How to Clean Leather Car Seats

Leather seats can add class and style to any car. But they invariably get dirty. And when they do, cleaning leather can be daunting. Luckily, cleaning your leather car seats doesn’t have to be complicated: here’s the easy way to do this car care task yourself.

Can you clean leather car seats with soap and water?

Most leather car seats are actually covered in leather in a clear vinyl. For this reason, you want to clean them much like vinyl seats: look for a leather/vinyl interior cleaner to get the most out of your car.

Car cleaning | Towfiqu Barbhuiya via Unsplash

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A small amount of soap and water won’t harm your vinyl-covered leather seats and can be a great way to clean a surface stain. But to make sure you have vinyl-covered leather seats, try soap and water on a hidden part of your seat, let it dry, and see what it looks like.

According to handyman Chris Fix, the best way to care for your leather seats is to use a dedicated upholstery cleaner. This product will not only clean your vinyl, but help protect it. Next you want to coat it with a vinyl/leather conditioner to strengthen that layer of vinyl. This will actually help your leather seats last longer.

What is the best way to clean leather seats in a car?

You’d hate to crush dirt and dust into your leather seats as you clean them: the absolute best way to clean your leather seats is to vacuum them thoroughly first. Then you have both a leather/vinyl cleaner and finally a leather/vinyl protectant.

Close up of a hand with a microfiber towel cleaning the interior of a car.

Car cleaning | Block Fletcher via Unsplash

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The seams of your leather seats tend to accumulate dust and dirt. Cleaning them is essential for proper cleaning. Take a vacuum cleaner and vacuum the surface of your seat. Then press the vacuum in each seam and stretch the cushion so the seam lays flat. Finally, use a toothbrush with a bit of your vinyl/leather cleaner to remove the last dirt from the stitching.

Once you have cleaned all the dirt and dust from the seams of your leather seats, you can start with the main surface. Pour more of your vinyl/leather cleaner onto a microfiber towel and rub it over the surface of the seats. You can even let it sit for a minute and soak up the dirt. Then use a clean towel to wipe the chemical off the leather.

How can I make my leather seats look like new again?

After cleaning your leather seats, you can use a vinyl/leather conditioner to make them look like new. This treatment will condition the leather and build up the vinyl protector sealing its surface.

Clean car interior with vintage leather seats.

Leather car interior | Pietro DeGrandi

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If you want to give your leather interior a professional look, you need to recondition it. First, do a thorough cleaning of your car’s interior. Next, use a steam cleaner to heat your leather seats.

Because leather is animal skin, it still has pores. To deeply condition your leather seats, you want to open up the streaks of skin, and nothing works better than steam.

Once your seats are warm to the touch, use a microfiber towel to wipe any excess moisture from the surface. Next, wipe off the vinyl/leather conditioner. You can let this product sit on the seats for as long as you want: the leather should continue to absorb more conditioner until it cools.

Finally, wipe off excess conditioner and admire your new seats. Want to see step-by-step seat cleaning instructions? Just watch the video below:

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