How Do You Clean Leather Car Seats?

March 11, 2019


If you?ve landed yourself on this page voluntarily, then that must mean that you value your car a lot. You?re most likely one of those people that care a lot for his car, and we can?t blame you as these things are expensive. It?s relatively easy to clean the exterior of your car as all you need to do is wash down all of the dirt and muck that accumulates during your time on the road. Interior cleaning is a different story; however especially if your car has leather seats.

So, How do you clean leather car seats? You could clean leather car seats by using things like laundry detergent, lemon juice, cream of tartar, baking soda, and even vinegar, if used the correct way.

Leather seats are very common now, and chances are that if you?ve got a car that?s equipped with these comfortable cushions, you?re eager to ensure that it is clean at all times. Since the seat itself is covered in leather, you need to be more careful and knowledgeable as you could end up damaging that fine cover. You can?t simply patch up damages in leather seats and in most cases, you might need to get a set of new seats instead. Don?t fret though as while complicated, cleaning your leather seats is pretty doable.


Before we begin detailing some of the DIY methods for cleaning leather car seats, you first need to prepare yourself for the task at hand. First off, you will need to check if some parts of the seats are perforated. If there are perforated parts, then you need to watch out for them while cleaning as you may want to avoid letting any liquids drop down the holes. These could cause small damages from within.

Next, you?ll need to consult your car?s manuals for tips and instructions on how to clean that model?s seats. All brand new cars come with these helpful manuals. Aside from gaining insight on what you could do, you?ll also see which products or cleaning agents could possibly be used. If you use the wrong products, you may end up damaging your seats as well.

Lastly, you need to vacuum your seats to take out any small or large particles that are in it. There are many handheld vacuums solely designed for cars, and they are available in hardware stores, auto accessory shops, and even online retailers. This is a crucial process regardless of how you plan on cleaning your leather car seats as pieces of dirt, and other solid materials don?t go well with cleaning liquids.

Use the vacuum gently as the edges of the nozzle could end up scratching the beautiful leather. You may also want to buy a leather compressor. These can help you blow out all of the unnecessary particles that get stuck in between the leather seats.

Now that you are prepared let?s run down some of the most popular methods in cleaning leather car seats. While these may work for some, not all leather seats are created equity, so we recommend trying this on a small, non-visible section of your leather before doing your entire seat.

Dual Spraying With Laundry Detergent And Warm Water

This is the simplest DIY method for you. After vacuuming your seats, you will need to prepare two spray bottles. One you?ll fill with warm water and a tablespoon of laundry detergent. Use any flavor of laundry detergent you want. The scent and cleaning agents within the powder will make your car smelling fresh for a few days or so. The other water bottle, you fill with warm water once again.

You should then spray the leather seats with the soapy water spray. If there are any parts with tough stains, you should focus the nozzle on these parts. For tougher stains, use a cotton cloth to wipe off the markings gently. Once all stains are removed, spray and rinse the leather seat with the water bottle. Leave your car open so that the liquid dries out naturally.

Lemon Juice And Cream of Tartar Mix

Lemon juice is a very acidic liquid that is used as a makeshift cleaning agent for tiles at home. However, if you mix with cream of tartar, you can use this to clean your leather car seats. However, this applies to light upholstery only. To begin, you?d want to mix equal parts of both substances. Mix well until it turns into a thick paste. Place the mixture on the affected area and let it sit out for half an hour. You might not want the smell that stays after applying the paste so feel free to use an air freshener as well. To remove the paste, simply use a damp sponge on the affected area.

Baking Soda For Oils And Grease

If you are one of those drivers that can?t help but eat burgers and other oily food inside of their cars, then baking soda is going to be a great friend of yours. A little dab or sprinkle of baking soda on the affected area will help you get rid of those noticeable oil stains. While effective, this method takes a while to work. After adding the baking soda, let it sit for a few hours. Ideally, you may want to leave it overnight, so the baking soda fully absorbs the oil. Remove the baking soda with a damp cloth, but this is not the last step in the process.

Once done, you will need to apply a leather conditioner that has sunscreen. The baking soda will completely absorb all the moisture within the leather seats so it could dry out. Using leather conditioners will prevent the leather from cracking or getting discolored.

Gentle Cleaning With Non-Gel Toothpaste

This method is your best bet when cleaning out really tough stains in your leather car seats. You want to find a non-gel toothpaste and then add a dab of it on the affected area. As much as you feel compelled to, DO NOT use a tough-bristled toothbrush on the leather seats. Go to your local groceries and find ones with soft bristles. Use this to scrub the stain away. Use a circular motion on the affected area and be mindful not to place too much pressure on the leather. Once the stain is gone, use a clean cloth to wipe away any excess toothpaste. If you aren?t too fond of the smell, use an air freshener to kill out the minty freshness that lingers.

Vinegar-Water Mix

If you are out of some of the materials stated above, then surely you must have some vinegar in your kitchen. If there is, then you are in luck as this acidic cooking ingredient can clean out tough stains. Just grab a spray bottle and mix together equal parts of water and vinegar. Just spray this mixture within proper distance on the affected area. Use a soft cloth to wipe the stains out. Be forewarned though as the smell of vinegar will not be pleasant on your car. Your go-to solution for this issue once again is a can of air freshener.

Tips For Leather Car Seat Maintenance

These are just some of the best leather car seat cleaning techniques that you can use. However, these cleaning tips are going to be useless if you don?t have some leather maintenance know-how.

If you really want to maintain your leather car seat?s durability even after rigorous cleaning, then you need to buy a leather conditioner. Aside from keeping the leather from drying out, the leather conditioner will also be great for giving your seats a shiny new coating.

If you really want to avoid getting any stains on your leather car seats and crumbs on the crevices, then you must avoid eating inside your car at all cost. Even if you are extra careful in eating, you?re still putting your car and your entire car?s interior at risk of getting grease, oil and other stains.

If you are going to use a spray bottle to focus your attention on a specific area, you may want to spray from a proper distance. Ideally, you?d want to spray at a distance of 20cm. If you spray too close to the leather, you could end up damaging it especially if you are using an acidic mixture.

When you are cleaning your leather seats, make sure to use only soft cleaning materials. Hard sponges, rough cloths and hard bristles can leave unwanted scratches on your seats if you aren?t careful.

If you aren?t too confident on your leather car seat cleaning skills, then you can opt to get the help of professional car cleaners. These guys are trained to clean your car with care, so you don?t have to worry about damaging the leather. While this is more expensive than cleaning it on your own, it is the safer method for you.

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About The Author



I've been detailing cars for years. I love cars but more importantly, I love clean cars. I created this blog to share all of my knowledge around keeping cars as clean as possible.