Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Leather vs Cloth Seats



  • nj2pa2ncnj2pa2nc Posts: 813
    i second it-unfounded. Both our cars have leather seats. I put a leather conditioner on them every month or so. I don't really know if that is necessary but I figured what the Heck. I do love the smell of the leather.They are easier to keep clean. They do get hot when they are exposed to the sun but I put up a sun shade.
  • mikes2mikes2 Posts: 47
    Just to add another data point - they are indeed not too much trouble, and much more resistant to stains, *but* if you don't do clean them once in a while, they can be a HUGE pain to clean. We let our '00 Maxima SE go way too long without cleaning the drivers seat (we seem to focus all our attention on the back seat where the kids are), and getting that dirt out now is turning into an immense pain.

    For what it's worth, I think cloth and leather can wear just fine, but if you have kids, leather is the only way to go. When car shopping, one of my key factors has become what the *back* of the front seats is made of - if it's fabric, I'd rule the car out. You can't imagine dirty, wet, slushy, salty winter boots will do to the back of the front seats.... :cry:


  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,614
    i never want to own another vehicle without heated seats. i always liked them, but since the car i now drive is parked outside overnight, i love them. i like cloth better, but if the seats are heated, i'll take either cloth or leather. a moonroof is required too, unless it is a convertible. my focus has heated cloth seats and a power moonroof.
  • pernaperna Posts: 533
    Shopping for used cars a few years back was enough to dissuade me from ever buying a car with leather seats.

    As the leather ages, it starts to get little lines that show up all over it, not sure what these are from, but it makes the seat look awful. Another thing I noticed was in "family" type vehicles, there were all kinds of punctures and tears in the leather.

    The cloth seats in my 4 YO Maxima look brand new.
  • I'm not usually one for propaganda, but here goes my soapbox: Leather is not just a material. The huge increase in demand for animal skins over the last 20 years marks new heights in marketing prowess, and new lows in humane treatment to animals. Don't dismiss this notion if you haven't researched it. Just because most people like something doesn't make it a good thing. Parents, cloth can be cleaned or eventually replaced for less than the cost of animal skins, and with a clear conscious. Besides, driving enthusiast know that cloth is grippier in all occasions.
  • nj2pa2ncnj2pa2nc Posts: 813
    what happens to the skin of a beef cow after it has been slaughtered for meat consumption. I believe they use it to make the leather seats. i would never own an animal skin coat or fur. I am not a vegetarian either. since all our children are grown the car we chose to own only has leather.
  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291
    "if you have kids, leather is the only way to go."

    I think you can "get by" with cloth in a pinch. There's this stuff called ScotchGard which makes cloth wear like iron.

    Even if you don't want to Scotchgard, it's pretty easy to clean up spilled water and cut-up apples or baby carrots or tortilla chips -- regular vacuuming with an upholstery brush and daubing with a very diluted mix of Simple Green and water works wonders.

    Reading through this thread, I get the impression that some folks are serving their kids fondue and candy apples and fried clams in the back seat! If you run the risk of having a pot of Manhattan clam chowder spilled in your ride, then by all means, opt for the leather.

    P.S. Eddie Bauer (and I'm sure there are others) makes an excellent product that completely and unobtrusively protects the rear of the front seats. We just wipe it clean with a wet cloth a couple of times a month. I would use them even if I had sturdy leather seats, if only to avoid scratches.
  • mikes2mikes2 Posts: 47
    While different points of view are certainly valid, I'm not sure it's as straightforward to say cloth is the choice of a "clear conscious".

    The increase in the use of leather (which I'll assume to be the case), doesn't correlate to "new lows in humane treatment of animals" (presumably cows). I have no data (either way) regarding how cattle which become leather are treated, but will assume you do, and it suggests they're not well treated. If that's the case, it's certainly a valid response to express those concerns to the auto industry (and leather furniture makers in general), to pressure them to purchase leather from sources that treat cattle humanely. People have successfully done it with clothing retailers (i.e. sweatshop concerns) and paper producers/users (e.g. sustainable forestry practices).

    In addition, before one assumes cloth is the better choice (ethically and otherwise), one needs to compare it at many levels. For example, I would think one should understand the total, overall environmental impact of creating a cloth interior vs. a leather one. I don't have the foggiest notion of the answer, but do know that cloth in cars is probably entirely or significantly synthetic - that means petrochemicals (and many other chemicals as well). One would want to compare the impact of extraction of the oil, transporting it, processing it, manufacturing the material, what chemicals are used, etc., etc. vs. the impact of raising a cow, slaughtering it, tanning, etc. Only then can one know which (if either) is a more ethical answer. I suspect the answer is far from clear, and that both have some real environmental drawbacks. (Even cotton can have a major impact - I recall seeing a program about the devastation caused by massive cotton production (esp. the need for huge irrigation and water diversion) in the former Soviet Union, particularly around the Aral and Caspian Seas.)

    At the same time, given that we're talking about the interior of a car (which has a marked environmental impact in its creation and operation), this point is somewhat ironic (though still a valid question to ponder)! ;)

  • mikes2mikes2 Posts: 47
    Smittynyc, do you have more info. on the products you mentioned, that protects the rear of the front seats? We've never found one that really works well, and would love to get one that works.

    I looked on the Eddie Bauer website, but didn't see anything like it.


  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291

    Go to and search for "eddie bauer seatback protector".

    What separates this one from other seatback protectors I've tried is the fit -- you can get it on the seat really tightly, with no big hanging fold of material and no exposed spots. The color also matches our interior really well.
  • gussguss Posts: 1,181
    Reading through this thread, I get the impression that some folks are serving their kids fondue and candy apples and fried clams in the back seat!

    You obviously never had a kid throw up in your car. When my daughter was a toddler she did in my brand new car. Not to get too graphic, but the leather cleaned up easily, what made it thru the crack in the seats to the carpet, not so easily.

    My preference is leather, but it has to be heated. I added an after market heater this winter. Best thing I have ever added on to a car.
  • Always glad to see thoughtful replies like Mike's and nj2pa2nc. German automakers (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, VW) have offered very satisfactory vinyl interiors for years... heated seats and all. True, vinyl and typical cloth are synthetics, and not great from an environmental standpoint. Easy to argue that cattle methane production and other ancillary aspects are detrimental, too. I struggle to make humane AND environmentally sensitive decisions. If I have to choose, I choose humane options. Leather is arguably more profitable than meat now, so neither is exactly a benign by-product of the other. Today's factory farm pace doesn't put animal welfare as a top priority, and consumers... good people... don't demand change when they don't know it's needed. I'm convinced of the harm being done, so I place the burden on the industry to prove otherwise. But I'm just one guy, and in the minority. There's so much more to this, but I won't clutter this thread any more. Just know that leather isn't just a material.
  • mikes2mikes2 Posts: 47
    Goodsteward, I agree with you about the "pleather" interiors offered by Audi, et al. They are very hard to tell apart! I wish others would offer them too - while I like leather for all sorts of reasons, my overwhelming desire is to keep the car clean, and vinyl would do just as well as leather. I would happily choose vinyl over leather and save the money (at least for now while the kids are in the back!). That said, I would want to test them out on a hot summer's day, after they've been sitting in the lot for a good while in the sun. I will never forget the black, vinyl seats of the '67 Mustang that was our "family" car when I was a kid (go figure how my Dad persuaded my Mom that a Mustang coupe was a family car. Ironically enough, she drove it more than him!). Some days, it was simply impossible to get into the car if you didn't bring a towel along. I remember my Mom usually had a store of spare towels in the trunk for guests :D


  • Wife has a 2004 VW Touareg V6. Great luxury vehicle, though its dismal fuel mileage makes it a poor environmental choice (and she failed to tell me about the leather steering wheel and shift knob, which show plenty of wear). But the heated "leatherette" seats have been great. Easy to clean, and in perfect shape after (3) years with (4) 60-lb dogs all over them. But even stubborn Georgia clay washes off my 2001 Golf turbo-diesel's (yes, diesel exhaust, but no animal suffering and ultimate slaughter) cloth seats. OK, now I'll stop...
  • joel0622joel0622 Posts: 3,302
    Here is the pitch I used to sell a car with leather when I was on the sales floor and some one was hesitant to buy a car because of the upkeep on leather interior. It makes perfect sense to me.

    Folks, the myth about leather being hard to care for is just that, a myth. Think about it like this, where in your house would you prefer your kid to spill a cup of grape kool-aid? On the carpet in living room, or on the tile in the kitchen? The tile in the kitchen of course, it does not absorb like it does in the carpet and you can just wipe it up, no scrubbing or shampooing. Most people vacume there carpet 3 times a week and sweep there floor once a week, your carpet requires a machine for a deep cleaning, your tile floor requires a damp rag or mop. Same principal applies to the great leather and cloth seats debate. Leather is hands down the lowest maintanence of the two. And the time it takes for it to heat up in the winter and cool down in the summer is about 1/10 of time it takes to get a kool aid stain out of your cloth.

    And that does not even get into the whole thing about how cloth absorbs odors and smells while leather does not. Looks Better, Resale Value, yadda, yadda,yadda
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    I much rather leather over cloth. If your cloth seats have been around for a year, and you open the windows even once in a while, the dust will get into the cloth. Use a Rug Doctor, and you'll see what I mean. Cloth interior cars do not loose the "new car" smell, it is overcome by the smell of dirt in the seats. Leather is much easier to keep clean. Honda reccomends "Saddle Soap" and it works great. You can get it at the local feed store for $5.00/can, and it will last a long long time. Cloth will, sooner or later, require steam cleaning, and re-Scotch guarding, which cost much more than Saddle soap.
  • 0311vn0311vn Posts: 48
    Cars seats that have raised sides seem to be a universal item in all makes of cars. I'm told the raised sides of cars seats were designed for safety purposes to help keep passengers in place. On a cross country drive, I suffered extreme leg pain in one leg and hip from the pressure of the raised side of a seat. I suspect it maybe a sciatic nerve in my thigh that became inflammed.

    Is there a cushion design to fill the gap in car seats between the raised edges to provide a flat sitting surface? I don't know about most folks, but I miss bench seats and flat split-style front seats in cars.

    Are their ergonomic friendly replacement seats on the market?
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Bench seats, ugh!

    There are plenty of seat cushions on the market.
    However, if you are unable to find one that works, an automotive upholstery shop can custom make a cushion for you.
  • I feel like I'm the new guy here, but I am not new to the industry. First let me be the first to tell you where those lines come from. These are stress marks and are the first point of failure. There are treatments for this. These stress marks are from making the leather do something it's not wanting to do. Take your shirt up in your hands and get someone to help you, each hand on a corner. Now gently pull on just one corner, and watch how the shirt behaves. You may notice the material is developing a ripple in what is called the "Bias". Leather is stronger by far but when our rump makes contact with the seats the exact same way each time year after year, the bias stress marks appear. What to do ??? Clean it, and for goodness sake don't ever use Purple power in its full strength. For that matter in any strength. Use leather cleaner. Or you'll end up taking the dye right off!!! Now, Let me tell you what I do for a living. I am a forth generation seamster. Been doing upholstery for customers for over twenty years. Even if the money is right, I have on occasion refused to use leather because of my preference to vinyl. :)
  • Same here: the current bucket seat design that include raised cushion edge and permanent back tilt are the worst... I had a lot of leg and back pain while driving my Nissan Murano'09 SL, which I originally liked very much... The problem is the pressure the east edge exerts on the sciatic nerve that runs along the leg and the hamstring... The older cars had much flatter bucket seat cushions, which alleviated that pressure... The modern bucket seat designs either move the seat fore and up or down and aft... There is no way to move the seat independently either up down or fore and aft... This limits the range of adjustment... Also, there is almost no way to adjust the back tilt beyond certain level, which is usually 25-30 degrees... Very uncomfortable to drive when your knees are raised above your hips...

    So, by worse the absolute worst car seats I have ever experiences were in Nissan Murano line-up from '09-'13... Just hate the un-adjustable back tilt, especially on leather upholstery (much more slippery and firm, creating pressure points on the hamstring and lower back--sliding backwards all the time)!
Sign In or Register to comment.