DIY Detailing: How To Clean Leather Car Seats

car seat

Leather seats are the luxury many car enthusiasts want and can’t always afford. But if you have them, there’s a good chance you want to take care of them to the best of your knowledge. That's when you start to Google, "What is car detailing," amirite? Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to clean leather car seats correctly, and desperately need to learn.

The problem is, no matter what you do, your seats are going to get worn out in time. The amount of time it takes will vary tremendously, depending on a few different factors.

What You Should Know

red colored leather seat

Image by AutoPhotography from Pixabay

First and foremost, it’s going to depend on how often you use the car. If it’s a daily driver, your seats will wear out more quickly.

Secondly, you need to consider the type of leather your seat use. Various types of leather will wear differently and require a range of care. Some leather is more natural to clean than others.

Many modern vehicles are easy to clean because the leather is thoroughly protected. That will help it last, keep it soft, and make it less susceptible to stains. Fortunately, that also makes it incredibly easy to clean.

Once you know what you’re working with, your job is going to be relatively straightforward. After that, you will have a better knowledge of how to clean your leather car seats and what products are safe. It can be challenging to keep up with, and some people avoid the task entirely by opting not to buy leather seats. But if you love the luxurious feel, it’s time to learn how to clean your leather car seats properly.

Types of Leather You Might Contend With

If you’re going to learn how to clean your leather car seats, you need to start by identifying the leather you’re working with. In all honesty, seats that are made entirely of leather and nothing else aren’t standard anymore.

Instead, most of them use leather with a protective coating. That makes it more affordable and more comfortable to care for in the long run.

First of all, there is aniline leather, which is considered the highest grade available. However, it does not have a coating. Therefore, it is more susceptible to damage, stains, and visible wear and tear. Although you will see the natural texture of the hide, and get more bragging rights.

Next up is semi-aniline leather, which is dyed and has a protective coating. It is a finished leather, while fully aniline leather in unfinished. It is also more commonly found in high-end cars.

Another standard option in luxury vehicles is full-grain leather. It is more durable than the first two options because it uses more dye and a more protective coating. However, it is not corrected, so that you can see the pure grain of the leather, and it has a more authentic feel.

Last on our list is corrected grain leather. It is by far the least natural, most affordable. It is easy to learn how to clean leather car seats when it uses this material.

The various steps to your cleaning process

car seat brown

Image by MikesPhotos from Pixabay

When it comes to learning how to clean leather car seats, most techniques will be the same. That is mainly because many leather seats these days will have a protective coating of some kind. If you have a high-end vehicle with top-notch aniline leather, you are probably not using it as a daily driver and can probably afford a professional cleaning and conditioning a few times a year.

However, if you prefer to do it yourself, you only need to be gentle and be more careful with the products that you use. But overall, the process will be the same straightforward process.

The basic protocol will be to remove dirt with a vacuum, wipe the seats down with the proper cleaner, and condition the leather. We want to go over the steps more thoroughly.

First, you need the right tools for the job if you’re going to learn how to clean leather car seats properly.

​Essential tools

Depending on your seats and the extent of the cleaning, your tools may vary. However, there are a few tools that are always good to have on hand:

  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Gentle scrubbing pads
  • Soft bristle scrub brush
  • Heavy-duty scrub brush
  • Magic erasers

Keep in mind that it isn’t necessary to have all of the products to clean your seats. For instance, you might not be comfortable using a heavy-duty brush on your luxury seats.

That's understandable, but you should also remember that when you use a harsher brush, you don’t need to be heavy-handed. It will make it easier to get the dirt out of the seams, with half the effort.

Although, if you wanted to be especially meticulous and only scrub the seams, you could use something like a toothbrush.

Cleaning Products and DIY Solutions

When it comes to learning how to clean leather car seats, most techniques will be the same. That is mainly because many leather seats these days will have a protective coating of some kind. If you have a high-end vehicle with top-notch aniline leather, you are probably not using it as a daily driver and can probably afford a professional cleaning and conditioning a few times a year.

However, if you prefer to do it yourself, you only need to be gentle and be more careful with the products that you use. But overall, the process will be the same straightforward process.

The basic protocol will be to remove dirt with a vacuum, wipe the seats down with the proper cleaner, and condition the leather. We want to go over the steps more thoroughly.

First, you need the right tools for the job if you’re going to learn how to clean leather car seats properly.

Essential tools

Depending on your seats and the extent of the cleaning, your tools may vary. However, there are a few tools that are always good to have on hand:

  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Gentle scrubbing pads
  • Soft bristle scrub brush
  • Heavy-duty scrub brush
  • Magic erasers

Now, what products should you use? When you’re first learning how to clean leather car seats, you will probably prefer exclusive products. That usually means products that are only for leather seats.

However, there is plenty of DIY or all-natural products you can use as well.

The key to learning how to clean leather car seats is the spot test. You should always test a small area that is out of view. That will give you an idea of how it will work and whether there will be any adverse effects.

The best cleaning products and how to use them

When you’re learning how to clean leather car seats, you need a good place to start. Everyone has their own particular methods and products. We’re here to give you a fantastic starting point. You don’t need to stick with these products forever. But they are well-loved and a great option when you’re learning how to clean leather car seats.

First of all, you can use a basic cleaner. Leather Honey and The Chemical Guys are both popular brands that make leather cleaners and conditioners. Most importantly, they are gentle and effective.

Make sure that you read directions thoroughly before using any products. Some can be applied directly, and others must be diluted with water before use on leather. Spray it on your cloth to make it damp, rather than spraying it directly onto the seat.

The same goes for conditioners, always apply the product onto a cloth. If you use too much, it can be wiped off. However, conditioner should only go on dry seats.

​DIY cleaning solutions

If you prefer to try a homemade method, you can also whip something up at home. That includes a mixture of vinegar and water, which involves a combination of one part white vinegar and two or three parts water.

The measurements can vary, depending on who you ask, but either mixture will work without damaging your seats.

You can also make a cleaner by using warm water and a few drops of baby soap or natural dish soap. In these cases, you should also make sure to apply the cleanser to a cloth and only make it damp, not soaking, before wiping down your seats.

Check out the video below:

How to Clean Leather Car Seats like a Pro

There are only three simple steps in the cleaning process. That’s probably music to your ears if you are learning how to clean leather car seats for the first time.

All you need to do is remove any loose dirt, wipe and scrub the seats clean, and condition. That’s all, but there is a bit of a technique to the process.

First, you might consider scrubbing the seats gently with a scrub brush, especially along the seams. That will bring any dirt and crumbs to the surface. Then you can suck the grime up with your vacuum.

Second, you can bust out the cleaning product of your choice. Spritz it onto a cleaning cloth or gentle scrubbing pad. Remember that you don’t need to put much elbow grease into the task.

You don’t want to scrub hard and wear away at the protective layer or scuff up the leather. Your goal is only to remove surface dirt and oils that build up over time. You might notice the difference as you work.

There will probably be a visible color change if your seats have never been cleaned before, or at least not for a long time.

Last, you need to condition the seats to keep the leather soft, prevent cracking, and keep the color from fading. You also might want to consider parking your car in a garage or using a windshield cover to limit sun exposure.

Watch:

Learning How to Clean Leather Car Seats Will Save You a Bundle

Getting your car cleaned and detailed will undoubtedly be the most thorough and convenient way to clean your vehicle. However, it can cost quite a bit. For those of us trying to save money, it simply isn’t high on our to-do list.

If that is the case for you, it’s high time to learn how to clean leather car seats for yourself. It won’t take long, but you should try to do it at least a few times each year. General cleaning every month is a good idea.

If you aren’t planning to clean your seats that often, a deep cleaning three or four times a year is still a fantastic plan.

By cleaning your seats regularly, you will get more life out of them. They will look fantastic for far longer because you won’t be grinding dirt into them.

Moreover, you will give them much-needed conditioning. That will keep the leather soft and prevent cracking for much longer.

The thing is, you can’t avoid the ordinary wear. Luckily, you can soften the blow and keep them in good condition by learning how to clean leather car seats and keeping up with proper maintenance.

Tell us your leather cleaning stories in the comment section below!

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