One of the best ways to add value and class to your vehicle is to install beautiful car seat covers, especially leather. This material is ubiquitous in luxury vehicles worldwide for simple reasons: it’s timeless, classic, and durable. However, once in a while you may find yourself needing to clean off a spill before it becomes a stain; otherwise, those car seat covers could quickly become dirty and unappealing.
Leather is such an ancient material that there are many well-understood methods for cleaning it. Luckily, these methods apply to almost any material and will work well for maintaining your car seat covers. Be sure to always try out these cleaning methods on a small, noticeable part of the material first, to make sure there are no adverse or unusual reactions that can damage your seat covers.
The best way to avoid cleaning seats is to be proactive about messes in your car. Avoid drinks without lids, and never eat in your vehicle or allow others to eat in it. Taking these precautions is a good start, but spills and accidents still happen.
When they do, don’t panic! Almost anything can be cleaned, removed, or at least mostly hidden. Let’s look at some of the best car seat cover cleaning tips and tricks.
Commercial Leather Cleaners
While these will cost a little more than the homemade remedies and will require a trip to the store, they provide some important benefits. They’re designed specifically for leather, so you won‘t have to worry about damaging your seat covers. Additionally, they usually contain a form of leather conditioner which will help keep them firm and supple, the way leather should be.
However, almost all stains can be fixed with a much quicker and cheaper mixture of basic household materials, so let’s take a look at those.
Warm Water and Soap
This is an obvious cleaning method, and should always be the first thing you try after a simple wash with cold or warm water. When just water isn’t enough, soap will usually work to loosen up the mess, and will work especially well at dissolving and cleaning grease or oil.
To begin, mix about five parts water with one part soap, and use a rag or sponge to gently scrub the spot you want to clean. If it’s not working, try scrubbing harder, but be sure not to cause abrasive damage or completely saturate the leather, as this will cause it to become brittle over time.
Water and White Vinegar
When water and soap aren’t cutting it, vinegar is an excellent next cleaning method you can use. Vinegar is used all over households for cleaning, from dishwashers to bathrooms, and is famous for its ability to dissolve and absorb stains.
To try this method, use approximately the same ratio as the soap and water, and clean with a rag again. You can always try letting the vinegar mixture sit on the leather for about ten minutes to see if it helps dissolve. Vinegar is especially good at breaking down things like soil or minerals, so it will be an excellent choice for spills of that nature.
Lemon Juice and Cream of Tartar
As we work our way up the scale of strength and acidity, we encounter more effective cleaning mixtures, but also more risks of damaging the leather. Mix lemon juice and cream of tartar into a paste, and let it sit on the stain a little. This might help break down stains that prove to be too strong for vinegar, soap, or water.
The acidity and strength of lemon juice create a powerful bleaching effect, so be sure to test it on a small portion of the seat first. Don’t let it sit too long, and this cleaning method is preferable to use on lighter-colored leathers.
This is another powerful cleanser with a bleaching effect on leather, so take the same precautions as with the lemon juice mixture. To try cleaning this way, use a cotton swab or rag and moisten it with rubbing alcohol. Try to swab out the stain, gently pressing, soaking, and wiping.
It’s always a good idea to follow these cleaning methods with some water. This will make sure that nothing stays behind on the leather and damages it.
Baking soda has several useful cleaning properties and can help break down stubborn stains on leather. Start by spreading a small amount of powder on the spot and rubbing it in with warm water. Let this mixture sit for a few hours or even overnight, and then follow up by scrubbing the spot with warm water.
While there are many ways to clean leather, finding the right one will take trial and error testing. Start with gentle cleansers like soap and water, and work your way up to the more heavy-duty cleansers. By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your seat covers are pristine and beautiful as long as possible.