How do I know if my leather seats are dirty?
Leather seats do a nice job concealing grime that builds up over time, especially naturally occurring staining from body oils. (You might not even notice your car seats getting dirty.) But leather seats need extra care, which is why you should clean them routinely—even if they don’t look too bad.
Why should I clean leather seats?
Stains and other crud can seep into leather if left unchecked, making future cleaning difficult. Ignored dirt and grime can cause deep stains and cracking, which will require some heavy-duty scrubbing or even repairs. You can avoid this with routine cleaning and conditioning with products formulated for leather care.
What is leather conditioning?
It’s very important to include leather conditioning in your routine, whether it’s bought separately from your cleaner or included. Leather conditioner is a product that nourishes the leather by seeping inside and preventing it from drying out and becoming damaged. Some of the leather cleaning products we tested here have conditioning properties, but some did not.
What household items can I use to clean the leather in my car?
Unless it’s a household leather cleaner, we don’t recommend using any household items to clean the leather in your car. It’s popular to see vinegar, lemon juice, and even toothpaste suggested as ways to clean leather, but you can easily damage your seats further using these things. Protect your vehicle’s resale value and take care of your leather seats properly by simply buying a cleaner that’s specially formulated for the job.
Why trust us?
This test was conducted in an environment that provided equal testing procedures for each product: the Car and Driver garage. We tested each leather cleaner on a dirty leather seat with equal taped-off sections and measured how well each section was cleaned. We took detailed notes on performance, along with smell, residue, and hydration. Upon tallying up our findings, we agreed that our test was fair and legitimate and provided the best information for us to recommend our picks to our readers.
Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. We don’t need to game search engines to get traffic or promote lousy products just to make a sale. We’re far more concerned with our legacy, our reputation, and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest evaluations and expert opinions.
Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.