I get a lot of questions about my “white” leather seats and how on earth I keep them clean, so I thought I’d write a post to share how I do it. I’m not saying this is the best way to clean your seats, but it has worked well for me. My car is my daily driver and frequently has dogs, mud, and other dirty things in it, so I’m not easy on it either! I was an automotive detailer for a few years in high school and although that doesn’t make me an expert, anyone who knows me knows that my car is always super clean and always commenting on how everything looks brand new, despite the car being nearly 7 years old now.
The color of the seats is named “Platinum Silver” by Audi but the color is pretty much white. There are a lot of advantages to this color, most notably they stay very cool in the summer (a huge plus living in Arizona where temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit!), plus I think they look sporty and unique. The downside of the color is that it does not hide dirt well, and even worse if the leather starts to crack at all, the cracks are VERY noticeable.
Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance…
The key is maintenance. I wash down my seats at least once per week. Sadly if you bought your car used, you don’t have much control over damage that’s already done due to neglect from the previous owner. If the leather is badly cracked or soiled, your best off to enlist a professional detailer or upholstery shop that specializes in re-dying leather, or buy some high quality car seat covers instead. But assuming your seats aren’t “beyond repair”, the best strategy is to keep on top of the seats and never let them get too bad. If you take good care of them, they’ll age nicely and look fresh for many years to come.
Wet Towel Wipe Down (Weekly)
This part is simple really – you don’t have to use special cleaner each time. After I wash the outside of my car and then towel it off, I like to use that same towel to wipe down the seats. The towel should be damp but not soaking wet. This will remove any surface dirt and also hydrate the leather some to help prevent cracking. It takes just an extra 1-2 minutes per wash and is well worth it in maintaining the life of your leather. I also wipe down the dash and an entire interior using the same damp cloth, which again removes dust without applying any harsh chemicals to anything. Sometimes, simplicity is bliss…
Leatherique Pristine Clean (Bi-Weekly or Monthly)
I have been using Leatherique to maintain my leather but I also hear that Leather Masters is quite good. Regardless, I recommend you use one or the other and stray away from the store-bought brands like Lexol that I’ve never really been impressed with. A few extra dollars for the professional grade detailing products is well worth it in my book.
Pristine Clean is really good at removing spots and discoloration and gets the seats looking bright white again. It also firms up the leather some and gives the interior a nice smell. I frequently get compliments on how good my car smells after I’ve detailed the seats, which is a cool bonus of this product. The product itself is not very harsh and easy to apply and remove. I recommend using a clean microfiber and my approach is to use a different microfiber for every product you detail with – so I have a microfiber only for seats, one for glass cleaner, one for spray detailer, one for interior cleaner, one for wheels, one for tires, etc. It never hurts to have too many microfibers.
Leatherique Rejuvenator Oil (Yearly)
The Pristine Clean is great for bi-weekly or monthly maintenance, but if your seats are in bad shape, or if you just want to be extra thorough, the Leatherique Rejuvenator Oil is a powerful product. The instructions recommend that you cover your seats in a generous amount of the product and then sit your car in the sun for 24 hours to let the oil bake into the leather. I put trash bags over the seats to really trap in the oil, and apply second and third coats over the time period to ensure that the seats soak up as much oil as possible. You’ll then want to wipe the seats down with a wet rag and then clean with Pristine Clean to finish the process. You’ll see tons of containments pulled out of the leather and the material should feel softer and more supple. The oil will NOT repair heavy cracking, but may make the cracks appear less worse and may even hide some minor cracks and discoloration depending on the severity. This is a powerful product but not a miracle worker so expect it to make your seats look as good as they can without redying or repair.