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Car Leather Cleaner – Options for Easy, Long-Lasting Clean

Leather seats are a luxurious addition to any car, and they need proper care and maintenance to keep them looking their best. A good car leather cleaner can help with this, but knowing which one is right can be difficult. In this article, I will discuss different types of car leather cleaners and options for easy, long-lasting cleaning.

Car leather cleaner is designed to clean and maintain the leather upholstery in cars. It removes dirt and oil from vehicle interiors and comes in spray, liquid, and wipes. Cleaning should be done every three to six months with the right product for the right type of leather.

Dirt, grime, and stains can quickly accumulate on leather surfaces, making them look dull and unattractive. Fortunately, many different types of car leather cleaners are available that can help keep seats clean and looking like new. 

What Is Car Leather Cleaner?

Car leather cleaner is a chemical cleaning agent that removes dirt and oil from leather vehicle interiors. It may come in spray form or as a conditioner that moisturizes and protects the leather.

Some cleaners are specially designed for leather seats, while others are multi-purpose for plastic and vinyl surfaces. Different brands and products of car leather cleaners may vary in their effectiveness, safety, and fragrance. 

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • The History of Car Leather Cleaner
  • Why You Might Like Car Leather Cleaner
  • Car Leather Cleaner Overview Table
  • Popular Types and Styles of Car Leather Cleaner
  • Common Car Leather Cleaner Characteristics
  • Car Leather Cleaner Costs
  • Pros of Car Leather Cleaner
  • Cons of Car Leather Cleaner
  • Car Leather Cleaner Manufacturing Process – How They’re Made
  • Experienced Tips for Choosing a Car Leather Cleaner
  • Best Car Leather Cleaner
  • My Personal Research with Car Leather Cleaner
  • Car Leather Cleaner Care and Maintenance
  • Helpful Insights on Car Leather Cleaner
  • Key Takeaways
Cleaning a Leather Car Seat With Leather Cleaner - Leather Soap - Liberty Leather Goods
Cleaning a Leather Car Seat With Leather Cleaner

Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

It has been said that modern car leather upholstery has come a long way with tanning processes and vinyl coatings that negate the need for cleaning and conditioning. This is untrue because all car leather requires regular care to maintain protective coatings and keep the material supple and looking great. 

Some people look at the car care aisle with lots of different car leather cleaners and think they are all the same. Not true! There are different formulations, chemicals, and even uses for car leather cleaners, and they range in price and effectiveness. Plus, there are different types of leather and faux leather car interiors that cannot be cleaned and conditioned exactly the same. 

The History of Car Leather Cleaner

Leather has been around for centuries, and methods for cleaning it have changed greatly over time. Leather was not incorporated into vehicle interiors until the late 1970s, not much later than when leather care companies started popping up. The focus at that time was the care of leather tack and shoes rather than car interiors. 

It was sometime in the late 1980s, as more vehicles were equipped with leather interiors, that leather care companies realized the special needs of that leather. New formulations are still being made today based on leather tanning and faux leather developments.

Why You Might Like Car Leather Cleaner

Car leather cleaner is a great way to keep a vehicle’s leather upholstery looking clean and luxurious. Regular cleaning and conditioning can help prevent the leather from cracking and fading and protect it from spills and stains. Many different types and brands of car leather cleaners have varied effectiveness and care for specific types of leather as well as leaving a pleasant fragrance behind or no smell at all.

Car Leather Cleaner Overview Table

Car Leather Cleaner CharacteristicDetails
ItemCar Leather Cleaner
UsesCleaning leather and faux leather car seats, multi-purpose cleans plastic and vinyl
Common MaterialsSodium Metasilicate, Sodium Olefin Sulfonate, Dimethicone, Lanolin, Mineral Oil, Octocrylene, Water, Myrcene, Fragrance
Popular ColorsWipes, spray, liquid
Sizes20 wipes, 25 wipes, 30 wipes, 70 wipes, 8 oz, 16 oz, 18 oz, 22 oz, 1 gallon,
Popular StylesWipes and sprays
Cost Range ($)$3–$196
How Long it Lasts (on average)1 year
Car Leather Cleaner Characteristics

Popular Types and Styles of Car Leather Cleaner

Car leather cleaners come from many different brands with varied formulations, but the most popular types are the ones that are easiest to use. Car leather cleaner wipes are very easy and convenient, especially for spills and quick cleanups. 

Wipes are inexpensive and easy to use but are not recommended for frequent use because they do not have the same cleaning power and sometimes leave a sticky residue behind. Sprays are also popular because all one needs is a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to use it, making cleaning leather a breeze. 

I don’t recommend using sprays with perforated leather because it can seep into the holes, leading to moisture buildup and mold risk. Sprays are great for smooth leather surfaces like center consoles, non-perforated seats, dashboards, door liners, and steering wheels.

Common Car Leather Cleaner Characteristics


Car leather cleaners have many different ingredients, and some are simpler than others. Here are the most common materials listed:

  1. Sodium Metasilicate-degreaser
  2. Sodium Olefin Sulfonate-surfactant/cleaning agent
  3. Dimethicone-gloss enhancer
  4. Mineral Oil-solvent
  5. Lanolin-moisturizer/conditioner
  6. Octocrylene-UV absorber
  7. Water-diluent
  8. Fragrance


There are many different sizes of car leather cleaners, partly dependent on the variations available. Wipes range from 20–70, sprays from 8 oz.–22 oz., and liquids from 8 oz.–1 gallon.

Common Forms

Some car leather cleaners are specifically for seats, while others can be used on multiple surfaces. Car leather cleaners come in various forms, such as: 

  1. Sprays
  2. Liquids
  3. Creams
  4. Wipes

Key Uses

The main use of leather cleaner for cars is to remove dirt and oil from leather vehicle interiors. It cleans the material’s surface and is a multi-purpose cleaner that can wash plastic and vinyl surfaces and leather.

Leather vehicle interiors should be cleaned every three to six months, so it is imperative to use the right product to get the job done right.

Watch this helpful video from Pan The Organizer to learn how to clean and protect leather seats.

Car Leather Cleaner Costs

The typical cost range for car leather cleaners ranges from $3–$196. 

  1. Wipes – Leather car wipes range from $5 for 20 wipes to $66 for a 6-pack of 25 wipes. 
  2. Sprays – Leather sprays cost anywhere from $3 for a 4-ounce bottle to $110 for a 6-pack of 22-ounce bottles. 
  3. Liquid car leather cleaner – These cleaners generally start at $6 for an 8-ounce bottle and go up to $196 for 4-1 gallon bottles.

Pros of Car Leather Cleaner

Car leather cleaner is a great way to keep your car’s leather seats looking new and feeling soft. It helps to remove dirt, grime, and stains from the leather surface without damaging it. It also helps to protect the leather from cracking and fading due to exposure to sunlight and other environmental factors. 

Cons of Car Leather Cleaner

Some brands and formulations of car leather cleaners can get expensive, especially with high-quality products. Some cleaners may be harsh and contain harmful chemicals. Not all car leather cleaners work as well as advertised and can leave seats looking dull.

Car Leather Cleaner Manufacturing Process – How They’re Made

Car leather cleaners have undergone many formulations changes over the years based on how well they work on leather, chemical availability, and safety profiles. We have learned that there needs to be a base diluent, usually water, so the other chemicals can dissolve evenly. 

There must also be degreasers and cleaning agents to clean the leather without harsh chemicals. Then there should be something to protect from UV rays and add a glossy shine. Fragrances are sometimes added for a more pleasant experience, while some cleaners have no fragrance. Simple formulations are best for cleaning and protecting car leather interiors.

Experienced Tips for Choosing Car Leather Cleaner

Frequency of Use

Leather vehicle interiors should be cleaned every three to six months, so it is imperative to use the right product to get the job done right. The car leather cleaner chosen should last through routine and unplanned cleanings; most are good for up to a year once opened. The cleaner should also not cause any buildup that will dull or damage the leather with this frequency of use.

Environment/Conditions of Use

In a recently published article by Resundergoneajlovski and Bahchevandjiev, it was found that the surface of leather absorbs chemicals that can cause color changes and degrade the collagen bonds of the material.

Therefore, choosing a car leather cleaner that cleans and protects the leather from harmful UV rays is important. Spray cleaners should not be used with perforated leather because it will get into the pores, damage the cushion, and lead to mold. 


When it comes to car leather care, the cheapest is not usually the best. Choose a cleaner that is specially formulated for the specific type of leather and is also affordable. It can last up to a year once opened, so the up-front cost should not deter one from purchasing the best product. Besides, maintenance of car leather is so much more affordable than replacement!


Choosing a car leather cleaner should not always be based on trends; however, there are changes in formulations all the time. Steer clear of products that claim to clean and condition leather seats, as it may be cheaper but not the best product. Look at categories like: 

  1. Cleaning power
  2. Fragrance
  3. Stain removal ability
  4. Ease of use,
  5. Post-cleaning feel

Personal Preference

With so many different car leather cleaners available; personal preference should play a part in choosing the right product. Some people focus more on cleaning ability than the fragrance; an overpowering scent can deter some from using certain cleaners. Choose the car leather cleaner that fits the budget, delivers the expected results, and keeps leather seats looking and feeling great.

Best Car Leather Cleaner

Although car leather cleaners have differences in formulations and application methods, they have several similarities. The best car leather cleaners come from well-established companies that are experts in leather care. The following are the most highly rated leather cleaning and care brands:

  1. Meguiar’s
  2. Leather Honey
  3. Chemical Guys
  4. Armor All

My Personal Research on Car Leather Cleaner

With so many different types of car leather cleaners, it can be difficult to know which products are right for different uses. I have compiled a list of the most appropriate cleanser types for cleaning car leather interiors.

Car Leather Cleaner TypeCostUses
Spray leather cleaner$5–$66Cleans and protects smooth leather surfaces. Good for large areas, seams, and crevices.
Liquid leather cleaner$6–$196Cleans and protects smooth and perforated leather surfaces. Usually require dilution, applied with a sponge or soft cloth.
Leather wipes$3–$110Best for quick cleanups or on the go.
Car Leather Cleaner Costs and Uses

Car Leather Cleaner Care and Maintenance

How to Clean With Car Leather Cleaner

Car leather cleaners should be used every three to six months and as needed. To clean with leather cleaner, follow these steps:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions based on whether it is a spray, liquid, or wipe. 
  2. Test any new cleaners on an inconspicuous spot first to check for staining and colorfastness. 
  3. Remove loose dirt and debris first with a vacuum or soft-bristled brush. Use microfiber towels or old t-shirts with spray and liquid cleaners to prevent scratches. 
  4. Avoid using too much product to prevent residue buildup and sticky surfaces. 

How to Maintain Car Leather Cleaner

To maintain car leather cleaner and keep it lasting, it should be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat changes, such as inside a cabinet or on a garage shelf. Keep the lid tightly secured to avoid spills or the product drying out.

How to Store Car Leather Cleaner

Always store car leather cleaner in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Ensure the bottle or container is closed completely, and write down the date it was opened. Use the product for up to a year for the best results.

Helpful Insights on Car Leather Cleaner

What is the best thing to clean leather car seats?

Using gentle, pH-neutral products to clean leather car seats is best. Soft-bristled brushes, microfiber towels or old t-shirts, specially formulated car leather cleaners, pH-neutral soap and water, and leather conditioner can all be used to clean and maintain leather car seats safely.

How do I keep my car leather clean?

Cars can be challenging to keep clean with daily use, long trips, children, and pets, and sometimes quick cleans are better than no cleans. Use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to remove dirt and dust, then use a car leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water to rub the leather gently. Test any new products in an inconspicuous area for staining and colorfastness first.

What household products can I use to clean the inside of my car leather?

It is best to use pH-neutral soap and water to clean car leather interiors. A few drops of liquid mild detergent or Dawn dish soap mixed in warm water is gentle enough to wash car leather without causing damage. Be careful to not use too much water and allow it to air dry completely before applying the leather conditioner. 

How do you clean dirty leather car seats?

Dirty leather car seats can be cleaned with car leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for commercial cleaners or mix a few drops of soap in warm water to create suds. Use a microfiber towel or an old t-shirt to rub leather and remove stains gently.

Can you use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on leather car seats?

No, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser should not be used to clean leather car seats. This melamine sponge is great for removing even permanent markers from porcelain sinks and painted walls, but not from leather. It is an abrasive sponge that will remove the top layer of leather and damage the outermost layer.

Key Takeaways

  1. Car leather cleaners are specially formulated to care for vehicle leather interiors.
  2. Car leather cleaners come in sprays, liquids, and wipes for all different leathers and surface types.
  3. Use car leather cleaners with simple formulations, including degreasers, natural moisturizers, and UV protectants, for the best care.

In Closing

There is a car leather cleaner out there that is perfect for every need. Each type has unique benefits and uses, and proper use will keep every car’s leather surfaces looking and feeling great for many years. 

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