottle. Spray it on the seats, but maintain a distance of around 20-25 cm. Lightly rub the solution using a good microfiber or chamois. Then, spray warm water to rinse it. Wipe it until dry.

Tip #2. Go easy with your cleaning products. Not only is it a waste of money, but adding too much can weaken its elasticity or strength in the long run.

Tip #3. Don’t use silicone, petroleum-based solvents or distillates, and vinyl cleaners if you don’t want them to look too shiny. You should also avoid cleaning products that contain lotion and wax, since they can fill in those small, thin crevices and holes on your perforated leather and be visible when the leather dries up.

Tip #4. Check out your car’s manual for possible suggestions on how to clean your leather seats.

Tip #5. When in doubt, test the solution first on a small area that can't be seen visibly. When you see the color fade or stain, then discontinue using the cleaning solution.

Tip #6. Try to clean your seats every month, or around twice per month if your leather is beige, white, or light-colored.

How to Clean and Condition Your Car's Leather Seats

Step 1: Vacuum your seats. Not only can they provide fast and easy cleaning, but they are effective in reaching those hard-to-get places easily.

Step 2: Get rid of external grime by wiping them off with commercial cleaners or the DIY cleaning solution hacks we mentioned earlier.

Step 3: For stubborn dirt, use a soft-bristled brush and scrub it using your cleaning solution.

Step 4: Wipe the seats dry.

Step 5: Condition your vehicle using a water-based, PH-neutral conditioner. Conditioners help add in natural oils in the leather. This prevents cracks from forming, so your leather lasts a longer time. Try to invest in a good product, and avoid those with waxes, silicones, and petroleum distillates. Again, make sure to do a spot test before you apply it on the seats.

Step 6: Use a sponge or microfiber to massage the conditioner into the leather. Make sure to use only small amounts—we don't want the leather to appear too shiny.

Step 7: Give ample time for it to be absorbed. Park it in a shade or garage for 10-12 hour, or ideally an entire day so the seats are completely dry/buffed when you use it. This makes your leather look almost brand-new again.