Cleaning Leather Upholstery

Cleaning Leather Upholstery

De-spotting car cowhides

Leather upholstery has always been synonymous with luxury. Leather costs more than cloth or other textiles used in cars, but it's actually more durable than most of these fabrics. With the possible exception of vinyl, leather is usually easier to clean than other upholstery materials. In fact, some detail shops even charge less to de-gunk leather and vinyl than fabrics.

Leather upholstery has always been synonymous with luxury.

Special Sauces

Do-it-yourselfers have two options for attacking stains on leather upholstery: using household products or a commercial cleaner formulated especially for the job. Either way, the sooner the stain is addressed, the better-the less the stain soaks in, the easier it is to remove.

Regardless of products used, begin by blotting liquid spots with paper towels. Adhesive boo-boos such as gum usually need to be scraped off using cardboard or a dull blade. (Chewing gum lifts off easier when hardened with ice.)

If you want to try household cleaners, begin with a solution of water and "neutral" soap (one with a pH factor of 7). Massage the solution onto the spot with a soft, terrycloth towel, turning the towel often. Wipe the area dry immediately; use a hairdryer held away from the seat if necessary to avoid getting a ring where the soap and water were applied. If the stain still lingers, use a more-aggressive solution of four parts water to one part ammonia and repeat the process. Be cautious about attacking stains all at once to preserve the upholstery's protective layer.

Some people prefer to cut straight to commercial products; others seek them out after household cleaners fail. The accompanying Steps show how to use a leather-cleaning product to remove a stain. Note that the physical process is similar, regardless of which products are used.


Armor All,

Blue Coral/Black Magic/Westley's,

Eagle One,




3M Co.,

Turtle Wax/Formula 2001,


upholstery cleaning spray
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