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Hands up who neglects the interior of their car? Most of us take our vehicles to the car wash to be cleaned and buffed when it’s looking dirty but we tend to slack off a bit when it comes to the interior.

Leather seats are a luxury and can last the whole duration of your vehicle’s life if you take care of them properly. Clean leather seats can make such a difference with the appearance of your car and can also add value if you’re considering selling.

The bottom line is this – if you have spent the extra dollars on a vehicle with leather seats then it’s wise to spend a few dollars on the right type of cleaning products to make the inside of your car glow.

Don’t be intimidated by leather. With the right mix of products, cleaning the seats is easy and the end result is often very satisfying too.

Here’s what you’ll need to clean your leather seats like a professional:

wash car seats

Check For Holes

Once you’ve gathered everything you need, you’re going to have to set aside some time to check the seats thoroughly. As you’re about to perform a proper deep clean then it’s important to check the seats for holes, tears and perforations in the leather.  If you do find holes or tears then make sure you don’t get liquid inside as this could damage the inner foam.

How Do I Clean Perforated Leather Seats?

Many cars have been manufactured with perforated leather seats. Not only can it be an aesthetic design feature, but also with heated seats often there are perforations in the leather that allow the air to flow through. This needn’t be a problem when it comes to cleaning leather however. Just remember, that if you have perforated holes in your leather seats then you’re going to need a lot less liquid. Add the leather cleaner to a brush or clean cloth instead of directly onto the leather in this instance, and if you feel you’ve added too much liquid then you can use a car vacuum or hairdryer to remove or dry out the excess moisture.

Vacuum

Whether the leather in your car is perforated or not, you’re going to start your deep clean with a thorough vacuum. Using a wet/dry vacuum with a soft brush head, carefully use the vacuum to remove any large or small bit of debris. Pay particular attention to the seams as this is where most of the debris usually gathers. Take care when vacuuming not to scratch the surface. When you’re all done, you’re ready for the next stage.

Remove Surface Dirt

Before you add any product (aside from water) to your leather car seats, please ensure you have read your vehicle’s user manual to check to see how best to care for your seats. Always perform a spot test first too to check and see how the leather reacts.

Before deep cleaning leather seats, it’s important to remove any surface dirt. Using a spray bottle of water and leather soap or leather cleaner, get to work at removing any obvious signs of dirt which can include grease, dust or dirt.

Get Scrubbing

Now is a good time to perform another spot test on a small part of your leather seats to see how the product reacts. Find a spot that is hidden from view and test a small area with your chosen leather cleaner. Wait for it to dry before examining for any potential staining or damage.

If you’re happy to crack on with the cleaning then now is the time to apply the leather cleaning solution directly onto your leather car seats (unless of course the leather is perforated – for that you’ll need to add the solution to a cloth first to minimise liquid application). Check the instructions on the bottle, but normally only a little solution is required.

To activate the foam and agitate the dirt and bring it to the surface, you should use a clean soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the surface. It’s important to be gentle at this stage as the last thing you want to do now is to scratch your leather seats.

Once you have scrubbed the leather seat, then the next stage is to use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe down the seats and soak up any excess leather cleaning solution.

If there are still stubborn spots of dirt left on your leather car seats then you’ll just need to simply repeat the above steps. Apply a little more leather cleaning solution, scrub gently with the brush and then wipe away, remembering to avoid getting liquid into any holes or tears.

leather car seat

Get In Good Condition

There are many benefits of using a good quality leather seat conditioner. The main purpose is to restore the leather by putting natural oils back into the material. After scrubbing and cleaning your leather car seats you have essentially dried out the leather so these oils are essential in the healthy maintenance of your car seats.

Make sure you buy a high-quality leather conditioner and don’t ever buy the cheapest on the market .The last thing you want to do at this stage is add cheap product to your seats and ruin them. Also cheap leather conditioners tend to leave your seats looking and feeling greasy which is not a good look for your vehicle. Never choose a leather conditioner that contains wax, silicone or petroleum. Choose a water-based PH balanced product. If you can find one with sunscreen that’s even better – it isn’t just our skin that needs protection! A top quality leather conditioner with sunscreen can protect your seats against fading and sun damage.

As with any new product you plan to test on your leather car seats, find an inconspicuous area to spot test the product on and once you’re happy you’re good to go!

Using the product sparingly, you should add the leather conditioner to a clean microfiber cloth or sponge to gently rub or massage the product into the leather. Follow the products’ instructions, but as a general rule of thumb you should use the product sparingly to avoid making your leather car seats greasy.

If you have perforated leather seats then you’ll only want to add a little of the product so it doesn’t end up clogging the holes.

Drying Time

Once your leather car seats have been vacuumed, scrubbed and conditioned, then it’s time to leave your car for a while to dry. We recommend that you try leaving your car for at least 12 hours and park the car into a shady spot, well away from sunshine. As we mentioned before, sunshine can really damage leather seats so in this drying period it’s pretty important you keep it away from direct sun and its harmful UV rays.

Buff It Up

Once the product has had time to dry, your leather car seats will then be ready for a good buffing. Using a clean and dry microfiber cloth, you can use circular motions to clean and polish the seats. This is where all your hard work and effort will really show. Wipe off any excess conditioner and then you’re all done. See how easy that was.

Do It Naturally

If you want to avoid chemical cleaners then there are different ways that you can clean your leather car seats using only natural ingredients. Instead of using a leather cleaning solution it’s possible to make your own using a plant spray bottle filled with ¾ vinegar and ¼ warm water. It might not be the best smelling product out there but vinegar has been used for many years as a cleaning solution and it’s proven to yield great results. Be sure to spot test first.

cleaning leather seats

Keep It Up!

With leather car seats, the longer you leave it between cleaning, the worse it is. Leather is porous and absorbs oil from anything that has made contact with the seat, including oil from skin too. Make sure that you set aside time to regularly clean your seats so that they can look as good as new for as long as possible.

If something is spilled onto the seats then you’ll need to remove it as soon as possible. Don’t leave it! Never use cheap products on your leather car seats and if you’re using a product for the first time then always perform a spot test on an inconspicuous area first. Don’t ever skip this stage of cleaning. Once your seats have been damaged from the wrong type of product then the results will be permanent.

Don’t use too much leather conditioner and don’t use it too often. You should only really need to condition your leather car seats a few times a year.

Sources:

  1. How to clean leather car seats – Cleanipedia
  2. How to Clean Leather Car Seats

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