The Homemade Cleaning Solution That'll Make Your Car's Leather Seats Look New

Having fancy leather seats in your car can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, high-quality leather looks excellent, smells fancy, and is equal parts comfortably soft and efficiently smooth. However, as is the case with owning any kind of leather product — be it a coat, a purse, or whatever else — leather car seats are a potentially big investment of both time and money in order to maintain. 

If you don't put in the proper effort to keep that leather spic and span, it'll become coarse, smelly, and generally unpleasant to look at. How are you supposed to keep leather car seats looking the best they possibly can, though? You can take your car to a high-end car wash for a detailing session, but that can be exceptionally costly. 

There are dedicated leather solutions you can buy, but those might need special tools and know-how to use. If you need to clean leather seats on the cheap, there's actually a viable mix of simple household products that will do the job just fine.

What supplies you'll need

Before you leap right into cleaning your car's leather seats, you'll want to assemble the right tools and materials to make and use your cleaning solution. Luckily, you can find everything you need around the house in the kitchen, bathroom, or garage.

First, you'll need something to hold the cleaning solution. For this, either a simple bucket or a spray bottle will work, depending on what you have. A spray bottle might make application a little easier, but the bucket will work fine as well. You'll also need two washcloths for holding and spreading water, plus a clean towel to dry off. Don't forget to bring a vacuum or dust-buster to the car with you, just to get any little crud bits off the seats before cleaning.

For the actual cleaning solution, all you need is some clean, warm water and a bottle of Castile soap. Castile soap can be a bit fancy, though, so if you don't have any, plain old dish soap will work. Just make sure the cleaner you use doesn't have any caustic chemicals like ammonia or bleach, lest you damage your leather seats.

How to clean your leather seats

Once you've got all of your materials and tools together, it's time to clean those seats. Open up the car door, and start putting your cleaning solution together.

  1. Using a vacuum or dust-buster, clean off any loose dust or debris from your leather seats.

  2. In a bucket or spray bottle, combine five parts warm, clean water to one part Castile/dish soap.

  3. If using a bucket, wet a washcloth in the solution and gently wipe down the surfaces of the seat. If using a spray bottle, spray the solution onto the seat directly, then wipe with the cloth.

  4. Using a second cloth wetted with just water, wipe down the seats again.

  5. Use a clean towel to dry the seats.

Use your cleaning solution and water sparingly — you don't want to completely soak the seats, or the water could seep in and make your seats soggy, which could damage them long-term.

Remember, leather seats can stain very quickly and very easily. Try to clean up any stains as quickly as possible to keep them from setting in.