How to Clean Spilled Coffee on Leather Car Seat: The Complete Guide

Clean Spilled Coffee on Leather Car Seat

Spilling coffee on leather car seats is every driver’s nightmare. You just picked up a cup of coffee from McDonald’s, and before you know it there’s coffee on your shiny new seats. Leather isn’t cheap, after all! Without adequate care, your seats might dry, crack, or even fade, compromising the value of your car. Luckily, learning how to clean spilled coffee on a leather car seat isn’t as difficult as it seems.

All it takes is your favorite leather cleaner or a homemade solution, made of one part white vinegar and two parts linseed oil, that won’t don’t dry out your seats.

Today, we’ll show you everything you need to know on how to clean coffee stains and smells from your precious, possibly brand new, perforated leather seats!

Leather vs. Leatherette Car Seats: What’s the Difference?

Car upholstery comes in several different types, ranging from basic cloth and fabric to various leather types. The leather options we’re going to discuss today are pure leather seats and leatherette, AKA, vinyl, car seats.

Knowing the difference between the three makes the cleaning process more straightforward and may prevent potentially damaging the seats even more. Let’s start with how to clean spilled coffee on a leather car seat.

Leather Car Seats

As we know, leather is the end product of tanning the rawhide and skin of an animal. A lot of people prefer genuine leather car seats because they’re more durable and flexible than the alternative. However, they’re also much more expensive.

Even luxurious car models like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi rely on fake leather in their more “affordable” car models. Good-quality leather feels softer, more pliant, and much more comfortable than other types of car seats. Plus, it leaves a pleasant, semi-permanent leather aroma in your car.

Author Note: Leather is excellent for cars with sunroofs, as real leather isn’t susceptible to water damage. They’re relatively easy to clean, as well. Best of all, it has a high resale value!

Regardless of how awesome leather seats are, there’s a disappointing downside: they absorb dirt and spills much quicker. Although easy to clean, leather seats demand frequent maintenance. They’re also easier to scratch, making them not the best interior choice if you own a pet. Next, we’ll go over how to clean spilled coffee on a fake leather car seat.

Leatherette Car Seats

Spilled coffee on a leather car seat, interior cleaning.

Leatherette is a type of car seat cover made of a synthetic surface to imitate or simulate real leather’s look and feel. But, unlike genuine leather, leatherette contains no animal by-products.

Typically, leatherette seats are made out of polyester, vinyl, or some other type of plastic. They’re commonly referred to as faux leather, fake leather, or pleather.

During the years, the appearance of leatherette seats has gotten much better in modern cars, so much so that it’s difficult to tell the difference from real leather. They come with an attractive price tag, as well. Plus, they aren’t as porous as genuine leather! This means that spilled food and liquid can be wiped easily.

All things considered, leatherette seems to be the best option for many. They’re cheaper, don’t require much upkeep, and look exactly like leather. However, they do come with several disadvantages.

For instance, synthetic leather doesn’t “breathe” as well as real leather, making it stick to your skin during hot summer months. And, as expected, they’re not as durable as its counterpart.

Cleaning Spilled Coffee on Leather Car Seats

It’s important to note that leather car seats, although easy to maintain, require different care than other types of car seats. If you use the same method as you do with fabric seats, the leather might be irreparably damaged.

With just a little patience and preventative care, your leather car seats will always remain soft and gorgeous, no matter what you spill on them.

Here are steps on how to remove coffee stains and smells from leather seats.

Step 1: Wipe the Spill Immediately

As soon as you spill your coffee, wipe it immediately. If you’re driving, park your car in a safe place and clean up the spill with an absorbent fabric you have to hand. Don’t try to deal with the stain while still driving, even if it’s during traffic.

It might be tempting to deal with the stain after work or school. We advise you against doing that; the longer the stain remains, the harder it is to remove. The leather might absorb the color of the stain and ruin it permanently.

Step 2: Clean the Stain with Cleaning Solution

Ideally, it would be best if you used a cleaner made specifically for leather or leatherette car seats. A leather cleaner and conditioner should always be available at close proximity. Doing so prevents your seats from drying out, cracking, or getting damaged much further. If you don’t have these products to hand, follow the next steps.

Leather Seats

If you don’t own a leather cleaner, you can instead combine one part white vinegar and two parts linseed oil in a bowl or spray bottle. Apple cider vinegar won’t do.

Alternatively, you can use low or neutral pH dishwashing liquid. Strong detergents may dry out your seats. Stir the product in cold water until suds are formed, then dab just the foamy mixture onto the coffee stain to avoid over-saturating the leather. Once done, clean with a dry cloth.

Vinyl Leatherette Seats

Woman is holding cup of coffee inside of car. Travel lifestyle. Legs on dashboard

For vinyl leatherette seats, use a mixture of water and baking soda. Baking soda is abrasive enough to dislodge the stain particles from your vinyl seats without damaging it.

Author Note: Make a paste of two to three parts baking soda with one part water. Then, using a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush, rub the paste on the affected areas. Leave the solution for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

Wipe the remaining product with a paper towel or microfiber cloth. Do it gently so as not to scratch your leather seats. Leave it to dry entirely by rolling down your window or opening your car’s door in your garage.

You can also use a blowdryer on a low setting or a vacuum cleaner to fasten the process.

Step 4: Condition

We highly recommend that you condition your leather or leatherette seats seam-to-seam after cleaning. You’ll find these conditioners online, in your local auto shop, or supermarket. Leather conditioner keeps your seats soft, shiny, and in tiptop shape.

Gently rub the leather conditioner into your leather with a circular motion using a brush, sponge, or microfiber cloth, and you’re all done!

Tips on How to Care and Protect Your Leather Car Seats

Leather is one of the most durable natural materials globally, but only if you treat it right. Routine maintenance will extend the life of your leather seats and keep your car looking factory new!

Here are some tips for caring for and protecting your leather car seats:

Avoid the Sun

Leather should be kept out of direct sunlight, so try to avoid the sun as much as possible. Leather comes from natural materials. Therefore, it’s susceptible to fading and cracking due to heat and UV rays. Park your car in your garage or under a shaded area.

If you can’t avoid the sun, place a sun-shield on the windshield of your car. Tinting your vehicle minimizes the sun’s intensity, as well.

Avoid Sharp Objects

Simple and straightforward, yes, but extremely important. If you scratch your leather, little can be done to repair it.

As such, don’t put tools, pet carriers, or sharp objects directly onto your leather seats. If you own a pet, make sure to put him in his crate. Under the crate, place a padded protective blanket. Lastly, bulky objects belong in the trunk.

Clean Regularly

Clean your leather seats regularly! Vacuum up any loose debris and dirt. Wipe the seats with a slightly wet towel, or better yet, a gentle cleaner designed for leather interior, to remove dust and the like.

Condition After Cleaning

Driver holding coffee cup

Author Note: Water-based cleaners can dry the natural oils found in leather seats, leading to cracking and destroying the leather’s soft sheen. This is why you should always condition after cleaning to replenish any lost oils.

If you’re already using leather-based cleaners, make sure to condition your seats at least once a month. If your car is continuously exposed to the sun, you may need to condition twice as much. However, if your vehicle is rarely used, a good rule of thumb is conditioning every three months.

Bring Your Car in For Professional Cleaning

You don’t have to bring your car for professional cleaning frequently. Every six months or so will suffice. During this process, you can ask your local mechanic to check under the hood of your car for oil maintenance, replacements, etc.

It’s also best to bring your car to a professional if your car seat’s leather gets torn or cut. Don’t run the risk of damaging it further by fixing it yourself. Cleaning leather is comfortable and can be done by almost anyone. Fixing and repairing leather, however, needs a professional.

Final Thoughts

Leather is one of the most luxurious materials you can get for car seats. It’s also the most expensive. Therefore, proper maintenance and care are vital to keeping your leather seats buttery-soft and comfortable. This includes knowing how to remove coffee stains and other stains in general from your leather seats. We hope you enjoyed learning how to clean spilled coffee on a leather car seat, as well as how to clean spilled coffee on leatherette car seats.

Stay caffeinated friends!

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