Leather Car Seat Cleaning:
Heavy Duty Cleaning

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When it comes to leather car seat cleaning most of you will go in search of answers only after your leather has become heavily soiled. At this point you will likely have reached out to what the industry offers in a dedicated car leather cleaner only to be disappointed yet again!

It is one thing to keep your car's leather clean from the beginning. An entirely different thing to clean car leather that has been neglected for years and now you have decided you can't tolerate the dirt any longer and go in search of the best car leather cleaner. Not only will you be presented with endless choices, but most of you will be sorely disappointed when you learn first hand that most traditional car leather cleaners are not formulated to be strong enough to clean leather in your car that is truly dirty.

Most Car Leather Cleaners Simply Suck!
Yes, I said it.

leather car seat cleaning

Is your car leather beginning to look something like the picture to the right?

Not horrid, but certainly in need of some attention in the form of leather car seat cleaning.

But nonetheless, the leather in this picture is well over-due for some attention and the regular maintenance of cleaning has been "deferred". And while most over the counter retail leather cleaning products will remove some dirt, these same retail products have been dumbed down to the point where they deliver unacceptable results for most people who have let the leather in their car go too long without cleaning.

Car Leather Cleaner and Your Car Leather

ferrari car leather cleaning

  • Most people think car leather is a very delicate material that requires sensitive leather cleaners and conditioners.
  • Most people do not realize that just like every other area in our lives today, technology has made things not only more durable, but easier to clean and maintain; car leathers included.
  • Virtually all car leathers today, from high end to entry level cars have leather that has been coated with a protective clear coating. This not only makes the leather material far more durable, but also easier to clean and maintain.
  • Unlike car leather of the past, what you are really cleaning is not actually the natural leather you think you are cleaning, but a synthetic clear coating.

For a greater understanding of the different types of car leathers, you can see my Car Leather discussion page for a comprehensive overview. It will open in a new window so you may return here easily.

Leather Car Seat Cleaning:
Getting professional results!

Before Cleaning Car Leather

leather car seat cleaning before

After Cleaning Car Leather

While I could have used much more dramatic before and after pictures as I have on other pages of this site, these pictures represent what I consider the situation in which most of you will find yourselves; dirty, but not excessively dirty. At one of my other car leather upholstery cleaning pages, you can see a more dramatic before an after picture I took while cleaning the leather in a Lexus RX.

"I get it Darren, most leather cleaners suck and I am tired of the disappointment, can you tell me what you use so I can get these same level of results!" 

Glad you finally asked!

A Better Way of Cleaning Your Car's Leather Upholstery:
From Mild to Wildly Dirty!

Interestingly, and probably not completely surprising at this point is that the product I use for these results isn't an actual car leather cleaner, but a heavy duty All-purpose cleaner that is labeled as a super degreaser...but don't be misled! This is literally what I use professionally and hold tight as one of my favorite secrets of my success in the ability to clean leather upholstery unlike much of my competitors.

I have had countless customers stand in amazement as they behold their leather upholstery they had no idea could be cleaned to this level of clean once again!

Meguiar's Super Degreaser:

  • What I use professional for so many different types of cleaning jobs.
  • See my dedicated page on this super-degreaser for my full write-up.
  • This is a concentrate; so you can dilute it down to your own preferred strength.
  • A gallon might seem over-kill to any driveway detailer, but it has endless uses.

Darren's Professional Tips: If I had to live with a single all-purpose cleaner, this one from Meguair's would be it! For it represents the winning combination of features and I use it for so many off-label uses in my professional detailing business:

  • This is a concentrate; custom blend to suit your needs.
  • When it comes to heavy duty leather cleaning, I typically use a dilution ratio of 10:1. This means you mix 10 parts of water to 1 part product. So if you started with a single ounce of super-degreaser, you would then add 10 ounces of water to make your blend of cleaner. (but the beauty of a concentrate is that you can dilute to any strength you feel is needed)
  • I also use a stiff scrub brush; this part is also critical.
  • Remember, car leather is much more durable than most people would expect, so scrub away! (see video below)
  • I use distilled water when mixing any of my chemicals; distilled water is about as pure of water you can get and allows for a better product after you mix the desired ratio.
  • Always, always, test each and every product in an inconspicuous place first for results. Then proceed from there. There are always going to be the exception to any rule.
  • Most cleaning duties will require light applications, done repeated times until desire results are achieved.
  • If a gallon sized product of concentrate seems way over-kill for you and your needs, be reminded, that I use this product in a hundred different ways from the car, to the house, to the garage. It is incredibly versatile and doesn't leave a white film often associated with what are labeled as dedicated degreasers.

Leather Car Seat Cleaning Tools

Almost as important as the product or chemical itself, is the combination of the right tool with the right chemical, following proper techniques of leather car seat cleaning. Since most people want to treat their cars' leather with "kid gloves" as the saying goes, you must remember that in order to obtain the kinds of results shown in the pictures, you must use much more aggressive products and techniques, which include a scrub brush.

General Leather Cleaning Brush

  • One of my favorite scrub brushes I reach for first regardless of what I am cleaning.
  • Perfectly suited for scrubbing leather; not too stiff, not too soft.

Detailed Leather Cleaning Brush

  • Ideal for the tighter areas of cleaning to really "detail out" your leather upholstery.
  • Perfect for car leather with accent piping around the seating to remove and scrub out dirt and debris caught in these tight areas.

Darren's Car Leather Cleaning Video

Use the video below to see me put the heavy duty cleaner in action as I clean this leather seat from a Mercedes Benz. The red cleaner in the video is the Meguiar's Super Degreaser diluted down 6:1. For all my detailing tips videos you can visit my YouTube channel.

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