Leather, Cloth, or Synthetic Leather: Which Should You Choose for Your Car Seats?

We don't know about you, but seat comfort is extremely important when we're choosing a car. Think of it this way: you will spend almost your entire driving life seated inside your vehicle, and if it's causing you discomfort, then it's like you're sleeping on a spiked wooden bed that's a foot shorter than you every single night.

Car comfort is essential, especially if you use your car often. Aside from good ergonomics, it also means choosing the best material for your car seats. Here's how to know which material is the best one for you.


Leather comes mainly from the skin of cows, pigs, goats, dog, cats, and sheep. They can also come from exotic animals like alligators and snakes.


  • It can "breathe," allowing for trapped gases and heat to get out faster.

  • It can stretch better, and becomes softer as you use it.

  • It has a unique smell.

  • Leather is often a sign of luxury and class.

  • Leather has good resale value.


  • It can be costly.

  • It can make scratches more visible.

  • Leather can easily be damaged by your pets.

  • More maintenance is needed.

  • It can wear out easily.

  • It can absorb heat fast, making it extremely hot during summer.

  • It's "ethically" controversial, especially for vegans who think they cause suffering to animals.

  • Leather's pores absorb liquid, so it's more difficult to clean.

Leatherette / Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather mimics the texture and appearance of leather, so it's the closest thing you can use if you can't afford to have the real deal. Whatever the case, leatherette offers many things aside from affordability, which include the following:


  • It costs significantly less than leather.

  • It can handle pets much better than real leather.

  • It's easier to maintain--just use water to wipe down dirt.

  • It's more "ethically" acceptable, since they're man-made.

  • It often has minimal or no pores, making it almost waterproof and easier to clean. (Note, however, that some top grain leather can be waterproof as well)


  • Its fibers are less stretchable, making it slower to release heat or cold gases.

  • It can be rubbery when it's hot.

  • It has less resale value compared to leather.

  • They can get brittle when exposed to fluctuating temperatures.

Cloth / Fabric

Cloth is common in car seats, simply because they're cheaper, with various styles to choose from.


  • Cheaper compared to leatherette or leather.

  • Fiber is breathable, so it doesn't get affected by changing temperature.

  • Some are waterproof and easy to clean, like nylon and vinyl.

  • It has good friction, so there is less sticking or sliding around when you sit on them.

  • You have many options to choose from, such as suede, velour, nylon, brushed nylon, faux vinyl, vinyl and polyester.

  • Some are pet-friendly, like nylon.

  • Some are flame-retardant, like Alcantara (also called micro suede or ultra-suede)


  • Some are not pet-friendly, and can easily attract dirt and stains (particularly suede or micro-suede).

  • Vinyl can easily absorb heat fast, so much so that it can be extremely uncomfortable to sit on.

  • Generally, cloth / fabric can stain much easily.

  • Most of them can easily absorb odors, especially strong ones like cigarette smoke.


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