Ranking the 10 Best Car Leather Cleaners of 2018
Which Leather Cleaner is the Best Fit for Your Car?
Updated July 29, 2018
There is a reason that high-end and luxury vehicles include a leather interior and a recommended car leather cleaner for tidying said interior. Leather makes for a better car interior, and whether it is synthetic or not, is hands down more aesthetically pleasing, softer, and more luxurious than any other material used in vehicle interiors.
When it comes to the value that a leather interior adds to your vehicle’s resale price, there is no question whether it is worth the extra sticker cost.
A pristine and well-taken-care-of leather interior is hard to beat, but a worn-in, faded leather interior is worse than not having leather in the first place.
Leather, for all its aesthetic and luxurious charms, is highly susceptible to sun damage and regular wear and tear. Neglecting your car’s leather interior can quickly become an expensive oversight should you ever wish to sell your vehicle.
Over time, leather seats begin to crack, tear and fade as regular use and exposure to damaging ultraviolet light eat away at the protective factory coatings and conditioners. Dust and grime cling to the small pores that cover the leather surface and make it look blotchy and stained, not to mention the greasy odors and stains caused by sticky fast foods and other automotive fluids.
Luckily there are a number of car leather cleaners available that can restore your drab, cracked leather interior back to its factory luster, and protect it from further unsightly damage.
What is Car Leather Cleaner?
Car leather cleaner generally consists of a chemical cleaning agent that is specially designed to remove dirt and oil from the surface of car leather.
Car leather cleaners are variously manufactured by household and automotive product companies and come in a wide range of variations, uses, and chemical combinations.
Many multi-purpose car cleaning products will work fine on leather products, while other automotive cleaners were explicitly designed for leather seats. There are hundreds of leather interior configurations, designs, and materials.
Before applying any cleaner to your car leather, it is essential that you thoroughly read the application instructions to ensure the cleaner will not damage your leather.
Car Leather Types
What many car owners don’t know is that there are four different types of leather used in car interiors, all of which are different to the touch, produce a different aesthetic, and require specific care.
Most car dealers will disclose which type of leather was used in the vehicle during the sale process. However, not all cars are bought from a dealership, which is why it’s important for every potential car buyer to be able to identify and differentiate between the different types of leathers used in car interiors.
Aniline Leather- If you drive a vehicle with aniline leather then it’s a good idea for you to pay attention because only rarely, if ever, do affordable, non-luxury vehicles include aniline leather interiors.
Aniline leather is considered by most to be the best leather used in car interiors. Aniline leather is made from the highest-quality- animal hides available and used almost exclusively in luxury vehicles. It gets its name from the aniline dyes used to create the vibrant colors used in British luxury vehicles and Italian sports cars.
Aniline leather ranks at the top of the scale when it comes to quality, but as such it is also the car leather type that is the most susceptible to wear and tear due to a lack of any protective factory coatings.
Cars with aniline leather interiors require regular cleaning and conditioning to avoid fading, damage, and a substantially more expensive professional leather repair. Luckily, unless you drive a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari, your car probably does not include aniline leather.
Semi-Aniline Leather – Aniline leather that has been treated with a protective coating and conditioners are referred to as semi-aniline. These coatings make the color of the leather more uniform, and the natural pattern of the leather hide less apparent.
Semi-aniline leather is generally found in higher-end vehicles like Porsche and Mercedes.
Though semi-aniline leather car interiors are coated with chemical protectors to be more resilient, they are still susceptible to spills and damage, which is why it is still important to regularly clean and maintain it.
Full-Grain Leather- The most commonly recognized full-grain leather used in car interiors is Nappa Leather.
Full-Grain leather is texture treated to retain the natural pattern of the leather hide and conditioned to be more durable than aniline and semi-aniline leather.
Full-Grain leather is generally more durable and less susceptible to damage than aniline leather, but due to the extra chemical treatments, it is considered a step below aniline leathers when it comes to quality.
Corrected-Grain Leather- Corrected-Grain leathers are the most conditioned and chemically treated leathers available on the automotive market and are therefore the most durable and affordable.
Auto manufacturers have dyed and treated corrected-grain leathers into nearly every color imaginable since they started using leather in car interiors.
That is because corrected-grain leather is not made from the highest-quality hides, but are instead buffed and corrected in the manufacturing process. Corrected-grain leather interiors are very common and generally included in more basic leather packages.
How to Use a Car Leather Cleaner?
Oils from your skin, dirt, ultraviolet light and regular wear and tear can fade leather seats in no time. Even if your car’s leather seats and interior looks spotless and in excellent condition, it is still a smart idea to regularly clean and protect your car’s leather.
Buying the right car leather cleaner is a good place to start, and now that you know about the different types of leathers used in car upholstery you’ll be able to purchase a leather cleaner that won’t damage your car’s leather interior.
The next step in the car leather cleaning process is breaking out the tools that you’re going to need to get the job done. You’ll need:
- Vacuum (handheld will do)
- Microfiber towel
- Soft sponge
- Leather Cleaner
Now that you have your tools it’s time to get to work cleaning your car’s leather.
Prep the leather surface – Before you apply any cleaner to your leather it is critical that you remove excess dust and debris from the leather surface.
Applying leather cleaner to leather that is covered in dust and dirt can permanently scratch the surface.
It’s always a good idea to vacuum your car’s leather (especially the seats) prior to applying any sort of car leather cleaner or cleaning solution.
Once you have removed the dirt and detritus from your car leather, it is time to clean the leather surface. Mix one part vinegar and two parts water in your bucket to create a leather-safe cleaning solution.
Wet your soft sponge in the solution and thoroughly clean the car leather in need of treatment. Be sure to quickly wipe away the solution after application.
Do not let any solution dry on your car leather. Doing so allows all the dirt you just scrubbed off the settle back into the leather surface.
Apply the car leather cleaner – Here is where the car leather cleaner you purchased is finally utilized. Apply the leather cleaner per the manufacturer instructions.
Some leather cleaners can be conveniently sprayed onto the leather surface while others need to be applied with a microfiber rag or application tool.
Once the leather cleaner has been applied per the manufacturer instructions, it’s time to remove it with a microfiber towel. Again, do not allow any cleaning solution to dry on your car’s leather.
The last step is to sit back in your freshly-cleaned leather seats and try not to spill anything on them. However, if you’re anything like the rest of us, your car leather will undoubtedly require another cleaning down the road.
Luckily, now you know how to identify and clean your car leather as well as a professional detailer, so you shouldn’t settle for just any old leather cleaner for the interior of your car.
Not all car leather is created equal, and neither are the car leather products meant to clean them. Your vehicle deserves a car leather cleaner that is up to par with your newly acquired leather cleaning skills.
Top 10 Best Car Leather Cleaners
There are as many car leather cleaners on the market as there are leather car interiors. Some are incredibly powerful but too harsh for use on the finer leathers, while others lack the cleaning power required for automotive stains.
The 10 car leather cleaners collected here are the best of 2018 because of they combine the features of a powerful automotive cleaner with the gentle, protective conditioning of delicate household cleaning solutions.
1. Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
Meguiar’s has been a trusted name in automotive care for over 100 years, and every year of that experience is evident in Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner and Conditioner.
Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner and Conditioner was designed to achieve the ideal clean for your leather without the use of harsh chemicals and solvents.
The automotive scientist at Meguiars infused Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner and Conditioner with special oils that moisturize and condition your car’s leather.
This exceptional leather cleaner is ph balanced and applied in a simple one-step process that leaves your car leather looking factory new. Cleaning your car leather with Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner and Conditioner also gives you the added protection of a UV coating which repels the sun’s harmful rays from damaging your seats and interior.
2. Chemical Guys Leather Conditioner and Cleaner
The Chemical Guys brand has a reputation for making exceptional high-end and luxury car care products, and it’s no surprise that Chemical Guys Leather Conditioner and Cleaner makes the list of top 10 car leather cleaners.
Chemical Guys Leather Conditioner and Cleaner is a well-rounded leather cleaner that is safe for use on all types of car leather and interior surfaces.
What sets Chemical Guys Leather Conditioner and Cleaner apart from other leather cleaners is their unique chemical formula which, once applied, creates a protective barrier over the small pores in the leather surface preventing dirt and oil from clinging to your car leather.
Chemical Guys also includes a complete leather cleaning kit that makes restoring your car leather to its showroom shine quick and easy.
3. Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Kit
Speaking of leather cleaning kits, the Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Kit by Lexol is the all-in-one car leather kit that is as affordable as it is effective.
The Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Kit comes with two powerful formulas that, when used together, clean, condition and protect your car leather in one easy process.
Included in the Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner kit are two separate bottles, each with its own specially designed formula and role to play in the car leather cleaning process.
First in the car leather cleaning process is the original ph balanced leather cleaner formula which easily removes stains and dirt from the surface of your car leather.
The cleaner is followed by Lexol leather conditioner which preserves, shines and strengthens your car leather.
4. Leather Honey Leather Conditioner & Leather Cleaner
You don’t become the number one best selling leather cleaner sold on Amazon unless you have some serious car leather cleaning chops.
Leather Conditioner & Leather Cleaner by Leather Honey delivers with one of the most potent car leather cleaners available today.
Leather Honey formulated their Leather Conditioner & Leather Cleaner to be a natural and effective way to clean and care for your car leather.
One treatment is guaranteed to provide at least 6 months of added protection from stains, damage and harmful UV rays. Leather Conditioner & Leather Cleaners formula also repels water, is odorless and completely non-toxic, non-solvent and leaves zero sticky residues.
Leather Honey Leather Conditioner & Leather Cleaner is the affordable choice when it comes to caring for your car leather and a worthy inclusion on our list of best car leather cleaners.
5. Trinova Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
Trinova Leather Cleaner and Conditioner was designed with premium leather in mind. You needn’t worry about inferior results when you apply this product to your car’s leather.
The specially designed, ph-balanced formula penetrates deep into the small pores and microscopic cracks of your car leather to dissolve and remove dirt and grime from even the finest car leathers and leather interiors.
Trinova Leather Cleaner and Conditioner is applied through an easy spray bottle and simply wipes away from the leather surface leaving only its powerful moisturizing and conditioning formula to coat and protect your car leather from UV rays.
6. Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner
Chamberlain’s Leather Milk is as effective on car leather as it is fun to say. Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner is a downright powerful car leather cleaner and conditioner that is safe for use on premium leather.
Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner boasts a homemade, water-based formula that consists of cosmetic grade ingredients and vital oils that keep your car leather as clean and bright as the day it was sewn into your car’s interior.
Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner is not concentrated, so it requires a thorough application. Once applied and scrubbed into the surface of your car leather it easily lifts even the most stubborn grime and dirt from your car leather and from deep within the leather pores.
Not to mention that Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner comes in what is easily the coolest bottle on this list of top car leather cleaners.
7. LeatherNu Complete Leather Color Restoration and Repair Kit
LeatherNu is one of the most recognizable and best-selling brands on the market today. After using the LeatherNu Complete Leather Color Restoration and Repair Kit, it will be easy to see why.
LeatherNu Complete Leather Color Restoration Kit is perfect for cleaning and conditioning car leather, but it’s also the ideal leather restorer. No longer will those unsightly cracks in your car leather threaten the value of your car or the aesthetic of your car interior.
LeatherNu’s tried and tested cleaning formula penetrates deep into the surface of your car’s leather to loosen dirt and grime.
When used alongside the LeatherNu touch up and re-dye solutions you’ll restore the premium aesthetic of your leather interior and leave your car leather looking better than when you bought it.
8. Armor All Leather Care Gel
Armor All is the name brand when it comes to automotive cleaning products, and it’s no surprise that their leather cleaning gel makes the list of the best car leather cleaners.
The only gel on the list, Armor All Leather Care Gel is a powerful and fast-acting leather cleaner that easily cuts through grime and restores your car leather to its factory state.
Armor All Leather Care Gel is designed for fine and premium car leathers. The uniquely designed cleaning formula pampers your leather into releasing its factory shine.
Then the Armor All Leather Care Gel protects your car leather from further damage with chemically-engineered blocking agents that shield and protect your car leather from spills, stains, UV rays and premature aging.
9. Weiman Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
An affordable yet effective solution to faded, stained and worn-in car leather is Weiman Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. Applying Weiman Leather Cleaner and Conditioner will restore more than sheen to your car’s leather.
Weimann’s proven leather conditioner restores suppleness to your car leather and leaves it soft to the touch.
Weiman Leather Cleaner and Conditioner makes our list of the 10 best car leather cleaners because it flawlessly combines effective leather cleaning power with affordability and a broad range of use.
Any way you slice it, Weiman Leather Cleaner and Conditioner is the perfect all-around car leather cleaner and conditioner that is available anywhere you buy your automotive, and household products.
10. Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Conditioner
The experts at Bickmore have been in the leather cleaning business since 1882, and though the Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Cleaner & Conditioner was designed for leather hats, saddles, boots, and equine products, it is ideally suited for keeping your car leather in pristine shape in the modern age.
Cowboys ask a lot of their leather which is why the Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Cleaner & Conditioner was designed to restore the leather they use every day to its original sheen and luster.
Bickmore’s specially designed and time-proven leather cleaning solution is gentle enough to use on the finest premium leathers yet powerful enough to remove dirt and grime from a saddle.
One thing is for sure: after applying Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Cleaner & Conditioner to your car leather it will look as good as a rhinestone cowboy.
Your car is an investment, and a neglected leather interior can ruin your investment in the same sense that electrical issues or hail damage might.
It’s essential to the aesthetic of your vehicle and, more importantly, its resale value that you take the steps necessary to ensure your car leather keeps its factory sheen and is as supple as the cow it came from.
Purchasing any one of these car leather cleaners is a good investment. Just remember that, unless you plan on never driving your car in the sun, your car leather will require a regular application, maintenance, and restoration to stay factory beautiful.
Luckily, the car leather cleaners featured here are the best of 2018 and have proven their worth as powerful cleaners, conditioners, and protectors, and can be trusted to keep your car looking fresh and presentable.