How to Clean Leather Car Seats The Right Way

Leather seats bring a luxurious feel to your car, but they come with a price tag, making it crucial to maintain them properly.

The key to cleaning leather car seats lies in handling them with care. Not just any cleaner will do the job—using the wrong one can actually damage the leather permanently.

How Often to Clean Leather Car Seats

To keep your leather car seats in top shape, it’s recommended to clean them every three to six months. If your seats experience heavy use, especially with multiple passengers or pets, more frequent cleaning may be necessary. Regular cleaning and conditioning are crucial steps in maintaining leather, preventing it from drying out, and avoiding the development of cracks over time.

Steps to Clean Leather car Seats

Follow these steps to clean your leather car seats effectively, ensuring they look great and last for a long time.

  1. Vacuum the Seats: Begin by vacuuming the seats thoroughly, paying close attention to removing dirt and debris from the crevices.
  2. Choose the Right Cleaning Solution: Avoid using bleach or ammonia-based cleaners, as they can harm the leather. Opt for a commercial leather cleaner or make your own solution. Mix warm water with Castile soap or liquid dishwashing soap in a bucket, using a ratio of 5 parts water to 1 part soap.
  3. Apply the Cleaning Solution: Dampen a cloth with the cleaning solution and gently wipe down the seat surfaces. Be cautious not to oversaturate the leather, as excess water may pool in the seams and seep into the cushions, potentially causing damage. Wipe clean with a second damp cloth and then dry thoroughly with a towel.
  4. DIY Cleaning Option: Alternatively, you can create your own cleaning solution by mixing 1/2 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz the mixture on the seat, let it sit for five minutes, and then wipe it off.
  5. Prevent Stains: The best way to keep your leather car seats clean is to prevent stains. Quickly wipe up spills as soon as they occur. Despite prompt cleanups, stains may still happen, so be prepared to tackle them with the appropriate cleaning methods.

How to Clean Leather Car Seats: Best Ways


Apply a non-gel toothpaste to the stained area. Gently scrub with a toothbrush and wipe clean with a cloth. Toothpaste is effective for removing stains and scuffs.

Lemon Juice and Cream of Tartar

Mix equal parts of cream of tartar and lemon juice to create a paste. Apply to light upholstery stains, wait 30 minutes, and use a damp sponge to remove the paste. Note: This mixture has a bleaching effect.

Rubbing Alcohol

Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and blot the stain. Clean the area with a mild solution of liquid dish soap and warm water after lifting the stain. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth, but use alcohol sparingly on leather.

Baking Soda

Sprinkle baking soda on oil and grease stains, rub with a damp cloth, and let sit for a few hours or overnight. Wipe off the powder with a soft cloth. Follow with a damp cloth to remove residue and dry with a towel.

Leather Conditioning

After cleaning, apply a leather conditioner with sunscreen to prevent cracking and fading. Conditioning also makes leather resistant to future stains and gives it a nice shine.

Additional Tips

  • Be patient: Allow leather cleaner time to work, and use a soft bristle brush in a gentle, circular motion.
  • Use leather conditioner sparingly: Applying it too often can make leather feel tacky. And use it once every three months.
  • Removing permanent marker: Use aerosol hairspray.
  • Eliminating mold and mildew: Mix equal parts water with rubbing alcohol.
  • Wipe away red wine and fruit juice stains: Use lemon juice and cream of tartar, leaving it on the stain for 10 minutes before wiping away with a damp sponge. Condition the leather afterward.

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