leather-cleaner-car interior

Car Dealer Spills the Beans on Treating Leather Interiors

Do you know what I love? Learning insider secrets. I’m not talking tabloid headlines or conspiracy theories, which I work hard to avoid—but solid, authentic, and reliable insider trade secrets.

I’ve got one for you today, prompted by a question sent in by a faithful reader.

Car seat


I recently purchased a late-model, previously owned vehicle. The dealer tried to sell me a package where they treat the leather seats. Because of the cost, I opted not to purchase the package. My question is, do you know the type of treatment that car dealers use to treat leather seats? Is it even necessary to do this? The car is an expensive purchase for me and I need to know how to take good care of the interior to make it last.Thank you for your very enjoyable column. I read it from top to bottom and always learn or find something I can use daily. Jan G.

Dear Jan: Are the leather seats dirty or are you simply wanting to protect and “treat” them as the dealer suggested? As this is not a new car, I am thinking it may be time to clean the leather just to remove the kind of dirt that naturally builds up from regular use. And yes, I believe that leather needs to be treated regularly to keep it soft and supple.

I checked with a car dealer friend of mine, and he said you are pretty smart. Car dealers aren’t magicians. They just use products that work well, then charge you an arm and a leg to do what you can probably do yourself.

After a bit of arm-twisting, he told me his shop’s secret:  KevianClean Leather Cleaner and Conditioner  (formerly known as BooYah—only the name has changed). He assures me that this one product will clean, condition and protect the leather and leave it soft and supple. If I were you I would read all of the online reviews. You’ll learn a lot and then you’ll know whether this is the product you want to trust with your beautiful car seats.

For several years now, I have used Kevian on our car seats and interior, our leather recliners, my leather handbag, leather shoes and even my top-cowhide, leather-bound Bible. The results continue to be amazing.

By the way, I just have to share something with you that I learned some time ago for how to deep clean and restore stained and really dirty leather seats. This is going to be shocking, so brace: Soft-Scrub Lemon Cleanser. I’m serious. I’m talking about the stuff made for kitchens and bathrooms (DO NOT  grab the Soft Scrub with Bleach—you want only the yellow lemon option). And yes, on leather.

I must admit that I have not had occasion to clean any stained and or really dirty leather, so I cannot personally vouch for this. But for any readers who are dealing with the heartbreak of stained and or dirty leather car seats—or any other needy leather item for that matter—THIS is a must read.

I’m almost looking forward to having a leather stain or dirt problem so I can get some first-hand experience with this very amazing-if-true way to get rid of the problem and return even very old dried up and ugly leather back to its glory.

And of course, I would not mind hearing from anyone who has tried this and is willing to report back with their results. 

Thanks for being such a faithful reader, Jan! That means the world to me.


I read your book 7 Money Rules for Life which was great. Which online savings account do you currently recommend now that INGDirect no longer exists? Thank you! Jason S.

Dear Jason: INGDirect was bought out by Capital One Bank, and they changed the name to Capital One 360. It is still an online savings bank, with apps, digital tools, and great features like the ability to set up automatic deposits, create sub-accounts and so forth, but continues to offer only a paltry 1.00 percent APY on its online savings account. 

Synchrony online savings bank is offering an excellent savings account along with the convenience of an ATM card. It pays a 1.90% APY. There’s no monthly fee or minimum balance requirement.

For the highest APY currently being offered for online savings, you should also take a look at CIT Bank Savings Builder, an online savings bank which is currently offering the best interest rates on savings—2.15%, provided you agree to add $100 or more each month to the account.

Hope that helps and thanks for liking my book. I’m quite fond of it myself. 

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11 replies
  1. Reginald says:

    Despite the fact that often it seems impossible to acquire your automobile glass perfectly clean and clear, it can be done if you obey the right strategies and guidelines. The very first step is to pick a car glass cleaner.

  2. Eve Lundy Lewis says:

    I found KevianClean.com had the cleaner for $16.95 with free shipping and 10% off with their coupon code takeoff10.

  3. Richard Cleven says:

    I am a Interior car repair tech. Yes you can clean the paint of a protected leather seat. No you cannot treat the leather to keep it soft. The paint on the seat will block any product from penetration. The plastic film blocks all treatment. Any treatment is useless and a waste of money till the leather coating either wares off or cracks.
    Seats will ware and redye is cheaper in the long run. Applying silicone or Teflon products to the leather seat may keep you from repairing the seat correctly as a end result.

  4. Ed says:

    A couple of things to add to the discussion:
    FWIW, I was told years ago the best thing for regular cleaning of a leather interior is a soft cloth dipped in warm water with either glycerin soap or muphy’s oil soap and rung out. Both soaps are mild and have oil to moisturize the leather. After washing and letting it dry, use a good leather conditioner. This has always worked well for me. I’ll definitely keep the lemon softscrub suggestion in mind for a difficult stain though.
    I’ve opened an account with ING Direct probably about 14 years ago. It was great for many years but I am more and more dissatisfied with Capital One. The interest is better than my credit union but not great and I’m just not a fan of the way the company conducts itself in general. I was recently checking online looking for better rates. The best I see right now is My Savings Direct, which is offering 2.25% on regular savings. The only other offers that high are on a money market acct. I see they are FDIC insured. Any info or advice on this bank? I haven’t heard of them before but 2.25% is pretty enticing and FDIC membership makes me think its a safe bet. Is there anything else I should worry about with an (unfamiliar) online bank?

  5. crabbyoldlady says:

    The seats in my newish car are heated and cooled, so they have little holes in them for air flow. I had a small spill and tried a cleaner, but it just blocked the holes. Any suggestions for that?

    • Richard Cleven says:

      Cheap but tedious fix? Wait for the product you applied to dry. Take a tooth pick and penatrate the holes.
      There is a heat pad under the leather. Much like a heating pad you would use on your back. Take care not to push too hard.

  6. Carolyn Powell says:

    Yes, I have tried the lemon Soft Scrub – after Mary mentioned it in her column several years back. Yes, it cleans! No, it did not harm my beige leather car seats. In fact, our car was purchased used and we had no idea of the ‘real’ color of the seats until I cleaned them with Soft Scrub. WOW. They went from a dingy color to a beautiful shade of warm beige. Soft Scrub also removed ink marks and the stain of my new blue jeans.

  7. Dana says:

    I tried the Lemon SoftScrub without positive results. It didn’t remove the dye from our jeans that had transferred to our light colored leather or even the little bit of dirt that accumulates in the natural texture of leather.
    What did work: SprayWay Glass Cleaner. I use it on all my vinyl and plastic interior and decided to give it a try on the leather seats. I worked on a small area at a time and used a soft bristle brush to work it in the crevices, then wiped it with a clean cloth. It worked great! Seats look new.
    Now I need to get the Kevian that Mary recommends to protect my “new” leather seats. 😉


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