Caring for Alcantara

Does your car's Alcantara need a spring clean?

Car interior with Alcantara

by Seth Walton |

It’s the interior lining of the billionaires, from Louis Vuitton handbags and SpaceX capsules to the steering wheel on the Aventador LP700 – Alcantara is indubitably premium stuff.

Top-end car manufacturers especially like this ultra-grippy synthetic suede trim for keeping drivers in their seats while pulling some serious G-forces on track; it doesn’t get soggy or hot like leather, it’s non-porous to protect against spills, and it's resistant to fire for when the on-track Gs become too much.

Sounds perfect, right? Almost. Like all other car interior linings, Alcantara will wear away without some due care. Sweat and pressure on the surface will eventually start to dull the material by flattening the fibres - losing some of its grip in the process - so, it’s best to get a hold of the situation early.

Luckily, since Alcantara doesn’t absorb dirt and is stain resistant by virtue of its non-porous composition, maintaining this fabric is a breeze - it just takes some care, patience and attention to detail. To help you get started, we’ve put together a guide on the right tools and techniques to give your Alcantara a new lease of life.

What to do first

The first step to cleaning is assessing the situation. Complete a thorough evaluation of your Alcantara condition to gain an idea of what products will be needed, then we would recommend giving it a good vacuum to remove all excess dirt and dust from the surface.

If the condition isn’t too bad, you might be able to revive your Alcantara trim with just a brush and a cloth (we’ll get to them later), but if the situation is especially dire - or you just want a thorough clean - an Alcantara surface cleaner is where to start.

By the nature of its design, Alcantara minimises wear through reduced agitation upon contact. It’s important to match the delicate fabric with a soft hand when attempting to clean, as heavy pressure may lead to exacerbated wear.

We recommend applying a light mist of Alcantara cleaner to begin with, negating the risk of damp puddles as these may also lead to further damage. We’ve found a few products for you to check out.

Sonax Alcantara Cleaner

Best dirt remover
Sonax Alcantara Cleaner
Amazon

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This cleaner from SONAX will gently cleanse the Alcantara fabric of your interior without leaving any stains or dirt marks. After applying, gently rub in with a light brush then allow the cleaner to sit on the surface for five to 10 minutes. Once the time is up, remove with a damp microfibre cloth and the work is done. Not only will this cleaner remove dirt, but the anti-odour technology will also neutralise poor odours and supplant them with a fresh scent.

Autobrite Alcantara Cleaner

Great light mist
Autrobrite Alcantara Cleaner
Amazon

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This solvent-free Alcantara cleaner is another effective means to lift grime from your car’s interior. The liquid, manufactured by Autobrite, is dispensed from the bottle via spray mist for the lightest contact, cleaning the fabric effectively while negating the risk of wetting the delicate surface. Once applied, the liquid can be wiped away with a microfibre cloth for a clean finish with a pleasant odour to stay.

Dope Fibers Alcantara Cleaner

Best value Alcantara cleaner
Dope Fibers Alcantara Cleaner
Amazon

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This product from Dope Fibers is a no-nonsense, effective cleaner of Alcantara, available in two bottle sizes depending on your needs. The spray bottle effectively distributes the liquid cleaner over the desired area, then, after a short exposure time, can be easily wiped away using a microfibre cloth. Steering wheels, seats or handbrake handles: this cleaner can tackle any Alcantara surface. Just be sure to complete the whole area for consistency and a professional finish.

Brushes

To lift heavy dirt or grime from the surface, a small brush will need to be applied once the area has been sprayed. Brushing the fibres will lift them once again, treating the dull, matted appearance with a new life. It may even be that a small brush on the area is all it takes to revitalise the surface, without the need for a liquid cleaner.

We recommend a softer brush for a delicate scrub over the surface, but with long bristles to reach every corner. Here are a few Alcantara brushes for you to check out

Colourlock Alcantara Cleaning Brush

Great Value
Colourlock Alcantara Brush
Amazon

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This textile cleaning brush from Colourlock was designed to be effective on delicate material, lifting dirt with a gentle touch so as not to cause any damage. With long bristles and little pressure needed to get the grime out, this brush is the perfect tool to lift the fibres and bring life back to an Alcantara surface. Unwieldy this brush is not – the Colourlock brush is compact for convenience when attempting to reach intricate areas, but with enough bristles to cover a large area in a short amount of time.

QIQIBAIHUO Alcantara Cleaning Brush

Softest Brush
QIQIBAIHUO Alcantara cleaning brush
Amazon

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No bristles in sight. For a traditional suede clean, this textile brush from QIQIBAIHUO features a soft rubber crepe to remove dirt and revitalise the pile on an Alcantara surface. While passing along the material, the rubber edges gently pull the fibres back up for effective cleaning and a revived look. Little pressure is needed, and the rubber edges ensure protection on wherever it is applied.  Complete with beechwood handle, this is a tidy and stylish tool for the maintenance of interior Alcantara.

Delara Alcantara Handled Brush Set

Great Value
Delara Alcantara Handled Brush Set
Amazon

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This two-part brushing set from Delara will keep you equipped to manage any area of your car’s trim. For large areas, the large-handled applicator brush can effortlessly glide along the surface, lifting fibres en masse for efficiency in the cleaning process. Conversely, if there’s a technical or remote patch that needs addressing, the handle of the buffing brush can provide the extra convenience needed to reach that spot.

Cloths

Once the dirt has been lifted, the final necessary tool is a fresh microfibre cloth. This will effectively wipe the dirt or grime away from the surface for a spotless finish. Microfibre cloths will be especially effective on complex areas such as handbrakes, gear knobs or the steering wheel of the vehicle.

After a light spray of cleaning liquid and with a delicate wipe – making sure not to press the fibres down – the surfaces of these components can be successfully and efficiently cleaned.

Amazon Basics Microfibre Cloth

Amazon Basics Microfibre Cloth
Amazon

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There are no bells or whistles needed here, so a six-pack of basic microfibre cleaning cloths is more than enough to attain the desired result. The non-abrasive fibres of these cloths will lift dirt without scratching or leaving any lint in the process.

These cloths can also absorb eight times their own weight, making them perfect for wiping off Alcantara cleaner following application. Soft and absorbent, these cloths are easily reusable - simply dry off on the radiator and they’re good to go again.

EKKO Microfibre Cloth

EKKO Microfibre Cloth
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For a soft, clean finish to your Alcantara revival, these microfibre cloths from EKKO would make a great choice for the job. Available in six different colours, they can be dragged across any surface of your car interior without the risk of scratching or leaving a wake of lint. These cloths feature reinforced edges to prevent tearing or fraying, meaning they can be thrown around the cabin all day and still perform perfectly.

They also offer a wide scope of utility, from car interiors to exteriors for a non-scratch finish to the paintwork, or even inside the house should you wish. Once the cloth has reached its maximum absorption intake, it can be washed, dried and used again.

Towelogy® Professional Microfibre Cloth

Towelogy® Professional Microfibre Cloth
Amazon

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If a professional standard detail is closer to what you’re after, these thick, 520gsm microfibre cloths feature the sort of plush delicacy needed to get the job done. The 16-by-16-inch size of these cloths means large areas of your Alcantara can be brushed away efficiently for a swirl-free and smear-free finish.

Available in four colours and in packs of two, four or six, these cloths feature an edgeless hem without piping, cancelling the risk of marks left as the cloth is wiped along the surface. The thick build guarantees high absorption before the need to clean and dry, so between stops this cloth can be used all over the interior, or onto the exterior if needed.

Related: CAR's guide to detailing brushes | CAR's guide to microfibre cloths

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