How to Clean Leather Car Seat?
Any car owner should know how to keep their cars in tip-top shape - and I say that as someone who had no idea how to do so, when he got his first ride.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer sensation of owning my first car. I enjoyed the purr of the engine and the feel of the steering wheel in my hands too much.
My honeymoon period was rudely interrupted, though, when my car’s leather seats started losing color and cracking. Outside of extremely specific cases, the cleaning and maintenance process is very simple!
Here are some things I wish I had known about cleaning leather car seats.
Knowing Car Seat Leather
Before we get into the process of cleaning leather car seats, it is best to know what we’re working with. This is because different types of leather may call for different cleaning methods.
Not everyone knows about different leather types, and it’s not exactly like carmakers have made it simple for us. In fact, the leather used by different brands differs!
Let’s talk about the different types of leather: aniline, semi-aniline, and pigmented leather.
- Aniline leather: This leather type is popular for giving car seats a very organic look. When aniline leather is made, soluble dyes are utilized so as to give it a natural look. As a result, the dye does not cover the exterior. The main downside to aniline leather is that it offers very little protection. Aniline leather can be prone to cracking and other forms of damage.
- Semi-aniline leather: If you want a compromise between aesthetics and durability, semi-aniline leather is the way to go. Car seats with this leather type can still look natural, but because of its coating, it is less susceptible to stains, scratches, and whatnot. The thickness of semi-aniline leather may differ, though.
- Pigmented leather: Pigmented leather offers maximum durability, at the cost of a synthetic appearance. This is very well-suited to those who prefer function over form. Pigmented leather is generally very thick, and is used for different types of furniture.
The Cleaning Process
For maintenance purposes, it’s best to clean your leather car seats frequently using these steps.
All you need would be a solution of eight parts water with PH-balanced detergent, a brush with soft bristles or a vacuum with brush endings, a sponge, and microfiber cloth.
1. Use the brush or the vacuum to remove any loose debris such as food or dust
2. Wipe the seat down using the sponge, soaked in the soap solution.
3. Next, gently dry the seat using your microfiber cloth.
Especially for light-colored leather car seats, it’s important to know how to remove coffee and sweat stains. You generally need the same items: a sponge, lukewarm water, and a microfiber sheet.
For stain removal, though, you will also need a leather cleaning product. I highly recommend Leather Honey’s leather cleaner.
Leather Honey is produced and marketed by a small family business - I have to admit that this adds to the appeal. This is one of the most popular products on Amazon.
If you’re not satisfied with their product, they’ll give you your money back guaranteed. Luckily, I never had to take advantage of this feature.
Anyway, to make use of Leather Honey, soak your sponge in water, then dab some of the product on the sponge for it to create a thin layer of foam. Wipe the seats down with the sponge.
For seams and cracks, with dirt buildup, you can use a soft brush. Make sure to pay more attention to the parts of the seat that make contact with human skin often. You can wipe the seat dry using your microfiber towel.
Of course, it’s not enough to just clean your leather car seat regularly. As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Leather conditioners help protect your seat from cracking, discoloration, or other damages.
Leather car seats that are well-conditioned are less likely to suffer from early wear and tear, and can also keep dirt from permeating in seams and cracks. While leather conditioning products can be good for most types of upholstery, it’s safer to get a conditioner specifically made for car seats.
If you live in the UK, Leather Nova’s Conditioner and Restorer is offers a one-two punch in keeping your car seats in great shape. This product is also highly versatile, and can also be used for your jackets and other upholstery.
How often should I do these things, you ask? It depends. For maintenance purposes, a simple wipedown every month should do. If your car interior hasn’t been cleaned in a while, though, you may want to do some intensive cleaning every two weeks, to restore the original form of your car seats’ leather.