Leather seats are great.  They are attractive to look at and very comfortable to sit on.  The main advantage of leather is that when the weather is hot, the seats absorb perspiration whereas vinyl seats just get sticky. Plus there’s nothing like the smell of a leather seats in a car.

Leather, however, requires maintenance. Because it is an organic product, it can deteriorate over time and lose its natural oils.  The detailing department at Palmer in Roswell, GA, popular Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM dealer recommends that you clean and condition your car’s leather seats frequently.  This will keep them in like new condition and it’s easy to do.

First step is a good cleaning

Cleaning leather is best accomplished by using a quality leather cleaner. There are many cleaners on the market and they are designed to gently re-hydrate whatever grime and gunk accumulate on the seats.  After these products rehydrate the grime, the leather can be cleaned off. By the way, don’t cheap out and use standard detergents. Use only leather cleaner on leather; all-purpose cleaners tend to be much too harsh for leather.

The general procedure for cleaning leather seats is to apply a small amount of the cleaner to a damp cloth and work up a good lather on all the leather surfaces.  After sitting for a few minutes, remove the excess lather then give the leather a good cleaning with clean water and a sponge. After this remove any residual moisture with a towel and allow all the leather surfaces to completely dry.


Once your leather is clean, you need to restore the lost oils with a quality leather conditioner. Invest in a good brand name leather conditioner, your seats are worth it.  Here’s the conditioning procedure. Put a small amount of the conditioner on an applicator pad or cotton cloth and work it gently into the surface. Don’t be afraid to really saturate the leather. Then allow it to be absorbed for several minutes and then wipe off the excess if there is any.

Neglected Leather

If your leather has hardened or needs serious softening, there are several products on the market to help you with this. Your local auto parts store or hardware store can usually help you locate these. The products are generally paste-like and are designed to really penetrate into the leather surface.  Generally, you coat the old leather surfaces with a good thick coat of the product and let it sink in for 24 hours or so. Depending upon the condition of the leather, it may require numerous additional applications too.  With luck, you should be able to resurrect the old leather and make it soft again.

Keeping it like new

Most people don’t treat their leather often enough.  This is why you see so many older cars with old, stiff leather seats.  You can easily avoid that fate by conditioning your leather at least a couple of times per year.  Think of it as a maintenance item, like oil and filter changes, that you can perform yourself.  Its worth the time that you invest. 

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