Our tips on how to get stains out of leather car seats will instantly refresh the appearance of your beautiful upholstery. It’s important to use the appropriate products and a gentle touch on this car interior detailing task. Leather is a natural material that can become damaged or discolored if you don’t look after it. Moreover, if you use the incorrect stain remover, it may cause your leather seats to dry out, crack or fade.
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How to Remove Stains From Leather Car Seats: Steps and Techniques
Coffee, water, and soda are some of the common spillages that can stain leather seats. Food and greasy fingerprints will leave their mark, too. The trick is to wipe the affected area immediately with a dry microfiber cloth. Since leather is not very absorbent, acting fast should save your seats. But don’t worry if you missed the moment to clean straight away. Here is how to remove stains from leather car seats.
What You’ll Need to Remove Stain From Leather Car Seat
- Car vacuum cleaner
- Leather cleaner
- Leather protectant
- Microfiber car cloths
- Car steam cleaner (optional)
- Liquid dishwashing soap, white vinegar, olive oil, linseed oil (optional)
Vacuum the Leather Seats
Start by vacuuming the seats to remove any loose dirt, debris, or crumbs. Make sure to get into crevices and seams. You could also use an air compressor to blow the dirt from those hard-to-reach areas. This handy tool is ideal for model car interior detailing, too.
Apply Store-Bought Cleaning Solution
Before getting to work with your cleaning product, test it on a hidden area to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage. If all looks good after testing, proceed:
- Apply your leather cleaner to the affected areas.
- Take care not to get car interior detailing products in the holes if your car seats have perforated areas along the stitch lines.
Important: Never use bleach or ammonia-based cleaners because they can damage and discolor the leather. Similarly, don’t use too much water. Excess water can also stain the leather.
Apply Homemade Solution to Remove Stain From Leather Car Seat
Instead of using a store-bought cleaner, another option is to remove stains from car seats with homemade remedies. For example:
- Mixture #1 – Mix 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts linseed oil.
- Mixture #2 – Mix 1 part liquid dishwashing soap and 5 parts water.
- Mixture #3 – Mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup of vinegar.
- Choose any of these DIY mixtures, then use a spray bottle to apply the solution directly onto the stain.
- Use a soft-bristled brush on set-in stains, but don’t apply too much pressure.
- For more stubborn stains, let the mixture rest for a few minutes before brushing.
Or you can try rubbing alcohol. For example, use isopropyl alcohol with a concentration of at least 70%. Then do the following:
- Dampen a cotton ball or a clean, soft cloth with the rubbing alcohol.
- Gently blot, don’t rub.
- Be patient and continue blotting until the stain starts to lift. As the ink transfers, you may need fresh cotton balls or another clean cloth.
Rinse and Wipe
Whether you use a store-bought leather cleaner or your own mixture, follow the same steps to rinse the leather after treatment:
- Dip another clean cloth into a bit of water to “rinse” the stain. Do go easy on the water because you don’t want to have to remove water stains from car upholstery.
- Wipe gently to lift the remaining stain, then wipe off the cleaning solution.
- For stubborn marks, repeat the process with more cleaning solution and then another rinse.
- Again, don’t scrub. Just wipe gently. Also, use less water as you go along to prevent the seats from becoming too damp.
- Finally, dry with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. Leave the car doors open, too. This will allow air to circulate and help the seats air dry.
It is important to dry your seats thoroughly, otherwise mold and mildew could become a problem. If the worst happens, follow our tips on how to remove mold from car interior.
Condition the Leather
Once your seats are clean and dry, apply a leather conditioner. This extra treatment product is worth having in your car interior detailing kit because it will keep the leather supple and protect it from cracking and fading.
A leather conditioner also helps protect the material against future stains while giving it a gorgeous shine. Moreover, knowing how to get stains out of leather car seats will extend the lifespan of your upholstery and keep it looking new. For more tips, see how to deep clean car seats.
Other Ways to Remove Stains From Leather Seats
If you want to know how to remove stains from leather car seats without using a cleaning product, you could always steam clean car seats. If you intend to do this yourself, you’ll need a steam cleaner for cars, microfiber cloths for wiping and blotting, and a leather conditioner. Then follow these steps:
- Keep moving the steam nozzle in a slow, controlled motion, about 1-2 inches from the stained area. The steam will help to loosen and lift the stain without causing excess moisture.
- Immediately after steam cleaning, gently blot the area with a clean, soft microfiber cloth. This will help remove any loosened dirt and moisture.
Keep in mind that using a car steam cleaner is generally safe for leather seats, but you must use the appropriate equipment and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you’re unsure how to go about this, call the experts to find out how much does interior car detailing cost near you.
Different Types of Stains on Car Seats
Eating and drinking in your car is probably not a good idea, but sometimes you have to grab a drink or snack on the go. And if the worst happens, we have you covered with these tips:
If the stain persists or if your seats are made of high-end or specialty leather, it’s wise to consult a professional car interior detailing service for assistance.
Once you know how to get stains out of leather car seats, you can always keep your upholstery looking good. To help you achieve this, choose store-bought products, homemade recipes, or steam cleaning. The key point to remember is that leather loves the gentle touch. So, go easy on the scrubbing and never use harsh chemicals. Finally, don’t forget to do a spot test before applying any type of cleaning products, or steam, to the stained area.
If you need more advice or assistance, our trained detailers can help. Find out more when you download our Eco Wash Benefit Guide: