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When was the last time you spent an afternoon applying conditioner to your car’s leather? If it’s been a while, it’s time to give your leather interior some good old TLC with a quality leather conditioner. If you don’t care for your leather seats, trim, or other car components, it’ll really show over time. The best leather is hydrated, nourished, and regularly conditioned. Without a quality conditioner, your car’s seats and other leather items can become dry, brittle, and cracked, leaving your interior looking worse for the wear. Fortunately, buying an excellent leather conditioner is very easy. From leather cleaner and conditioner products to water repellents to natural conditioners made with leather-friendly ingredients, there are a ton of options to choose from. You can discover our picks for the best leather conditioners and cleaners right here.
The Best Leather Conditioner
This is a great leather conditioner for cars and other leather items. This Leather Honey Leather Conditioner comes from the same small family-run business that has been making these products for half a century. A single application lasts a good six months, which is quite exceptional for a product that uses no harsh chemicals and additives commonly seen in other products.
The downside is the price. But if you consider the unlimited 100-percent satisfaction guarantee that Leather Honey attaches to all of its products, then it’s a steal. It may be costly, but with an exceptional track record, the Leather Honey deserves a spot on our list.
6-month leather treatment effectiveness
Non-solvent, non-toxic formulation
Comes with 100% unlimited satisfaction guarantee
- BrandLeather Honey Leather Conditioner
- Weight7.8 ounces
This product from TriNova can be used on a variety of surfaces, including faux leather, durablend, saffiano, vinyl, and other materials with leather-like properties. It’s easy to use. It also comes with the backing of many very happy users lauding its premium quality and superior deep-cleaning properties.
Dirt, grime, debris, and stains are easily removed with a simple wipe of the TriNova Leather Cleaner, especially if you use it with a microfiber cleaning cloth. You can use this on different surfaces, making it an invaluable deal.
Works on multiple surfaces, not only leather
Premium, non-toxic formulation
Comes with microfiber cleaning cloth
- Weight1.45 pounds
The TriNova car leather cleaner is an excellent product, there’s no question about that. However, you’d also have to purchase another product – a leather treatment for cars – to help you nourish the delicate material and condition it back to life. However, it’s nice to know that TriNova also has the Leather Conditioner and Cleaner formulation.
It is also easy to use and offers your leather car interior deep clean, protection, and nourishment. And just like any other TriNova product, it can also be used on various surfaces, which is something we personally love. Thanks to its balanced formulation, restoring your car’s leather as well as vinyl surfaces is made super easy. It is this unique combination of ease of application and versatility that this TriNova product deserves to be on top.
2-in-1 cleaner and conditioner dual action formulation
Works on various surfaces and not only leather
- Weight1.13 pounds
This product from KevianClean works on leather upholstery whether it is in your car or in your home. It comes with a unique formula that features organic and eco-friendly ingredients in a pH-balanced solution.
Unfortunately, we found out that it cannot be applied on surfaces that are suede or unfinished leather. It is also slightly more expensive than other similar 2-in-1 formulations. Nevertheless, its features should be enough to make you want to add this to your detailing kit.
2-in-1 cleaner and conditioner formulation
pH-balanced, eco-friendly, and organic formulation
Comes with 60-day money back guarantee
- Weight1 pounds
Almost everyone loves the products by Leather Honey. And for those who are looking for the best auto leather cleaner, you’ll find Leather Honey to be an amazing choice, just like we did. What we found amazing in this formulation is that it comes as a concentrate. A small 4-ounce bottle can instantly be diluted to make 32 ounces.
So while the Leather Honey leather seat cleaner may come out as unusually expensive on a per ounce basis, once it is diluted, it will turn out to be a true budget genius. The good thing with the Leather Honey is that it also works on other surfaces like vinyl, although it should not be used on items that are made of suede. Nevertheless, with its signature 100% unlimited satisfaction guarantee, Leather Honey is worth every penny.
Concentrated leather cleaner formulation
Non-toxic cleaner formulation
Comes with unlimited 100% satisfaction guarantee
- BrandLeather Honey Leather Conditioner
- Weight4 ounces
Some like to see a combination of leather cleaner and conditioner in a single product. Others prefer to have a separate bottle for each function. And if you’re like the latter, then the Complete Leather Care Kit from Chemical Guys would be a great option. You get two bottles, one is a cleaner and another is a conditioner for all of your leather items.
Like all leather cleaners and conditioners we’ve included in this list, the Chemical Guys come with a well-balanced formulation to help bring out the best in your leathered materials. Topping off this great kit is a very friendly price.
pH-balanced cleaner formulation
Vitamin E enriched conditioner formula
Deep cleans and restores leather life
- BrandChemical Guys
- Weight2.4 pounds
CPR Cleaning Products designed their car leather cleaner and conditioner with a unique UV protection formulation which should help extend the lifespan of your leather interior. However, it can never be used on suede materials as well as surfaces that leather goods that are otherwise more porous than most.
The other interesting thing about the CPR product is that it boasts of being dermatologist tested. Perhaps it is the company’s way of saying that the car leather cleaner is a safe product, that even if you were to hold the surface applied with the CPR for a long time, it won’t hurt the skin or something to that effect. It’s reasonably priced, too.
Dermatologist-tested, non-greasy formulation
Comes with UV protection
Contains no harsh chemicals and additives
- BrandCPR Cleaning Products
- Weight2.3 pounds
It may not be the best leather seat conditioner and cleaner in the market, but the Weiman Leather Cleaner & Conditioner boasts of something that other products don’t have. The Weiman comes with the UVX-15 sunscreen technology which we believe is more of a marketing gimmick to the usual UV protection technology present in many products today.
Nevertheless, if this doesn’t amaze you, then the integration of 4 natural oils, instead of the usual nut oils, should be appealing. Sadly, we really cannot find any information as to what these four so-called natural oils are.
Formulated with UVX-15 sunscreen technology
Cleans and restores leather suppleness
Contains 4 natural oils
- Weight15.2 ounces
This cleaner and conditioner spray does what similar products do in that it deep cleans, shines, and protects leather. The good news about Mr. Leather is that while other products only work on genuine leather, it is equally effective on synthetics.
While it’s a value pick, it’s still a little pricey, and there are some less expensive products available. It is easy to use, however, and is a good alternative to more popular brands.
Triple action formulation that cleans, shines, and protects
Leaves no oily residue
Easy to apply and use
- BrandMr. Leather
- Weight1 pounds
Featuring a pH-balanced formulation, a trait that almost any other car leather cleaner and conditioner has, the Lexol Leather Care Kit comes in as a rather inexpensive 2-bottle cleaning and conditioning system for today’s cars and homes. We cannot find anything fancy in its formulation except that it doesn’t contain waxes, alcohols, additives, and silicones.
Both formulations can also be used on leather and vinyl surfaces which should be good news for car owners. Unfortunately, there have been issues about its effectiveness as a cleaner with some users claiming Lexol permanently damaged their leathered surfaces. There are also issues about its application, unlike other products that come off as simple wipe systems. With these negatives, its friendly price may not really be that appealing at all.
pH-balanced non-greasy formulation
No harsh chemicals or additives
Can be used on leather and vinyl
- Weight1.35 pounds
Looking for a way to clean, shine and rejuvenate your leather auto interior? Check out this Leatherique automotive kit that boats several quality cleaning products. With a bottle of Prestine Clean and Rejuvenator Oil, as well as a cobra microfiber towel, two cobra microfiber applicator pads and a leather hand brush, you’ll have a clean, restored and protected car interior in no time.
The two most important products in the kit are the oil and cleaner/detailer. You should use the Rejuvenator oil first, by massaging it into the leather with a brush, sponge or even your hands, and letting it get absorbed (a couple of hours should be enough). This will soften and strengthen the leather and prepare it for the next step – Prestine cleaner. With a proper pH and ingredients such as collagen, this detailer will thoroughly clean the leather while nourishing it. Often, the leather will appear gritty, sticky or have a white haze after using this detailer – no worries if this happens as this is just grime, dirt and salts leaving the leather’s pores. Use the microfiber towel to remove the grime and shine the leather.
Includes a microfiber towel
Work on different color leathers
- BrandLeatherique Restoration Products
Leather Conditioners and Cleaners Buying Guide
While it is not unusual for some car detailers to recommend the use of mild soap and lukewarm water in cleaning your leather, a much better approach is to use leather type-specific cleaners and conditioners that will help you clean and restore the beauty and elegance of your leathered items. If you’re lost as to which leather conditioners and cleaners to buy, then read on.
Why You Need Leather Cleaner
Leather materials require a more tender loving approach to their care. Compared to vinyl, plastics, or even metals that are so easy to maintain, leather can be likened to your skin since real authentic leather is actually sourced from animals. That being said, caring for these kinds of materials is a must if you want to retain its elegance and functionality. You have to understand that over time and with exposure to a variety of factors, the overall integrity of leather can also degrade. Factor in the occasional spills, leaks, and scratches and you have leather that looks faded, cracked, dried, and worn. In short, it simply isn’t what you would call a fine quality leather product anymore.
Leather cleaners help you restore the beauty of such materials in your car and in your home. Many of these solutions remove dirt, debris, and oils that conventional cleaning simply cannot remove. Moreover, the use of leather conditioners actually breathes life back into these materials so they will look new again. There are also protective sealants as part of the cleaning system. These products will give your leathered surfaces protection against spills, UV radiation, and what-have-yous.
Types of Leather Cleaners
As you may have already guessed, there are different types of leather cleaners typically corresponding to the type of leather material that is found in cars and home furniture upholstery. Your choice of the correct product lies in the type of leather material you have. Here are some of the more common types of leather cleaners.
Pigment or Protected Leather Cleaners
These are generally called all-around cleaners owing to the unique characteristics of protected or pigment leathers. These are leathers that come with a durable top coating, typically silicone or polyurethane, giving the leather superb waterproofing and dirt resistance. As such, almost any type of cleaner will work on protected leathers. The other good news is that 95% of all cars will have protected leathers in them, making their cleaners a lot more available.
Aniline Leather Cleaners
These products are specifically made for aniline or semi-aniline leathers that are typically characterized as having a very rich look and feel which is basically the epitome of elegant leather. The kind of cleaners for this kind of leather material should be able to prevent staining of the delicate leather especially if a protective sealant was not used. You should understand that aniline leathers are much more difficult to maintain as they are quite fragile compared to pigment type leathers. Aniline materials are more susceptible to the effects of accumulated dirt, moisture, and oils often leading to staining, if not damage. Aniline leather cleaners typically contain a protective sealant component to afford some degree of protection for the leather.
Nubuck Leather Cleaners
This type of cleaner is somewhat similar to aniline leather cleaners since nubuck shares quite a handful of characteristics with aniline. Technically, nubuck is full aniline and is also known as distressed or suede. The good news is that these leathers are a lot easier to maintain than semi aniline. But of course, they simply cannot compare to the ease of maintenance of pigment leathers. Nubuck cleaners, like aniline, contain protective sealants.
How to Clean Car Leather Interiors
Cleaning leather car seats as well as other leathered surfaces is an important aspect of maintaining the integrity of your car’s interior. This helps keep its aesthetic value while giving you a sense of pride in your possession. Here’s how to clean your car’s leather interior.
- If you are going to use commercially available leather cleaner, make sure to try it first in an inconspicuous section of your car leather interior. This is to help minimize mistakes or errors of application and to determine whether the cleaner is safe to use on your car interior. That being said, it is also wise to identify the kind of leather that your car interior has. This way, you will get and use only the correct product for your material.
- Pick up larger debris and particles that you can see on all surfaces. Once you’re done, you can start vacuuming the whole place and wiping them with damp cloth. Dry the area completely using paper towels or a clean piece of cleaning cloth.
- If you don’t want to use commercially available leather cleaners, you can use a really mild soap with lukewarm water to form a soapy solution. Work up the soap suds using a soft microfiber cloth. Rinse this with lukewarm-moistened microfiber cloth.
- If you’re using commercial-grade leather cleaner, apply a generous amount of the cleaning solution onto a moistened sponge. Work the sponge until it foams. Apply the foam over a section of the leather surface. Always apply the foamy solution on a single panel at a time. Always work in smaller sections. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to gently rub stubborn spots. Wipe the area clean using your microfiber cloth to remove any of the residue.
It is important to follow the manufacturer’s directions for its use. Make sure to never deviate from these directions since leather treatment for cars have been tested using the exact same procedure printed on the label.
- Devise a system that will let you work with greater efficiency. You can start with the leather seats and work your way to the leather trims on the door panels and the dashboard. Determine which system works best for you.
- If you wish to apply a conditioner afterwards, you may do so. You can also add a leather protectant solution to help extend the lifespan of your leather material.
How to Protect Your Car Leather Interior
Cleaning leather car seats and other leathered interior surfaces is just one way to keep the integrity of these modern automobile components. Equally important is knowing the right leather treatment for cars to make sure that they are adequately protected from the elements. While leather is technically a strong material, care should be exercised in protecting it from moisture, abrasive forces, and heat. These can significantly impact the lifespan and the quality of your car leather interior.
When it comes to protecting the leather interior of your car, it is important to use a protectant. This is different from a cleaner and a conditioner. Protectants provide your leather with an additional layer that helps repel water and moisture, protect it against the harmful rays of the sun, and toughen the topmost surface of your leather against abrasive forces.
Of course, when it comes to protecting your car against these factors, it is usually wise to avoid exposing your leather interior to these forces. A protectant’s job is to minimize the effects of such forces from exerting their damaging effects on your leather. It is still up to you to take definitive measures to avoid such forces.
Things to Consider When Buying Leather Conditioners and Cleaners
Picking the right leather conditioner and cleaner for your car essentially means taking into consideration the following things:
Type of Leather in Your Car
We already mentioned above that there are different types of leather. Aniline and nubuck leathers easily scratch and can readily absorb water. They also come in little variations of color and hue often complete with natural markings, scars, and bites. On the other hand, pigmented leather will have a more uniform color and hardly-recognizable natural markings. They are water-repellent and won’t scratch easily, too. Pigmented leathers will usually feel slick, almost similar to vinyl. Nubuck and aniline leathers, meanwhile, are more velvety and buttery, respectively. Knowing the type of leather in your car will help you identify the right leather conditioner and cleaner to buy.
Whether your car’s interior is made of genuine rawhide leather or synthetic, it is imperative that the product you are going to buy to clean and condition these surfaces has a neutral pH. The reason is quite simple. Like any other material that depends on the correct balance of acidity and alkalinity, the integrity of leather is best kept if the pH of the cleaning solution is maintained within the normal or neutral pH level. However, be extra-cautious since it is quite easy to put a pH-balanced marking on the label. So before you start using these products, make sure to test them first. Alternatively, you can read consumer reviews about their own experiences.
Presence of Additives or Harsh Chemicals
It is inadvertent that some companies will include additives and other chemicals in their formulation. These are typically intended to lengthen the shelf-life of the product, extend its deep-cleaning properties, or even enhance the color it provides to the material. While there really is nothing inherently wrong with using these products, you simply cannot tell how such chemicals will impact your car leather. Even so-called lab-tested products have figured in case of leather damage.
Always read the label. Most manufacturers explicitly disallow the use of their products on certain surfaces such as faux leather and suede, among others. While there are also products that can be used on vinyl materials, it is still important to double-check the specific kind of vinyl surface that the product is intended for. This way you save your car leather and your pocket, too.
Ease of Application
Some products are so complicated in their application that you’d be better off just discarding them altogether. The point in cleaning and conditioning your car leather is to make it easy so that you will find the correct motivation to do it regularly and more frequently. As such, you have to look for leather treatment for cars that feature ease of application. You can actually check customers’ reviews as they will usually be sharing their experiences about a particular product.
Essential Car Leather Care Tips
The leather in your car is what gives this automotive engineering marvel a touch of class and elegance. It gives your ride a look and feel of luxury. Compared to vehicles that have their interiors flooded with everything made of plastic and fabric, having leather lining every inch of your vehicle’s interior can soothe your ego for having a really nice ride. As such, it is imperative that you know how to care for your car’s leather trim. Here are some tips:
Protect it From Moisture
Leather is made from the skin of certain animals or it can be man-made. One of the essential characteristics of leather is that it is porous, resembling the pores of the skin. That is why leather-loving folks always say that leather breathes life. In this regard, one of the things you have to protect it from is moisture.
You see, extremes in humidity can be damaging to the internal structure of the material. If there is too much moisture in the air, you’re risking your car's leather rotting. If the moisture content of the air is excessively low, such as what occurs in dry air, your leather material has the tendency to dry out and form cracks. This occurs because the dry environment will try to draw moisture, even the natural ones, from everything including your car leather.
While it would be impossible to monitor the humidity levels of your car’s interior every minute of your driving life, you can somehow reduce the likelihood of moisture-related damage by protecting your leather materials with appropriate moisture-proofing products. You may also want to make sure that water spills and leaks onto your leather car seat are wiped off and dried up immediately.
Consider Waterproofing Your Leather Once a Year
While leather is exceptionally durable and strong, it does require some level of protection as we have already mentioned above. Applying a coat of appropriate waterproofing material at least once a year should help protect your car leather from the effects of moisture as well as accidental spills in the case of car seats.
Avoid Exposing it to Direct Heat and Sunlight
If ever you spill your drink on your car leather seat, make sure to wipe it off immediately. Don’t ever make the mistake of blow drying it since the application of heat will shrink the material and dry it out, too. As such, it is imperative that you wipe the spill dry. Also, as much as possible, invest in a good sunshade that will help protect your car's leather interior from UV rays. It goes without saying that you should also park your vehicle in the shade. The sun’s rays can speed up the fading of your leather material while also increasing the risk of cracking and drying.
Always Test Leather Cleaning and Conditioning Products First
If you have to use products to clean and condition your car leather, make sure to test these products first in a small section of your car leather interior, preferably somewhere not easily seen. There is always the risk of changing the natural characteristics of your car interior because of the various chemicals present in these products, regardless of how safe manufacturers claim them to be. Test a product on a small section, leave it for a full 24 hours, and evaluate the results the following day. If you’re satisfied with the results, then you can proceed to the application of the product to the rest of your car’s leather surfaces.
Choose Leather Cleaning Products with Neutral or Natural Colors
There are certain leather creams and polishes that come with added dyes believed to liven up the faded sections of any leather material. Unfortunately, if your car leather interior happens to come with a slightly different hue, you might end up with a patchwork of colors. As such, it is best to stay neutral. Or if you can get a product that has the exact same color as your leather interior, well and good.
Clean it Regularly with a Damp Cloth
One of the best ways you can maintain the integrity of your car leather is by cleaning it regularly with a damp cloth. It should not be soaking wet, just a bit moist will do. While we did say not to leave your leather surfaces wet, cleaning with a damp cloth can help remove dirt, dust, debris, and other particles a lot easier since these particles can cling to the fibers of your cloth if it is damp. Once you’re done cleaning, you can then wipe the surface dry with paper towels or a clean piece of cleaning cloth. We strongly recommend cleaning your car leather interior at least once a week.
Keeping the integrity of your car leather interior is made super easy with the right leather cleaner and conditioner. With this guide, you’re now much closer to maintaining the elegance and functionality of your ride.
Leather Conditioner and Cleaner FAQ
Alas, here are some commonly asked questions about leather conditioners and cleaners.
Q: What is the best conditioner for leather?
A: Our pick for the best leather conditioner is Leather Honey Leather Conditioner. This highly effective and high-quality conditioner uses a formula that’s more than half a century old, and once applied it’ll refresh your interior’s leather for as long as six months.
Q: Do new cars need leather conditioner and cleaner?
A: Yes, any car with a leather interior should be treated with conditioner and cleaner. Even though the durability of today’s leather seats has improved, it’s still a smart preventative measure to protect any type of leather by applying a leather product that’ll protect and maintain your car seats, dashboard, or trim.
Q: Is cream leather conditioner better than liquid products?
A: While cream conditioners are thicker and feel more luxuriously hydrating, liquid leather conditioners are just as good. You can apply a quality conditioner no matter which kind you use — just make sure you’re choosing a formula that’s safe to use, leaves behind no greasy residue, and lasts a long time.
Our Top Pick
If you’re searching for the best of the bunch, it’s hard to beat Leather Honey Leather Conditioner. This single leather care product delivers quality results, all while using non-toxic ingredients that include no harsh chemicals or additives. You’ll get lasting results when you apply this conditioner to your leather seats, trim, and more, and a single application can stick around for as long as six months. Though it does have a slightly high price, this product will condition your leather and breathe new life into it.
- How to Clean Leather Car Seats - HowStuffWorks
- 4 Tips For Protecting The Interior Of Your Car This Summer - HuffPost