Best leather cleaners 2023

| 5 Dec 2022
Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners

Keeping leather interiors in good shape involves routine cleaning to keep the hide supple. So whether you’re looking to maintain the hide in your cherished classic, or refresh grubby leather in your latest project car, it's worth investing in a good cleaner.

There’s a whole world of products out there claiming to help, so which one’s really best?

We tested our products on a worn but serviceable leather interior that’s seen 20 years of fairly routine use. The pale grey finish shows up the light scuffs and marks quite well, so it provides a suitable challenge, but we also tried our products on a more modern leatherette finish to see how they fared on man-made leather.

Naturally, we followed the recommended application process for each cleaner, and used the relevant applicators if they were supplied.

We have taken into account how easily and how well the product cleans and brightens the leather, as well as how good the leather looks and feels afterwards. 

Leather cleaners

10. Nano Go Leather Foam Cleaner

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaner - Nano Go

Comes with applicator?  No

The Nano cleaner gets most grime and grubbiness out of leather fairly well. However, the foam runs quickly down the seatback or any upright surface which makes it tricky to apply evenly, even if the way it foams up straight out of the bottle makes it easy to get into the corners and seams of your seats.

Most disappointing is that it has a stated shelf life of three years, yet our test product had only one year left before the suggested expiry date.

Classic & Sports Car says 2 stars

9. Leather Honey

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners - Leather Honey

Comes with applicator?  No

Leather Honey is a liquid that comes in what looks like a shampoo bottle, and it cleans well and leaves the leather feeling soft and smooth.

The trouble is the liquid is difficult to get into the tight creases of the seats and stitching, and a brush doesn’t work too well because the liquid needs firmer application to work than a foaming cleaner.

Leather Honey is pricey, too, especially given that it’s not as easy to use as plenty of other products and is no more effective at brightening your leather.

Classic & Sports Car says 2 stars

8. Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather 3 in 1

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners - Meguiars

Comes with applicator?  No

Meguiar’s is a leather cleaner and conditioner combined that seems to be more conditioner than cleaner.

It smells nice and is easy to apply, but it’s not effective on very ingrained dirt or stains.

Still, it feels like it’ll live up to the ‘protector’ part of the 3-in-1 promise; it will leave the leather in your classic car with a soft and slightly shiny finish, and water beaded off after the product was applied, so regular use should keep your interior looking fresh.

Classic & Sports Car says 3 stars

7. Turtle Wax Luxe Leather Car Seat Cleaner and Restorer

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaner - Turtle Wax

Comes with applicator?  No

This feels more like a conditioner than a cleaner, in that it leaves the leather feeling supple but doesn’t remove tougher marks and more ingrained dirt, even if you really work it in with a sponge or brush.

Given that Turtle Wax Luxe is so affordable, it's worth considering if you’re simply looking to keep some modern leather trim from cracking and marking, but look elsewhere if you have a dirty or damaged interior that you’re trying to revive.

Classic & Sports Car says 3 stars

6. Furniture Clinic Store Leather Ultra Clean

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners - Furniture Clinic

Comes with applicator? No

This is a perfectly effective cleaner, but it dries quickly so is prone to getting sticky and, if you don’t work it in swiftly enough, leaves some visible residue on the leather.

Get the application right and the results are good, with the leather feeling soft, clean and non-greasy to the touch.

Even so, Furniture Clinic leather cleaner is not as easy to apply as the best cleaners, nor quite as effective when it comes to getting marks and smears off the hide. It’s pricey, too.

Classic & Sports Car says 3 stars

5. Autoglym LC500 Leather Cleaner

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners - Autoglym

Comes with applicator? No

The Autoglym cleaner is a ‘does what it says on the bottle’ kind of product. It freshens up leather or leatherette trims, and it has a really nice leather smell that’s not too strong.

It’s not as good at working out really tough stains as some others here, but it still returns good results as long as it’s not a really heavily damaged and dirty leather upholstery.

At this price, it’s a solid all-rounder.

Classic & Sports Car says 4 stars

4. Primal Instinct Interior Leather Cleaner

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners - Primal Instinct

Comes with applicator? No

Primal Instinct is a no-fuss, easy-application leather cleaner that does exactly what you need it to.

Apparently it leaves a ‘true American leather scent’, which smells like all other leather according to our tester’s nose.

Greasy marks and grime are removed without needing much effort, and it also does a fine job on harder leather surfaces such as dashboards. Faux-leather proved no problem, either.

Others here leave the leather feeling more conditioned, but as a cleaner this is very hard to fault for the price.

Classic & Sports Car says 4 stars

3. Diamond Shine System 2 in 1 Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners - Diamond Shine

Comes with applicator? Yes

This is a conditioner and cleaner in one, and it does a great job of cleaning the general marks and tarnish that can age leather over the years.

Simply spray Diamond Shine on and use the supplied pad to work it in, and you’ll see any ingrained dirt gradually coming out of the upholstery.

It’s not quite as effective as our more highly rated cleaners when it comes to more stubborn marks, but this is still one of the most effective products here on both leather and leatherette. 

Diamond Shine is a good option for maintaining as well as cleaning your leather.

Classic & Sports Car says 4 stars

2. Leather Master

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners - Leather Master

Comes with applicator? Yes

The Leather Master product pack comes complete with separate cleaner and conditioner.

It’s almost odourless, so might disappoint if you want that unmistakable leather scent, but it foams up well on the provided sponge, making light work of most marks and any greasy residue on the leather.

Leather Master is almost as effective (if not quite as good value) as the Leather Repair Company cleaner for removing worn-in smudges with minimal effort, and the hide looks and feels fresh and soft even before applying the conditioner.

Classic & Sports Car says 4 stars

1.  Leather Repair Company Deep Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

Classic & Sports Car - Best leather cleaners - Leather Repair Company

Comes with applicator? Yes

The Leather Repair Company’s cleaner comes in a package with 500ml each of cleaner and conditioner.

The cleaner foams up quickly and the results show straight away. It even does a good job around awkward seams and stitching, especially if you use a brush to really work it in as the instructions suggest.

We found it just as effective on leatherette and on harder leather-trimmed surfaces around the dash. Most stubborn stains came off easily and, even if you don’t use the conditioner (which we’re not reviewing here), the leather feels supple and leaves a strong but pleasant leather smell.

It’s not the cheapest, but this is our top choice whether you’re looking to refresh an ageing classic car’s interior or to simply keep a more modern cabin looking like new.

Classic & Sports Car says 5 stars

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