Leather Car Upholstery
Fact versus Fiction


In today's world leather car upholstery can be found in virtually every form of car, truck, SUV, and vans. And just like cars themselves, not all car leather is created equal. Like so many areas of life, we as consumers often lack understanding as to what proper car leather care actually requires.



We find ourselves being "educated" based on an agenda aimed at separating us from our hard-earned money rather than actually educating us with facts of proper car leather cleaning and maintenance.

Does Car Leather Really Have To Be So Confusing...

leather car upholstery

Not only does the industry do much to confuse us all in the name of selling more and more product, but unsuspecting and misinformed people are far too eager to repeat information that is unverified and just simply incorrect. Is there any wonder you as well as most others feel like we are chasing our tails!

Darren's Note: If you have found yourself here looking for how to clean car leather or for the best car leather cleaner, then go to either one of these links:

Leather Car Seat Care and Cleaning

Leather Car Cleaners

But before you run off, become the biggest know-it-all on the block by educating yourself regarding all things car leather!



Car Leather Upholstery Q. and A.

Q.- Does car leather really require special cleaning and maintenance?

A.- If by "special" you mean cleaning and maintenance period, then yes! Not that anything in this world doesn't require some form of cleaning and maintenance.

clean car leather

Q.- I heard you are never supposed to clean car leather but to condition it only?

A.- Not true. In fact, it is far more important to keep the car upholstery clean than it is to keep putting conditioner on it.

Q.- I heard you have to use special cleaners for car leather?

A.- Not true....mostly. Virtually all car leather upholstery is made with what is simplified as "sealed" leather. This means a water-based clear protective coating is applied when the leather is tanned/manufactured/made. (use which ever term makes sense of your world) This is the good news as this is why car leathers of today are so resistant to stains, dirt, and general use. So most general purpose cleaners are suitable for any leather that can get wet; which is most car leather. Suede's and Nubuck leather is unfinished and different. Of course with all that said, there are "special" cleaners made for everything under the sun including special car leather cleaners.

Q.- I heard car leather is all the same anyways?

A.- Not true. Just like anything else in this world, you get what you pay for. The more you pay for your car the better quality of leather you will get just as the more leather will be in use within your car. With that said, unless you have a very high-end car and a very specialized un-coated leather, virtually all car leather will be coated with this clear protective coating despite the fact that the quality of leather underneath will be different. Think of car paints; not only is the quality of car paint different, but the clear-coat will also be of varying quality from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Q.- What is meant by leather appointed seating?

leather appointed seating

A.- Welcome to the misrepresentation of the marketing world and the power of suggestion. Whether you are trying to buy healthy food or the best car wax, you must be able to decipher specific words of marketing and advertising to really understand what you are getting. So when a manufacturer says "leather appointed seating" this may literally mean that only the parts of the seating that contact your body will actually be leather; everywhere else will be pseudo (fake) leather.

Q.- I tried some special car leather cleaner on my leather car upholstery and it hardly did anything to clean the dirt off...what gives?

A.- You can thank all of us for this one; commonly called the "idiot factor" of community. Because there is always a line of idiots lacking any common sense, virtually every industry must account for the idiot factor and dumb-things-down to the lowest common denominator of society. So the rest of us must be continually disappointed with ineffective and overly mild cleaners. So what generally happens is that you as a car owner with leather car upholstery, wait until your car leather is so noticeably dirty that you can't bear to look at it, sit on it, or think about it. But by this point so much dirt has accumulated and you go in search of "the best car leather cleaner" that has been unfortunately, formulated to be ever-so safe; which is just code for overly-mild or ineffective.

Q.-What about cleaning cloths or scrub brushes when cleaning leather car upholstery?

A.- Another area in which we have been lead astray. Car leather is much more durable and resistant than we have been lead to believe, so using the right products along with the right techniques will be the key to car leather that is truly clean! You can see leather car seat care for recommended tools.

Q.- What about car leather conditioners?

A.- Just like virtually every other area of life, I do have an opinion. (gee, shocker!) Car leather conditioners are to be considered and used on a case by case basis. I am not a huge fan in general, but much of this depends on why you are choosing to use them. If you want a more in-depth review on car leather conditioners, you can follow that link and really become the household know-it-all.


leather car interior

Leather Car Interior Recap

I can only imagine that this discussion on leather car upholstery has been very revealing; as is the case with most people. You can thank the industry for yet another moment where they actually do their best to keep us in the dark so they can continue to sell more and more specialized products. Not that I am against specialized products in general; it's just that the industry is less than transparent and it is designed to exploit people's ignorance...

but good luck; I hope I have helped!

darren priest car detailing expert


”Serving Orange County, California for Over Twenty Years”

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