As a busy mom, you’ve probably felt like a personal chauffeur for your kids at one time or another. From school, you drive to soccer practice, to dance lessons, and then it’s time to pick up dinner.
Dirt, food, pet hair, you name it, can get embedded into your seats, and chances are it’s time for a cleaning. If you have perforated leather car seats, you may be wondering what the best way to clean them is. But before embarking on a long trip, it’s important to consider the age of your car and whether it’s suitable for such a journey. If your car is too old, it may be better to focus on cleaning the perforated leather car seats and other interior features instead of risking a breakdown on the road.
Here, we’ll break down the steps to restore your leather car seats to make them look new again.
To clean perforated leather car seats, vacuum up any loose debris on the car seats using a handheld vacuum, then apply the leather cleaner to a soft bristle brush. Next, use a gentle, circular motion to clean your seats.
You should then inspect your seats for debris left in the perforations and use a rubber-tipped gum stimulator and vacuum to remove stubborn dirt. After that, wipe down your seats with a clean, microfiber towel. Finally, apply a leather conditioner, allow it to dry, and wipe clean.
What Are Perforated Leather Car Seats?
Perforated leather refers to the pattern of holes on the leather surface of your car seats. Some perforated leather seats allow heat or air conditioning to flow through them, so if your car has this feature, it’s essential to use care when cleaning your seats by not allowing too much moisture into the perforations.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Perforated Leather Seats
Perforated car seats have a lot of advantages. For example, the luxurious look and feel of perforated leather adds to the design aesthetic of your vehicle’s interior and can boost the resell value. Perforated leather car seats also breathe more easily, allowing better temperature control.
They are also great for reducing slippage for you and your passengers when rounding corners and for noise absorption, which helps to reduce road noise and makes for a more peaceful ride.
Perforated leather car seats can be trickier to clean, but it’s not too difficult if you know the proper way to go about it. So, follow the steps below for the most straightforward, safe, and effective way to clean your seats.
You will need the following items to get started:
- Handheld vacuum
- Soft bristle leather cleaning brush
- 3-4 Microfiber cleaning towels
- Rubber tipped gum stimulator
- Leather Cleaner (commercial or homemade)
- Leather Conditioner
Step 1: Vacuum Your Seats
Before you clean your seats, you will want to vacuum up any loose dirt or debris off the seats. Vacuuming is an essential step as it will help ensure that no abrasive dirt, sand, or food gets rubbed in and causes damage to your seats during cleaning. You also want to make sure that anything stuck loosely in the perforations lifts as well.
Use a handheld vacuum with a nozzle attachment to access the hard-to-reach places in and around your seats.
Step 2: Apply Cleaner
The first step to cleaning your perforated leather car seats is to apply the leather cleaner. You can purchase commercial leather cleaner like this highly rated one from Leather Milk or make your own by mixing one part vinegar with two parts linseed oil in a spray bottle.
You can find linseed oil in your local hardware store, Walmart, or online from Linsheen. Make sure you always do a spot clean in an inconspicuous area of your seats before applying all over. Then, if the test is satisfactory, you’re ready to clean the remainder of your seats.
Apply a small amount of leather cleaner to a soft bristle brush and gently clean your leather seats using a circular motion to bring up any dirt. Make sure that the brush you’re using isn’t too abrasive for your car seats. Try a brush from Colourlock, or if you don’t have a brush, a soft toothbrush will also work.
Make sure you don’t spray the leather cleaner directly onto your seats as the moisture can seep into the perforations and get trapped, eventually causing mold and mildew to develop. To be on the safe side, start small and apply more as needed during cleaning and work through small sections at a time.
Step 3: Inspect holes and remove stubborn dirt
Now that you’ve cleaned your seats, you’ll want to give them a good look over to see if there are any additional stains or stubborn debris left in the perforated holes of the seats.
If you find any embedded dirt, use a gum stimulator to remove it gently. Make sure the gum stimulator that you select has a rubber tip. Other materials such as metal could cause damage to your seats.
Insert the rubber tip into the perforations to gently loosen up any embedded materials and vacuum the area again to lift the gunk out of the holes. Repeat the process with the gum stimulator and vacuum all over your seats until you are satisfied with your results.
If you don’t have access to a gum stimulator, the handle of a dental floss pick will also work. Make sure to fix torn leather seats before applying any cleaning solutions.
Step 4: Wipe Down
Use a dry microfiber towel to thoroughly wipe down any cleaner residue and dirt that has come up during cleaning.
Step 5: Apply Leather Conditioner
After cleaning leather, it’s always important to follow up with a high-quality leather conditioner to prevent future damage or cracking to your leather. In addition, a good quality leather conditioner can add years to your leather seats by restoring moisture.
Ensure the leather conditioner you select is water-based, non-sticky, and doesn’t contain harsh solvents or silicone. These can dull the finish of your car seats over time. Leather Honey makes a superb leather conditioner too, and you can bundle it with the cleaner to save a bit of cash.
Again, you will want to spot test the leather conditioner to ensure it works well for your seats. If so, you will again want to start with a small amount on a clean, dry microfiber cloth and apply evenly over the seats.
The trick is not to be too generous with the conditioner as you don’t want to oversaturate your seats. Excess conditioner can make its way into the holes in your seats, and get trapped, causing the same mold and mildew we discussed earlier. Of course, you can always apply more later on if needed.
Step 6: Let The Leather Conditioner Absorb
At this point, you will want to wait a while to let the leather conditioner work its magic. Then, ensure that you park in the garage or the shade and allow the formula to absorb into the seats for at least one hour. Of course, overnight is okay as well.
Step 7: Final Wipe Down
Once you’ve allowed the leather conditioner to absorb into the seats, it’s time to give them one final wipe down.
Again, using a clean, microfiber towel, wipe up any residue left behind by the conditioner. Your seats should be spotless, restored, and much more vibrant at this point. If you would like further instruction or a visual demonstration, check out this video from Ammo NYC.
How To Remove Odor From Perforated Leather Car Seats
If you’ve finished cleaning your seats but still notice an odor emanating from them, this could mean that bacteria have been allowed to grow within the perforations.
Smells from vomit, urine, or leftover food could be tough to eliminate with leather cleaner alone. If you’re still noticing a noxious odor in your vehicle after applying the leather cleaner, try mixing a solution of two parts water with 1 part white vinegar in a spray bottle.
Using the wide spray setting, spray the affected area of your seat and allow to sit for 5 minutes to soak into the holes. Then wipe up any moisture with a clean cloth. Repeat if necessary until the odor is gone.
For persistent odors or to get an even deeper clean, consider renting or purchasing a steam cleaner made by Bissell. Steam cleaners are safe to use on leather because they are gentle and use very little water.
Regular Maintenance For Perforated Leather Car Seats
Once your seats have been through a good, deep cleaning and conditioning, it’s essential to maintain their care, so dirt and grime won’t have another chance to build up and accumulate.
In addition, with regular maintenance and cleaning, your seats will be easier to care for in the long term.
Schedule quarterly cleanings on your calendar, and if you have light-colored seats, make sure to inspect them often for spills and stains and clean more frequently if needed.
When you take your car in for a wash, make sure to wipe down your seats with a damp cloth and vacuum to prevent further buildup between your deeper cleanings.
It can be easy to put off cleaning your perforated car seats just like buffing a car, but now that you know the steps to make cleaning simple, it hopefully won’t seem like such a daunting task.
While perforated leather can be a challenge to clean, there are so many benefits to keeping your seats pristine. Once you’ve completed the job, you may want to move on to cleaning the car ceiling. You may be interested in our guide on “How to Dry a Wet Car Seat”. And if you’re currently leasing your car, you may also be interested to know that you can change your mind after signing a car lease if you decide it’s not the right fit for you.