Seats are one of the most important aspects of any car interior and are usually a deal-breaker when you are shopping for a car. They are your first and last physical contact with your car and should not be considered a minor detail. As such, their care is a must in order to maintain your car in tip-top condition.
In this post, we will share with you some tips for maintaining leather in your car and prolonging its life. In addition to improving the longevity of the leather, you will also impress passengers every time they sit in your car as the leather will seem sparklingly new.
Pros of Having Leather Seats in Your Car
Before diving deep into the maintenance of leather car seats, let’s first look at some of the pros of having leather seats in your car in comparison with other popular options such as fabric and vinyl.
The Plush Look
One of the main benefits of having leather car seats is the look.
- Leather naturally gives off an enticing and inviting look to onlookers.
- Adds an element of luxury to the interior as leather is usually associated with luxury because of its high cost.
- Leather car seats are considered an upgrade.
- Leather seats are known for being super comfortable because of their thickness and support for your body.
- Especially more beneficial for those users who engage in long commutes.
- Having comfortable seats is an indispensable factor in driving a car safely.
Easy to Clean
- Leather car seats are comparatively easier to clean.
- Leather offers a smooth and flush surface which allows car users to simply vacuum off any garbage & dirt and wipe it down.
- Leather car seats possess solid stain resistance capabilities as common stains such as liquids and food are not absorbed.
- This is a great benefit for users having passengers who are either children or simply see a lot of food and liquid spilling.
- Leather seats also give off a pleasant and distinctive smell unlike fabric or vinyl seats.
- Leather does not soak up any bad odors and hold that “new car” smell that leather seats are famous for.
- Leather seats can lessen allergens in your car as the material does not catch dirt and dust.
Higher Resale Value
- Cars fitted with leather seats also receive a higher resale value as the leather adds a luxurious look, cost more, and are in high demand.
- Higher sell-off proceeds especially if the seats are maintained well throughout its life.
Types of Leather
You need to know the types of car leather that exist and the type you have in your car to see the best results.
Dye / Pigmented
Rarely used due to its susceptibility to damage.
Soft and natural
No protective coating
A trade off between a complete natural look with protection. Used in high-end cars.
Soft and natural
Thin protective coating
Perfect combination of sufficient coating and dark tan look. Used in budget cars.
Thick protective coating
Things to Keep in Mind before Cleaning Your Leather Car Seats
Regular Hydration of Leather
It is important to remember that leather contains properties that are alike our skin. Leather can turn dry and brittle when faced with extensive sun exposure which leads to the surface fading and cracking. In order to avoid this, leather needs to be regularly hydrated with lotion and requires care just like our skin to maintain its condition and resale value.
Traffic in the Car
Leather car seats are also sensitive to the traffic in your car. The more traffic you have, the more care your leather seats require. For instance, if you go for sports practice or provide transport for your kids from and to school daily, you will need to clean your seats once every month instead of once every three months.
Conditioning Sprays & Microfiber Cloth
The bare minimum to maintain your car leather and upholstery is to have a conditioning spray or lotion. These conditioning sprays or lotions contain gentle stain removers and crucial moisturizing ingredients. Pair the spray or lotion with a soft scrubbing cloth e.g., microfiber and you have the perfect combo to begin maintaining your leather car seats.
Sharp Items Are a No-No
However, you must keep in mind that certain items in your pockets may scratch and rip the leather upholstery in your car such as keys or your pants’ mental buttons. So, be extra cautious when entering and exiting your car to avoid such mishaps.
Top Tips for Maintaining Leather in Your Car
Diving into the most vital part of this post, let’s now read up on some top tips for maintaining leather in your car so that you can bring it back to showroom condition and keep it in pristine condition to dazzle any onlookers and passengers in your car.
Start With a Vacuum
Before jumping onto cleaning your car’s leather, you need to start by vacuuming any visible or loose dirt, trash, or other debris. This is because you do not want any dirt or debris embedded into the leather when scrubbing down and permanently damaging the material. Remember that you cannot properly maintain your car leather if you do not vacuum any loose substances and ingrain them into the material.
We recommend that you use a full-sized vacuum (a home vacuum also works) in this process to ensure that you vacuum everything thoroughly. Be sure to slide in the hose into the crevices and creases to pick up all loose debris.
Use a Cleaning Solution
After thoroughly vacuuming the seats, you should use a cleaning solution to remove any bacteria or stains gathered on the surfaces. You can either buy a pre-made cleaning solution or make your own with household ingredients. However, remember that you must not directly apply the solution onto the seats but rather dampen the microfiber cloth first and then clean down with it.
We recommend that you do not purchase any commercial leather cleaning solutions that contain ammonia or bleach because either can damage the material severely.
Wipe Down with a Microfiber Cloth
Once you have vacuumed and dampened the microfiber cloth with a suitable cleaning solution, begin scrubbing down the leather seats. Do not concentrate the surface with excessive cleaning solution as soaked leather material takes a prolonged amount of time to dry off and can turn moldy if it remains wet.
Don’t be afraid to scrub down any areas where you see stains or dirt until they disappear. You can also use some elbow grease to clean off any stains that have not settled in completely into the leather material.
Clean and Dry
Remember that you cannot ever leave your car leather wet over a long period of time e.g., overnight or leave it to dry itself by air. As aforementioned, this can turn the leather moldy and cause warping & cracking. So, keep a separate microfiber towel to clean and dry off after your scrubbing session.
Regardless of cleaning and drying out the leather seats, leather will retain some moisture from the cleaning which is normal. However, the important thing is to ensure that the vast majority of moisture is removed to reduce the chances of any damage to the material.
Remember that the best way to tackle any stains is to act immediately when such a stain-causing spill happens. It is inevitable that a stain will occur, however, the quicker you act, the lesser the stain. Make sure to select a good cleaning solution to ameliorate any stains as much as possible.
Other General Tips
Before going all out with a cleaning solution, we recommend that you try it out on an area that is out of sight such as beneath the seats. Check for any bleach stains and carry on if it does not cause any bleach stains on that particular spot.
Take it slow and in small circles to not cause any discolorations. In addition to this, as we have mentioned above, only use microfiber towels as they are soft and do not cause tiny scratches like other fabrics do.
Use cleaning and hydrating solutions that contain ingredients that are natural and non-toxic as they reduce the risk of any damage while cleaning. Apart from this, remember to regularly clean your seats every month to avoid accumulating stains.
Lastly, a hydrating or leather conditioner can act as an additional layer of protection on top of your leather seats after your cleaning routine. So, consider purchasing one as it is a worthwhile investment.
Types of Damages and Their Causes
In addition to learning how to clean your car leather seats, you should also be aware of some major types of leather damages, their causes, and solutions.
Brittle and faded leather
Prolonged sun exposure or air conditioning.
High heat levels from the sun or AC cause the leather to lose shine, fade, and become dry.
Poor material quality and normal daily wear & tear.
Subpar quality of cleaning solutions, body oils, and spills.
Some cleaning solutions contain ammonia or bleach which cause discoloration.
Body oils and sweat accumulate, rub into the material, and cause discoloration.
In a nutshell, leather is an expensive material that adds value to a car and its interior with some pros. However, the cleaning and maintenance of such material require extensive care at regular intervals with the right products. Before cleaning, you need to understand the type of leather your car has and common damage types.