Leather Car Seat Care
Tired of getting bad results?

In today's mdern cars, leather car seat care is of tp priority to many car, truck, and van owners who now have the luxury to have leather trimmed car upholstery.

Leather car seating can be found in virtually every make and model. 15 years ago, leather car seat care was exclusive to only high-end luxury and exotic automobiles.

Now even kiddy-haulin' vans come complete with interiors covered in leather. Due to much misrepresentation through advertising and marketing, we as car owners are left confused and frustrated as to what exactly proper car leather care requires.

leather car seat care

"The industry keeps you in the dark. Chasing your tail after the next best car leather cleaner or conditioner, despite these products being marketed based on outdated information."

Confused and overwhelmed to the point of inaction, many people have simply given up in frustration not knowing where to turn or what to do. Leather car seat care is actually very simple and straight forward due to the clear protective coating used when producing car leather in today's modern cars.

Leather Car Seat Care:
The big secret of the industry


Yup! The industry has in fact kept all us car owners and consumers in the dark. By keeping us in the dark about leather car seat care, the industry itself can continue to sell us outdated products based on outdated information.

leather car upholstery

"Virtually every car made with car leather upholstery is made using leather that has a clear protective coating on it. This is very similar in concept as to the clear coating of your car paint"

What this means to you as a car owner attempting to learn proper leather car seat care is that all those special car leather cleaners and conditioners are not actually touching a natural material known as leather, but is touching a synthetic coating.

This leather is what is called coated car leather, and every car manufacturer from entry level to the most expensive exotics use coated car leather in the production on their cars.

Regardless of what the manufacturer calls their "special leather", is is still coated with a clear protective coating. Yes there many types of leather, many quality grades of leather, many ways in which leather can be dyed, but they are all still finished with a clear protective coating.

Leather Car Seat Care:
The good news and the bad news

leather car seat care lexus car leather

The fact that your car leather is coated car leather is both the good news and the bad news. It all depends on how you look at this. The simple response from me is that leather car seat care is easier and simpler than ever, assuming you are getting information from the right source.

Good News: Personally I consider this good news as it means that leather car seat care is easier than ever. This clear protective coating allows your car leather to look "normal", smell like real leather (after all; it still is real leather), but means that your car leather upholstery is far more resistant to dirt, oils and other insults of daily use.

This also means that cleaning and conditioning your car leather (or more specifically; the clear protective coating on your car leather) is easier and simpler than ever. So long as you are willing to embrace this new information.

Bad News: The only bad news I can think of is for people stuck in old-school thinking deeply rooted in nostalgia of days gone by. If you are old enough to remember the days when you got a new baseball glove and accepted that you needed to "break it in" by rubbing and massaging special oils or conditioners. The goal back then was to transform your stiff, rigid baseball glove into a supple piece of equipment. There were endless protocols and "special" treatments people used to perform this initial task of breaking in their new baseball gloves.

This same mentality and thought process bleeds into car leather upholstery for many people of a certain age group. To which I can fully appreciate since I am old enough to be part of that era of time. And while the thought of finding the best car leather conditioner and massaging it into your new car leather might seem very appealing at first, I am willing to bet that this will get old very quickly for most of you reading this.

Leather Car Seat Care:
Breaking it down to the simple

bmw leather car seat care

Now that you know that your car leather is in fact coated with a clear protective coating, this changes everything. All of which will make your life easier and simpler if you are willing to follow along.

I am going to break this down into 3 very distinct areas of leather car seat care:

  • Cleaning
  • Conditioning
  • Maintaining

Each of these areas of requirements are worthy of explaining and showing you how each area is also going to be different moving forward from what you have likely been taught or told, by some so-called expert or the industry itself.

Leather Car Seat Care:
Cleaning car leather

Instead of searching for the best car leather cleaner, I am going to introduce you to a very simple (pun not intended) all-purpose cleaner that is not only safe and effective at cleaning your car leather, but very economical and useful for literally countless tasks of cleaning in general.

All-Purpose Cleaner - Stain Remover for Clothing, Fabric & Carpet, Cleans Floors & Toilets, Degreases Ovens & Pans (Original, 32 oz Spray and 2-67.6 oz Refill)

  • Not only my "go-to" cleaner for car leather upholstery, but my all-purpose cleaner for my cars, the garage and in the house
  • Comes as a concentrate that can be custom blended to suit your exact cleaning needs
  • I use the "mild" formulation as labeled on the packaging for general car leather cleaning
  • If your car leather is excessively dirty, just make the concentration stronger (as a rule, it is better to accept that when cleaning excessively dirt build up, repeat applications are better than thinking you will be able to apply a heavy application and get everything clean in the first go. I have dealt with excessively dirty car leather at a professional level and have been required to repeat the application and scrubbing 4-6 times before I was satisfied with the results)
  • This is also what I use to clean virtually every other material in the interior of a car: car leather, carpeting, rubber floor mats, vinyl door panels, dash boards, velour, etc.
  • This bundle of Simple Green may seem over-kill if you are just trying to buy a quality cleaner for leather car seat care, but due to the versatility of this all-purpose cleaner, you will find more and more uses for it the more you use it

Chemical Guys car leather Cleaning Brush

Chemical Guys ACCS96 fl. oz Premium Select Horse Hair Interior Cleaning Brush for Leather, Vinyl, Fabric and More

  • Made with super soft and safe horse hair bristles
  • One of my "go-to" scrub brushes to clean car leather safely
  • Bristles become even soften when bristles are wet from your cleaning solution

TAKAVU 6.7" Leather & Textile Cleaning Brush, Durable Soft Nylon Bristles, Free Detailing Brush, Unique Concave Design Wood Handle for Car Interior Seat Carpet Upholstery Couch Furniture Boots Shoes

  • Another ideal brush for cleaning car leather
  • Comes with two size of scrub brushes for larger areas along with the tighter seams of your car leather upholstery
  • I like this "kit" for two reasons: it comes with a smaller detail brush for tighter areas, and it is made with synthetic bristles that do not soften-up when wet (some of you may like this idea, while some of you may be scared away from this)
  • If you are dealing with brand new leather or slightly dirty car leather, then the natural hair leather scrub brush from above will likely be the winner for you
  • If you are dealing with excessively dirty car leather than I would go with this later version that uses synthetic bristles
  • Ideally you would likely want both versions as the level of dirt will be different from case to case and you simply will not know the perfect winning combination of scrub brushes and cleaning dilution until you are using them

Before (with partial cleaning)

heavy duty car leather cleaners

After (complete cleaning)

heavy duty car leather cleaner

The dramatic before and after pictures from above illustrate what is possible if the right techniques are combined with the right products. The amount of dirt on the above seat is very common and normal. Most people wait until their car leather seating has reached this point of dirt build-up before they take action, and the disappointment goes as follows:

  • Gee, my car leather is looking very dirty.
  • I really should have kept it cleaner from the beginning but I didn't.
  • I think I will get some car leather cleaner and clean it myself.
  • I got some name-brand leather cleaner online, but it really sucks as it barely touched the dirt.

Don't feel too badly as this is generally how it plays out for most people. For this reason I offer some tips from the world of professional level car leather cleaning tricks.

Leather Car Seat Care:
Heavy Duty Car Leather Cleaning

Since most retail dedicated leather car seat cleaners are "watered-down" to be extra safe rather than be extra effective, most people find that a more aggressive all-purpose cleaner will be the ticket when it comes to leather car seat care and cleaning.

While I am a huge fan of the Simple Green all-purpose cleaner for many reasons, there will be some of you that will feel "safer" using an all-purpose cleaner that is formulated and packaged specifically for car leather cleaning and care.

Fr this reason I add the following cleaner as well as another scrub brush I use when required to clean excessively dirty car leather.

CarGuys Super Cleaner - The most effective All Purpose Cleaner available on the market! - Best for Leather Vinyl Carpet Upholstery Plastic Rubber and much more! - 18 oz Kit

  • Not only an effective heavy duty cleaner for your car leather, but an all-purpose cleaner for so many other car cleaning tasks.
  • Top rated all-purpose cleaner on Amazon.
  • Not just for leather car seat care, but clean virtually any material, and surface within your cars interior. (see labeling for specific directions)

Upholstery Cleaner Scrub Brush Set Cleaning Brush and Horsehair Detailing Brush for Car Interior, Seats, Boat, Couch, Sofa and Carpet

  • What I consider the ideal scrub brush set for all your car interior cleaning and detailing needs
  • One brush is super soft (Horse hair) for gentler cleaning
  • One brush is for heavier duty cleaning (nylon bristles)
  • Use either one to scrub your leather car seating when using the all-purpose cleaner from above (you decide which is the perfect scrub brush for the moment)

Leather Car Seat Care:
The perfect cleaning cloth

What good is it if you find the right car leather cleaners and scrub brushes, when you default to outdated tools of moping up your mess as you are cleaning your car leather upholstery.

Kirkland Signature Ultra High Pile Premium Microfiber Towels (36-Pack)

  • Micro-fiber is my "go-to" cloth material regardless of the detailing job I am performing
  • Micro-fiber is softer, safer, and more absorbent than any other traditional cloth yu may have used in the past
  • Micro-fiber will also not leave lint like your "super-soft, 100% cotton cloths" you have likely been using

Darren's Note: In the event you have never used a micro-fiber cloth for cleaning your car upholstery or car leather and are used to the "feel" and experience of using a terry cloth towel, then it takes a little geting used to. The micro-fiber cloths will "grab" any material you are cleaning (except car paint) more than a terry cloth towel will. It took me awhile to adjust, but once I adjusted I was able to realize just how superior micro-fiber is in doing any of the detail tasks you will be faced with.

Trust me on this!!

leather Car Seat Care:
What Would Darren Do (WWDD)

car leather care bmw

Often I am asked by people who accept my decades of experience and trust my recommendations, what I would do. People who don't want to read the countless descriptions and are tired of the endless opinions.

For this reason I will lay out exactly what I do both professionally and in my own world on my personal cars.

Darren's Note: I keep my cars in pristine condition always. For this reason, you may be faced with much heavier levels of dirt on your car leather than I ever would personally. If you are in that situation, simply pick and choose from my recommendations from above, then come back here to see how I "condition" and maintain the leather car upholstery in my own cars.

Cleaning Car Leather

I use the same Simple Green all-purpose cleaner from above and simply dilute it down to the "mild" dilution ratio as per label instructions. It is an ideal formulation for basic cleaning of dust and light body oils. I use it as often as I want or as needed without any fear of damages.

how to clean car leather
  • I pre-vacuum to remove and lose debris and dirt from between the leather car seat seams
  • I spray each panel of my leather car seating and scrub
  • I mop up using micro-fiber cloth as dirt breaks loose
  • I repeat as necessary until desired results are achieved
  • I use virtually any of the scrub brushes from above ( I accept that regardless of the brush of your choice, you remain in  control of how aggressive the brush is based on the amount f pressure you use while scrubbing

Car Leather Upholstery:
Car leather conditioner

If you have made it to this point in this page, one of the most important points you will have learned is the fact that you are no longer dealing with a natural material called leather in your car. It is leather that has been clear coated with a synthetic coating that makes leather car seat care mush easier and simpler.

But the industry wants you to keep buying the latest and greatest car leather cleaning and conditioning products with the understanding that you are most likely still operating under outdated information.

With that said, I offer what I do in the name of maintaining my car leather and my versin of conditioning my car leather.

CSI Q-7 Detailer Quart 62-205-Q

  • Not your normal quick deailer traditionally reserved for exterior use only
  • A nano-emulsified formulation far superior than traditional detailers (nano-emulsified means a "tighter" emulsion. Think of mayonnaise (tight emulsion) versus cottage cheese (an inferior emulsion)
  • Contains no wax or silicones
  • Formulated with a surfactant (glorified name for soap) that is ideally suited to clean away light dust and smudges)
  • I use this once or twice a week to wipe down the interior of my entire car knowing it is safe for all surfaces: car leather, plastic door panels, dashboard, rubber gaskets, etc. It would not damage any fabrics or velours, but I do not use it on these porous materials)

CSI Q-7 Wax 16oz 62-204-P

  • Despite how absurd it may sound to many of you to use a wax on your car leather, when you accept that you are dealing with a clear coating on your car leather (think of the clear coating on your car paint), you will begin to see the logic in using a wax like this to treat or condition your car leather upholstery
  • A non-staining car wax that is safe for virtually any material: paint, glass, car leather, black plastic exterior/interior trim, etc.
  • I use this as often I want to add a level of "protection" to my car leather in the form of a car wax, and when I want to add a very subtle increase in appearance (more noticeable on dark/black car leather)
  • I can also use this on all my plastic door panels, dash board, door gaskets, door jambs, plastic threshold plates, etc.
  • Use as often as you like (you will never get the infamous "wax build-up with this product)

CSI Nu Tyre Lotion Quart 62-208-Q

  • Another amazing product by CSi (ClearCoat Solutions, Inc)
  • true waterborne technology
  • My "go-to" non-slinging tire dressing as well as my "go-to" interior car leather conditioner when I want some added shine to my car leather
  • This dressing dries completely to the touch (once you apply, you allow it to dry and you have no greasy/oily residue left on your car leather like many other traditional car leather conditioners
  • Creates a subtle shine (no hyper-shine with this product)
  • Can be used on all hard, non-porous materials within your cars interior: vinyl, rubber, car leather, threshold plates, etc. (I do not use this on any of the LCD/infotainment screens or the instrument cluster plastic clear covers)
  • Excellent for all exterior use also for any materials you would normally apply a dressing: tires, black trim, window gaskets, etc.

Leather Car Seat Care Summary

using q-7 wax for leather car seat care and conditioning

Since leather car seat car is a top priority for any car owner with leather car seating, I hope you have become a much more informed consumer and car owner. If you know anyone else you think might benefit from this info, please forward the link or use the socialize it buttons to share at your favorite site.

Thank you for tuning in!


Darren Priest

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