6 Causes Of Yellow Stains On Leather Car Seats & How To Fix

What causes yellow stains on leather car seats

Many of us love the look of lighter colored car seats due to the fascinating contrast they give to the car interior against the bodywork. But one common problem you’re going to face with these bright or light-colored leather seats is the appearance of yellow stains which may often be hard to trace how they come about.

So in this article, I did the research for you on why this happens and I’m going to share with you the best ways to remedy yellow stains on your leather car seats.

So what cause yellow stains on car leather seats? The common causes of yellow stains on leather car seats are:

  1. Perspiration Stains
  2. Dirty Leather
  3. Dye Transfer
  4. Hardware Stains
  5. Leather Cleaners and Conditioners
  6. UV Damage

In addition to the list above, I will now go into the details on what causes yellow stains on leather car seats, a couple of preventive measures for each causes, and how to fix your leather car seats if they already have the yellow stains on them.

#1 Perspiration Stains

Perspiration stains are the most common cause for yellow stains on leather car seats.

If you often drive your car wearing shorts, bikinis, or even topless or shirtless or whatever the term is, then this is going to allow sweats to build up on your leather car seats. Sweat is the body’s natural cooling system but it’s exposure to your leather car seats will leave your seats with some uncool stains and smells.

There are two main types of sweat glands that produce sweats from our bodies: The Eccrine and Apocrine glands. The Eccrine glands helps to produce most of the bodies sweat which consists of water, salt, protein, urea, and ammonia.

These sweat glades are found all over our entire bodies and the sweats they create help to control our bodies temperature when we do physical activities or the weather gets warmer.

Usually, the sweat itself does not contain any odor, or pigment that stains the leather. The ugly stains only resurfaces when our sweats mixes with bacteria and oils on our bodies. This can also lead to severe irreparable damage to your leather car seats such as the dreaded yellow stains, cracks, etc.

How To Prevent Perspiration Stains

There are a couple of basic preventative measures to ensure perspiration stains are reduced to the bare minimum if not completely avoided.

  • Temperature: Timely use your car air conditioner, windows, and vents to regulate the temperature on the inside of your car from time to time especially during hot summers. This will prevent the car from warming up especially when your car is filled with passengers.
  • Seat Covers: You can as well resort to using seat covers. You can get a universal car seat cover or a custom fit car seat cover for your. While this might be the most pricy preventive option, it’s totally worth it as you won’t have to worry a lot about who, what, or how your car seats are used.
  • Cool Off: Always allow a couple of minutes for the sweats to cool off and dry out before getting into your car. Many of us like to quickly jump into our cars right from the gym, or after a short run. It’s best if you allow a few minutes for the sweat to dry before getting in.
  • Dry Off Sweats: Wipe off excess sweats from your arms, legs, bottoms, before getting into your car. Ensure your passengers do the same.

Remedies For Yellow Stains Caused By Sweats

Now I’m going to delve into some effective remedies you can use if your car seats are already soiled with sweats.

Clean and Condition

You can simply get a good quality leather sweat stain remover like the Bickmore Bick 1 from Amazon and you should be able knockout sweat stains that causes yellow stains from your leather cars seats after a few scrubs.

After the stain is gone, you would want to get into the habit of preventing sweats from getting onto your leather card seats and moisturizing your leather very frequently.

#2 Dirty Leather

Car seats are one of the most hard-wearing items in a cars interior. Every single time the car is used, the leather car seat is being used. So any kind of car seat will take on a lot of dirty during its life time.

The Leather material itself is a hard-wearing material but if not properly cared for can result in some awful dirt stains which can discolor your car seats.

In addition to the wear leather takes up from its regular day-to-day use, most of us will add up to the grime accumulation on the car seats. We all snack and sometimes have full meals in our cars and the grease, crumbs, and liquid stains do not go down well with our car leather seats.

How To Prevent Dirty Leather

  • Clean Clean Clean!: This may sound cliche but cleaning your leather car seats everyday or two can help unsettle any kind of dirt, grease or liquid stains. You can simply use leather cleaning wipes.
  • Vacuum Clean: Vacuum cleaning helps to remove all loose dirt or dusts from the surface of the leather car seat. Make vacuum cleaning your leather car seats a regular routine

Remedies For Yellow Stains Caused By Dirts

Generally, due to how leather car seats are hard-wearing, it will definitely require some cleaning from time to time. But when not done, yellow stains caused by dirt may be hard to clean because the dirt would have colored the leather permanently.

Getting a good leather cleaner in the best case scenario, will remove the ugly stains or at the very least, greatly lighten the yellow stain on the leather. There are a lot good leather cleaning products out there you can try but the only catch is to follow the application instructions as strictly as possible.

#3 Dye Transfer

Leather adapts to a lot of the things it comes into contact with. Whether your peculiar smell or colored items, leather will assimilate. What mitigates these transfers is the protective layer present on the surface of the leather.

Most leather car seat have some level of protective coating put on them due to their hard-wearing nature. The protective layer put on leather will hold up only for a while but with time, dyes from other materials will eventually start to get in there and discolor your leather car seats.

Dyes or coloring agents in clothes, or other accessories like belts, bags, wallets, etc often placed on leather car seats can all transfer its dyes, pigments or coloring agents onto your car seat.

At this point, you may be wondering how the color stain you might be looking at isn’t exactly yellow! Well, if you’re familiar with color mixture you will know that when certain colors get mixed with other colors, your other colors are obtained.

This is why usually for leather car seats, you don’t always see color or dye transfer results as yellow stains.

For example, if you have a blue leather car seat interior and your seats gets soiled by a yellow dye transfer, what you would see is a greenish stain on your leather car seat but not an obvious yellow stain.

How To Prevent Dye Transfer Stains

  • Avoid wearing materials that easily transfer color like print materials, or dyed fabrics used for cloths, bags, etc.
  • Get your leather car seats some covers
  • Clean regularly
  • Use Leather car seat protectors often

Remedies For Yellow Stains Caused By Dye Transfers

If your leather car seats have got yellow stains this way, here’s what you can do to help salvage the situation before the leather car seat is permanently dyed.

While Carguys stain remover is a super fantastic leather dye transfer stain remover is an awesome remedy I will recommend, you can as well D.I.Y a very simply home remedy for yellow stains caused by dye transfers.

Here’s What You Need

  • Warm water
  • White vinegar
  • Dish Soap
  • Clean Sponge
  • Microfiber cloth or any lint free cloth


Step 1: Make a mixture comprising 2 parts of warm water, a tablespoon of liquid soap, and another tablespoon of white vinegar.

Step 2: Load up the sponge with the solution and blot the entire dye stained areas of the leather car seats.

Step 3: Allow the mixture to sit on the leather car seats for a bout 3-5 minutes and blot again and again until the dye stain completely disappears or drastically improves.

Step 4: Use a dampened microfiber cloth to wipe off the mixture thoroughly from the surface of the leather car seats.

Step 5: Allow to air dry

Step 6: Condition the leather car seats

#4 Hardware Stains

This is also another common cause of yellow stains on leather car seats. Although this happens, it’s usually not that serious but clearly visible.

The metal hardwares such as rivets, grommets, eyelets, zippers, buttons on clothes, and other accessories such as bags, wallets, etc when consistently in contact with leather car seats over a period of time can cause yellow stains.

This is particularly more common with hardware that has started to rust or has a little bit of rust going on. This type of yellow stain is usually catalyzed by the presence of moisture on the leather car seats.

Indigenous leather workers dye leather using rusted metals, water, and lime (optional). Usually, the resulting color for such traditional dyes ranges from light-yellow to light brown through to darker shades of brown and black.

So it’s no surprise the hardware on items like the pants we wear while sitting on our leather car seats, will produce such stains on our leather car seats.

How To Prevent Hardware Stains

  • Be sure your old jeans with some hardcore rusty rivets or eyelets are disqualified from getting onto your leather car seats
  • Ensure your leather car seats are clean, conditioned and protected regularly
  • You can adopt the use of leather car seat covers

Remedies For Hardware Stains

This can be pretty hard to get rid of since it’s almost as if the metal hardware would have dyed certain portions of the leather car seat.

However, these sorts of yellow stains or whatever color it may show off as will only be dotted stains and usually not so obvious. But if yours is, you might want to consider talking to your detailer for possible ways to replace the affected section(s) of the leather car seats.

#5 Leather Cleaners And Conditioners

There are a lot of things that happen to our leather items and usually the least culprit everyone suspects is the leather cleaner and conditioner that’s often used.

The whole rational behind using cleaners and conditioners almost the same time is so that whatever oils that’s lost from the leathers’ fibers during the cleaning process is immediately replaced.

This combination can sometimes disfigure the leather as you will find that some leather conditioners are slightly pigmented to bring out or make the leather surface look fresh and new than before it was cleaned.

While this is true for most inferior leather cleaners and conditioners out there, the wrongful application of the high-quality leather cleaners and conditioners can leave behind some awful stains.

This especially happens when the cleaner or conditioner is not evenly applied and buffed off after its application. This can dry and cause stains to appear on the leather car seats after the leather dries.

How To Prevent Leather Conditioner and Cleaner Stains

  • Be on the look out for pigmented leather conditioners and use only darker colored leather car seats or only if necessary
  • Leather conditioners and cleaners must be used strictly according to the instructions indicated on the brand you get
  • Always allow your cleaned or conditioned leather to dry off properly. Usually, you would want to remove any excess conditioner or cleaning residue from the leather and then allowing leather car seat to air dry nice and easy

Remedies For Yellow Stains Caused By Cleaners & Conditioners

The remedy to having leather cleaner or conditioner stains is to thoroughly clean off the earlier conditioner that you applied and re-apply your conditioner — hopefully the right way the second time.

6# UV Damage

The sun has a lot of different negative effects on leather. Unfortunately, leather car seats will normal get hit by the rays of the sun from various angles and through any slight opening of the car.

The sun rays will come through the windshield, windows, and all other glass components of the car to attack your leather car seat if not adequately protected. You leather car seats will be battered into cracks, fades, etc.

While the sun costantly hitting the leather car seats can cause it to fade out, it will be a lot worse if there is the presence of moisture or water on the leather seat where the sun hits. This will often times create a yellowish watermark on the leather car seats especially if it’s a light colored seat.

This can be tough to get out especially if it’s been left for for a couple of days or months. Here are a couple of things you can do to prevent UV rays damage on your leather car seats.

How To Prevent Yellow Stains Caused By UV Rays

  • Always ensure your leather car seats have a UV protector on them
  • Also, do well to install sun shades on your car widow glasses of your car if you don’t already have them and if you do keep them up when it’s sunny.
  • Clean off any water or liquid stains immediately
  • Keep the leather clean and well conditioned all the time.

Remedies For UV Rays Damage

If you’re having yellow stains on your leather car seats and you know it’s due to how much sun bath it’s had over a period of time, then here’s what you can do to remove this kind of stains.

Since the sun’s effect on the leather will come with a bit of fading, one of the best solutions especially if the yellow stains are not coming out even after cleaning will be to take your car to a professional detailer for the leather car seat to be re-dyed or changed. You can also re-dye your leather car seats yourself.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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