Leather car seats are durable and fashionable; however, they can be tricky to clean. When it comes to ridding leather car seats of unwanted stains or odors, using the best leather seat cleaner is key, along with following the proper cleaning methods. The best leather cleaner for cars can be either a commercial product or one you create with simple ingredients.
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Treating Your Leather Car Seats
Whether you are disinfecting your car or treating specific stains or smells, it's important to begin with a round of vacuuming. Leather seat odors are often caused by bacteria buildup, mold, or mildew. In particular, if mold is causing your odor issues, you'll want to vacuum up as many of the mold spores as possible so as not to spread them further. Using either a hose attachment on your home vacuum or a heavy-duty shop vac, clear out unwanted dirt and debris so that when you apply your leather seat cleaner, you're working on a grime-free surface.
Once your vacuuming is complete, it's time to treat your seats with leather seat cleaner. Spray either store-bought leather cleaner, or a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water onto a clean white microfiber cloth, and apply the solution to your seats. Applying the leather seat cleaner via microfiber cloth is key because it's critical to avoid oversaturation. Saturating leather with too much liquid can lead to further mold growth, which can exacerbate odors. Microfiber cloths are also soft enough that they won't scratch your seats.
Once your seats are damp with leather odor remover, lightly scrub the cleaner into the upholstery. Then, using a dry microfiber cloth, wipe away as much of the liquid cleaner as possible.
To further safeguard against unwanted mold, properly drying your leather seats after you've treated them with liquid cleaner is a must. Don't let your leather seats air-dry naturally, as this can warp and crack the leather. Instead, open all your car doors and windows and aim fans at your car's leather interior for 30 minutes to an hour, until everything is dry.
Leather Car Seat Maintenance
The quicker you treat leather seat odors and stains, the better. Leaving stains for a long time engrains them into the material, and they become harder to lift. Similarly, it may be difficult or impossible to remove smells in seats if they have been absorbed by the fabric or cushioning underneath the leather covers. In extreme cases like these, you may need to remove and replace the seats to get rid of the odors.
Additionally, if you clean your leather seats on a monthly basis, it's easier to stay on top of potential bacteria, mold, or mildew buildup before it becomes problematic. Always opt for nontoxic cleaning solutions, as these are less likely to damage your seats. Additionally, before using a new leather cleaner, test the solution on a small spot in a less-visible area to ensure it doesn't cause discoloration.