The Best Leather Cleaners for Your Car Interiors and Furniture

The best leather cleaners wipe away grime and soil, keep your leather soft and supple, and are easy to use.

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Best Leather Cleaner

Photo: amazon.com

Leather is one of the most durable fabrics around, so it’s often found in both car interiors and home furnishings. Leather needs care, though, to last and look good. This means it needs to be cleaned regularly; otherwise, it becomes dirty and brittle. Most of today’s leather cleaners, including those designed specifically for soft leather, remove grunge and sweat that can age your leather upholstery. The best leather cleaner for your home or automobile’s upholstery depends on the type of leather you need to maintain. Ahead, learn what to look for when buying a leather-cleaning product, and find out why the following products were chosen as some of the best leather cleaners and conditioners around.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Tyger Tonneau Cover Cleaner & Protectant 2-in-1 Spray
  2. RUNNER-UP: Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Conditioner
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Armor All Car Leather Care Spray
  4. UPGRADE PICK: Lexol Leather Conditioner and Leather Cleaner Kit
  5. BEST ALL-PURPOSE: Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Kit
  6. BEST CLEANER ONLY: TriNova Leather Cleaner
  7. BEST LEATHER WIPES: Armor All Leather Care with Beeswax Wipes
The Best Leather Cleaner Options

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Leather

All real leather comes from animal skins, but variations in how it’s cleaned, treated, and processed give it different characteristics that call for different types of cleaners. To remove stains safely, the cleaner must be suited to the specific leather type. Fortunately, you won’t have to do a lot of chemical research because the cleaner should list the leather types it will safely clean. You will, however, need to know the kind of leather you’re cleaning.

Pigment or Protected

Pigmented or protected leather, also called “painted” or “finished” leather, features a dye or pigment that’s been applied to the surface to create a uniform look and sheen. Strong chemical cleaners may fade or strip away some of the color and finish, so look for a mild leather cleaner that specifies that it can be used on pigmented, protected, painted, or finished leather. This type of leather should also be treated with a conditioner once or twice a year to protect it from staining.

Aniline

Aniline leather is unprotected and at even more risk of staining than pigmented leather. Aniline leather often features a transparent dye and a layer of clear wax that lets the fabric’s texture show through. The best leather cleaner for aniline leather is mild and may contain a wax finish that helps protect the material from future stains. Spot cleaning may be the best way to remove stains from aniline leather, which tends to darken as you apply the cleaner, but the darkness should fade as the leather dries out.

Nubuck

This type of leather is often confused for suede because the surface is brushed to achieve a velvety texture. Nubuck is soft and absorbent, making it tricky to remove stains once they soak in. Cleaners suitable for use on nubuck are very mild and are often sponged onto just the stained spot and then allowed to air dry. Since this type of leather is more porous than other types, regularly applying a protective conditioner designed for nubuck will help it repel stains.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Leather Cleaner

Owners of leather furniture and car upholstery can find a wide assortment of leather-cleaning products available in stores and online. All should remove dirt, dust, and stains, but some are safer than others, depending on their ingredients. Many leather-cleaning products contain additional conditioning ingredients or might sell in a two-part set with individual bottles of both a cleaner and a conditioner.

pH Balance

A neutral pH level of 7 is the safest for a leather cleaner, but the cleaner might not list its pH level. If you don’t know what type of leather you’re cleaning, the safest route is to make sure the cleaner doesn’t contain alcohol, which is drying to some types of leather. As a general rule, mild natural ingredients, such as beeswax, which imparts a layer of protection, are the safest to use on most leather types.

Ease of Use

Leather cleaners are relatively simple to use—many call for spraying or wiping the product on and then either letting it air dry or buffing it off with a soft clean cloth. The main thing to remember here is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s the first time you’ve used a specific cleaner, do a spot test first in an inconspicuous area to ensure the product will not discolor or otherwise damage the leather.

Cleaner/Conditioner Combo

Since the ingredients in some leather cleaners can be drying if used often, some manufacturers combine conditioning agents with the cleaner to help smooth and protect the leather and remove dirt and stains. These cleaner/conditioner combo products are safe for many types of leather, and they’re quick to apply, saving you time on cleaning and conditioning. However, for high-end leather, it might be better to use a cleaner specific to the type of leather and then apply a separate conditioner afterward.

Our Top Picks

Check out the following recommended cleaners that are easy to use and explicitly formulated to protect your valuable leather upholstery. The cleaners listed below, with one exception, are exclusively for smooth leather. Consider these cleaners to keep your leather looking its best.

Best Overall

Best Leather Cleaner Tyger
Photo: amazon.com

If you want an excellent leather cleaner that also offers additional UV protection, consider Tyger Tonneau Cover Cleaner & Protectant 2-in-1 Spray. It comes with added ultraviolet protection that helps the leather in the car resist drying and fading from harsh sunrays, a significant culprit in cracked leather seats and dashboards. This 2-in-1 cleaner and protectant is easy to use and safe for both leather and vinyl. Simply spray it on leather seats, dashboards, door panels, and any other smooth leather or vinyl surfaces. Then wipe it down with a clean, soft cloth. Tyger removes traces of sweat and grime and leaves the leather with a supple, nonglossy look. It is also safe and works well on leather or vinyl truck-bed covers and convertible tops.

Runner-Up

Best Leather Cleaner Bickmore
Photo: amazon.com

If you want the shine of clean leather but hesitate to use any product on your fine leather boots, handbags, shoes, equestrian saddles, motorcycle seats, car interior, and exotic leathers, consider Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Conditioner, which also cleans. Bickmore, which has been around since 1882, made this formula easy to apply. Using a soft cloth, gently rub it on the surface, let it dry, and then use another soft cloth to remove it. Finally, buff the leather. The product leaves no trace of sticky, gummy residue. All that’s left is a replenished leather that feels soft and supple with a new-look shine. Although this combination cleaner/conditioner works on most leathers, do not use it on suede, roughout, distressed, or napped leathers. Also, don’t use it on synthetic leathers. The product also gives some water resistance to leather.

Best Bang For The Buck

Best Leather Cleaner Armor
Photo: amazon.com

You don’t need to spend a fortune to clean and protect your leather car interior and furniture. Armor All Car Leather Care Spray includes real beeswax that nourishes your leather as it cleans it. The spray also helps slow or prevent aging. Plus, you’ll find this cleaner is easy to use. Just spray it on the surface and wipe it with a soft, clean cloth. Although this spray dissolves dirt and grime, it won’t leave any greasy residue. The spray protects your expensive leather from drying, aging, and cracking. Plus, it leaves behind a clean, fresh scent. You can also use this affordable spray on smooth leather furniture inside your home. Don’t use it on buckskin or suede, though.

Upgrade Pick

Best Leather Cleaner Lexol
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Give your smooth leather an ultimate cleaning and conditioning when you use the two-step Lexol Leather Conditioner and Leather Cleaner Kit. The company’s leather-cleaning products debuted in 1933. When you use this kit, begin with the deep cleaner. Apply it to one of the two applicator sponges and wipe dirt and oils away. You can stop there or continue with the Leather Deep Conditioner. Apply this the same way as the cleaner. Your leather car interior and furniture absorb the fine oil droplets in the conditioner, which nourishes and restores it. When you use the conditioner every six months, it can protect your leather from drying and cracking without leaving a residue, thereby extending its life.

Best All-Purpose

Best Leather Cleaner ChemicalGuys
Photo: amazon.com

Use the Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner on all leather types, including boots, sneakers, shoes, sofas, and jackets. The pH-balanced cleaner penetrates the leather’s pores to lift ground-in dirt and oil without leaving a greasy residue. Don’t let the name fool you: This cleaner won’t trigger adverse reactions in those that can’t tolerate various smells, because the formula is odorless and colorless. The conditioner, which contains nourishing vitamin E, has a subtle leather scent but dissipates quickly and leaves your leather well nourished and protected from UV damage. The process is quick; just spray either product onto your leather goods and wipe them with a soft cloth.

Best Cleaner Only

Best Leather Cleaner TriNova
Photo: amazon.com

Maybe you want to keep your leather clean but just don’t have time to switch products for each piece of leather-like furniture or the parts of a car’s interior. Consider TriNova Leather Cleaner. You use it as you do similar leather-cleaning products––just spray it on and wipe it off. It removes dirt, debris, stains, and grime from leather, DuraBlend, vinyl, compound, Saffiano, faux and other leather and leather-like surfaces. Its fast action doesn’t negate its power. Remember to spray it directly onto a microfiber towel, then use a circular motion to massage the cleaner into the leather or leather-like material, and then wipe it with a clean, dry towel. Stain, grime, and dirt lift right off.

Best Leather Wipes

The Best Leather Cleaner Option: Armor All Leather Care with Beeswax Wipes
Photo: amazon.com

It’s frustrating to spot a stain on your leather car interior or household furniture when you’re on the go or pressed for time, but Armor All Leather Care with Beeswax Wipes shine for these quick uses. Just remove a wipe from the package and swipe it across the stain to clean, condition, and protect your leather. It safely removes oil, dirt, and grime and leaves your leather looking and feeling like new. It also contains powerful blocking agents that protect your leather against future stains, cracking, and fading. Wiping the dashboard with it is a great idea, especially in areas where the weather is often toasty. One word of caution: Don’t leave these in the car indefinitely. The plastic cylinder is hardy, but the baking sun will dry out the wipes.

FAQs About Leather Cleaner

When cared for properly, leather furniture and interior car upholstery will offer many years of service. If you’re looking to keep your leather items in top shape, you likely have some questions.

Q. Can you clean leather with water?

Smooth, sealed leather, such as top-grain leather, can be cleaned by wiping it down with a cloth barely dampened with water, but avoid spraying or saturating the leather with water as it may leave water stains as it dries.

Q. How do you clean old leather?

Vintage leather can be cleaned and conditioned to restore its original luster if it’s still in good shape (no cracking or peeling). Brush off dust and dirt with a soft brush, and then apply a cleaner approved for the leather type, followed by a conditioner.

Q. How often do you need to clean leather?

Leather furniture and car upholstery should be cleaned and conditioned three to four times a year. If the leather is subject to direct sunlight, such as an automobile dashboard, it will benefit from monthly cleaning and conditioning to keep it in top shape.