Undoubtedly, a car’s leather upholstery can add a touch of luxury to your ride. But over time, leather can become worn, cracked, and stained. Compared to fabric seats, leather is more susceptible to damage.

From using leather conditioners to installing automotive tinting, here’s how to clean, repair, and protect your car’s leather interior to keep it lasting for years.

How to protect your car’s leather upholstery

Sometimes, prevention is the best protection. Regarding car leather, that means setting up the right preventative measures from the get-go.

1. Install window tint.

Like how offices use commercial window film to protect office furniture, tinted windows keep your car cooler in the summer and protect your car’s leather upholstery from fading. UV rays aren’t just harsh on your skin, after all. They can also cause car leather to crack and fade over time.

2. Get a car cover.

If you don’t have garage space or if you live in an area with particularly harsh weather conditions, consider investing in a car cover. A car cover will protect your car’s leather upholstery from the sun, wind, rain, snow, and more.

Opt for a car cover that’s water-resistant and breathable to prevent mold and mildew from forming on your car’s leather upholstery.

3. Choose the right car seat covers.

If you use seat covers, make sure they’re made of a breathable material like cotton or polyester. Non-breathable materials like vinyl can trap moisture against your car’s leather upholstery, leading to mold and mildew.

4. Clean up spills immediately.

The sooner you clean up a spill, the less likely it is to cause permanent damage to your car’s leather upholstery. So, if you spill something on your car’s leather seats, blot the area with a clean, dry cloth as soon as possible.

If the spill is oily or greasy, use a little dish soap on a damp cloth to break down the oils before blotting it dry.

How to clean leather car seats and upholstery

Now that you know how to protect your car’s leather upholstery, it’s time to learn how to clean it.

1. Vacuum regularly.

To remove dirt, dust, and crumbs, vacuum your car’s leather seats and upholstery. If you have pets, make sure to vacuum twice as often to remove pet hair. Use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to avoid scratching the leather.

2. Spot-clean stains immediately.

When you notice a stain, blot the area with a clean, dry cloth. If the stain is oily or greasy, use a little dish soap on a damp cloth to break down the oils before blotting dry.

For tougher stains, you may need to use a leather cleaner. Make sure to test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area of the leather first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage.

3. Deep-clean monthly.

In addition to regular vacuuming and spot cleaning, you should also deep-clean your car’s leather seats and upholstery monthly. To deep-clean, make a paste with equal parts water and baking soda. Rub the paste into the leather in circular motions and then wipe away with a damp cloth.

For tougher stains, you can use a leather cleaner or saddle soap. Like any cleaner, test the product on an inconspicuous area of the leather first.

4. Condition leather quarterly.

Leather conditioner helps to keep car leather soft, supple, and protected from damage. To condition your car’s leather upholstery, apply a small amount of conditioner to a clean cloth and rub it into the leather in circular motions. Check out these tips to preserve your car’s interior to learn more.

How to repair car leather upholstery

clean leather car seats that give a luxurious feel

If your car’s leather upholstery is already damaged, there are a few things you can do to repair it.

1. Clean the area.

Start by cleaning the damaged area of the leather with a leather cleaner or saddle soap. Do the usual cleaning routine of vacuuming and spot cleaning. If the leather is particularly dirty, you may need a scrub brush to remove all the dirt and grime.

2. Apply a repair kit.

If the damage is minor, you may be able to repair it with a car leather repair kit. A car leather repair kit typically includes a leather filler, grain paper, colorant, and topcoat. These are basic car leather repair supplies that can be found at most auto stores.

To use the kit, first, apply the leather filler to the damaged area with the included spatula. Next, use the grain paper to create a smooth surface.

Once the filler is dry, apply the colorant with the included sponge. Finally, apply the topcoat to protect the repair.

3. Call a professional.

If the damage is extensive, you may need to call a professional car upholstery repair service. A professional will be able to assess the damage and determine the best way to repair it. In some cases, they may need to replace the entire panel of leather upholstery.

4. Cover it up.

In case you don’t have time to fix the damage right away, you can always cover up the damaged leather with a car seat cover. If the leather is ripped, you can use a piece of duct tape to hold it together until you have time to repair it.

3 Things that help avoid leather damage

You can do a few things to prevent damage to your car’s leather upholstery.

1. Don’t eat in your car.

Eating in your car is one of the main causes of leather damage. Food and drinks can spill, leaving behind stains and sticky residue. If you must eat in your car, use a car seat cover or place a towel over the leather to protect it.

2. Don’t let your pets ride without a car seat cover.

Car seat covers are a must if you let your pets ride in the car. Pets can shed fur, which will get embedded in the leather, and they can also have accidents. Dogs and cats can also scratch the leather with their nails.

3. Don’t smoke in your car.

Smoking in your car is not only unhealthy for you, but it’s also bad for the car’s upholstery. The nicotine in cigarettes will discolor the leather, and the ashes can leave behind stains. Want to know more? Check out 10 tips to preserve your car for more info! 

FAQs

Q: How do I prevent car leather from cracking?

A: To prevent car leather from cracking, you should regularly clean and condition it. Vacuum the seats and upholstery regularly to remove dirt and dust. And apply a leather conditioner every few months to keep the leather soft and supple.

Q: Is it bad to use water on car leather?

A: No, using water on car leather is not bad. It’s necessary to clean car leather with water to remove dirt and grime. Just dry the leather afterward to prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Q: Can I use baby wipes on car leather?

A: Yes, you can use baby wipes on car leather. Baby wipes are safe for car upholstery and won’t cause any damage. However, they may not be strong enough to remove tough stains. Don’t use them as your only method of cleaning car leather.

How do I prevent car leather from cracking?

To prevent car leather from cracking, you should regularly clean and condition it. Vacuum the seats and upholstery regularly to remove dirt and dust. And apply a leather conditioner every few months to keep the leather soft and supple.

Is it bad to use water on car leather?

No, using water on car leather is not bad. It’s necessary to clean car leather with water to remove dirt and grime. Just dry the leather afterward to prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Can I use baby wipes on car leather?

Yes, you can use baby wipes on car leather. Baby wipes are safe for car upholstery and won’t cause any damage. However, they may not be strong enough to remove tough stains. Don’t use them as your only method of cleaning car leather.

Conclusion

Leather car upholstery is a luxurious addition to any car. But it requires special care to keep it looking its best. Use the tips in this article to learn how to clean, repair, and protect car leather!

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