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Automotive Leather Interior: Preserving Your Investment

Leather seats

So you’ve invested a big chunk of change into a new car, opting for a high-end model outfitted with a slick leather interior. Leather trim and seating looks sharp, feels great and can help retain your car’s value. Such seating also requires special maintenance to preserve its exquisite look. Here’s how to get that job done:

1. Assemble Your Tools

Before you begin, assemble the tools you’ll need to get the job done:

2. Vacuum Your Car’s Interior

Use the vacuum’s brush attachment to clean your car’s interior, working from top to bottom. Then, replace the brush with a crevice attachment tool to reach the smallest openings, including on and around the seats. The cabin should be free of dust, dirt, sand, hair, lint and grime that can attach to your leather surfaces.

3. Wipe Down the Leather Interior Surfaces


Although vacuuming will remove the dirt, you must also clean any oil buildup from passengers’ skin. Dampen a fresh sponge or a lint-free cloth with water. Gently pat the leather interior surfaces, one section at a time. Dry each section with the shop towel before moving on to the next area.

4. Apply Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

A quality leather-cleaning product usually includes a conditioner. First, test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area, such as the base of a seat, to ensure it retains its color. If the color bleeds, then you might need a different cleaner for your car’s surfaces. If no changes occur, then spray the product on a clean cloth and apply.

Your product may produce a foam that needs to sit for several minutes before you can wipe it dry with a shop towel. You may find it easier to maneuver within your car if you start with the door inlays, instrument panel, steering wheel and shifter knob before turning your attention to the seats.

5. Apply Leather Sealant

To preserve your leather, apply a sealant that will keep it from fading, drying out or aging. A quality leather sealant will also repel stains. Apply per the manufacturer’s directions, working the sealant across all the leather interior surfaces. Thoroughly cover all affected areas just as you did with the leather cleaner and conditioner.

Leather Interior Considerations

You can do your part to preserve your car’s interior by repeating this process on a monthly or quarterly basis. If you can park your car away from direct sunlight, you can reduce how often your leather needs to be treated.

Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on leather interior care, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Image courtesy of Flickr

Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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