How to Clean Black, Dark, Grey, Red, and Burgundy Leather Car Seats

How to Clean Black, Dark, Grey, Red, and Burgundy Leather Car Seats

Black, dark, grey, red, and burgundy leather seats combine the best material and color choices you can make when getting a new car. Dark leather looks good with any color exterior, has a sporty feel, and conceals dirt. Proper upkeep and regular maintenance can protect your dark leather for the foreseeable future. This can be achieved through a few simple steps.

To clean your black, dark, grey, red, and burgundy leather seats: Take note of any pre-existing damage, vacuum large debris, perform a spot-test, apply your cleaning product, and condition the leather as needed.

Dark seats compliment the interior of your car. For example, black leather can look stellar with a multitude of materials: carbon fiber, wood, or metal. One of the many advantages of dark leather is that it’s great at hiding spills or stains. In fact, black leather is one of the easiest materials to maintain over time. It is also known for absorbing and maintaining heat more efficiently than lighter colors. While this can be a negative in extremely warm conditions, it is beneficial for those living in cooler climates. Seats will be more comfortable to the touch and will take longer to cool down.

 While leather is one of the most durable interior materials out there, it’s still prone to collecting dirt, grime, and even bacteria over time. We recommend that you develop a cleaning routine, as it minimizes dirt build up and protects your leather from wear over the lifespan of your vehicle. Tools to help maintain your seats include: a dependable leather cleaner, a vacuum, an applicator pad or microfiber cloth, and a soft-bristled brush.

Take note of any pre-existing damage

Check for weak spots, tears, or perforations in your leather prior to cleaning. Too much water or cleaning solution that seeps into your seats may damage your leather or even cause mold to form within your cushions. In addition, scrubbing on a weakened patch of leather may cause a tear or hole to form or enlarge. Take note of any damaged areas and use caution during the cleaning process.

Manufacturers will often place intentional holes in the leather called perforations. These small holes serve a purpose – for temperature regulation. Leather seats often have heating and/or cooling functions. Perforations allow air to pass through the material with ease, which can rapidly heat up or cool down a seat.

Take caution when cleaning perforated areas because they are less resistant to liquids than standard leather. If there’s dirt or debris within these small holes, we recommend carefully using a toothpick to pry them out.

Vacuum large debris

Use a vacuum to pick up any large debris and dirt that may be lingering on the seat. This will make the next few steps much easier -- as scrubbing the seats with any large particles can damage your leather and complicate the cleaning process. You might think vacuuming before cleaning is unnecessary, but it’s crucial to the cleaning process for leather seats. While vacuuming on its own won’t fully clean your seats, it is a necessary first step to prep your area and ensure that no damage is done.

Perform a spot-test

You should always perform a small-scale test when using a new product and beginning the cleaning process. Apply a small amount of your product to a tiny, inconspicuous area of the seat to see how it affects the area. We recommend that you apply the product to the underside or rear of a seat for your spot-test area. This way if there’s any negative reaction it won’t be noticeable to most eyes.

*This step isn’t necessary if you have an established cleaning process and have successfully used a product during prior cleanings.

Apply your cleaning product

 We recommend that you apply your cleaning solution to your cleaning cloth, rather than directly onto your seat. Most leathers will slowly soak up and saturate any liquids placed on them; therefore, you do not want to leave excess product on your seats.

When it comes to applying your product, you can either use an applicator pad or a microfiber towel. Applicator pads are the best tools for applying cleaning products as they don’t fully soak up the cleaning solution. Apply your product to the pad and begin wiping down your seats. Remember, be cautious of any areas with damage that you found during your initial inspection.

Microfiber towels are a must for anyone detailing their car, as they can be used in a variety of ways. They’ll also work for applying your cleaning product to your seats if you don’t have an applicator pad around. We recommend that you pick one up if you don’t have one already. Microfiber towels house millions of fibers that are great at picking up dirt, grease, grime, liquids, and bacteria. These towels go for relatively cheap and can last a long time with proper care and washing.

Use a soft-bristle brush to get any stubborn debris.

While microfiber towels are effective, you might need a slightly more abrasive tool to get persistent dirt and grime off the seats. This is where soft-bristle brushes come in handy. Avoid stiff and wired brushes, as they may scratch or even tear your leather seat. Soft bristles allow you to scrub the leather more thoroughly without risking damage. We recommend spot-cleaning any stubborn areas using a circular wiping motion until you get the desired result.

Condition the leather as needed.

Conditioning your leather is important in all cars, but most specifically with older car models. Over time the manufacturer’s protectant, applied to the car’s leather during production, can wear down. Cleaning leather with chemicals may speed up this process, so it is important to utilize products designed to protect your seats. Keep an eye on the product you’re using -- if it doesn’t have protecting properties then this extra step is highly recommended.

Fortunately, there are three-in-one leather cleaners on the market that can hydrate and protect your leather as you clean. These leather conditioners help replenish any natural oils or hydration lost while detailing, keeping your leather hydrated, soft, and strong. Using a three-in-one product will save you an additional step.

Optional: use of a dry-vapor steamer.

Many around the automotive world believe that a dry-vapor steamer is one of the best tools to use to clean and maintain leather upholstery. Dry-vapor steamers work by creating low moisture vapor that carries heat, dirt, and bacteria to the surface of the leather. Dry-vapor cleaning is one of the more natural methods of cleaning leather and does not require scrubbing or the application of chemicals.

The only drawback to using a dry-vapor steamer is its purchase cost. Most new dry-vapor steamer units will run north of $1,000 dollars. The good news is that you can often purchase secondhand steamers or find one available to rent for a much lower cost. Almost every professional automotive detailer has one of these in their arsenal, so you may also visit a professional to enjoy the benefits of this tool.

Summing it up

Having a cleaning routine and applying some care can prolong the lifespan of your black, dark, grey, red, and burgundy leather seats. Follow our steps: Take note of any pre-existing damage, vacuum large debris, perform a spot-test, use your cleaning product, scrub away any hard-to-get dirt, and condition the leather as needed.

Black leather brings both beauty and comfort to your vehicle. Simple, yet proper care is needed to maintain your leather years over your car’s lifespan. Developing a regular routine and cleaning process will ensure that you can enjoy the benefits of your beautiful dark leather seats for years to come.


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