Leather is a fantastic material to use in a car interior because it's very hard-wearing. Sadly, many take the robustness of the material as a reason to not properly care for it. You need to properly clean and condition leather interiors to keep them looking their best, as well as avoiding damage and premature wear.
We've put together a list of all you could need to keep your leather interior looking top-notch. From full kits to necessary equipment and even a quick-fix solution, there'll be something for everyone.
The best car leather cleaner
1. Autoglym Leather Clean & Protect Kit
The perfect option if you want the ultimate finish, this kit from Autoglym will have your leather looking better than new. Autoglym is renowned for quality and this kit is no different; the leather cleaner will cut through the dirt, but won't change the colour of your seats. It's also pH neutral so won't damage the leather. The care balm will offer a layer of protection, but won't replace the natural matte leather look with a horrible shiny finish. The kit also comes with an applicator sponge and microfibre towel.Pros:Great quality Protects your seats as well as cleaning themIncludes a sponge and towel for easier cleaning Cons:Expensive optionYou could do with a brush for embedded dirt
2. Turtle Wax Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
If you want to enjoy clean leather but don't want to fork out a load of money, then Turtle Wax is your best bet. The cleaner will protect, clean, and condition your leather but it's not as powerful as the more expensive options, so you'll need to roll up your sleeves and give it a load of elbow grease to get the best results. Pros:Good value optionCons:Can leave a dull finish
3. Meguiar's Microfibre Towels
A garage essential, microfibre towels will always come in handy no matter what you're doing. For properly cleaning a leather interior, you'll need a few of these and this option from Meguiar's is great. Offering three in the pack, you'll always have one handy in the garage. Pros:Top-quality drying and wipingTriple packCons:Can't rely on these alone to clean a leather interior
4. Furniture Clinic Leather Care Kit
Offering similar results to Autoglym but at a cheaper price, this kit from Furniture Clinic will clean and protect your leather interior to the highest standard. This kit includes a cleaner and protection cream as well as a cleaning sponge and applicator sponge. You can even use it on the sofa (as long as it's leather).Pros:Deep clean finish Cons:You'll need a microfibre towel to complete the kit
5. Meguiar's Ultimate Leather Balm
If you're after top-quality results without having to spend ages using different products, then this balm from Meguiar's will be perfect. Designed to clean, condition, and protect, this leather balm uses cocoa butter and jojoba oil to nourish and clean leather surfaces. It also comes with a handy applicator.Pros:Great quick-solutionIt'll smell great once you're doneCons:You'll need something to wipe the balm off
6. 26JPN Leather Cleaner
Easy to apply and excellent quality, we like 26JPN for its leading quality and great scents. This leather cleaner is pH balanced for non-abrasive meaning there shouldn't be any damage or leftover residue. Spray it on and wipe off any it'll keep your leather seats healthy.
7. Car Detailing Brush Kit
This set of cleaning brushes will allow you to clean more than just your leather surfaces. The rigid brushes will cut through tough dirt on leather surfaces while the softer brushes will help clean hard-to-reach areas on your dashboard. Pros:Great selection of brushes Cons:Expensive brush kit
8. Colourlock Leather & Textile Cleaning Brush
To get deep, embedded dirt out of leather, you'll need a rigid cleaning brush that'll remove dirt while not damaging the leather. This brush from Colourlock is ideal for use in the car thanks to the rigid bristles. It's also suitable for use on Alcantara and fabrics, too. Pros:Scrub all the dirt out of your seatsCons:You'll need a leather cleaner to go with itWon't be usable elsewhere in the car
How to clean your leather interior:
- Check that your car uses natural leather (sounds silly, but some faux leather is very convincing). If your car uses real, then it's safe to start cleaning. Also, be wary of perforated leather, you'll need to be more cautious using cleaning products on a perforated surface.
- Give the areas a good vacuum before getting the leather cleaning products out. Remove larger bits of dirt and left-over food while being careful not to scratch the leather. We recommend using a proper car vacuum cleaner for this because it's simply less of a hassle.
- Apply some of the leather cleaner to a microfibre towel and begin removing the surface dirt from the leather. Be careful not to use too much in one go, you'll be left with a slippery, greasy mess.
- Using a brush with rigid bristles, begin to scrub more embedded dirt. After this, wipe down with a clean microfibre cloth, you'll be able to see the dirt and oil on the towel (there will be more than you think).
If you've chosen an all-in-one cleaner, so long as you've wiped it all down with a clean towel you'll be done and free to admire your immaculate leather interior. If you've chosen one of the sets, on the other hand, it's now time to condition.
- Do a spot test with your conditioner on a relatively hidden area, make sure the conditioner doesn't discolour or mark the leather.
- If it leaves no marks, use a microfibre towel and begin rub in the conditioner. It's best not to apply the conditioner directly to the leather because it's very easy to end up using too much and creating a greasy mess.
- Leave the conditioner to settle overnight before buffing with another microfibre towel.
What if my leather seats are damaged?
If your leather seats are flakier than a Cadbury Flake or cracked and torn then simple leather cleaner isn't going to be enough to get them looking good again. Thankfully there are plenty of options to fix this:
You can invest in some leather restorer that'll help soften your leather and prevent it from cracking. We recommend this natural leather conditioner that will restore and protect your leather upholstery and doesn't use any harsh chemicals or leave a nasty smell.
If your seats are very damaged you can use a recolouring balm to not only cover up scratches and nicks, but restore your original colour. We recommend using this balm from Furniture Clinic because it is well priced, effective and available in a wide range of colours.
And if all else fails, there is always the choice to buy a seat cover. We've written about the best seat covers already (including heated options) but if you still want the luxury feeling of leather, we've found the best leather seat covers too.