2 Best Ways To Clean Cracked Leather Car Seats

how to clean cracked leather car seats

The sad truth is that no matter the tender loving care you give your leather car seats, they are probably going to become cracked at some point.

There is really only so much that you can do about repairing these cracks, but there’s a lot that you can do in terms of how you clean your leather car seats once the damage has already been done.

In this article, I’m going to show you some tips and tricks on how to clean your cracked leather seats and keep them pristine until you have a chance to repair them.

Before we head into the details on how to safely clean cracked leather car seats without ruining or making them worse, let’s first take a look at why leather car seats crack to understand better how to prevent and fix the issue.

Why Do Leather Car Seats Crack?

There are a few reasons why leather car seats crack. While most cracks will be unique to the car seat, there are a few common reasons that many leather seats crack.

Extreme Temperatures

First, they are subjected to extreme temperatures in your car throughout the year. Whether it be scorching hot or bitter cold that leather isn’t made to endure.

Although your leather will sail through such extreme conditions, it will come out with some big hits.

The logic is that when any leather encounters heat the leather will loosen, and the fibers will become more brittle. So, when it’s extremely cold outside again (and leather contracts), then wrinkle.

If those wrinkles are not treated, they will turn into cracks that will be impossible to repair.

UV Rays

Another common factor that can cause leather car seats to crack is UV rays. Leather, like our skin, is very susceptible to the sun’s harmful rays.

When cars with leather car seats sit out in direct sunlight, they will be exposed to UV radiation that will break down the leather.

The more time a car with a leather seat spends in direct sunlight, then it’s going to become dryer and more brittle. Over time, this will cause the leather to crack and peel.


The third reason that leather car seats may crack is simply age. As a car seat gets older, the leather will naturally become drier and more brittle.

This is due to the pores in the leather slowly closing up, which means that the leather will not be able to absorb oils and conditioners as well.

This lack of oil and conditioning will cause the leather to become dry and brittle, which will eventually lead to cracking.

Not Cleaning And Conditioning The Leather Car Seats

The fourth reason that leather car seats may crack is that they are not regularly cleaned and conditioned.

When you neglect to clean your leather car seats, the dirt and stains will clog the pores of the leather car seats.

This will not only prevent the leather from absorbing any oils and conditioners, but the leather material will not be able to breathe well enough.

Also, if do not condition your leather car seats whenever you clean them, then you will be leaving your leather exposed to the elements without any protection.

There are a lot of people who often confuse cleaning with conditioning leather. Cleaning is when you use any leather cleaning agent to wipe down your leather car seats in order to remove dirt and grime.

Conditioning on the other hand is when you use a moisturizing cream or oil on the surface of the leather with the aim of nourishing and replenishing the leather of any lost essential oils.

So when you clean leather you technically have not conditioned it unless the leather conditioner you use has some conditioning agents.

This is why a lot of people will spend their entire life cleaning and not conditioning their leather car seats and they will eventually crack. This is actually one of the major reasons why leather car seats crack.

Best Ways To Clean Cracked Leather Car Seats

Now that you have a better understanding of why your leather car seats crack, let’s take a look at how to safely.

There are a few safe ways to clean your cracked leather car seats without causing any additional damage.

Here’s how to clean cracked leather car seats;

1. Using A Steam Cleaner

When it comes to cleaning leather car seats, a steam cleaner is one of the best and safest options.

A steam cleaner will safely remove any dirt or grime from your leather car seats without the use of any harsh chemicals or scrubbers that can make the cracks worse.

In addition, a steam cleaner will also help to soften the leather and loosen any wrinkles or cracks.

The best part is this method does not only clean the leather but will also sanitize and deodorize your leather car seats.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to use a steam cleaner to clean your cracked leather car seats.

Things Needed:

  • Steam Cleaner
  • Leather conditioner
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Distilled water


Step 1:

  • Make sure that your leather car seats are free of any dirt, dust, or debris.

Step 2:

  • Fill the steam cleaner with distilled water and set the steam cleaner to the lowest heat setting.

Step 3:

  • Secure the microfiber cloth over your steam cleaner nozzle with a rubber band.

Step 4:

  • Carefully press the steam cleaner on the leather car seat and start to move it in a circular motion.
  • Continue to move the steam cleaner in a circular motion until you have covered the entire surface of the leather car seat.

Step 5:

  • Take a dry microfiber cloth and wipe down any excess dirt or grime on the leather car seat.

Step 6: 

  • Repeat if necessary until your leather car seats are completely clean and free of any dirt, grime, or debris.

Step 7:

  • Finish off by applying a leather conditioner to your leather car seats and leave it to air dry.

2. Using Mild Dish Soap And Horse Hair Brush

Things Needed:


Step 1:

  • Start by brushing off any loose dirt or debris from the cracked leather car seats with your microfiber cloth.
  • This will help to remove any large particles that may scratch or cause further damage to your leather car seats.

Step 2:

  • Mix a small amount of mild dish soap with some warm water.

Step 3:

  • Dip your microfiber cloth into the soapy mixture and wring it out.
  • Make sure to wring out the microfiber cloth until it is completely damp.

Step 4:

  • Gently wipe the surface of the cracked leather car seats with your microfiber cloth.
  • If there are any tough stains or very dirty spots around the cracked or creased areas dip the brush into the soap solution, wring it out slightly, and scrub at the stain until it comes off.
  • You should use a back and forth motion while making sure to cover the entire panel of the seat.
  • Be sure to put in a little bit of elbow grease in order to really clean or lift off the dirt and grime from the leather car seats.
  • Be careful not to get the leather car seat wet as moisture can seep through the cracks into the seat cushion.
  • Continue cleaning the leather car seats in this manner until they are completely clean.

Step 5:

  • Once you have finished cleaning the leather car seats, wash and wring out the microfiber cloth and use it to get rid of any soap and dirt residue.

Step 6:

  • Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry the leather car seats.

Step 7:

  • Condition the leather car seats with a leather conditioner.
  • Apply the conditioner to a soft cloth and wipe all over the surface of the leather car seats.
  • Make sure to apply at least 2 coats and make sure to allow each coat to dry completely.
  • Allow the leather car seats to dry and you should be good to go! The cracked areas will not only look much better but the leather material will be nourished and supple.

Tips On How To Prevent Cracks On Leather Car Seats From Worsening

Before I wrap things up, here are some tips on how you can prevent the cracks on your leather car seats from worsening over time.

  • I will advise you to ask a professional detailer to have a look at the cracks on your leather car seats so they can give you a proper diagnosis of the problem.
  • But for minor cracks, a professional may recommend a restoration process that may involve sealing the cracks.
  • This will make sure that the leather car seats are protected from further damage or deterioration. 
  • If restoring the cracks is not a feasible option for you right away be sure to condition the leather car seats at least once a month with a quality leather conditioner.
  • Minimize the amount of time you use the sections of your leather car seats with the most cracks.
  • When you’re not using your car, keep the leather car seats covered with a cloth or seat cover to protect them from dust and dirt.
  • You want to try as much as possible to keep dirt, dust, and other particles from getting into the cracks as it will only make them worse over time.
  • If at all possible, try and avoid getting the leather car seats wet. If they do get wet, make sure to dry them off as soon as possible to avoid any moisture damage.
  • And finally, keep a close eye on the leather car seats for any new cracks or areas that may be developing.

Final Thoughts

Leather car seats are a luxurious and popular addition to any vehicle. However, if not taken care of properly, the leather can become cracked and can make its cleaning process difficult.

In this article, we have discussed the best ways to clean cracked leather car seats without causing any additional damage and some tips on how to prevent the cracks from worsening over time. I hope you found this information helpful! Happy cleaning! ????


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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