The Best Way to Clean Tesla’s Vegan Leather Seats


The Best Way to Clean Tesla's Vegan Leather Seats

Tesla is known for its sleek, modern, and luxurious interior. There are many things you can do to help keep your Tesla looking brand new. Making sure your vegan leather seats stay clean and in good condition is one way to keep your Tesla looking great, but you may be concerned about how to properly care for them.

What is the best way to clean Tesla’s vegan leather seats? The best way to clean Tesla’s vegan leather seats is to use a soft wet cloth, warm water, and non-detergent soap. Cleaning up spills as soon as they happen will make it easier to remove stains. Products containing harsh chemicals should not be used.  

Vegan leather is a synthetic product usually made of plastic-based materials. More retailers are using it to help reduce the impact on animals and the environment. It is durable but can be prone to drying out and cracking without proper care. There are many products on the market that people use to clean vegan leather seats. Let’s talk about what works best.

How to Clean Vegan Leather 

Vegan leather, because it is a plastic-based product, is hydrophobic. This means it repels liquid. If you spill liquid on it, you will notice that the liquid will pool and run.  This does not mean spills will not stain the vegan leather, but if you act quickly, you will have more success in cleaning the seat.

It is recommended that vegan leather is cleaned with mild, non-detergent soap. Non-detergent soap is soap made from natural ingredients and is often derived from animal fats. 

Detergents are man-made products that are synthetic and can contain harsh chemicals. Before using any product on your vegan leather seats, test it on a small area that is not visible, so there are no surprises.

Examples of non-detergent soap that you can use to clean your vegan leather seats are:

You should also use a soft cloth to wipe the seats to avoid scratching or tearing the vegan leather.  Hard plastic or metal brushes should not be used to clean vegan leather. Here are a few types of soft cloths you can safely use on vegan leather seats:

When cleaning vegan leather, use a gentle circular motion. Once you are finished cleaning, make sure all soap has been wiped off with a clean damp cloth. Residue from soap that is left on vegan leather can dry out vegan leather, which may cause cracking

Any excess water left on the seats should be removed with a clean, dry cloth, and then you should let the vegan leather air dry.

Consider Applying Ceramic Coating to Vegan Leather Seats

Many conditioning products that work well on leather may not work well on vegan leather because it is not as porous as natural leather products. You need to make sure you use the best products for vegan leather seats to ensure you do not ruin the seats.

Ceramic coating will protect vegan leather seats.  Ceramic coating will cover the surface of the vegan leather to prevent high temperatures and UV rays of the sun from cracking the vegan leather. Ceramic coating can be applied by a professional, or you can apply it. Many Tesla owners have had success applying CarPro CQuartz.

Ceramic coating adds an extra layer of protection to your vegan leather seats. Many Tesla owners claim that adding the layer of ceramic coating helps protect the seats from dye transfer that occurs from sitting in the seat wearing jeans and other dark-colored clothing.

Even though ceramic coating will protect vegan leather seats, the seats will still need to be cleaned regularly with non-detergent soap and water. 

Considerations in Maintaining Vegan Leather 

There are things to know about vegan leather to help you better care for the product. Considering these factors is important, so you know what to do and what not to do when to maintain your vegan leather in the best condition.

Avoid Harsh Products on Vegan Leather Seats

Tesla specifically recommends in its owner’s manual that only water and non-detergent soap be used for cleaning vegan leather. 

This is because cleaning products with harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning products like Magic Erasers may cause vegan leather to dry out. In addition, the protective layers will be rubbed off, causing cracking and discoloration. 

Bleach or ammonia-based products are much too harsh for vegan leather. It will dry it out, erode any protective coating on the vegan leather, and may cause it to crack over time. Also, stay away from alcohol and acetone. Both of these chemicals can strip away your vegan leather. 

If you have a difficult stain that isn’t removed by the mild soap and water approach, consult Tesla or an interior specialist who knows how to care for vegan seats before trying anything. 

Always Test New Products Before Using on Your Vegan Leather Seats

If you are going to try a cleaning product out on your vegan leather seats, you should always test the product on a small patch of your seat that is not visible. 

Be sure to test the product fully and let it dry completely. Certain cleaning products may cause discoloration or damage the coating on the seat. 

Minimize Direct Sunlight to Protect Vegan Leather Seats

Cars are meant to be outdoors, but constant direct sunlight will dry out vegan leather over time. If you can park in a garage or find a spot in the shade, it will help extend the life of your vegan leather seats.

Color Transference

You may not believe it, but certain clothing with dark dyes, like jeans, can leave stains on vegan leather seats. 

Many Tesla owners have mentioned that their white vegan leather seats turn blue over time from sitting on the seat in jeans. To keep this from permanently ruining your vegan leather seats, be sure to wipe away the coloring as soon as you notice it. 

Other Ways to Keep Your Tesla Car Seats Clean

Cleaning your vegan leather car seats often will help keep them looking new. There are other ways to prevent stains and damage to your car seats. 

  • Seat Covers– Many people buy seat covers for their cars. Seat covers are a way to ensure that your car seats do not get damaged. They come in many styles, materials, and colors and are usually easy to install.

Seat covers are good to use if you have small children who sit in car seats. Covers will protect your seats from indentations and food and other messes that kids might make in the car. Seat covers also work well if you find yourself driving home sweaty or dirty from a workout, your job or messy hobbies.

A disadvantage of car seat covers is that you do not get to enjoy the smooth feeling of your original seats. Also, if you have heated or cooled seats, you may not feel the benefit of those perks if your seats are covered. 

  • Vacuuming – Cleaning your seats with soap and water is important, but you should vacuum your seats before you wipe them down. Many vacuums come with crevice attachments that are perfect for vacuuming car seats. 

Food and debris can get stuck in the cervices of your car seats. If you try to wipe the food and debris away, you may end up damaging your seat or causing a stain by wiping the debris into the seat. Vacuuming first will help clear away a lot of the dirt and leave less of a mess for you to wipe up. 

  • No Eating or drinking in the Car– Many people, when they buy a new car, say that they will not eat or drink in the car or allow anyone else to eat or drink in the car. This is hard to do in today’s busy world, especially if you have children. If you can abide by this rule, you will eliminate a big cause of car seat stains. 

If you are not able to cut our all food and drinks, limiting the types of food and drink in the car will help. Leave out colored drinks like fruit punch and crumbly or greasy foods, like potato chips, to avoid having to clean up hard to clean messes. Also, keeping food and drinks in sealable containers will help prevent spills. 

Vegan Leather Vs. Real Leather

Tesla chose to move away from real leather and use vegan leather for environmental and ethical reasons. There are pros and cons to vegan leather and real leather. The decision to buy vegan leather vs. real leather is a personal decision. Here are some considerations when comparing vegan leather vs. real leather.

  • Durability– Vegan leather is thinner and less durable than real leather, meaning you may have to replace it sooner than real leather. Having to replace vegan leather more often takes away from its environmental soundness.
  • Cost– Vegan leather is usually cheaper than real leather products to produce. 
  • Use of Animals– Vegan leather is not made using animals. Many animal rights activists encourage the use of vegan leather in place of real leather due to the use and cruel treatment of animals in making real leather products.
  • Biodegradable– Polyurethane that is used to make Tesla vegan leather seats takes longer to break down and biodegrade than real leather. Also, as vegan leather breaks down, it can release microplastics when it breaks down, which may cause health and environmental problems.

Cleaning the Tesla Touchscreen

Tesla models boast giant touchscreen for navigation, music, controlling the temperature, and more. At 17″ diagonal length for Tesla Model S and X and 15″ diagonal length for Tesla Model 3, these touchscreens are noticeable. 

Keeping touchscreens free from smudges (like fingerprints), germs, and scratches can be challenging. You should care for your touchscreen like you would a laptop screen or your smartphone screen.  

Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Tesla Touchscreen Clean

If you take care and clean the touchscreen often, you can keep it smudge-free and clear. Tesla even has a screen clean mode you can enable that will darken the display to help you better clean your screen. To enable it, touch Controls > Display > Screen Clean Mode. Here are some other tips to help keep your touchscreen looking great.

 Do’s Don’ts
Use a microfiber cloth to clean the touchscreen. Microfiber cloths contain small fibers that will not scratch your touchscreen. These microfibers attract dust and oils, safely removing them from the touchscreen.Do not use abrasive material such as paper towels or wet wipes because these can scratch the surface over time, causing damage to the screen. Tesla recommends you do not use a dry recently washed microfiber cloth because it may be statically charged. 
Always use distilled water or Isopropyl alcohol if you need liquid to clean your touchscreen. Use a very small amount. Isopropyl alcohol can be used to loosen up smudges and stains. When using liquids, always wet the microfiber cloth with the liquid. You can purchase special cleaning solutions developed for cleaning screens, but it is not necessary.Do not use tap water or harsh chemicals like Windex or other glass cleaners to clean your touchscreen. Using these liquids can damage the coating on the touchscreen. Do not apply liquids directly onto the touchscreen.
Use a light pressure to clean the screen. It is recommended that you clean in one direction at a time (vertical or horizontal). Circular motions are good for stubborn spots.Do not use too much pressure when cleaning the screen. Pressing too hard on the screed may cause damage.
Turning the touchscreen off is not necessary, but it is easier to see dirt and smudges if you turn the touchscreen off while cleaning.It is best to turn the touchscreen off before cleaning, especially if you are using a liquid to clean it.

Keeping the Exterior of Your Tesla Clean

The exterior of your Tesla is the first thing people see. To keep the paint damage-free and clean, there are certain steps you should take and certain actions to avoid.

 Do’s Don’ts
Do remove corrosive substances (bird droppings, tree resin, dead insects, tar spots, road salt, industrial fallout, etc.) as soon as possible. For stubborn spots that will not come clean with regular washing, use denatured alcohol but rinse immediately with mild non-detergent soap to remove the alcohol.Do not wait until your Tesla needs a complete wash to clean off substances such as bird droppings, road salt, or dead insects.  
Rinse dirt from the Tesla before washing (including any road salt from under the Tesla). If using a pressure washer, stay at least 12 inches from the TeslaDo not pressure wash the camera(s), parking sensors, exposed cables, or the charge port while Model 3 is charging. If using a pressure washer, do not keep the pressure washer on one area of the car for an extended length of time.
Tesla recommends handwashing the car with warm or cold water, a soft cloth, and mild car shampoo. Rinse soap after washing to prevent the soap from drying on the paint.Do not use hot water or detergents to wash your Tesla. Do not use a rough cloth, such as washing mitts.Do not take your Tesla to an automatic car wash unless it is a touchless car wash. Using non-touchless car wash could cause damage not covered under warranty. Do not wash the Tesla in direct sunlight.
Use automotive glass cleaner to clean windows and mirrorsDo not scrape glass or mirrored surfaces or use abrasive cleaning fluid.

Recommended Maintenance for Your Tesla

A big draw for Tesla cars is that there is no traditional maintenance required, such as oil changes, spark plugs or emission checks. With regenerative braking, even brake pad replacement should not be needed too often.

This does not mean there is no maintenance for your Tesla. Tesla does recommend some maintenance on your car. Below are general recommendations for Tesla car maintenance but be sure to follow the latest recommendations in your owner’s manual (which may vary from the below information) to help keep your Tesla in pristine condition.

 Maintenance Recommended Timeframe
Cabin Air Filter- prevents pollen, dust, and other particles from entering the interior of your Tesla. A filter that is too dirty will not be effective.Replace every 2 years
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter- Your cabin filter may be a HEPA filter. This prevents pollen, dust, and other particles from entering the interior of your Tesla. A filter that is too dirty will not be effective.Replace every 3 years
Tire Rotation, Balance, and Wheel Alignment- Misaligned tires and driving over the recommended mileage without rotating and balancing can cause premature wear and tear on tires.  10,000-12,000 miles for rotating, balancing and aligning needs
Brake Fluid- brake fluid can become contaminated. Test brake fluid every 2 years
Air Conditioning- Over time, the desiccant will need to be replaced. The purpose of desiccant in Tesla’s air conditioning system is to absorb and hold moisture to prevent corrosion in the system. Service every 2 years for Model S, every 4 years for Model X and every 6 years for Model 3
Winter Care- If you live in cold weather, it is important to clean and lubricate brake calipers.Service every 12 months or 12,500 miles

Pro Tip: You can change your cabin air filter yourself rather than paying $100+ for a Tesla tech to replace it for you. You can even buy upgraded HEPA filters and still come in at under $50 by doing it yourself. Here’s a video showing how to change your Tesla cabin air filters yourself.

Wrap-up

Your vegan leather seats are just the start of caring for your Tesla, but they do require some special care. With proper attention to what you are using and how you use it, your vegan leather seats should be durable and retain their beauty for a long time.

By caring for the interior surfaces, exterior, and everything under the hood, you can keep your Tesla in excellent condition and ensure your investment is well protected. 

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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