Many today consider leather to be a luxurious option, reserved for expensive BMW 5-Series and Rolls-Royces, but that wasn't always the case. Not only has leather been included in some unexpected places (Renault Clio Baccara, anyone?) but in the past, it wasn't even considered that luxurious. Early luxury cars would have soft fabrics for the rear occupants, leather was reserved for uncovered cockpits only because it was so hard-wearing.
That much is true, leather is tough and dependable but does need proper cleaning and maintenance. Sit in a classic car with original leather seats, and the chances are they'll either be flakier than a sausage roll or scarred and sun-damaged.
Thankfully there is a huge market for leather cleaning, protection and even restoration. We've found the best leather cleaners available to get your seats looking Concours-spec in no time.
The best leather cleaners
Best kit for a deep clean
This kit will contain almost everything you could ever need to get your leather seats looking new.
Best all-in-one solution
If you're after top-quality results without having to use a multitude of products, this option
Best budget option
If budget is a primary concern, this option from Turtle Wax will give you good results, but you'll
Best for cleaning on the go
Perfect for storing in your glovebox and using to clean on the go, these leather wipes are
Best value cleaning kit
All-in-one leather cleaners are like those 4-in-1 shampoos; good enough, but you won't get the
Best for a deep scrub
To get deep, embedded dirt out of leather, you'll need a proper cleaning brush that'll remove the
Best complete interior brush set
Best for wiping away the cleaner for better results
Leather seat cleaning FAQ:
How to clean leather car seats:
Cleaning your leather seats to a professional standard isn't too difficult if you use the correct equipment and don't mind rolling up your sleeves. Follow our guide below, and your seats will look fresh.
1. The first thing you should do is check to make sure the area you want to clean is suitable. Make sure it is leather (sounds silly, but some faux leather is very convincing) and be wary of perforated leather, and you'll need to be more cautious using cleaning products.
2. Using a vacuum cleaner, remove larger bits of dirt/debris/biscuit crumbs while being careful not to scratch the leather. We recommend using a proper car vacuum cleaner for this because it's simply less of a hassle.
3. Apply some of the leather cleaner to a microfibre towel and begin removing the surface dirt from the leather.
4. Using a fairly rigid brush, begin to scrub more embedded dirt out from the leather. After this, wipe down with a clean microfibre cloth, and you'll be able to see the dirt collected on this towel almost immediately.
If you're using an all-in-one cleaner, then you're done, all you have to do is look at the awesome results. If, on the other hand, you're conditioning separately, you'll need to keep on reading.
5. Do a spot test on a relatively hidden area, make sure the conditioner doesn't discolour or mark the leather.
6. If it's safe to use, use a microfibre towel and begin rub in the conditioner. Make sure not to use too much product, it'll leave you with a horrid, greasy texture.
7. Leave the conditioner to settle overnight before buffing with another microfibre towel.
Why should I look after my seats?
A car seat is where you sit as you drive along, so it's a good idea to look after the leather. Leather will crack and fade over time if you don't properly care for it, which not only is unsightly but can lead to tears that are very costly to put right.
A properly maintained set of leather seats will not only be worth more when it comes to sale time but will just look nicer. Also, consider that to get a car properly re-trimmed in leather will more than likely be a four-figure job.
What if I don't have leather seats?
Don't worry, you can still buy products that will clean your seats, just use our guide here. Fabric and leather have different properties and, as such, will need different products to remove stains.
If you're wanting to upgrade to leather seats without using an upholsterer, then you could try a nice set of leather seat covers.
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