How to Care for Automotive Leather

Auto Detailer cleaning car leather

There’s nothing quite like leather seating & details in a car. It completes the look of elegance and luxury in any vehicle. However, it can quickly lose its lustre when it gets dirty and the original protective coating begins to wear off. 

Proper cleaning and care of your car’s leather is important for maintaining your vehicle’s overall appearance. Car leather care is not as simple as wiping it down with a wet cloth. There are a few complexities you need to know in order to properly care for your car’s interior leather.

There Are Different Types of Automotive Leather

Not every car will have the same kind of leather. In fact, there are three different types of car leather that are used for car seats and dashboards:

Leather care dashboard


Aniline leather is a high quality leather that is very soft and rich. It is usually coloured with dyes. Aniline car leather does not have a protective coating so it is not as durable as other types of automotive leather. This kind of leather isn’t used often these days, but it can be commonly found in vintage cars.


Semi-aniline leather is soft and coloured with dyes in the same way aniline leather is. However, it also has a protective coating on it, making it more durable than aniline car leather.


Pigmented Leather is the most common type of car leather used today, as well as the most durable. It has a layer of synthetic material that covers it to provide the colour and it offers more protection than either type of aniline leather.

How to Tell the Type of Car Leather

A simple water absorption test can tell you which type of leather your car has. Since aniline leather doesn’t have any protective coating, it will absorb water instantly. Semi-aniline leather has a very thin protective coating, but it will still absorb water slowly. Pigmented leather does not absorb water at all thanks to the synthetic coating over the leather. Pour a few drops of water on the leather to see which type your car has. The specific products you will use to care for your car leather will be different depending on which kind of leather your car has.

Leather Care with a cloth

The 3 Components of Leather Care

There are three main components to car leather care: 




Regularly cleaning your car leather is the most important part of maintenance. Keeping your leather free from dirt, mud, and sticky foods, drinks and materials will help keep your leather from wearing down. If you regularly clean and maintain your leather, then it is easier to keep clean. In that case, a decent all-in-one leather care product and a microfibre cloth will be all you need. For dirtier leather, a heavier duty leather cleaner is needed.



As leather gets older, it gets dried out and starts to crack if it isn’t maintained properly. To keep leather from drying out, pick up an automotive conditioner. Apply the product to the leather, wait for a while, then check if the leather is dry to the touch. If it is, apply another coat of conditioner and repeat this process until the leather stops absorbing the product. Once it does, you know that the leather has been fully moisturized and restored.



Once the leather has been cleaned and conditioned, a new protective coating should be applied. The leather coating will repel liquids & dirt, provide UV protection, and make cleaning easier. You can use either a spray-on coating, or a longer-lasting ceramic-based coating. Spray-on coatings are easy to use, but the ceramic Si02 coating is a little trickier so you may want the help of a professional to apply it.

Bonus Tip: Get Your Car Detailed

Caring for your automotive leather is important, but a lot of work. You also need to be meticulous with your regimen to keep it looking its best. If you haven’t been cleaning or maintaining your car leather, then you’ll have to put in a lot more work to restore it. Having a professional car detailer service your car’s interior is one of the best ways to restore your car leather to a like-new state, without all the headaches of cleaning, conditioning, and coating it yourself.

Whether you have well-maintained car leather, or you haven’t cleaned it in a while, and you live in Ottawa, JREK Autocare can help you with premium auto detailing services that will restore your car’s leather along with the rest of your interior & exterior. 

Contact us today or book your detailing appointment online!