Once you’re ready to start cleaning your seats, put your car in a shady area and grab all your supplies, including:
- Your leather cleaner of choice
- Microfiber rags
- Soft-bristle brush
- Shop vacuum
By having all the items already nearby, you can keep the cleaner from drying on the surface and breeze through the following steps with ease.
Vacuuming And Removing Surface Dirt
Tiny pieces of grit can wreak havoc on leather if left in place while you attempt to scrub them clean. For that reason, every cleaning session needs to start with a thorough vacuum job. Select your attachments carefully to make sure you can get into all the nooks and crannies while you work. Gently press around the seams and run the vacuum along those areas to get every last bit of dirt off the surface.
Once you’re done vacuuming, take a clean, dry microfiber rag and wipe off all seat surfaces while watching closely for pockets of dirt. If you notice any areas missed by the vacuum, pull it back out and suck up the grit to keep it from scratching your seats.
No matter what type of leather cleaner and conditioner you choose, it’s vital that you spot test before covering the seats in that substance. To spot test, choose a hidden area on the leather, such as near the base of the seat next to the center console. Just make sure you can inspect the area for defects even though it’s out of the way.
Once you select a spot to test, put a dot of cleanser on your rag and rub it on no more than a one-inch area, making sure to remove all the excess residue. Then, let it sit for about 15 minutes before coming back to take a look. If the leather looks discolored or feels rough to the touch, don’t use that cleanser on the rest of the seats. Instead, select something else and try another spot test in a different hidden area.
After finding a cleaner that passes the spot test, you can move on to the most time-consuming part of the process: buffing the seats clean. Plan to work from top to bottom and only spray the cleaner on the rag, not the seats. Don’t saturate the microfiber cloth with cleaner, either. Only apply enough so that the rag feels lightly damp, especially when working around areas with perforations, tears, or holes.
If the cleaner-covered cloth cannot remove dirt and grime, switch to a soft-bristle brush. Apply the cleaner to its bristles and scrub in a circular motion while using the lightest touch possible. Even though the bristles are soft and flexible, you should never press down hard while cleaning your seats. Go back over the deep cleaned areas with a microfiber rag to remove any excess cleaner.
As you work, don’t forget to tilt the seat back and wipe around all its crevices. Also remember to wipe down along both sides of the seat, including next to the seatbelts.
Once your leather car seats are nice and clean, you can let them air dry as long as you’ve wiped away all the excess cleaner. Just make sure your car isn’t sitting in a sunny area during this process. Otherwise, the moisture could magnify the sun’s rays, causing the color to fade and making the material feel brittle.