Useful Car Tips

Leather vs. Cloth Seats

August 28, 2019
When buying or leasing a car, there are plenty of factors to consider. Do you go for a sedan or a crossover? Will you require all-wheel drive at times, or will other types of drivetrains do just fine? Do you need a roof rack? How about automatic cruise control? Leather seats, or cloth? That last question may be a deal breaker (or maker) when it comes to choosing your next car. While they’re both durable types of material used in automotive interiors for decades, there’s a lot that sets them apart. Do you like the lower price, customizability, and easy to repair nature of cloth seats? Or, perhaps, do you like the feel, look, and ease of cleaning of leather seats? Both materials are excellent choices for a car seat’s material, but only one of them might be right for you. If you’re in the market for your next car, here’s what to consider when choosing the right material for your car seats.


Leather car seats have been around for almost as long as cars themselves. Even Henry Ford’s Model T, the first mass-produced car in the world, offered leather seats for its plush interior. Objectively, leather seats offer several advantages over their cloth competitors. For one, leather seats are very easy to clean. Simply use a high quality cleaning productsuch as CarGuys Super Cleaner or Leather Honey Leather Conditionerto get the job done. That is, if your seats get stained in the first place. Another advantage of leather is its resistance to stains, which is far better than that of cloth. Not only is cloth less stain-resistant, it’s also harder to get the stains out, although we’ll touch on that again in just a bit. Leather is seen as a luxury option for cars, with a premium look and feel. If that’s something that appeals to you, that’s another point for leather. Consequently, you pay more for a luxury item, with leather seats being more expensive than equivalent cloth seats, and this is where the disadvantages start. Aside from its higher upfront price, leather is also more expensive to repair or replace versus cloth. Sun exposure can dull or discolor the seats, leading to premature replacement, if necessary. This isn’t the only weather-dependent disadvantage of leather, however. Since leather responds to temperature, it can be cold and brittle in the winter, and even be so hot in the summertime as to burn your bare skin. This necessitates using a quality sunshade, like our Fortem sunshade, or parking in the shade.


Cloth seats have historically been even more common than leather. This is due to several primary factors. For one, cloth seats are less expensive than leather seats, and cheaper to repair or replace when necessary. Initially, cloth seats are much softer than their leather competitors, which take some time to be broken in. Cloth seats don’t need to be broken in, but do soften with age. In the winter and summertime, cloth has better thermal qualities than leather. In the winter, cloth seats stay warmer than leather seats, and in the summer, they stay cooler. Heated and cooled seats work great with both types of materials. Despite these positives, cloth seats aren’t without their disadvantages. They’re less stain-resistant than leather and much more labor-intensive when it comes to cleaning. Spilled drinks and dropped food are much more hazardous in a car with cloth seats. Cloth may also not age as gracefully as leather, developing an aged or damaged look over time which not only looks untidy, but may also reduce the value of your car if you decide to sell it.


Neither option is perfect. Leather seats have a premium look and feel, but you pay extra for the higher perceived quality. Cloth seats are more inexpensive, but less stain-resistant and harder to (inevitably) clean. It’s give and take with cloth and leather, but they’re both solid options for any vehicle. Are you looking for that luxury look and feel, and don’t mind spending the extra cash? Get the leather seats. Do you want a solid set of seats, and don’t care much for the luxury connotation? Cloth seats are calling your name. Also consider the cost of future repairs or replacements and the prospect of longevity. Leather seats are durable, but will cost more to repair or replace. Cloth seats might be a little less durable, but will be cheaper to repair or replace. However, cloth will be harder to keep clean. With so many factors to consider, a good way to decide is to spend some time with both types of seats. Go to a local dealership or even ask your friends for some help. Both material options are excellent in their own ways, so try them out and pick the one that fits your lifestyle best!
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