Leather or Cloth Car Seat Covers—Which is Better?
By: R. Renée Bembry
Pros and cons of choosing leather versus cloth car seat covers centers around personal preference before everything else. Some people do not like leather because it makes them too sweaty when it is hot on one hand and on the other hand, leather seats can feel too cold during wintertime. Cloth seats, however, do not usually spur perspiration; nor do they feel super cold to the touch.
With that said, leather seats, when treated properly prior to use, do not require a lot of cleaning and they do not get the matted, worn out appearance cloth seats tend to adopt over time. There are many leather seat treatments available in stores and at car dealers that consumers can purchase and use to prevent discoloration and staining of their leather seats. Aside from using special cleaners and conditioners now and then, leather seats do not require much maintenance. Leather seats in convertible cars may need more frequent cleaning and conditioning, however, because seats in convertible vehicles receive more exposure to outdoor forces – sun, wind, possibly rain—when their tops are down.
Cloth seats may also be pretreated to prevent stains and excess dirt from ruining their fabric. Periodic treatment application is necessary, however, because cloth seat treatments tend to wear away over time.
Failing to repeat cloth seat treatments at regular intervals will eventually leave car owners with seats that can no longer withstand spillage. This means liquids spilled on the seats may penetrate the fabric.
Spillage penetrating fabric makes cleaning cloth seats more difficult and frustrating than cleaning leather seats. Furthermore, since liquid spillage is able to seep through the fabric, cloth seats are prone to developing sour smells, and just like soiled carpet, can make vehicle interiors smell bad.
If considering adding leather seats to your next vehicle, here are a few more pros for leather seats:
- Comfort & Appearance—leather looks luxurious and feels as luxurious as it looks
- Some people love the smell of leather
- Leather helps with vehicle resale value if you want to sell your car
If you have a mind to stay with cloth seats when purchasing your next vehicle, here are a few more pros for cloth seats:
- Cloth seats, despite their potential to acquire stains, may be better for children who often fall asleep while riding in automobiles because cloth seats absorb sweat and are more comfortable against the skin—especially sleeping heads.
- Cloth seats are not likely to endure punctures from long nailed pets or other sharp objects.
- Cloth seat covers tend to cost less than leather car seat covers.
- Cloth seat covers are soft and temperature stable.
Other cons for leather seats include:
- Leather seat covers usually cost more than cloth seat covers because car manufacturers tend to offer leather seats as upgrades in order to increase their fees.
- Cracks or tears occurring in leather seats due to lack of care may cost more to repair than similar cuts in cloth seats.
- In the era of the “go green society”, and considering animal rights implications, for some, leather seats may be offensive.
Other cons for cloth seats include:
- Cloth seat covers also absorb odors such as cigarette smoke from the air and can make the car smell.
- Though cloth seats covers come in different types of fabrics and designs, they usually do not look as elegant as leather seat covers.
Whether choosing to have cloth or leather seats in an automobile, the most important thing owners should remember is they must expect to perform a fair amount of maintenance if they care about the appearance of their ride.