How to Clean, Restore Dirty Stained Leather

I love learning insider secrets. I’m not talking tabloid headlines, fake news, or conspiracy theories—I work hard to avoid that—but solid, authentic, and reliable insider trade secrets. I’ve got two of those kinds of secrets for you today for how to clean leather.

products to clean stained dirty leather


Dear Mary: 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 make that purchase.

My question is, do you know the type of treatment 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

Dear Jan: 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.

The package they offered was more than likely a couple of bottles of what they used on your car’s leather interior before putting it on the sales lot. You would be smart to use the same thing, but probably not at the highly inflated price they offered!

Secret #1

Car Dealer Spills the Beans

After a bit of arm-twisting, my dealer friend told me his shop’s secret:  KevianClean Leather Cleaner and Conditioner  (formerly known as BooYah! Clean—only the name has changed). He assures me that this one product used regularly will clean, condition, and protect the leather and leave it soft and supple. It’s the only thing they use at his dealership to get their previously owned cars into tip-top shape for resale. Take a look at KevianClean, especially the online reviews. You’ll learn a lot, and then you’ll know whether this is the product you want to trust on those beautiful car seats.

For years now, I have been using KevianClean to clean, condition, and maintain our car’s leather 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.

Secret #2

Prepare to Be Shocked

By the way, I just have to share something with you that I learned more recently about how to deep-clean and restore badly stained and really dirty leather. I mean the kind of dirt and stains that look like they’re hopelessly embedded for all of time and eternity! Know what I mean?

This may 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, to clean (but not condition) leather.

While this has worked for me to remove a minor leather stain and to make sure it would damage the leather (it didn’t), I have not had the occasion to clean any extreme situations.


I’m ready and even looking forward to coming across a fabulous leather item like maybe a Coach bag with a $1 price tag because it is so heavily stained and dirty (wouldn’t that be amazing?). I’ll be ready. That will give me some first-hand experience using both Soft-Scrub Lemon Cleanser and my KevianClean to get rid of the problem and return even very old dried up, and ugly leather back to its former glory.

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 to me ❣️

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9 replies
  1. Cristina says:

    I have old sofas which are going strong and one day I used Mr. Clean Erasers on a mark – took it off & did not damage the leather. In the interest of fairness – it was an imitation – not a real Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
    Be warned that a lot of leather which is sold is NOT REAL LEATHER, but pleather – bonded leather will not hold up the way real leather will.

  2. Carolyn Powell says:

    Yes, I have tried the lemon Soft Scrub – after Mary mentioned it a while 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.

  3. Barbara Alwin says:

    If you don’t want to buy an extra product to gently clean light leather seats – try this. I just put a very small amount of Dawn on a warm, wet washcloth and rub it on the seats. It has worked well on my beige and gray leather seats – and it’s available right in your kitchen.

  4. 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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