Unilever logo
Cleanipedia AU logo

How to Clean Leather Car Seats

Leather upholstery can be tricky to maintain – find out how to get your car interior up to showroom standard with this easy guide to cleaning leather car seats.


How to Clean Leather Car Seats
Listen here

Leather car seats are a comfortable and luxurious addition to any vehicle, but it can be hard to keep them looking showroom perfect without regular cleaning. Fortunately, this handy guide on how to clean leather car seats provides three different methods with easy-to-follow steps to help you keep dirt at bay!

Remember: Before trying out a new cleaning product on your leather seats, first test it on a small, inconspicuous area. If you notice any adverse effects (colour fading, staining etc.), switch to an alternative product. Avoid wax, silicone, or oil-based products as these can damage leather.

For a quick way to clean leather car seats, try using leather wipes ­– you can buy these from your local auto parts store. These generally contain both cleaner and conditioner, allowing you to get two jobs done at once!

Specialist Products for Cleaning Leather Car Seats

There are some very effective bespoke products on the market for cleaning car leather seats. The perfect finish is not a brilliant sheen as one might assume, but rather a matte elegance.

Follow these steps to restore your leather car seats to their former factory-fresh glory:

  1. Vacuum the seats using an upholstery attachment to avoid damaging the leather

  2. Apply specialist car seat cleaner as per the directions on the product

  3. Wipe down the seats with a damp chamois leather – it’s important to use just enough water to remove all of the cleaning agent, without saturating the leather

  4. Leave to dry naturally before hitting the road.

cleaning leather car upholstery

Cleaning with Laundry Detergent

Cleaning leather car seats is significantly trickier than tackling your average living room sofa because of the logistical challenge of reaching the dirt. That said, some underhand tactics and a little detergent make short work of the job:

  1. Prepare for cleaning by vacuuming the seats to suck up dust and crumbs – use an upholstery brush attachment to avoid damaging the leather. Remember to target the clumps of dirt that often congregate between the backrest and the cushion.

  2. Fill a spray bottle with warm water, adding a heaped teaspoon of laundry detergent – fragranced products will leave the upholstery smelling fresh, reducing the need for an air freshener

  3. Fill another spray bottle with warm water only.

  4. Spray the seat with the soap bottle, paying particular attention to soiled areas. Lightly scrub with a soft cotton cloth, then rinse with the warm water and leave to dry.

Not sure what to use to clean leather seat? Check out this step-by-step guide on how to clean leather chairs and sofas:

How To Clean Leather Car Seats With Household Products

For a more natural approach to cleaning car leather seats, try a water-vinegar solution:

  • First, fill a spray bottle three-quarters full with vinegar and then top-up with warm water

  • Spray seat from a distance of around 20cm

  • Lightly rub the solution into the seat with a damp chamois

  • Refill the bottle with water, rinse the seat and leave to dry for great results

Clever cleaning tip: Once you’ve got clean leather car seats, you’ll be keen to keep them that way. Apply a leather conditioning and moisturising treatment once every three months or so to protect the material from heat, sunlight, and drive-through spillages.

  • Although you can buy specialised leather cleaners, products you would normally have around the home – such as laundry detergent or vinegar – can be used for cleaning leather car seats. Just follow the instructions in this guide.

  • Avoid using wax, silicone, or oil-based products.

  • Use cleaning products sparingly to avoid over-saturating your seats.

  • Make sure you give your car seats enough time to dry before your next journey!

Originally published