Updated Sunday, October 17 2021

This post will show you how to safely care for the leather seats and upholstery in your car, truck, or SUV. This method cleans and preserves leather.

With leather that’s over five years old, be careful when cleaning because too much scrubbing can cause older leather to rip or sag. If your leather is faded or cracked, then it might be time to consider a reupholstery, replacement seat, or replacement door panel. Faded and cracked leather can still be maintained, although extra caution must be used when wiping around cracks to prevent further tearing.

Items Required

Meguiar’s Leather Cleaner – 1 Gallon


Fill your bucket or bowl with warm water. Next, soak several microfiber towels in the bucket or bowl. Finally, set aside several clean dry towels.

Make sure that the area that you’re working on has been vacuumed. This includes vacuuming all the crumbs wedged in-between crevices.

Leather Pre-Treat

First, apply a small amount of car leather cleaner product to a clean and dry microfiber towel. Next, wipe the towel across the surface of the leather, spreading the product evenly.

Pre-treat just one section of leather.

Leather Cleaning

Next, grab one of the warm pre-soaked microfiber towels and wring it until it no longer drips water. Next, working from top to bottom, wipe your leather in a sweeping horizontal pattern. Follow that up with vertical direction wipes. Be sure to get in those hard to reach crevices. Blot at stains. Be careful not to oversaturate leather-covered parts because you don’t want moisture seeping into the foam cushioning found in seats, arm rests, and door panels, which can cause mold issues.

Wipe dry with a dry microfiber towel.

Repeat (pre-treat, wet wipe, dry wipe) if necessary for set-in stains. Hot or warm water is more effective at removing stubborn stains than cold water.

Leather seats and panels that have gunk build-up from greasy leather conditioner products baked into leather over time will require many wipe downs.

Repeat (pre-treat, wet wipe, dry wipe) on the next section of leather in your interior until all leather surfaces have been cleaned.

Meguiar’s X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels, Pack of 3,Yellow

Optional: Leather Treatment Products

I don’t use leather conditioners. Like most good detailing businesses in San Gabriel Valley, I return your vehicle to you in its factory stock natural non-greasy finish. Unfortunately, many car washes and detailers in San Gabriel Valley apply leather cleaner and conditioner combo products in place of any actual leather cleaning, which results in layers of dirty conditioner stacking on top of one another, left to bake into your leather over time. Stacking layers of leather conditioner attracts gunk buildup from sweat and other protein stains, which hardens leather.

Having said this, many drivers enjoy a slick look and feel to their leather surfaces or like the smell of a certain leather conditioner product, so if you’re one of these drivers, then fully clean any old conditioner (conditioner that has sat for more than 3 weeks) that might remain on leather surfaces until the leather has a factory soft and supple feel.

Next, apply a thin and even layer of conditioner on the surface of one section of your leather. THIN.

When you’re finished, wipe away any excess product. Repeat this process for the other leather surfaces in your interior, working one section at a time.

Let your interior air dry for a few minutes and you’re done!

If you know someone whose leather could use a little bit of sprucing up, then please pay it forward by sharing a link to this page. Thanks!

Categories: Interior