How To Clean Leather Car Seats

Cleaning your car’s leather seats can make a huge difference and it can be achieved with very little effort and only a few bits of equipment. Within this article, we walk you through our steps on how to clean leather car seats in a matter of minutes.

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how to clean leather car seats
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Leather car seats look great when clean and are the main feature of a car that provides a luxury look and feel. Although some manufacturers have stopped using “real” leather in many of their cars, the different types can still be cleaned with ease. Below are our tips on how to clean leather car seats along with before and after results.

What You’ll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Microfibre cloths
  • Soft bristle brush (optional)
  • Leather cleaner
  • Leather conditioner (optional)

How To Clean Leather Car Seats

1. Vacuum Any Loose Dirt

Before you begin to spray any cleaners onto the leather seats, you want to ensure that any loose dirt and debris are vacuumed beforehand. Ideally, you want to use a car vacuum cleaner that has a soft/gentle nozzle attachment as this will allow you to reach all the nooks and crannies of the seats. If you are using a standard nozzle, try not to push too hard onto the seats as this could potentially cause visible scratches upon the leather.

2. Spray Leather Cleaner

After the seats have been vacuumed, you can use a car leather cleaner of your choice on the seats. If the seats aren’t made from a perforated material that features lots of holes, you can simply spray the cleaner onto the seats. However, if they are perforated, it’s advised that you use a less generous amount of the cleaner and spray it into a microfibre cloth to rub it into the seats. This helps to avoid residue getting trapped inside the holes of the perforated leather. However, if there is any trapped dirt or residue in the holes already, use a cocktail stick to clear it.

3. Agitate The Cleaner & Wipe Clear

Once the leather cleaner is getting to work on the seats, the formula that you use may suggest agitating it into the leather. If this is the case, you will need to use a soft bristle brush to work the formula into the seat. You may also be able to use a soft detailing brush instead if you have one in your detailing kit. Once the agitation (if required) is complete, you can simply wipe the cleaner off using a clean microfibre cloth.

4. Apply Leather Conditioner

Conditioning the seats after you’ve cleaned them is highly recommended because it helps to protect them from stains, dye transfer, sun damage as well as wear and tear. Using a leather conditioning formula of your choice, pour it onto a microfibre cloth and rub it into the leather. Before buffing it clear, allow it to dry for at least 10 minutes.

how to clean car leather seats

5. Asses The Seat Condition

After the seats have been cleaned and conditioned, check for any wear and tear. We have included this as a step because after they’ve been cleaned, they can show new signs of wear that were otherwise hidden by dirt. If you do spot any signs of wear, reapply the leather conditioner and target that specific area. Whilst conditioning seats myself, I often give the driver seat bolster another application of the conditioner because this often receives the most wear.

Before & After Results

Leather Car Seat Before
Leather Car Seat After

As you can see from the photos, the seats are certainly much cleaner and this was achieved upon a seat that wasn’t that dirty to begin with. Another excellent result from cleaning the leather car seats is that the bolster wear (near the seat belt buckle) looks much better and this is thanks to the conditioner that was used once it was cleaned.

How To Keep The Seats Clean

Although cleaning your car’s leather seats only takes a few minutes, not everyone has the time to clean them each time they become dirty. Therefore, below are some of our tips to keep the seats cleaner for longer:

  • Clean any spills with a wipe as soon as they happen
  • Use a car seat cover if you intend on getting the seats dirty
  • Avoid eating in the car (the worst offender for dirty leather seats)
  • Keep leather cleaning wipes in the car for spot cleaning


Cleaning your leather car seats is fairly straightforward and it’s well worth your time to keep it clean. If you wish to take your leather car seat cleaning a step further, you may even want to use a car steam cleaner to tackle more stubborn dirt. However, for the majority of people, the tips above are more than suitable for keeping leather car seats clean.

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