How to Clean Leather Car Seats

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

Cleaning your car's interior doesn't have to be as daunting as you might think. With the right methods and products, it's easy enough to do in an afternoon or evening, depending upon how worn your car is.

One of the easiest items to clean on your car is leather car seats. Leather does not require a monthly cleaning and conditioning like vinyl and fabric alternatives because they're made from animal hide and treated with oils that provide water resistance and durability.

How to clean leather car seats is a method of choice for most car owners. The leather car seats need maintenance every 3-4 months to look good and stain-free. The only exception to this rule is when your car is exposed to sunlight every day for a more significant period. In that case, you should clean leather car seats every 2 months.

Besides the general rule, the car seats might get dirty often because of kids, pets, or your habits. It is a good idea to keep a kit in the trunk that helps you clean your car seats. You can buy a complete kit or just pick up some of the recommended products from your local store. In this process, it doesn't have to be very complicated unless you have leather car interiors.

 So if you want your car nice and tidy, you will have to pay more attention to it. This guide will teach you how to clean leather car seats perfectly regardless of the cleaning schedule you adopt.

Picking out a High-Quality Leather Conditioner

To get started, you will have to choose a conditioner for your leather seats. When selecting the conditioner, make sure it is high quality and can revive, nourish and protect the car seats. An example of such a product is Torque Leather Restore.

All good cleansers contain vitamin E to give a rejuvenating effect to leather and keep it soft. Another thing to look at in them is the UV protection to save your seats from sunlight. 

Vacuuming and Cleaning Surface Dirt

We will start with vacuuming to remove any gravel or small rock particles from the seats. Tiny particles of rocks or pebbles can destroy the leather seats if you ignore them and start scrubbing. For a hassle-free experience, make sure to clean every part thoroughly.

Next, grab a microfiber cloth and clean each part of the seat carefully. While cleaning, keep your eyes open for any dirt missed by the vacuum. If you find any grit, then go for the vacuum again before starting to scrub that part.

Spot Testing

Spot testing is a very crucial part of the cleaning process. Before applying conditioner to the seats, make sure that it will not have any adverse effect. You can choose a part of the seat that is not visible without paying attention, such as the base.

Apply the substance on a rag and scrub one inch of the selected area. After applying the conditioner, wait for a whole 15 minutes before checking. If the leather becomes stiff and rough, do not use the condition and swap it with something else before performing the spot test again.


After finding a suitable conditioner, the next step is to buff the seats clean. Apply cleanser to a rag and not directly on the seats and clean them from top to bottom. Also, please do not soak the rag with a cleaner; only dampen it a bit.

If the cloth is incapable of cleaning some part of the seat, go for the soft-bristle brush. Apply conditioner on it and scrub the center gently in circular motions. Tilt the seat entirely and clean every nook and cranny, including the seat belt.


 After completing the cleaning process, let the air dry the car. Just make sure the vehicle is under shade, and all the excess conditioner has been cleaned. 

How to clean leather car seats: step by step guide

Once you are ready to clean your car, park your vehicle in the shade and grab the supplies such as:

  • Portable vacuum cleaner
  • Leather conditioner
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Microfiber rags

With all these things, you can glide through different steps with ease. If you want to take the best care of your car, make sure to stick with each step.

Step 1: Put the vehicle under shade and remove dirt with a vacuum cleaner

Start by vacuuming your leather seats thoroughly because dust particles are one of the major reasons for stains on car seats. The fabric in backseats might get dirty fast because children play there or pets jump on it, so be sure to clean it often too. When you are done vacuuming, apply the conditioner exactly where the dirt was removed. Use a brush to spread the conditioner all over the upholstery until it becomes moistened slightly. Do not use an excessive amount of water since this may wet down deep into foam cushions that will allow mildew to grow.

Step 2: Remove stains with leather cleanser and rag

At this point, you should clean the car seats manually. Grab cleaning tools such as soft-bristle brushes or microfiber rags and start wiping your seats in the direction of the grain. After you are done, wipe off all excess moisture with additional rags - just soak them in a bucket of water mixed with a cup of vinegar. Then press out all excess moisture from each rag in separate sections to dry it faster. When everything is completely dry, apply the conditioner again using a brush to leave a matte finish that will allow smooth wiping off any future dirt. If necessary, use paper towels to add more shine and make the upholstery look clean and new.

Step 3: Apply UV coating on leather seats to protect them from sunlight

All that effort you put into cleaning the car's interior will come undone if its seat gets damaged by sun rays. To avoid this, you should use a specialized product such as CSL Leather Protectant which offers all-in-one protection against stains and harmful ultraviolet (UV) light of both UVA and UVB type. Apply the coating sparingly with a microfiber cloth - just do not overuse it because an excess amount might shorten the lifespan of your car seats. After applying, buff out any residue using another clean microfiber rag. For maximum results, allow some time for the product to dry before getting in your vehicle.

Step 4: Maintain Leather Car Seats on Regular Basis

In order to keep your car's interior clean for a long time, you will have to maintain it regularly. Once or twice a month is a plenty if you do not drive that often. To make this easier, follow these tips:

  • Keep pets and kids away from the seats with good quality products such as those we offer here at Torque Leather Restore
  • Vacuum and wipe down leather seats at least once a week with towels and soap water solution before applying leather conditioner
  • Clean spills right after they happen because any liquid that sits on upholstery for too long might cause permanent damage
  • Use a soft brush to clean the upholstery using a solution of mild dish soap and warm water
  • If you want to keep your car's interior looking as new as possible for years, talk with our professionals at Torque Leather Restore who will be happy to help.


In the end, you have to understand that if you want to properly maintain your car's interior, spending a few minutes weekly might be better than all-day cleaning sessions once every couple of months. 

Everyone has a favorite method how to clean leather car seats. With this guide, it will be easy to clean your leather car seats without professional help.