Dry Cleaning vs. DIY Cleaning for Leather

Many motorists are tempted to have dry cleaners clean the dirtied cushions and leather upholstery of their seats if they've been soaked in substances like vomit, urine, or feces from their pets. After all, dry cleaners have been there done that when it comes to stains and sordid affairs.

However, as a responsible car owner, you should be respectful of the professionals and their place of business by wiping off any egregious stains before bringing the seat cushions and whatnot for cleaning, conditioning, and stench removal.

DIY Cleaning Is Cheaper and Dry Cleaning Is a Last Resort

  • DIY Cleaning As Much As Possible: As much as you can, you should clean by yourself and catch spills early before they stain. When you've exhausted all other options, then you can have a carwash do some interior leather cleanup for you. Otherwise, when even the interior cleaning of your local carwash professionals isn't enough to get rid of the stench and the smell of your car, then you can go the dry cleaning route. Dry cleaning is expensive, so it should always be a last resort.
  • Do Spot Tests First: Unlike leather cushions and mattresses that can fit into coin-operated washers, you're usually stuck cleaning your leather seats and upholstered leather ceilings and panels by hand as is without removal. What's more, you should be more careful. Some cleaners are so strong that they might end up tearing or melting a hole through your leather material. Therefore, do spot tests on inconspicuous parts of your leather to see if the cleaner is gentle enough.
  • DIY Protein Stains Cleanup: Protein stains are tough, whether they're from vomit from a carsick baby or protein-enriched poop from your excitable doggy. The chunky bits of "biological waste" should be wiped off post-haste with paper towels and loads of alcohol. You can also either use cornmeal or vinegar to clean up the resulting residual mess before they turn into outright stains. OxiClean is also a good go-to product for treating protein stains and stenches. Use Oxi paste to spot treat your mattress right on the stain itself.
  • The Older the Stain the Tougher Its Removal: For older stains, your OxiClean paste should sit on the stain for 30 minutes or so. Afterwards, wipe away the paste with a damp, clean rag then let the rag absorb the stain with some help from good old elbow grease. Or, in other words, you should rub firmly but not too firm on the stain until it's completely transferred into your rag. Otherwise, it's too late for your upholstery and you should consider leaving the stain alone or reupholstering that part.

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