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best way to clean leather car seats

The best way to clean leather car seats with and without holes – 2023 Car-Care Guide

Leather car seats simply mean — Luxury. The aesthetics and feel leather upholstery provide is certainly unachievable with other materials. That said, they are a bit tricky to clean as leather is porous, so whatever your child spills on the seat instantly gets absorbed.

But don’t worry, as we said; they are tricky but cleanable. With the right cleaning method and products in your hand, you can bring the lustrous shine back.

So if you are willing to put in the work, here we have the best way to clean leather car seats that will increase their durability as well as the resale value of your vehicle.

List of Tools you will require for the Tutorial

While cleaning can be done without ‘extra’ tools (as most assume), using the right ones gives you 10 times better results than you were to get without them. To clean leather seats, you will require the following things:

  • Vacuum Cleaner:
  • Air Compressor
  • Leather car seat cleaning solution
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Soft-Bristles Brush
  • Leather Conditioner

Note: All these things are easily available at Amazon online and auto repair shops.

8 Steps to clean leather car seats

Instructions matter when cleaning a car. For instance, step 3 can only come after step 2. Take it as when you follow a food recipe, you marinate the chicken before frying or fry first, then marinate the chicken. See, that’s why you can’t blindly use one product over another to get it done.

Check the following steps to clean your leather car seats without any further ado.

Step 1 – Take a quick look to find holes and damages on your seats to deal them with cautiously

Before starting your cleaning regimen, look for scratches, perforations, tears, and frays on your seats. Why does it matter? It’s because you cannot deal with the damaged part the same as an undamaged one.

There is a risk of the product spilling from the scratched part, which can spoil the inner foam of the seats. So once you are done checking, don’t immediately apply the cleaner on the seats.

The appropriate way is to first vacuum the car seats, do spot testing, remove the dirt (if left after the vacuum), apply the cleaner to the brush, and then scrub.

Step 2 – Vacuum your Seats to remove dirt and debris

You may not notice, but the packet of chips you were gobbling up yesterday has its pieces lodged in the crevices. Therefore, vacuuming is essential before going on to the next step.

Removing all the hard and soft dirt particles from your seats is essential, as they can scratch or damage them while scrubbing. Also, you have to be cautious with the tool itself, so it doesn’t scratch the seats, either.

Start with the broader areas and then gradually cover hard-to-reach areas (where you would find dirt the most). You can use an air compressor to remove the gunk for narrow areas.

Note: Ensure you get the right vacuum cleaner designed for car seats only.

Step 3 – Perform a patch test with the cleaner on your seats

While many car cleaning hacks won’t tell you this, it’s a necessary step. Before applying any cleaner on your leather seats for the first time, it is crucial to perform a patch test.

The reason is that not every product works on every material. When you apply the cleaner on a small unnoticeable part of the seat, and it appears like fizzing up or melting, don’t go further with using that product.

Golden Tip: Check Amazon for leather-friendly cleaners to ward off the threat.

Step 4 – Use a microfiber cloth to spot-clean stubborn dirt

You must be wondering if vacuum cleaning was insufficient, that you need to do spot-cleaning now. Well, the vacuum only sucks out dry dirt particles. It won’t clean up the stain it got while you were eating your favorite cheeseburger.

All you have to do is, take a microfiber cloth, spray some cleaning agent on it, and go after the stubborn dirt that slipped away while vacuuming. If you have adhesive on your car seats, check out this dedicated guide on how to remove adhesive from leather car seats.

Step 5 – Scrub the seat using a soft-bristled brush and cleaning agent

This step involves deep cleaning the entire seat. Since you have already patch-tested the cleaner, spray it directly on the seats and gently start scrubbing in a circular motion with a soft-bristled brush.

This would help agitate stains, including makeup, grease, and other deep-seated on your leather seats for years. If you have perforation, holes, scratches, or any kind of opening on your leather upholstery, deal with those areas cautiously.

Just spray the cleaner on the brush rather than on the seats and gently scrub to prevent the product from seeping through the seats.

Note: Scrub gently rather than aggressively, as it could damage the leather. Also, be careful with cleaner, as using too much will saturate the seats and facilitate mold development.

Step 6 – Wipe the seats with a microfiber cloth

After scrubbing, take a dry microfiber cloth and start wiping the seats. Leave no residue behind, as it would stink your car seats. Don’t stop wiping until the seats are completely dry. Leaving moist seats would cause the leather to crack and warp.

Step 7 – Apply leather conditioner

Once again, take a patch test with the conditioner as you did with the cleaner just to stay on the safe side.

Apply a small amount of conditioner on an unnoticeable area of the seat, and if it doesn’t cause discoloration or any reaction, proceed with the conditioning process. Also, before applying, make sure your seats are fully dry.

Once you check all these things, take out an adequate amount of cleaner on a microfiber cloth and gently rub it on the seats in a circular motion. Let it rest for almost an hour to condition the seats deeply.

Before applying a conditioner, it is recommended to park the car under a shade away from the sunlight for better absorption of the product.

Note: Don’t use too much conditioner as it would leave the car seats moist and greasy.

Step 8 – Buff the seats with a microfiber cloth

After conditioning, again take a microfiber cloth and buff the seats for a long-lasting finish. Doing so will also help eliminate the excess material (conditioner) from the car seats.

So these were the mandatory steps to clean leather car seats. For best results, follow the instructions as they are and in the same sequence.

What is the Best way to clean leather car seats at home?

What is the Best way to clean leather car seats at home

Surprisingly, you can maintain your leather seats’ shine with numerous DIY solutions at home.

  • Use Castile or dishwashing soap

Mix 5 parts of water with 1 part of Castile or dishwashing soap to make a solution in a bucket. Dampen the cloth with the solution and start wiping the seats gently. Don’t use too much water on the seats as it could seep into the sides and the cushions and stain the leather. Lastly, dry out the seats using a dry towel.

  • Use Olive oil and vinegar solution

If you have olive oil and vinegar available at home, you have another DIY solution to clean your leather seats at home. Mix ¼ cup of vinegar in ½ cup of olive oil in an empty spray bottle. Squirt on the seats, leave it for 5 minutes, and wipe.

  • Use Toothpaste

This one better serves as a spot-cleaning hack. Apply a non-gel toothpaste on the deep-seated dirt spots and gently scrub to remove the stain. Clean it with a clean cloth and dry it using a towel.

What is the best way to clean leather car seats with holes?

Unfortunately, damaged and perforated seats add another layer of difficulty to the cleaning process. Here are the 5 experts’ recommended tips for cleaning leather seats with holes.

  • First, remove the dirt using a vacuum.
  • Second, apply a small amount of cleaning agent to the brush and gently scrub.
  • Remove the cleaner with a microfiber cloth.
  • If required, repeat vacuuming to suck up excess water and turn on the seat heater to dry out the seats, ensuring no dirt or excess water is left in the perforations.
  • If you still find debris in the perforations, take a toothbrush and clean gently without damaging the seats.


So these are our recommended tips to clean leather car seats without damaging them. If you wonder, how often you should perform cleaning – it would be best to do it regularly to prevent deep-seated stains.

Lastly, do not solely rely on DIY hacks, and refrain from performing them regularly as they may lead to damage in the long run. In fact, the best way to keep leather seats clean is to keep away from stains in the first place. Wipe up spills right away so they won’t stain your seats.

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