Skip to Main Content

How to Clean Leather Car Seats

Published Fri December 22, 2017

how to clean leather car seats


A lot of auto maintenance tends to focus on what’s under the hood, or perhaps what the body of the car looks like—and rightly so. These things are obviously important, but there’s something to be said for maintaining the interior of your car, as well.

Interior upkeep is essential for making your car look great; making the time you spend in it more enjoyable; and ensuring that, when it comes time to trade or sell the car, you get maximum bang for your buck.

Leather upholstery presents a special challenge. Through food and drink spills or through simple wear and tear, your leather car seats can come to look stained and grimy over time. The good news is that, with a little elbow grease, you can get those seats looking just like new.


Taking Care of Your Leather Seats


Here’s the best way to clean leather car seats:


  • First and foremost, always check your owner’s manual, which should provide you with some upholstery care tips—including some cleaning products you’re supposed to avoid.
  • Check your seats for any perforated holes, and if you spot any, take every precaution to keep water and cleaning supplies out of these holes.
  • Get out a handheld vacuum or a shop-vac and clean up any large particles or crumbs on your leather seats. Using one of the vacuums at a professional car wash is also an option. Be careful so as not to scratch the leather with the end of the vacuum.
  • Spray a commercial cleaning solution onto a microfiber towel and use it to thoroughly wipe down your seats, which have certainly accumulated some dirt and buildup over time. As an alternative to commercial cleaners, try mixing one part white vinegar to two parts linseed oil.
  • From there, apply some of the cleaner directly to the seats and then get a soft-bristled brush to scour them more thoroughly.
  • Grab another dry, clean microfiber cloth and wipe your seats down, removing any cleaning agent that’s left on them.
  • Hopefully, once you pat those seats down, you’ll see plenty of gunk and grime on your microfiber towel—proof that your cleaning efforts have been successful!

Attending to Regular Upholstery Upkeep


This is a fairly simple cleaning process, but still requires your time and your focus. The question is, how often do you need to do it? Generally speaking, you’ll want to do a deep cleaning like this once a season or so. However, you may also wish to do a lighter cleaning—perhaps just scouring your seats with a cloth and some cleaner—every few weeks.

Conditioning your seats is also an option if you really want to keep them looking their best. If you choose to go down this road, make sure you pick a water-based, pH neutral conditioner—one that is expressly recommended for use on leather.

Taking care of what’s under the hood is important—but for keeping your vehicle in the most pristine possible condition, taking care of what’s inside is nearly as pivotal.