Know what’s the one thing that is common among most luxury vehicles that you see on the road? Almost all of them have an elegant leather-finished interior. These exquisite leather trims not only feel good against the skin of passengers but also add to the vehicle’s overall appeal and value.
Unfortunately, despite all its advantages, leather suffers from one shortcoming. If not properly looked after, it will age, fade or even crack over time. That’s why you need the best leather conditioner if you want the leather to retain its original and pristine sheen for long.
Apart from that, you can count on the products recommended in this guide to keep leather soft and flexible. Some of them boost formulas that can resist mildew and water damage. The majority, meanwhile, cleans, nourishes, and protects your leather.
Want to know more about what they can offer? Then check out our leather conditioner reviews.
Best Car Leather Conditioner Reviews
1. Leather Honey Leather Conditioner
Despite coming from a family-run business, the Leather Honey leather conditioner puts conglomerates to shame with its performance. One application of this product would keep the leather seats of your car rejuvenated and full of shine for the next six months.
Also, since it penetrates the pores of leather, this conditioner replenishes the vital oils which are responsible for the softness of the leather. Its deep-embedding ability also empowers this product to promote leather’s flexibility, thereby helping it resist wear and tear.
On top of everything else, it repels water, rain, and even snow. It contains no silicone, wax, or other harmful chemicals that may disturb the composition of the fabric that it is supposed to treat. Also on offer is a hundred percent satisfaction guarantee.
2. Chemical Guys HOL303 Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Care Kit
Some customers prefer a model which offers conditioners and nothing more. Others, meanwhile, won’t mind paying extra for a full kit. Provided you belong to the second category, you might find plenty of things to like about this kit from Chemical Guys.
The cleaner-conditioner duo in this kit removes dirt from leather and restores its original shine. The bottle of the quick detailer comes handy to clean small messes in a quick time. As for the three microfiber towels and two applicator pads, you can use them for performing multiple cleaning chores.
Lastly, the water-based formula of this product is further enhanced with a combination of Vitamin E and Aloe. Both of them join their forces to moisturize leather pieces and restore their plushness. All in all, this product will come handy both for quick touch-ups on the go as well as detailed cleaning.
3. Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner
Is your leather showing signs of wear and tear? Has consistent traffic left marks on its surface? Provided you find yourself nodding to either (or both) of these questions, then you simply cannot go wrong with the Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner.
Why is that? This 2-in-1 product boosts the perfect consistency that allows it to penetrate seamlessly into leather. Once inside, the vital oils in its formula will join their forces with those of your leather. The result of this meet-up, as you might guess, will be excellent for the health of your leather.
Does that mean that this product will leave a greasy or sticky residue behind? Of course not. Users who have tried this product can testify that once you’ve applied it, it will only be a matter of seconds (and a few scrubs using the supplied applicator pad) for leather to absorb this product.
4. Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP Leather Conditioner
Although its formula contains a combination of reel beeswax and plant oils, the advantages that both these substances provide vary. For instance, reel beeswax makes sure that as soon as you spread this product by hand, it will melt. That means that you won’t have to deal with any greasy residue.
The plant oils don’t care much about aesthetics. Their only purpose is to restock the supply of vital oils that are responsible for keeping leather fresh for long. Together, both these substances create a seal that prevents the ingress of water, acids, petroleum, and even salt.
For this reason, this product performs many functions which you don’t usually expect from leather conditions. For instance, it prevents the formation of mold/mildew and bacteria within leather. At the same time, it also keeps stitch tearing and cracking at bay.
5. Leather Rescue Conditioner and Restorer
At first glance, you might mistake this leather conditioner for a bottle of cough syrup. Luckily, its bottle’s design is the only underwhelming thing about this product. It boasts a pH-balanced formula whose non-toxicity and the natural leather scent makes this product a must-have for allergy-sufferers.
In addition to coming handy on both treated and non-treated leather, it also saves leather from the ill-effects of UV exposure. The mixture of oils that in this conditioner’s formula ensures that it can improve not only the look but also the feel of leather.
To further sweeten the deal, the utility of this model isn’t solely limited to car leather seats. You can also take advantage of this product’s effectiveness on bonded, reptile, and exotic leather. Though its manufacturer recommends that this product should be kept away from suede and nubuck.
6. TriNova Leather Conditioner and Restorer
When was the last time you cleaned your car’s leather seats? If you can’t remember, it means one of two things. Either you rarely use your vehicle and the resulting exquisite condition of its seats hasn’t forced you to clean them. Or, if you drive it frequently, the health of its leather seats is poor.
Your presence here tells that you’re dealing with the fallout of the latter scenario. Though there is no need for you to worry as the TriNova conditioner not only protects the leather but also reverses the damage that might already have been done. So you won’t have to pay a steep price for your lax attitude.
The monthly use of this conditioner keeps the risk of premature drying and leather at a minimum. It is water, snow, and snow-repellent product that also contains no harmful chemicals in its formula. Also, once you’ve applied this conditioner, you’ll love the rich leather fragrance that it will leave behind.
7. Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
If the Leather Cleaner and Conditioner’s bottle had the looks of cough syrup, the Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner resembles a vertical shoe polish. Thankfully, just like its competitor, the design of this product’s bottle isn’t a very good indicator of its benefits.
To gauge its features better, let’s start with a glance at the cleaner. It boasts a pH-balanced formula and contains no harmful chemicals that may disturb the composition of leather’s natural oils. All the cleaner does is to deep-clean the leather and rid it off of dirt and debris.
Similar utility is on offer by the conditioner. Not only does it dry without leaving any residue behind, but, just like the cleaner, it contains no harmful ingredients that will disturb the leather’s moisture content. Hence why you can trust the conditioner to provide supple and robust leather.
Best Car Leather Conditioners Comparison Chart
Leather Honey Leather Conditioner
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Chemical Guys HOL303 Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Care Kit
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Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner
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Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP Leather Conditioner
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Leather Rescue Conditioner and Restorer
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TriNova Leather Conditioner and Restorer
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Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
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What is a Leather Conditioner / Cleaner?
Leather conditioners and cleaners are non-toxic substances that remove dirt and debris from leather, smooth cracks that may have developed on its surface, and protect it from aging and drying. The top-rated conditioners and cleaners are equipped with a non-toxic formulation which helps them protect new leather from premature aging or drying.
Leather Conditioner Buying Guide
What is it that separates top-rated leather conditioners and cleaners from the also-rans? For starters, they deep clean leather and remove embedded dust and dirt particles. Secondly, by ‘conditioning’ the fabric, they help the luxurious material retain its luster for long.
More importantly, a single application of the best conditioners and cleaners lasts months. Also, they lack any harsh chemicals or additives – substances that can do more harm than good if used on leather. And despite all that they have to offer, their price tag won’t blow a hole in your pocket.
Now that you know what to expect from them, let’s look at the leather conditioner buying guide.
What to Consider When Buying a Car Leather Cleaner & Conditioner?
Following are the questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing a leather conditioner:
Type of leather
To maintain leather, it is crucial to know which type of it you might have in your car. That’s because leather conditioners are specific in their action – i.e., one conditioner can only treat only one type of leather. Use it on any other category, and the results might disappoint you.
Following are the types of leather most commonly used in vehicles:
More widely known as ‘Type A’ leather, it boasts a warm, soft, and buttery feel. Aniline leather gives a supple feel and does a poor job of hiding natural markings, scars, and bites. It scratches very quickly and leaves a visible spot in the area of the scratch.
The coating of aniline leather can either be dyed, tinted or clear. Provided you have this leather in your vehicle, you might have to frequently clean and vacuum it. Also, if your vehicle’s interior is routinely exposed to dirt and dust particles, frequent conditioning is recommended.
- Pros :
Available in multiple colors
- Cons :
Requires frequent cleaning
- Pros :
More commonly known as ‘Type N,’ nubuck leather shares many similarities with aniline leather. Both of them do a poor job of masking defects, put accidental scratches on display for all to see, and aren’t very good when it comes to repelling moisture.
Not everything is common between both of them. While aniline leather tends to be more buttery and supple, nubuck oozes a velvety feel. But since the difference isn’t that stark, almost all leather conditioners that are made to treat aniline leather will also come handy for nubuck leather, and vice versa.
- Pros :
Gives a velvety feel
- Cons :
Requires frequent cleaning
- Pros :
Also referred to as ‘Type P’ or protected leather, pigmented leather is available in many colors, does an excellent job of masking defects and scratches, and repels moisture. Its protective upper layer allows this leather to retain its dark tan, thereby adding to its appeal.
Another reason why most car interiors use pigmented leather is due to the thousands of finishes in which it is available. That makes it easy for vehicle manufacturers to provide a perfect mix of cost and looks, while also making sure that the blend of the car’s interior appeals to the buyer.
- Pros :
Masks defects and scratches
Does a fine job of repelling moisture
Available in thousands of finishes
- Cons :
- Pros :
Liquid Vs Foam Vs Spray
Most of us don’t realize that the form the leather conditioners may be available in – liquid, foam, or spray – will have a significant effect on its functionality. You shouldn’t ignore this essential but crucial fact if you want the conditioner to provide the best value for your money.
Do you have the time to give your car’s leather upholstery a thorough scrub? Won’t mind if the cleaning process consumes more than a few hours? Then you might want to go for liquid cleaners.
Conversely, if quick-cleaning jobs are your thing – and you’re running late for a meeting and want to quickly clean your car in the half-hour between your breakfast and leaving for office – then they aren’t the best choice.
When was the last time you cleaned your car’s interiors? If you can’t remember the answer to this question, one thing is guaranteed: your car’s interiors aren’t clean.
If that’s the case, then foam cleaners are your thing. Their thick residue formula empowers them to remove dirt which might have built-up deep inside the seats due to months of neglect from your side.
Unlike their liquid and foamy counterparts, spray conditioners don’t require much time for their application. Also, since they don’t leave a residue behind, you don’t have to do any post-cleaning work.
Not all is hunky-dory about them, though. While their nozzle-action makes them a worthy choice for a quick conditioning job, your dominant hand might tire of having to continually pull the nozzle if you’re going to clean the entire car with them.
6 Important Leather Conditioner Features and Specs
Following are the features and specs almost all top-rated leather conditioners offer:
PH balanced formula:
Do you want the conditioner to discolor your car’s leather interior? Assuming your answer to be in the negative, we recommend that you choose a product that clearly states ‘pH-balanced’ formula on its cover.
Remember, there’s a difference between conditioners that give a ‘neutral’ smell and those that have ‘no’ smell whatsoever. While both of them don’t trigger any fragrance allergy, only those with a neutral smell can neutralize odors from your vehicle.
Easy to apply:
Whether it is available in spray, wax, or liquid form, the leather conditioner should be a cinch to use. And that too without requiring a lot of effort – and time – from your side.
Conditioners that offer zero-residue drying come with a non-greasy formula. Once they have done their job, such products evaporate without leaving any mess behind, thereby saving you the trouble of cleaning that mess.
Harsh chemicals- and additives-free:
Conditioners that contain these substances can do more harm than good as they might cause the leather’s color to fade.
Assuming you aren’t going to use the conditioner on one surface forever, you might want to choose a product that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including suede, vinyl, and even faux leather.
Leather Polisher Vs Leather Conditioner
Do you know that there’s nothing common between a leather conditioner and leather polisher? Everything from their recommended application time, the method they use to rejuvenate leather, and the results that both of them provide differentiate leather conditioners from leather polishers.
Difference between Leather Polisher and Conditioner
To further illustrate this point, let’s briefly compare leather polishers versus leather conditioners:
When to apply
Fortunately for our brain cells, experts have given us a rule of thumb as to the order in which we should apply both these products. Here’s what that rule of thumb states: you shouldn’t polish leather until or unless you’ve conditioned it first.
To take this rule of thumb one step ahead, we recommend that you should not condition your leather unless you’ve cleaned it first. Find this argument difficult to decipher? Then try to recall this acronym whenever you’re about to clean leather C (cleaning), C (conditioning), P (polish).
How to apply
Have you ever polished your shoes? Then you already know how leather polish works. Once you apply the polisher on a dry pad, rubbing it to and fro over the leather’s surface will cause the surface to absorb it. The speedier the back and forth action, the quicker the polish will get absorbed.
The leather conditioner, on the contrary, requires minimum scrubbing. Many people who haven’t used a conditioner before are surprised to find out how quickly it absorbs. Hence the reason why a little dose of conditioner will go a long way in rejuvenating your car’s seats.
Similar to their time and mode of application, leather conditioners, and polishers once again differ when it comes to the results they provide. The primary function of a polisher is to add shine (luster) to the leather’s texture. That’s why leather looks shiny after a polish.
Conditioners, however, don’t deal with aesthetics. Their main reason for being is to ensure the flexibility of leather and improve its water resistance. That is a critical job as leather that is more flexible will likely resist wear and tear better. An increase in its resistance to water, in turn, helps the leather retain its vital oils for longer.
Car Leather Cleaners Vs All-Purpose Cleaners &
Their Long-Term Effects
Is there a rule which states that you should only use dedicated leather conditioners on leather? Or can you use all-purpose cleaners as well? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to this question. How the leather interior in your car will respond to different cleaners depends on various factors.
Here are some of those factors:
Type of Leather
How the leather in your car will respond to a) leather cleaners or b) all-purpose cleaners depends on its type. Nobody who is telling the truth can say to you how the leather upholstery in your car will respond to both, or either, of these conditioners.
Want to know why that’s the case? Because nobody knows the type of leather your car’s manufacturer might have used in making your vehicle’s seats. Sure, the manufacturer can give you the leather’s name, but they won’t tell you how it would respond to the cleaner in your hand.
Condition of Leather
We have seen drivers who used all-purpose cleaners on brand new leather and ended up getting brilliant results. We have also seen drivers who switch from dedicated leather conditioners to all-purpose cleaners, and they too got excellent results.
What does that mean? Again, nobody knows how your car’s leather is going to respond to a particular cleaner on the market. Only you’d know, and that too after you’ve used the product. Before that, it’s all guesswork no matter what anyone on the internet tells you.
Final Verdict – All-purpose cleaner or leather conditioner?
As you might have guessed by now, there’s no simple answer to this question. The same conditioner which might have worked wonders on the leather of your friend’s car might not deliver the goods when used on yours. Conversely, an all-purpose cleaner can rival the results given by a leather conditioner.
Sounds confusing? That’s because it is. The debate between whether a dedicated or an all-purpose cleaner is better for leather varies on a case-to-case basis. Though that doesn’t mean that you should throw the caution to the wind.
What you might do to be on the safe side is to rely on the advice of experts and reviews left by fellow users like yourself to make a choice. Surely, nobody mind would give you a hundred percent guarantee but, if a product has worked for 99 people before you, there’s a good chance it will work for you too.
How to Keep your Leather Seats from Cracking
Why do leather seats crack? What could you do to prevent that from happening? Let’s try to find answers to both these questions.
Why do leather seats crack?
As some of you might already be aware of, leather seats crack when the fully finished leather suffers wear-and-tear. Here are some of the ways using which your seats are subjected to that:
Due to Constant Rubbing Against Clothes
Most people are worried that while their other leather seats look okay, the health of the driver’s seat has gone south. Fortunately, there’s a straightforward explanation for this.
As you slide in and out of the seat several times a day, your clothes rub against the leather. That has a drying effect on the seat – akin to you drying your hair several times a day. Over time, this constant rubbing action might cause the seats to crack.
Due to Constant Air Conditioning
If you are like most people, you likely place your car’s heater’s controls in the ‘Defrost’ position every time your visibility decreases due to the windshield becoming foggy.
As you do that, the resulting air conditioning takes the moisture out of your car’s internal environment by cooling the air. The subsequent drying of the inner atmosphere might also dry the leather seats and subject them to cracking.
Due to Body Oils and Dirt
Even if you keep your car’s windows closed whenever you’re out and about, the road dirt will find a way to make an entrance inside and accumulate itself on the leather seats.
Over an extended period, the dirt particles will act as a sandpaper – breaking down the leather’s upper protective surface. Once that happens, and the inner layer (which is porous) accumulates dirt, further damage and abrasion are a given.
Due to Sun Exposure
Just like your skin, leather is a natural material. Leaving it for a long time under direct sunlight will expose leather to the same consequences – premature-aging, discoloration, drying and cracking.
Why? Because sunlight will force changes at the molecular level of leather. Its UV rays, in particular, have the potential to dry up the vital oils which keep leather from cracking.
Due to Manufacturer Problem
During the process of making leather out of cowhide, manufacturers have to infuse the cowhide with a layer of dye before adding a protective coating on top.
But before they do that, they have to stretch the leather properly. If they abandon their duty, and the leather stretches more than the dye can handle, the top coating will crack. That will expose leather to premature abrasion and cuts.
How do I keep leather from cracking?
Here are some 6 things you can do to extend the shelf life of your car’s leather:
Park in the Shade
The sun’s ultraviolet rays start by discoloring leather and go on to dry it at a molecular level. Apart from that, UV rays cause the dislocation of vital natural oils that you cannot replenish – even if you moisturize and condition leather regularly.
And since our vehicles spend more time parked than they do on the road, it is imperative that when you go to work or out to do some shopping, you should park your car beneath a structure or a tree. Once you’re home, take it straight inside the garage.
Leave the Window Slightly Open
Unable to find any shade in your office’s parking lot? Arrived late and saw all the spaces beneath a structure occupied? Then you should do the next best thing by cracking open your window.
Apart from maintaining air pressure inside your vehicle, outdoor air will also bring down the inner temperature. That would save the leather seats from getting exposed to too much heat, thereby keeping cracking at bay.
Just as you regularly use the best car air freshener to regulate the inner atmosphere of your vehicle, you should also frequently put sunshades on its windshield to bring down your car’s internal temperature.
In contrast to what most drivers believe, sunshades aren’t cumbersome. They aren’t only easy to use but also a cinch to fold up and put away when you aren’t using them.
Install Seat Covers
As you can see by going through our car upholstery cleaner reviews, numerous products keep your vehicle’s interiors clean. However, when it comes to seats, only one – seat cover – can not only keep them clean by keeping dirt at bay but would also keep sun’s UV rays at bay.
That’s not the only reason why you might want to use seat covers. Instead, since they keep the seats cool when you’re out and about, you won’t have to worry about getting your backside burned on some hot leather.
Tint Your Windows
Provided the local driving codes in your area permit having tinted windows, they are a great way to limit the exposure of your car’s leather seats to sunlight.
Aside from that, tinted windows enhance the appearance of any vehicle on the road. So you can count on them to make your car stand out among others.
Clean and Condition Your Leather Seats Regularly
Once you’ve limited the sun exposure of your leather seats by acting on the abovementioned tips, you might want to do something about the dirt and dust that the seats are regularly getting exposed to.
One way you can do that is to leave your car at home and use public transport. That option, as you might guess, isn’t feasible. So do the next best thing and regularly clean and condition your leather seats. It will also keep your seats retain their original luster for long.
Clean & Condition Your Car’s Leather Seats in 8 Steps
Follow these steps to clean and condition your car’s leather seats:
Step 1: Consult your car’s owner manual
Before you start giving your leather seats a thorough scrub, consult your car manual. It might contain specific instructions on the areas you may need to avoid during cleaning. This way, you won’t end up doing more harm than good.
Step 2: Gather the supplies
You’ll need the following items to clean and condition your leather seats:
- Wet-dry vacuum
- Air compressor
- Microfiber towel (3x)
- Soft-bristled brush
Step 3: Vacuum and blow-dry the seats
While exercising extreme caution to avoid scratching the leather, use the dry-wet vacuum to suck up dirt and dust particles as well as any traces of moisture. Use the air compressor to blow out the particles between the seat cracks which the vacuum can’t pick up.
Step 4: Clean the seats
As we have stated in our car paint sealant buying guide, there are numerous ways dirt can get inside the car. Even if your seats are looking relatively clean, they still might have a layer of dirt and grime. Spray the cleaner onto a dry microfiber towel and use the cloth to wipe over the seats. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a car wash soap before using it on leather seats as it will do more harm than good.
Step 5: Scrub the seats
After cleaning the seats, gently scrub them using a soft-bristled brush. This agitating action will break the dirt loose and bring it up to the surface. Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to remove the dirt. You must notice dirt and grime on the cloth.
Step 6: Apply the conditioner
Apply the conditioner to the leather seats and use a microfiber cloth to rub it in. Avoid pouring too much conditioner as it might make the seats slick or greasy. If you think you’ve applied more conditioner than necessary, remove the excess by wiping it off using a sponge.
Step 7: Park your car in the shade
To help the conditioner do what you want it to do, you need to protect it from the sun’s UV rays. Park your car in your garage or under shade for at least an hour.
Step 8: Buff the seats
Once you’re sure that the seats have wholly absorbed the conditioner, gently scrub the seats using a dry microfiber cloth in circular motions. This will not only remove the excess conditioner but would also polish the seats.
How often to use a leather conditioner?
How often should you condition your car’s leather seats depends on the amount of traffic they receive. What this means is that seats which are more frequented might need conditioning regularly. Others which aren’t sat upon too often can be conditioned once in a while.
- Driver’s seat :
If you’re a daily driver, you might want to condition your seat once every month. Though you could delay it by a month, depending on the seat’s condition.
- Passenger seats :
Even if they don’t see as much traffic as the driver’s seats, all the passenger seats need conditioning once every 2-3 months to remain in excellent condition.
FAQs and Answers
- Q: What are the do’s and don’ts of car leather seat conditioning?
A: Following are what you should and shouldn’t do while cleaning and conditioning your car’s leather seats:
Do vacuum before applying the cleaner or conditioner.
Do use the dry microfiber cloth in small sections to prevent discoloring.
Do clean and condition your car under a shade.
Do condition your driver seat once every two months and others once every season.
Don’t use conditioners that contain harsh chemicals, waxes or petroleum in their formula as they might dull the leather’s finish.
Don’t use a hard-bristled brush for deep cleaning. Opt for a dedicated car-cleaning brush or one that has soft bristles.
Don’t apply more conditioner on the seats than necessary. Too much liquid can leave a greasy and slick surface behind.
Don’t spray the conditioner directly on the seats. Soak the microfiber cloth with the liquid instead.
- Q: Can worn leather be restored?
A: Depending on the condition of the leather, it can be restored using one of two ways. You can either help the leather get back to its original condition using a recoloring balm. Or, if the cracks are darker, you can restore the leather manually by fixing all scuffs and cracks.
- Q: What are the pros and cons of leather car seats?
A: Following are the good and not-so-good aspects of having leather car seats:
Look and feels great
Provide cushioning support
Are a cinch to clean
Expensive than other car seats
Easily affected by temperature
Require more maintenance
- Q: How to fix tears and crack?
Do you love the smell of luxurious leather? Want others to compliment the tidiness of your car whenever they travel with you? Hoping to protect the investment that you made on top-rated leather covers? If your answer to all these questions is in the affirmative, then give the best leather conditioners a go.
As a mere scroll through our leather conditioner reviews will make clear, these products do everything which we have stated in the previous paragraph. Apart from that, they help increase the shelf-life of leather by saving it from premature drying and aging.
What’s more, some of the products contain vital oils in their formula which they use to replenish the vital-oils stock of leather. Almost all of them create a seal on top of the leather’s surface to protect it against the ingress of water, UV rays, and chemicals. What more can you ask for!