How to Clean Leather Car Seat
Your stuck in the past, time to move forward!

best-auto-detailing-tips tag line

Welcome to clean leather car seats where this professional detailer is going to show you what works as opposed to the bad results you are most likely used to getting with traditional car leather cleaners.

We have been mislead as car owners and consumers by an industry simply wanting to sell us more and more products; convincing us that leather is a delicate and exotic material that requires dedicated cleaners and conditioners.


What they have failed to communicate is that the car leather of today's automobiles, is very different than the car leathers used in the cars of the past. Car leather care and cleaning is much easier and simpler than most people realize due to the advances in car leather manufacturing.

With an industry bent on selling us more and more products, it is no wonder why the vast majority of people remain buying and using products that in most ways are irrelevant on today's car leather.

"The industry has never let the public know that car leather is coated with a clear protective coating. This means you are not working with a natural material anymore, but a natural material that has been coated with a synthetic barrier."

Coated Car Leather:
This changes everything

While many people upon hearing this for the first time often become disappointed, this largely represents good news.

The care and maintenance of your cars' leather seats and upholstery is easier than ever!

clean leather car seatThe above picture is a typical example of car leather that has not been maintained and has become excessively dirty. You can see clearly see the difference in he areas of the leather seat that have been cleaned and the areas still needing cleaning.

Car Leather of Today is Not the Car Leather of Yesterday

Most people like yourself are stuck in the past and the industry wants you to remain in your ignorance so they can retain the ability to continue to have you chase your tail shopping for dedicated car leather cleaners and car leather conditioners.


clean leather car seat


clean leather car seat

Pictured Above: As you can see by the before and after pictures above that drastic results are indeed possible. But the typical retail car leather cleaners are not going to produce these type of professional results.

Do You Feel Like Your Chasing Your Tail?

As consumers, we are forever at the mercy of advertising and marketing; all designed to sell you more and more products. So many voices screaming endless and contradictory opinions, and all you want is clean leather car seats.

All this noise and hype leaves most of us confused and frustrated.

You are not alone and my goal is to educate and help get you on the right path to not only clean leather car seat properly and effectively, but what to do next when it comes to conditioning your car leather.

Car Leather is Car leather!

What do I mean by that? This is to remind you that we are filled with many leather items in our world: leather shoes, belts, gloves, equestrian tack, etc. And the point is this, "car leather is car leather", it is not any of these other forms of leathers. Leather car seats exist in many of the cars and trucks today, and no longer is it just a material reserved for the elite among us. Leather can be found in everything from sports cars, sedans, trucks, SUV's, vans, and even higher end RV's.

mercedes clean leather car seat

Darren, Can You Just Show Me What Works!

Glad you asked! Follow along as I break down the subject of your cars leather interior into the different levels of dirt including specific strategies of cleaning.

New Car Leather:
Cleaning, Conditioning, and Maintaining

new car leather cleaning conditioning

Most of you visiting this page will have missed the window of opportunity by learning the tips of cleaning and maintaining your car leather upholstery when it is brand new from the beginning.

But with that said, there are those of you out there who have just recently purchased that brand new car with leather upholstery looking to maintain your cars' leather in show room condition

What Would Darren Do:

Many of my long-term followers don't want all the intel on a given subject but simply want to know what I do professionally.

I like to keep things simple as often as possible. With that said, I literally use a product called Simple Green to do most of my car upholstery cleaning which I also use to clean leather car seats and upholstery.

Simple Green All-Purpose

Simple Green 13005CT Industrial Cleaner and Degreaser, Concentrated, 127.8 Fl Oz, Pack of 1

  • Well known industry leader in safe AND effective cleaners
  • Perfectly formulated to clean virtually any material within your cars interior
  • Concentrate allows you the ability to be economical and custom blend to your liking
  • Biodegradable and non-caustic; safe for your skin, your lungs, and to clean leather car seats

Darren's Tips: I use Simple Green diluted down 10:1 (1 part concentrate with 10 parts water) to do all my car upholstery cleaning including cleaning leather car upholstery. Since it is a environmentally friendly all purpose cleaner, I like to use this product for both interior and exterior detailing.

Car Leather Cleaning Brushes

Rubbermaid Commercial Products - Rubbermaid Commercial - Iron-Shaped Handle Scrub Brush, 6" Brush, Yellow Plastic Handle/Blue Bristles - Sold As 1 Each - Molded handle gives you a powerful grip. - Long-lasting blue polypropylene fill resists stains. - Durable plastic block.

  • Many people would never consider a brush like the one above to clean leather car seats; but it is one of the tools I use regularly to clean leather upholstery on all types of cars
  • Not all leather is finished the same. meaning some leather has a very heavy texture to it which means a brush like this allows for the individual bristles to "reach into" the heavy texture for better cleaning
  • This brush is also a product of guilt by association". meaning that since it is not labeled as a dedicated leather cleaning brush and is used for more traditional cleaning, many people are fearful to use it to clean leather car seats
  • Keep in mind that you are in control. You don't have to use the brush aggressively and inappropriately. If you are fearful, just go into it lightly and work your way from there
  • Also note that this is one of the exact brushes I use on car leather as a professional on all types of car leather cleaning

Commercial-Grade Non-Abrasive White Cleaning Pad 5 Pack By Mop Mob. Large, Multi-Purpose 10 in x 4 1/2 in Scouring Pad Fits Universal Holders. Great For Scrubbing Sinks, Tile, Windows and Fine China

  • These non-abrasive scrub pads are my "go-to" scrub pads for any interior cleaning of larger areas of the car interior: seating, door panels, dashboards, etc.
  • These non-abrasive pads are ideal at cleaning car leather both very quickly and very safely
  • Once again you remain in control. If you are fearful then proceed with caution and work from there
  • These brushes come extra long which means that you are getting a lot of scrub pad for your money, and you can simply cut them to the exact size that works best for you

Darren's Note: As a rule I have found that cleaning brushes dedicated for use in cleaning leather of any kind are generally too soft to actually be effective. They are also generally made of natural fibers that tend to shed as you use them. This becomes frustrating quickly and one of the reasons I prefer the brushes from above.

With that said, there are many of you that want to follow more traditionally accepted cleaners to clean leather car seats and general car upholstery cleaning.

You can find those below.

But first...

What Would Darren

If you really did come here to find out how to clean leather car seats, consider yourself the exception to the rule.

The rule is that most people race to find the best car leather conditioner without giving much thought into cleaning leather car seats first.

For this reason I am adding what I do professionally to treat, condition, protect car leather once you have cleaned it.

CSI Q-7 Detailer Quart 62-205-Q

  • A dedicated quick detailer that is perfect for use to clean, condition, protect all your interior materials within your car that are non-porous: vinyl, plastic, rubber, and any coated car leather
  • Formulated using true waterborne technology
  • Is one of the most versatile products I have ever used: paint gloss enhancer, window cleaner, interior detailer, car leather detailer, etc.
  • I have used professionally for over 15 years (it has only recently become available thanks to Amazon)

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

  • My "go-to" wax for all paint finishes and colors
  • Can actually be used on your cars interior materials (non-porous materials)
  • Use to wax your car leather after any cleaning of your leather car seats
  • True waterborne technology

CSI Nu Tyre Lotion Quart 62-208-Q

  • My favorite tire dressing that can also be used as a dressing for any material you would use a traditional dressing on; including coated car leather like we are discussing.
  • For anyone looking for a shine to their car leather and is accustomed to using traditional leather conditioners.
  • Will create a shine, but will not produce a hyper-shine like other interior/exterior dressings.
  • Dries to the touch so you will not have to endure any residual greasy/oily feel to your car leather.

Darren's Note: for most of you the thought of using either a quick detailer or a spray wax goes completely counter to what you have been taught or believe. Once you understand how much of your car is made of some form of a "plastic-type"  material, you can begin to wrap your mind around using any of the above products from CSI to treat your car leather as part of ongoing maintenance.

  • Car leather: clear coated with a form of "plastic-type" coating
  • Vinyl door panels: another "plastic-type" material
  • Dashboards: another "plastic-type" material
  • Rubber gaskets/door seals: not a plastic material but a rubber-type of material that is perfectly suited to be cleaned/dressed/conditioned like "plastic-type" materials
  • Car paint: any modern day car is going to have a clear coat as the top layer (officially this is referred to as 2-stage paint. The color coat is the first stage and the clear coat is the second stage) I also only add your car paint as one of the bullet points since all the above products from CSI are labeled for traditional exterior use.

My personal preference is to simply use the Q-7 Detailer to clean/condition light dirt, oils, smudges and dust from the interior of cars. It does a great job while adding and creating a completely uniform appearance to your cars interior; especially after you clean leather car seating that is either black or dark colored.

If you are looking for a greater level of protection, enhancement, and conditioning, then I would go with the Q-7 wax. It is also especially useful after cleaning black car leather to create a nice, uniform appearance.

The Nu Tyre Lotion is for anyone looking for enhanced gloss/shine along with a more "silky" feel to their car leather.

Clean Leather Car seat

Old habits die slowly if they die at all. Many of you reading this will resist change of any kind and for this reason I default to what most of you are likely used to in the form of cleaning and conditioning car leather.

While these products are not he one's I use professionally, they will still perform to a satisfactory level for most people.

Meguiar's Leather Cleaner/Conditioner

Meguiar's G10916 Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner & Conditioner - 15.2 oz.

  • Another well known industry leader in car care.
  • Suitable for any new car leather if you stay on-top of your leather cleaning and conditioning.
  • All-in-one cleaner and conditioner.

Darren's Note: If you are looking to keep things ultra-simple then the product from Meguiar's is about as simple as you are going to find. Clean and condition at the same time.

If you are not willing to review my in-depth page on car leather and some important facts that will most likely completely change not only your understanding of car leather in general, but how you go about cleaning and maintaining it, then simply us the bullet point list below:

  • Virtually all car leathers of today (anything made in the last 15-20 years depending on manufacturer and car) will be finished with a clear protective coating for added durability and ease of care.
  • This means that you are not actually dealing with natural leather, but a natural leather that has been coated with a synthetic clear coating.
  • For this reason, I am of the professional opinion that keeping your car's leather upholstery clean is the most important factor in maintaining its original beauty and health. Most of you will, or have become overly concerned with conditioning your car leather at the expense of actually keeping it clean.
  • Any dressing or conditioner will be mostly superficial and temporary in nature, and will mostly be for cosmetic reasons to create added shine and an added level of smoothness to the touch.

General Car Leather Cleaning:
Mild to medium duty leather cleaning

This area will be where most of you find yourselves. Light to medium levels of dirt on your car leather. What you will find interesting is that I don't actually recommend any dedicated car leather cleaners, but an all purpose cleaner form Meguiar's. You can view my YouTube channel as I have many videos on the subject for your additional help and information: Auto Fetish Detail YouTube

For my dedicated page on this Meguiar's product, you can see the comprehensive review at all-purpose cleaner.

Chemical Guy's Leather Cleaner & Conditioner

Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Complete Leather Care Kit (16 oz) (2 Items)

  • For the car enthusiast or driveway detailer looking for the convenience of a ready-to-use car interior cleaner.
  • Safe for use on all interior materials.
  • Carpeting, velour, leather, vinyl, rubber.
  • No sticky residue; no rinsing necessary.

Car Guy's Super Cleaner

CarGuys Super Cleaner - Effective All Purpose Cleaner - Best for Leather Vinyl Carpet Upholstery Plastic Rubber and Much More! - 18 oz Kit

  • Another quality ready-to-use all-purpose cleaner that is suitable for use on coated car leather. (virtually every car leather in modern day cars is coated)
  • Perfect size for the enthusiast or driveway detailer.
  • Professional level results.
  • No sticky residue; no rinsing necessary.

Clean Leather Car Seat:
Helpful Tools to clean leather car seats

Car leather will last a life time if you are willing to simply keep it clean from the beginning. Most people race to see what the best car leather conditioners are and bypass the more critical factor of just keeping the leather in your car clean in the first place. Common dirt and skin oils combine to create damaging effects to your cars leather. The longer it is allowed to remain, the more damaging it becomes. For general leather cleaning including regular maintenance, use the following products and tips below:

Leather and Upholstery Scrub Brush

Vinyl & Leather Scrub Brush

  • Use scrub brush to get better results regardless of your choice in cleaners.
  • Use scrub brush to aggressively scrub and clean leather car seat after you have sprayed area with All-purpose cleaner.
  • Yes, it is completely safe to clean leather car seats with.

Leather Cleaning Brush

TAKAVU 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

  • Simply another alternative to the scrub brush above.
  • Without the use of some form of scrub brush, you will never clean leather car seat with acceptable results unless of course your car leather isn't really dirty to begin with.
  • Most people think car leather is a very delicate and fragile. Trust me, your car leather can be scrubbed very aggressively with either of these brushes. If in doubt, simply go easy and work your way into it.

Darren's Professional Tips to Clean Leather Car Seat:

Q-7 detailer to clean leather car seat
  • Follow dilution recommendations on product labeling.
  • Always, always, test in a hidden area first for color-fastness and results.
  • In my professional business, all I use is the Simple Green APC (All-purpose-cleaner) for all cleaning needs. I simply dilute as needed based on cleaning duties.
  • Comes in a gallon size only (which may seem over-kill for some of you) but these products can be used in so many ways you will not be disappointed!
  • If your car leather is exceptionally dirty like the photos above, it is better to do a small section at a time, and do repeated steps until desired results are achieved.
  • I had to scrub each section of the leather seating from the pictures above 3-4 times before I got acceptable results.
  • If you have allowed your leather to go so long before you have decided to clean your leather car seats, you may have some permanently worn areas of your leather seating. Once you have cleaned them, these areas will be more visible once the dirt has been cleaned away.
  • If you are not the original owner of your car I would proceed with extra caution at first to verify that your seats have not been re-dyed in the past and therefore affect the ability to clean them with these types of methods.

Clean Leather Car Seat: Heavy Duty Leather Cleaning

If you have car leather upholstery that you know is excessively dirty, and you want to see what I use for excessively dirty car upholstery regardless of material, you can go to: heavy duty car leather cleaning

Thank you for visiting clean leather car seat!


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