How to Clean Leather Car Seats

Keep your leather car seats in pristine condition with these DIY cleaning solutions and unconventional stain-removing hacks.

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Leather seats add a touch luxe to your car. They’re pricey, so you need to take care of them. Here’s how to clean leather car seats so that they look great and last a longtime.

First, vacuum the seats, being careful to remove dirt and debris from the crevices. Next, apply a cleaning solution to the seats. Do not use bleach or ammonia-based cleaners as they can damage the leather. You can use a commercial leather cleaner, or you can make your own. Mix warm water and Castile soap or liquid dish washing soap together in a bucket. Use a ratio of 5 parts water to 1 part soap. Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe down the seat surfaces. Don’t saturate the leather because too much water could pool in the seat seams and seep into the cushions. Excess water can also stain the leather. Wipe clean with a second damp cloth. Dry thoroughly with a towel.

Another DIY idea to clean leather: Mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz on the seat, let sit for five minutes and wipe.

The best way to clean leather car seats is to prevent stains. Wipe up spills as soon as they hit the seat. Even if you’re fast with the cleanup, stains will happen. Grab one of these items and get cleaning.

Toothpaste

Dab non-gel toothpaste on the soiled area. Use a toothbrush to gently scrub away the stain. Wipe the area with a clean cloth when finished, then dry with a towel. Toothpaste will also remove scuffs.

Lemon Juice and Cream of Tartar

Use this on light upholstery only, as it has a bleaching effect. Mix equal parts of juice and cream of tartar into a paste. Apply to soiled area and let sit for 30 minutes. Use a damp sponge to remove the paste.

Nail Polish Remover or Rubbing Alcohol

Dip a cotton swab in nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol and blot the stain. Once you’ve lifted the stain, clean the area with a mild solution of liquid dish soap and warmwater. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth.

Baking Soda 

This cleaner is good for removing oil and grease stains. Sprinkle on the soiled area and rub it in with a damp cloth. Let sit for a few hours or overnight. The soda will absorb the oil. Wipe off the powder with a soft cloth. Follow with a damp cloth to remove residue, and dry with a towel.

Once your seats are clean, apply a leather conditioner that contains sunscreen to keep them from cracking and fading. Conditioner also makes the leather resistant to future stains and gives it a nice shine. Knowing how to clean leather will extend the life of your car seats and keep them looking new.

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