How Sweat Can Affect Leather Seats and How to Deal with Them

Updated Nov 30, 2020

What can we do to keep our car leather healthy despite being sweaty?

Philippines is a tropical country and in tropical countries it is very typical for people to sweat a lot. Sometimes, when the sun is shining too brightly and the temperature is too high, even if you don’t do anything like literally nothing – perhaps just sitting steadily on a chair, in your living room with your fan on and all on you, you still end up drenched in sweat.

Summer days can be so cruel that buying or turning on the aircon is your only resort to feeling comfortable. If you have a choice like buy everything you need for lunch or breakfast online, you would – just to avoid going outside and experience the ridiculously hot weather.

sweaty man

Sweating is common in the Philippines and other tropical countries due to hot weather

Sometimes, the heat doesn’t only come during summer days. Sometimes, they are also present in gloomy days when it feels that the rain will fall anytime with the air having 100% humidity. If it is humid, then it’s hot and sticky and pretty much sweat would also be in the scenario. So, as Filipinos sweating is a normal part of our everyday lives.

Now, even in your own car, even with the air conditioning system on and in full power, if the heat outside is too much, the air conditioning can only handle so much. We can’t help but still sweat inside our vehicles, especially when the seats and other components are made up of leather.

I. Car Leather Parts

Leather is not really known to be compatible with hot weather conditions as it can absorb heat too quickly and same goes when it’s cold. But since in the Philippines, it’s predominantly hot, then it could be a problem to deal with when the interior of your car is made up of leather. You may always end up all sweaty.

leather car interior

Leather car interior looks undeniably classy, but can be uncomfortable during hot summer days

Another thing is that sweat and leather doesn’t really go well together. With our sweat being composed of several things including some salt, minerals and urea among others, plus your lifestyle’s effect on its composition, it is highly possible that our sweat might have a high PH – meaning acidity.

>>> Related: Do I really need to upgrade to leather seat covers? [Newbie Guide]

II. Effects Of Sweat on Leather

Leather, being a sensitive piece of material reacts negatively to acidity, especially when it’s too high. You may not see the effect instantaneously but in eventually it will show. Let provide you with some effects of sweat on your leather car seats and other leather parts of your car interior. 

1. Leather fibers weaken as they are exposed to sweat

Again, this is due to chemical reaction. This doesn’t happen right away, but it happens gradually as long as you let your leather interior get in contact with sweat. As the leather fibre weakens, and you do nothing to somehow alleviate the effects of sweat to leather, it will later on be destroyed completely.

2. Sweat can cause cracks to the leather

Part of the sweat effects on leather is causing it to crack. Sweat, dirt, dust, and other liquids that it can get contact with seeps into its pores, causing the fibers to wear out and eventually lead to cracks. It sure won’t look good in a vehicle.

cracked leather

A cracked leather is a manifestation of damage caused by sweating on the steering wheel

3. Sweat can cause leather to flake and chip off

As the cracks on your leather seats and steering wheel cover continues to be exposed to your sweaty hands and back, one sure sign that the sweat effect is already going on is that your leather stuff are starting to somehow flake and peel off.

peeling off leather

Another effect of our sweat's acidity on leather is peeling

4. Sweat can cost us a lot of money

Of course, when your leather car interior is already damaged, you won’t just leave it like that. You will have to either have it repaired, reconditioned or replaced. Doing even one of these things is already quite expensive.

So, much as we want to keep our car interior sleek and sexy by using leather materials, if we cannot take care of it properly, we are surely losing money as replacing or repairing leather can be quite expensive.

>>> Click to find more useful tips to maintain your car properly

III. What To Do To Alleviate The Sweat Effects on Your Car Interior?

This would be the most important question that we need to address today. Given that the climate and your skin composition cannot be changed, perhaps there’s a way for us to at least protect the leather from our sweat. If we cannot avoid sweating, then at least there’s something we can do to keep it sweat effects at bay.

1. Clean your leather car interior as often as you can

Being a sensitive material, leather also needs adequate proper care to last longer than expected. If your leather interior is always exposed to harmful materials and natural elements such as liquids, dust, dirt, heat, cold and yes, sweat, you also need to double time in maintaining your car interior's cleanliness.

wiping leathercar seat

Wiping your car seat and other leather interior part can lessen the effect of sweat

You can start by cleaning it often, most likely, every after use. This is to minimize the concentration of the harmful elements that your leather interior gets in contact with so they won’t seep into its pores and reside in its fibers.

The more and frequent it accumulates, the bigger the chances that your leather wears off more easily. Wipe the surfaces dry with a microfiber towel so the moisture can somehow be removed from the leather.

2. Vacuum the leather

Another way for the leather to always be clean is to vacuum them as often as you can. This will suck up all the dirt and dust as well as moisture from the material, leaving it clean and dry. With the leather being moisture free, the chances of it lasting longer is huge. 

vacuum leather seat

Vacuuming helps a lot in maintaining leather seat

3. Use leather compatible surface cleaners to wipe the interior clean

In fact, different types of car seats need different ways to clean them. As mentioned, leather is sensitive, hence, it cannot be cleaned by just using any cleaner that you use for other fabrics.

You need to have a specific cleaner that is suitable of leather surfaces. If you are not careful and you use leather incompatible cleaners, you might just end up adding insult to injury and making the damage worse.

Ivy Kristia Padura

Ivy Kristia Padura


Ivy is one of the first Philkotse's content writers. She finds joy in sharing her driving tips, particular for dealing with heavy traffic in Metro Manila, with other fellow drivers.

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