How To Clean Leather Seats in 5 Easy Steps | 3D Car Care

clean car seat with car seat cleaning set

When you purchase a new car and upgrade to the model with a leather interior, you end up paying a premium price for a more luxurious interior.  The downside is the initial cost is higher but the upside is you get the luxurious look and feel provided by a leather interior, which is nice.  Your vehicle will also have a higher trade-in or resell value when it’s time to upgrade to a new car. 

The key thing to do when you own a car with a leather interior is to put into place a schedule for regular cleaning, conditioning and protecting the leather surfaces.  Regular cleaning and conditioning will preserve the look and feel of the leather as well as preserve the value.

 

What to do with neglected leather seats and leather interiors?

Sad to say, most people don’t perform regular upkeep for their car’s interior.  Washing and waxing the outside comes pretty easy to most car owners but when it comes to the interior and especially a leather interior, choosing the right products and using them correctly is more than the average car owner is willing to undertake.  

The good news is, restoring neglected, dirty and soiled leather seats and interiors is actually quite easy – it all starts with choosing quality products and then using common sense techniques when applying and removing these products. 

Below I’ll show you how to clean and restore a beautiful look and soft supple feel to some well-worn seats in a 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500.  The MSRP for this luxury performance car in 2003 was $85,000.00 – that’s a lot of money for a car that only holds two people with a very small trunk!  

Even though it’s older,  it's still a luxury convertible car and it still has a lot of mechanical life left in the drivetrain. So let me show you how to bring the leather interior back to life so the inside of this car will look as good as the outside and the next owner can enjoy their fun-in-the-sun roadster.

Supplies needed 

  1. Leather cleaner.
  2. Soft bristle brush.
  3. Leather conditioner.
  4. Lots of clean microfiber towels.

First here’s how the seats look in their present condition.

dirty leather car seat

Using a tape line

To show the dramatic before and after difference, I’ll tape-off half of the seat and only clean and condition one half.  Afterwards, I’ll clean and condition the entire seat.

 

Step 1:  Spray 3D LVP Cleaner, which is a safe cleaner for all leather, vinyl and plastic surfaces, directly onto the seat bottom.  Because these seats are really grimy, they need a generous amount of cleaner to break-up and emulsify years of dirt, grime, body oils, etc.

spraying car seat with leather cleaner

Step 2:  Agitate the cleaner using a soft bristle brush.  The leather surface while dirty is still somewhat sensitive to scratching so don’t use any type of brush with hard, stiff sharp bristles as this type of brush can cause irreparable damage.

agitating leather car seat with cleaner and a brush

Step 3:  Wipe the surface using clean microfiber towels to remove all the loosened dirt and grime.  After the initial wiping of the seat bottom, it helps to re-spray a fresh application of the cleaner onto the towel and then immediately wipe the seat a second time.  Re-wetting the leather surface like this will ensure you remove the maximum amount of dirt and grime.

wiping car seat clean with a microfiber towel

 Step 4:  Using a clean foam or microfiber applicator pad, apply and massage 3D LVP Conditioner to both the seat back and the seat bottom.

leather conditioner and a sponge

Professional Technique Tip

After applying the leather conditioner to the face of the foam pad, using your fingers work the conditioner INTO the foam.  When you press the foam applicator against the leather seats the foam will release the conditioner without loading up or clogging the tiny perforation holes.

applying leather conditioner to a sponge

leather conditioner on a sponge

After working the product into the foam applicator - next use the applicator to apply the product to the seat.

applying leather conditioner to car seat

Step 5:  Allow the conditioner to penetrate for a few minutes and then wipe the surface using a clean microfiber towel to remove any excess.

removing access cleaner from car seat with towel

Check out the before and after differences!

before and after cleaned and conditioned leather car seat

before and after cleaned leather car seat

And of course, I’ll finish cleaning the rest of the driver’s seat, passenger seat as well as the door panels, arm rests, center console, etc.

spraying cleaner on leather car seat

scrubbing leather car seat with a brush

scrubbing leather car seat with scrub brush

wiping car seat clean with towel

wiping car seat clean with towel

wiping car seat clean with towel

spraying car seat with leather cleaner

scrubbing leather car seat with leather cleaner and a brush

cleaning leather car seats

applying leather conditioner to a sponge

rubbing leather conditioner into sponge

leather conditioner on sponge

rubbing leather conditioner into car seat

rubbing leather conditioner into car seat

wiping leather car seat clean

wiping leather seat clean

clean leather seat with leather cleaning kit

clean leather car seat

clean leather car seat

Check out the before and after difference for the passenger seat.


Before

dirty leather car seat

After

clean leather car seat

Summary

In 5 easy steps we took these seats that are almost two decades old from neglected to respect.  Instead of looking dirty, grimy and even a tick gross to sit on – they now look almost like new again.   

Repeat these 5 easy step to the seats in your car and you will get the same professional looking results. 

  

Regular maintenance

After you clean and restore the leather seats and the rest of the interior for your vehicle, establish a regular time to repeat this process and by doing so you will maintain these results and easily lengthen the service life of the leather.  Plus… getting into your car will be a lot more rewarding now that you know you are sitting in clean, soft luxurious leather seats!

  

More information

With modern manufacturing processes, it’s usually the front or face of a seat that uses actual leather.  The sides and backs of the seats will tend to be made using color and texture matching vinyl and/or plastic.  The 3D LVP Cleaner and LVP Conditioner will work excellent to clean these portions of the seats as well as all the other leather, vinyl and plastic surfaces inside your vehicle including, 

  • Center console
  • Door panels
  • Arm rests
  • Steering wheel
  • Dash
  • Glove box door
  • Map pockets
  • Shifter boots
  • Visors

  Mike Phillips

mike.phillips@3dproducts.com