Leather interiors are no longer the preserve of luxury and prestige cars; they can be found on just about any model. The upholstery is hard wearing and looks and feels great, but needs more care than man-made fabrics if it’s to stay supple and crack-free.
We wanted our cleaners to shift not only general grime from our scrapyard seat, but stains like grease, ink and fruit juice, plus condition the hide. We judged the latter by timing how long a drop of water took to soak through the cleaned seat. We also rated ease of use and price.
Winner: CarPlan Leather Connoisseur Renovation Kit
Size: 1 litre
Car cleaning kits often include items you don’t need, but new CarPlan set only has the necessary: a microfibre cloth and applicator, plus 500ml of cleaner and conditioner. And as the formulas are separate, neither is compromised, unlike combined products. The result was an excellent performance on our stains and a water-resistant finish.
Armor All Leather Care
If you only want to go over your leather once, our commended choices are for you. Armor All’s thick, white gel starred in the conditioning part of our test, matching our winner, and it felt good, too. There was plenty of ingrained grime on our cloth after the cleaning test, despite the limited wiping. As with many rivals, it struggled to shift the ballpoint pen, but made some decent progress and shifted our other marks. A competitive price makes it our commended pick.
Mer Leather Professional Cleaner
Former winner from Mer has to settle for a commendation this time, and while it’s not the cheapest, it remains a great product. It managed to combine strong grime-shifting with leaving a good, water-resistant finish. While some rivals took minutes to let the droplet through, the Mer resisted for more than hour. Its cleaning performance is similar to that of the Armor All, with good progress on general grime but problems with the ink.
Leather cleaner Q and A
I’ve got denim marks on my cream leather. Why can’t I just clean my seats with a damp soapy sponge?
Soapy water can be used to clean leather, but it’ll cause the hide to dry out and crack over time, especially if you’ve got air-conditioning in your car, which sucks moisture out of the seat. Choose a dedicated leather cleaner, and the product will not only remove marks, but also nourish the surface to maintain that as-new look for as long as possible.
My leather is cracked and dry. Can I get it looking like new again or should I have the seats recovered?
Leather conditioners – like the one included in the CarPlan Leather Connoisseur Renovation Kit – will feed the leather. Apply them often enough, and your seats will definitely improve. But if there is still damage, specialists can repair and restore the colour back to the original. Severe damage will require replacement upholstery or a retrim.