The last thing you want after splurging for a leather interior is for your seats to look dirty, worn, or stained. Leather found in most modern vehicles is pre-treated for stain resistance, but it's still important to take good care of it. We'll share our favorite car leather cleaning tips and products that will keep your interior looking new for years.
How to Clean Leather Car Seats
1: First, vacuum up any loose dirt, crumbs, and dust from your seats. This is important because any dirt that is left behind can damage the leather when you start scrubbing.
2. Spot test your cleaning product of choice on a discreet area inside your car to make sure it is safe for the leather and won't damage it.
3. Put the solution on your cloth or brush (not directly on the leather unless you're removing tough stains) and slowly clean in small sections. It is especially important not to spray on perforated leather because it can be damaged more easily. No matter what type of leather you have, avoid scrubbing too aggressively.
4. If you drive an older car with leather seats that are untreated, they can benefit from a car leather conditioner, but newer cars usually don't require it.
Avoid Damaging The Leather
The best thing you can do for your leather seats is to keep them clean with the right products. The worst thing you can do is to go overboard. Remember to use your product sparingly. Not only will this make it last longer, but it will also prevent damage or discoloration to your car's leather seats.
Make sure all the product is absorbed by your cloth. Don't leave any to dry on the seats because excessive moisture in perforated leather can lead to mold and mildew. Finally, make sure the cloth or brush you're using is safe for your leather. Hard bristled brushes can scratch your leather, so be sure the brush is specifically made for cars (we make a few recommendations below).
How Often to Clean Your Leather Car Seats?
Set up a regular cleaning schedule based on how often you drive your car to keep your seats looking new. You can clean your car seats as often as once a month if you use your car frequently. If you choose to condition your leather car seats, two to three times per year will be sufficient.
4 Best Leather Car Seat Cleaners
There are hundreds of car interior cleaning products out there, and just as many leather cleaners designed to clean everything from furniture to shoes. We selected the top-rated products below that will safely clean your leather car seats to maintain their original beauty.
1. Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner
Chemical Guys is one of the most recognized names in the car care industry and the company's car leather cleaner lives up to the excellent reputation. This car leather cleaner ($10) made specifically for automobiles, comes in a 16-oz spray bottle and contains a pH balanced solution to clean your leather car seats and trim without leaving any residue. The unscented cleaner is formulated to preserve your leather car seats and prevent issues like cracking. It penetrates deep into the pores of the leather to lift out damaging dirt, leaving your seats looking like you just drove out of the dealership.
2. Care Touch Leather Cleaner Wipes
You likely have cleaning wipes in your home for quick touchups and spills. If you want to protect your leather car seats in between deep cleanings, they make wipes for that too. The Care Touch Leather Cleaner Wipes ($17 for a pack of 2) can be stored in your cargo area and pulled out for emergencies like a tipped-over coffee or routine touchups. The formula in the wipes is non-toxic and phosphate-free to safely remove dirt from your car's leather or any household leather item.
3. Meguiar's Leather Care Kit
A high-quality leather cleaner and conditioner duo can keep new and old leather car seats looking great for years. The Meguiar's Leather Care Kit ($22) includes Gold Class Leather and Vinyl Cleaner and Meguiar’s Gold Class Leather Conditioner. The leather cleaner freshens your interior with a strong, yet gentle, formula and the leather conditioner with aloe and moisturizing oils guards your car against damaging elements like UV rays. This kit comes complete with accessories like an application pad and a microfiber towel so you have everything you need to give your leather car seats a thorough cleaning.
4. Carfidant Ultimate Leather Cleaner
The Carfidant leather cleaner ($17) is made from a formula that doesn't contain any scents or unnecessary dyes that can damage your vehicle's interior. The gentle, but effective solution is created for leather or vinyl car seats, but it can also be used on household leather items like furniture or accessories. Just spray a small amount on the included microfiber towel to clean your vehicle as needed. The solution will not leave an unnatural shine or residue while restoring your car's leather to look nearly brand new.
3 Best Brushes for Leather Car Seats
If your car leather seats need more than just a quick wipe or touchup, you'll need to call in the reinforcements (i.e. a high-quality leather cleaning brush). Leather brushes are best for deep cleaning and removing stains, while a towel or cloth is best to remove surface dirt and dust. Using the wrong brush can lead to scratches and damage to your quality leather seats. Your brush should be soft-bristled and specifically designed for car interiors to ensure you don't damage the leather interior upgrade you splurged on.
1. Chemical Guys Leather Cleaning Brush
Made from premium long-cut genuine horsehair and designed for cleaning vehicles, the Chemical Guys leather cleaning brush ($12) is made to gently scrub out stains and dirt from leather car seats, fabric, and convertible tops. The soft hairs scrub and break down stains and loosen dirt and grime, and will not damage any sensitive surfaces. The brush features a contoured plastic handle which makes it comfortable to use even for the tough cleaning sessions.
2. Colourlock Leather Cleaning Brush
The Colourlock leather cleaning brush ($10) is made in Germany of durable synthetic bristles that are specially designed for cleaning Alcantara leathers and other textiles materials, making it ideal for your car's interior. It is effective at scrubbing out stains in your vehicle without damaging your leather seats. This brush can double as a household tool to clean furniture, leather garments and handbags.
3. Takavu Leather Cleaning Brush and Detail Brush
With its soft synthetic bristles, the Takavu leather brush ($11) is safe for your car's leather seats and leather trim. Use it with any of the car-safe cleaning products above to gently remove dirt and stains from your vehicle's prized leather seats. A concave design makes the brush comfortable to hold while you spring clean your entire interior. The Takuva brush comes with a smaller detailing brush to make cleaning leather gear shifts and other tight spaces easier.