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The best car leather cleaner

What is the best car leather cleaner for 2021?

Leather is not only one of the most luxurious materials, but it is also one of the most durable. It is not uncommon to find leather goods that have survived for centuries that still look great. Of course, this doesn’t happen by accident. To maintain its luster and suppleness, leather must be properly cared for, which means cleaning and conditioning it regularly. 

It is often best to turn to a dedicated product like TriNova Leather Cleaner for the most effective cleaning. This pH-balanced formula can remove old and stubborn stains that many others can’t, and at the same time, it extends the lifespan of your leather. However, if you are looking to save some time, you may prefer to opt for a combination cleaner and conditioner.

What to know before you buy a car leather cleaner

The difference between a leather cleaner and a conditioner

Leather cleaners and leather conditioners are distinct products with different uses. Cleaners remove dust, dirt, debris, stains and oils from leather. It is an entirely cosmetic action that takes place topically.

Conversely, leather conditioners soak into leather fibers to soften them internally. This helps the leather stay supple, so it doesn’t crack from use and age. Good conditioners also help strengthen leather fibers, making them less prone to punctures or tears.

One of the main reasons many people tend to confuse leather cleaners and conditioners is that many companies make dual-purpose products that clean and condition leather. These are very convenient as they allow you to properly care for your leather in a single step, though they are sometimes not as effective as using two dedicated products. 

Whether to choose a dedicated or dual-purpose product depends on your preference. If you are a perfectionist who wants the best possible outcome and don’t mind spending the extra time and effort, two different products may be the best option. However, if you prefer to get everything done as quickly as possible, you should choose a dual-purpose cleaner and conditioner.

Are sprays or gels better?

Neither leather cleaner sprays nor gels are inherently better than the other. Instead, they each offer their own benefits and drawbacks. 

Sprays are thinner and easier to apply quickly over large surfaces. They can either be sprayed onto the leather or onto a cloth to wipe the leather. Along with speed comes the downside of mess. Because most people will spray them directly onto their seats and other leather upholstery, there is the potential of overspray winding up on other surfaces, such as your window or center console.

You should apply gels to a microfiber cloth, which you then use to rub the leather. Since they are thicker than sprays, they take longer to spread and require a bit more effort to get an even application. The benefit is this allows for precise application. You won’t have to worry about overspray, and you’ll pay more attention to specific areas that may require some extra conditioning or buffing..

Concentrate or ready-to-use formula

Most leather cleaners come as ready-to-use formulas. These are the most costly but are the simplest and most convenient to use. Concentrates add the extra step of mixing the cleaner with some water to get the correct strength and consistency. This means you’ll also have to have a spray bottle or squeeze bottle. Though using a concentrate adds an extra step, you’ll save money on a per-ounce basis when the product is fully diluted.

Features to look for in a car leather cleaner


To ensure your leather stays in good shape for as long as possible, you not only want to clean and condition it but protect it as well. Some cleaners use ingredients that form a protective layer on the surface of your leather that repels dirt, oils and stains. It may also help prevent fading from UV exposure.

Application materials

You can’t use all leather cleaners on all types of leather. Many are not safe for use on unfinished leather products like suede. While this probably won’t be an issue if you only plan on using your leather cleaner in your vehicle, you should keep this in mind and buy a suitable product if you were also hoping to use it on your shoes, jackets or other items. Also, if your vehicle has faux leather upholstery, you should check the cleaner’s label to make sure it is safe for use on this kind of material.

How much can you expect to spend on a car leather cleaner?

Both dedicated and dual-purpose cleaners cost $5-$20. Some kits contain a bottle of cleaner and a bottle of conditioner, usually costing $15-$25.

Car leather cleaner FAQ

How often does my leather interior need to be cleaner?

A. There is no hard and fast rule regarding how often a vehicle’s upholstery needs to be cleaned, as it depends on usage. Cars that families with children use most likely need cleaning more often than a single person’s car. Ideally, you should clean your leather upholstery every time you wash your car’s exterior. When it comes to conditioning, you should do this a minimum of three times per year.

Can a leather cleaner damage my upholstery?

A. While it seems reasonable to assume that no product designed for leather could actually damage it, this isn’t always the case. Because of this, you should test any cleaner you buy on a small, inconspicuous area first.

What is the best car leather cleaner to buy?

Top car leather cleaner

TriNova Leather Cleaner

What you need to know: An effective option, TriNova removes most surface stains without dulling the leather’s shine. It is also safe to use on vinyl and other types of faux leather.

What you’ll love: It softens while cleaning and can help prolong the life of the leather.

What you should consider: You’ll need to buy a separate conditioner to use in conjunction with it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top car leather cleaner for the money

Armor All Leather Care Gel

What you need to know: One of the most affordable combination cleaner conditioners, Armor All Leather Care Gel, is an excellent choice for anyone on a budget who wants something from a well-known brand.

What you’ll love: It also protects against heat, humidity, and UV exposure to help prevent your leather from cracking over time.

What you should consider: Some may find the smell overpowering.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

303 Leather 3-in-1 Complete Care

What you need to know: If you don’t like that greasy feeling that some other leather cleaners can leave behind, then you’ll appreciate this three-in-one formula that leaves behind a non-sticky matte finish.

What you’ll love: It provides up to 45 days of protection against dirt and stains after each application.

What you should consider: It isn’t the best option for tackling stubborn stains.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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