Spills and stains are inevitable, fortunately with proper care and cleaning you can minimize the damage.
Depending on the material of seat you have in your vehicle, will dictate how they should be properly cared and cleaned.
How to Clean Leather Car Seats
Keeping your leather healthy and crack free, whilst removing stubborn stains can be difficult. If improperly cared for, leather will dry out resulting in cracked and perforated surface over time. This is because some household methods can be harsh on the material without proper care.
For deep cleaning and conditioning I use Meguiars Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. It cleans and conditions making it easier to clean, whilst providing a supple feel.
You don’t need to spend vast amounts of money or time to keep your interior gleaming. It won’t leave white residue either, handy if you have a black interior!
To use, simply squirt one pump onto a microfiber cloth and apply directly to leather in circular motions. Keep applying the product until fully absorbed – you may find folding your cloth into sections helps greatly.
How to Clean White Leather Car Seats
White or cream leather requires a bit more care to keep spotless. It’s not ideal at hiding stains, however with preventative maintenance you can keep your light leather looking fresh.
If your seats are in bad condition, or you want to be extra thorough, Leatherique Rejuvenator Oil is what you should be looking for.
It’s an oil based product that provides a nice deep clean. Its instructions are to apply a generous amount of the product, and leave in the sun for 24 hours – baking the product into the material.
After the 24 hours are up, go ahead and wipe down your seats with a wet cloth, and use Pristine Clean to finish off the job.
The result will be more supple leather, which has been properly treated and sealed. You'll find any stains are easy to wipe off after proper treatment.
Clean Leather Car Seats Using a Home Remedy
If you’re in a rush and need to use products from around the house, read below!
A vinegar-water solution is a fantastic cleaner. You should treat your interior with a suitable conditioner after cleaning, it will ensure your leather stays supple and makes staining less likely by sealing the material.
Fill a spray bottle with 75% white vinegar, and 25% warm water.
Proceed to spray the seats, not soaking wet but ensuring all areas receive a light coating of the solution.
Using a microfibre cloth, rub the mix in a circular motion ensuring you cover all areas.
Then using pure water, re-spray the seats and wipe them down again using a seperate cloth. At this stage ensure you apply a leather conditioner to maintain the leather and prevent it from drying out and cracking.
How to Clean Cloth Car Seats
Firstly ensure you vacuum or brush to remove loose particulate. It’s important to get into all possible crevices, as once you wet the seat it may stain or get ingrained into the fabric.
Then use a spray cleaner suitable for fabric, I’ve always had great results using CarGuys Super Cleaner – however there are hundreds of choices on the market.
Simply spray the cleaner on the seats, and using a detailing brush scrub the product into the fabric.
Next let the product work it’s magic, then vacuum up and dry using a microfiber cloth. It’s really as simple as that!
If your interior has suffered spills or severe stains, you may need to repeat the above multiple times.
The advantage of Super Cleaner is its not limited to just car seats, you can use this product on all fabrics including your interior carpets, headliners and floor mats. It doesn’t have any harsh chemicals and won’t leave oily residues.
How to Clean Suede Car Seats
Firstly you should understand no manufacturer is using real suede interiors. Instead synthetic suede’s, such as alcantara or micro-suede are used. The main difference is cost effectiveness and durability, whilst retaining suede’s look and feel.
Whilst these synthetic alternatives are more durable than natural suede, it’s still susceptible to wear from improper maintenance and moisture.
To clean ensure the material has been vacuumed or swept to remove loose debris.
Proceed to spray a small amount of suede cleaner onto a microfiber towel, I have consistently great results with Adams Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner.
Blot the material, then wipe. Do not ever rub! Most serious contamination will be on arm rests, and 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions on the steering wheel – depending on your driving style.
Blot any excess moisture with a separate microfiber towel.
No matter how cautious you and your passengers may be, stains are inevitable. It’s important to remember:
- Treat spills as quickly as possible. The longer suede is exposed to the stain, the more difficult it will be to remove.
- Don’t press heavily when blotting, instead rest your cloth onto the material until the excess is removed. If you press forcefully, you’ll push the spill into the material further.
- For thicker substances like ice cream or jelly, use a spatula or a credit card to scoop the excess off to prevent a bigger spill – then proceed to clean.
After the bulk of a spillage has been removed, see specific solutions to different types of stains below:
Protein Based Stains (Blood, Excrement, and Urine): Use cold water as warm water will coagulate these substances making them bind to the material. Rinse by blotting clean water over the spill, wring the towel out and repeat.
Alcohol: Use lukewarm water to blot, rinse the towel regularly to maximise cleaning effect. If the stain does remain, you can use lemon juice on a towel to blot – ensure you rinse thoroughly!
Ground in mud, general dirt, non-permanent ink: Use lukewarm water in a towel whilst rinsing regularly.
Dried on Stains
If the stain dries before you get a chance to rectify it, isopropyl alcohol is excellent in lifting off dried material from suede.
Dilute the alcohol in a 1:1 ratio with distilled water. Spray onto a lint free microfiber towel and gently blot the stain. Once the stain has been removed, ensure you blot again with a damp towel using water only.
It’s common for the stain to be faint, but not completely removed once the material has dried. Repeat as many times as necessary, although it’s important to ensure all of the isopropyl alcohol has been removed.
Prevention is better than a cure, especially when it comes to suede. The amount of maintenance correlates directly to the amount of usage your interior should see. The first piece of maintenance you should regularly take part in is regular brushing. This will prevent the fibres becoming matted whilst removing trapped particulate from the material.
If you can’t use a brush, a short fibre microfiber towel will work as well.
For average usage (daily driver), once a week between brushing is sufficient. Be sure to pay special attention to high wear areas like seats, steering wheels and arm rests.