How To Remove Stains From Leather Car Seats

By Power Tools

September 1, 2022

What’s worse than dirty car seats? Stained ones! Leather seats make your car look awesome. But little would you have known how tough it is to maintain the luster of the seats and keep leather clean when you bought the car! 

Thankfully, you can remove stains from leather seats by using a variety of easily available things such as lemon juice and baking soda. You should clean your car leather seats every three months to remain as shiny and bright as when you bought them.

Types of Leather Car Seats

Car seats vary widely in the case of the material used to make them. The most used material for manufacturing car seats is leather. 

We can divide leather car seats further into perforated and non-perforated leather seats. Perforated leather seats are a modification of the non-perforated ones. It gives several advantages to its consumers, including better temperature control, a more vintage look, lesser slipping, lesser noise, and better airflow. 

Despite the long list of pros, the most significant con of perforated leather car seats is the difficult cleaning process. Dirt particles and substances that stain easily get trapped in the tiny perforation holes, making them tough to remove. 

However, a good cleaning agent and a pair of expert hands could help you remove the stain quickly. In this article, we will focus more on perforated leather car seats.

Steps To Remove Stains From Leather Seats

Perforated leather can easily absorb substances such as coffee, wine, or ink seep inside, thus leaving a tough-to-remove stain on your seat. You can use both acidic materials as well as base materials for cleaning. Let’s take a look at both types of cleaning agents that can help you deal with such stains: 

Using Acids Such as Lemon Juice, Vinegar, or Cream of Tartar

Lemon Juice, Vinegar, or Cream of Tartar

You can use lemon juice, vinegar, and cream of tartar individually or add equal portions to create a mixture to remove the stain. 

  • First, clean the stained area and remove all dust and grime. You can use a vacuum cleaner. 
  • After cleaning, apply the mixture or the individual agents on the leather seat. 
  • Scrub it, then leave it for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Wipe it with a moist cloth or tissue and then with a dry cloth. 

Note: Make sure not to leave the mixture on for too long, as the acid could have a bleaching effect and fade the shiny texture of the leather.

A Base Such as Baking Soda

Baking soda works best for removing stains caused by oil and grease, such as engine oil. Sprinkle some of the powder on it, scrub it using a brush or a moist cloth, and let it react on its own for around 4-5 hours. 

Baking soda absorbs the oils, so you can wipe the soda off with a dry cloth afterwards and the stain should be gone. If not, you can apply the soda again and try the process. 

Mixture Of Baking Soda and Acids

Another great cleaning agent is the combination of baking soda and acids. 

First, sprinkle the baking soda powder in the stained portion of your car seat, and then pour a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar. 

You will notice bubbles coming up. Just leave it there for a while. Later scrub it with a brush and clean it off, first with a damp cloth followed by a dry one.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol

Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant and cleaner. It disrupts the chemicals that make the stain, thus destroying and removing it. 

  • First, clean the stained area to get rid of dust particles.  
  • Then apply rubbing alcohol or 70-90% alcohol to the stain with the help of cotton or a dropper. 
  • Then dab the portion and leave it for a while. 
  • Use detergent liquid solution and wipe it with a moist cloth. 
  • Later pat dry it with a dry cloth. 

Note: Ensure not to leave the alcohol for too long or use too much because it can bleach the leather.


You may not know it, but your household toothpaste also has another use – as a cleaning agent! To use it: 

  • Vacuum the stained portion to remove dust 
  • Apply the toothpaste to it. Put a dab of toothpaste on the stained part and spread it evenly with the help of a toothbrush. Scrubbing with a toothbrush will help the paste to go into the perforations to remove the stain. 
  • Leave it for a while, wipe it off with a moist tissue and then a dry cloth.

You should always apply a conditioner after using such cleaning agents to protect your leather from getting discolored and losing its texture. It would be best if the conditioner contains some sunscreen effects.

How to Clean Leather Car Seats With Holes

Getting Rid Of Dust Particles

It is essential to clean the seats with a vacuum before applying any moisture or chemicals onto them. If you don’t remove the dry dirt and debris stuck on the seats before using liquid chemical agents, they will dissolve into the liquid and end up in to the pores, making it more difficult clean. 

Moreover, greasy oils, or any colored substance such as food items and stuff like crayons, could get smudged if you directly rub it with a moist cloth spoiling a more significant portion of your car seat. 

You can use a portable hand vacuum cleaner to clean the chairs. A vacuum cleaner with an extendable nozzle would be perfect for cleaning the hard-to-reach parts of your car seats, such as behind the seats. 

Removing Dirt From The Tiny Holes

To clean the perforation, take a cleaning agent such as rubbing alcohol in a bit of earbud, dip it into each tiny perforation, and scrub the spots to remove any dirt trapped inside them. Alternatively, you can use a toothpick and cotton to clean the pores. 

Removing Any Remaining Dust By Wiping

Someone is wiping the car seat

For the next part, you must clear all the visible dirt stuck to your car seat even after vacuuming. 

You can do so by wiping the seat with a little bit of a mild cleaner and a damp cloth. Scrape the tough debris on the seats and wipe the part with a cloth. 

Be extra careful for this step, as you can quickly spread the dirt and create a smudge on the seat.

Applying Cleaning Agents

Now comes the central part of the cleaning process. Firstly you need to do a little research before cleaning your car seats. 

Buy a cleaner that is not so strong as to damage the leather and change its texture. On the other hand, you cannot remove tough dirt and stains with a weak cleaner. 

So, you need to choose a good cleaner like leather milk, linseed oil, or others available on the market. 

First, do a spot test on any portion of the car seat that is not visible outside. If it does a good job and does not tarnish the leather, you can apply it to the remaining area. 

Apply the cleaner evenly on the entire seat and scrub it with a damp cloth in a circular motion. Then leave the seat with the cleaner for a few minutes or as directed for the cleaner. Then wipe it off with a moist and then dry cloth.

Cleaning The Holes Of Perforated Seats 

If the pores look dirty even after applying the cleaner, dip a toothpick or an earbud into the cleaner, put it inside the pores, and rotate it to scrub the holes. Then take a moist toothpick or an earbud to remove the extra dirt inside the holes.

Wiping With A Microfiber Towel

It would be best if you could get a cleaning towel with microfibres. Wiping with the towel would remove any excess cleaner or dirt from your leather seat and its pores. 

Rehydrate The Car Seat

Someone is hydrating the car seat

Chemical agents, however mild they may be, would take away the moisture from your leather. Lack of moisture would leave your car seat clean, but it would no longer look as shiny as it used to. 

So, rehydration of the car seat is as important as cleaning. You can get your hands on great leather conditioners in hardware stores, supermarkets, and online stores. 

Apply the conditioner and leave it for a while to allow the leather to take up moisture. Finally, wipe the seat thoroughly with a suitable cloth or towel, preferably one with microfibres. 

Remove Any Odors

If you still feel that car sear smells weird, you can apply a solution of two parts of water with one piece of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to eliminate the smell. 

Tips And Tricks To Keep Your Car Seats Clean

We can all agree that cleaning car seats is a tedious job and would require almost half a day to get through it. It isn’t easy to take so much time from your busy schedule to clean it now and then. 

You must maintain your car seats and keep them clean as long as possible. For doing so, regularly wipe the seats with a damp microfibre towel. 

You must check for any dirt build-up and spots on your seats. Use a little bit of cleaner with a wet towel to prevent dust particles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Way To Clean Leather Car Seats?

Wiping the chair with cloth

If you have not got your seats cleaned for a while and you see a lot of dirt build-up, always opt for deep cleaning. 

Once you have cleaned the seats thoroughly, focus on maintaining them through regular wiping and scheduling deep cleaning every three months.

Will White Vinegar Damage the Leather Seats?

No, vinegar is a very mild acid and thus is used as a cleaning agent, and it could not damage your leather seats

How To Clean White Leather Seats?

White seats are a lifetime commitment, and you need to wipe the seats every day to prevent dirt build-up. Cleaning white seats is similar to any other seats, but you need to be careful not to smudge any stain that could damage the seats. 

Wrap Up

Removing stains from your leather car seats with perforation is challenging but isn’t impossible. You can try a variety of agents until the one that removes the stain. 

Ensure you do not use excess cleaning materials or leave them on for longer than directed, as it could damage the leather seats and leave undesirable bleached spots. 

We would suggest you deep clean the seats every three months and regularly wipe the seats