Most of us will clean the outside, of our Vehicle, on a regular basis, either by hand-washing, or by going through a Drive-Through Car Wash. We may even give a quick vacuum job, to the inside of our Vehicle. But most of us will skip cleaning the rest of the Vehicle’s Interior, which includes your Leather Seats.
If you have Leather Seats, you most likely paid extra for them, when you ordered, or purchased, your Vehicle. Even if you didn’t pay extra, you probably made sure you specifically purchased a Vehicle, with Leather Seats, because you really wanted a Leather Interior.
Whatever the reason, owning a Vehicle, with a Leather Interior, requires a some work, to keep the Leather looking like new. In this article, I want to show you the best way to clean Leather Car Seats, and keep them protected, for the life of your Vehicle.
#1 Remove Loose Debris From Your Seats
The first, and most important Step, in cleaning your Leather Seats, is removing the loose debris from them. If you don’t do this step, and do it well, you will most likely end up scratching your Leather Seats. This will occur, because the loose debris will end up embedding itself, into your microfiber towel, and will be dragged across the surface, of your Leather Seats, when you start scrubbing them, with Leather Cleaner.
You can remove the loose debris, from your Leather Seats, by vacuuming it up, with your Shop Vacuum, or the Vacuum at your local Car Wash. Be sure to use the Vacuum Hose, with the Upholstery Brush attachment, so the dirt, and debris, will be dislodged, from the Seat’s cracks, and grooves. If you don’t have an Upholstery Brush attachment, that is OK, you can use the Crevice Tool, which usually comes with all Vacuum Cleaners.
Jeff’s Expert Tip #1: When using a Crevice Tool attachment, use a piece of “Fine” Grit Sandpaper to smooth the Crevice Tool’s edges. This will help prevent the Tool from scratching your Leather Seat’s Surfaces.
If you don’t have a Shop Vacuum, or don’t have access to the Vacuum Cleaner, at your local Car Wash, you can use compressed Air, to clean the loose dirt, and debris. You can even buy Cans of Compressed Air, at your local department store. If you use an Air Compressor, use a Rubber-Tipped Nozzle Tool, to blow out the dirt, and debris, from the Leather Seat’s Surfaces, and between its cracks, and crevices.
If using a Can of Air, use the Can’s included straw nozzle, to direct the air, to clean the loose dirt, and debris. Make sure to not turn the Can of Air upside-down, since its propellant can leak out, onto your Seating Surfaces. Regardless of how you clean the loose dirt, and debris, from your Leather Seats, make sure that you don’t scratch the Leather Seat’s Surfaces.
#2 Clean Your Seats With Leather Cleaner
The second Step, in cleaning your Leather Seats, is to clean/remove surface dirt, and grime, from your Leather Seats. If your seats are super dirty, you may be able to visually see a layer of dirt, and grime, on your Leather Seats. Spray a microfiber towel, with your choice of Leather Cleaner, Mild Leather Soap, or Saddle Soap, and wipe the Cleaner all over the Leather Seats, and work it into the Leather Seating Surfaces.
Spray some more Leather Cleaner, directly onto the Leather Seating Surfaces. Gently scrub you Leather Seating Surfaces, using a Soft-Bristled Brush, to bring the dirt, to the surface, and agitate the dirt. When you’re done scrubbing, wipe the seats clean, using a dry and clean microfiber towel. Note: Don’t be surprised, if you notice grime, dirt, or oil, on the Towel, since this Step removes a lot of it.
Jeff’s Expert Tip #2: When cleaning your Leather Seats, consider using a Horsehair Brush, to get the deepest clean. Note that using the Horsehair Brush works best on Leather Seats, since it can scrub out tough stains, and can deep-clean the Leather material’s pores.
Note that if your Car has perforated Leather Seating Surfaces, you need to make sure that you don’t get water, cleaner, or conditioner stuck in the perforated holes. If you have perforated Leather Seating, avoid spraying Leather Cleaner, directly onto the Seats, Instead of doing this, spray the Horsehair Brush, with the Leather Cleaner, and use it, to scrub the Leather Seating Surfaces. Wipe all Leather Seating Surfaces down, until they are dry, with a microfiber towel.
#3 Protecting/Conditioning Your Leather
After you have Vacuumed the loose dirt, and debris, out of your Leather Seats, and after you have thoroughly scrubbed, and cleaned, your Leather Seats, with Leather Cleaner, its now time to Protect & Condition them. You may ask, “What do you mean by Protect & Condition them?”.
By Protecting & Conditioning the Leather Seats, we mean using a Leather Conditioner to replenish the natural oils, which usually reside in the Leather. Over time, these natural oils can wear off, due to using the Seats, and having UV Rays beat down on them.
When you apply Leather Conditioner to your Leather Seats, you are replacing these natural oils, which may have rubbed off. Protecting & Conditioning your Leather Seats will help prevent them from drying out, from the UV Rays, will help to keep them looking like new, and will help ensure that your Seats stay soft, supple, and protect them from cracking, peeling, and fading.
For best results, you should choose a High-Quality, & Water-Based (pH Neutral), Leather Conditioner. You do not want your High-Quality Leather Conditioner to contain any Waxes, Silicone, or Petroleum Distillates, since they could damage your Leather. Choose a Leather Conditioner with High-Quality ingredients, since Low-Quality Leather Conditioners may be clingy, on your Leather Seats, or leave a greasy finish, on your Seats.
Jeff’s Expert Tip #3: When conditioning your Leather Seats, you need to perform a Spot Test, in an inconspicuous area, to make sure that your chosen Leather Conditioner doesn’t damage, fade, or discolor your Leather Seats. To perform a Spot Test, just simply rub a little Leather Conditioner, onto your chosen Leather Seat’s inconspicuous area, using a clean, dry microfiber towel.
To Protect & Condition Your Leather Seats:
- Apply the Leather Conditioner, directly to your Leather Seats, using a clean, high-quality microfiber towel. Be careful not to apply too much, since excess Conditioner will just sit on the Leather Surfaces, and will make the Seats slippery, from the excess Conditioner.
- Rub/Massage the Leather Conditioner, into the Leather Seating Surfaces, using circular motions.
- If you feel that you applied too much Conditioner, to your Leather Seats, now is the time to use a clean, dry microfiber towel to remove any excess Conditioner, by light wiping down the Seats, to soak up the extra Conditioner.
- Let the Conditioner sit, for at least a few hours, without any exposure to UV Rays (Sun). This can be achieved by parking your Vehicle in the garage, or under some shade. Exposing the Leather Conditioner to UV Rays instantly, may cause damage to your Seats.
- After you have let the Leather Conditioner sit, for a few hours, buff/polish your Leather Seats, using a clean, dry microfiber towel, in circular motions. This will also help remove excess Conditioner, from your Seats.
Jeff’s Expert Tip #4: There is such a thing as “Over-Conditioning” your Leather Seats. Typically, you should only Protect & Condition your Seats about four times a year.
Yes, Disposable Leather Cleaning & Conditioning Wipes do exist. You can find them pretty much anywhere. They are great for quick touch-ups. Just as the name suggests, they do clean, and condition, in one step. However, they should be reserved for quick touch-ups only, since they get dirty very quickly, can dry out in the container, start to disintegrate after a little use, and can leave debris on your Leather Seats.
Alternative Leather Cleaner Options
I will always recommend that you purchase a HIgh-Quality Leather Cleaner. However, if you’re on a tight budget, there a few Leather Cleaner alternatives:
- Laundry Detergent Based Leather Cleaner
- Water/Vinegar Based Leather Cleaner
Laundry Detergent Based Leather Cleaner: To create a Laundry Detergent Based Leather Cleaner, fill a Spray Bottle with warm water, and mix in an over sized teaspoon of Laundry Detergent. It doesn’t matter which kind, although a nice smelling Detergent will help keep your Leather smelling fresh! When you clean with this Laundry Detergent Based Cleaner, you will need to keep another Spray Bottle, with warm water only, so you can rinse the areas, in which you use the Laundry Detergent Based Cleaner.
Water/Vinegar Based Leather Cleaner: To create a Water/Vinegar Based Leather Cleaner, fill a Spray Bottle with a 70/30 mix of vinegar & warm water. Make sure that you spray the Water/Vinegar Based Leather Cleaner, from at least a 1/2 foot from the Leather Seat’s Surfaces. After you spray, and scrub, using the Microfiber Towel, you will need to let them air dry.
What I Hope You Get Out Of This Article
I hope this Article has shown you the best way, to clean Leather Car Seats, in my opinion, of course. Regular cleaning, and conditioning, of your Seats, will help ensure that your Seats stay soft, supple, and protected from cracking, peeling, and fading. Regular Cleaning will also make it easier for you clean them the next time, since there will be less dirt, and grime, build-up.
Please browse my other articles, to learn more about how to detail your own Vehicle. Please stay tuned, to learn about more topics, tips, tricks, product reviews, etc.!
As always, If you have a particular question, or comment, please feel free to ask it below.
Have a Great Day,