How To Clean Aircraft Leather Seats

How To Clean Aircraft Leather Seats

November 22, 2023

Jane Smith, Managing Director

Tips and Tricks On Cleaning Airplane Leather Seats

Cleaning leather seats on any aviation item requires a careful approach to ensure the preservation of the leather, while effectively removing dirt and stains. Commercial aircraft have very strict guidelines and regulations to adhere to. This is why seats in commercial airplanes are held on with Velcro to make replacement easy and without a big financial cost, this enables removal of the cover easy allowing a new cover to be put back on again.

Most aircraft interiors will have a fireproof coating system, its essential this is preserved when cleaning aircraft. Using quats or an APC to clean any surface, be that in an airplane or a marine item or even in a car or the home, should never be carried out, these chemicals can discolour plastics and drain colour from them and remove fireproof coatings leaving the surface susceptible to damage easily.

Follow these steps to clean leather seats on an airplane:

Materials You'll Need:

  1. Leather Cleaner: Look for a product specifically designed for aircraft or automotive leather.
  2. Soft Leather Brush, Soft Bamboo Cloths & Bamboo Pads: Gentle on leather surfaces to avoid scratches.
  3. Leather Conditioner: Restores moisture and maintains the leather's suppleness.
  4. Soft Brush, Cotton Swab: For intricate areas and seams.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Guide:


  • Begin by vacuuming off the seats to remove any dust and debris.
  • Remove any loose items from the seats to prevent scratching during the cleaning process.
  • Lay the seat as flat as possible to get into the base / back section easily as dirt and grime gets trapped here.

Leather Cleaning:

  • Test the leather cleaner in a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it won't cause discoloration or damage.
  • Dampen a soft bamboo pad with a mild leather cleaner, or spray into a soft leather brush and agitate the seats all over creating a foam as you clean, allow the cleaner to dwell on the surface. Then wipe away all dirt and grime, then clean a second time, spraying into the brush and agitate once again, if using a bamboo pad, spray on and wipe over the surface.

Wipe Down:

  • Gently wipe down the leather seats, paying extra attention to areas with stains or spills.
  • Avoid excessive rubbing, as it may damage the leather.

Removing Stains:

  • For specific stains:
    • Ink Stains: Dab with ink and stain remover using a cotton swab. You may also have to use alcohol cleaner as well; this can be diluted with distilled water if required.
    • Food or Liquid Stains: Use a leather cleaner on a damp cloth to gently clean the area. If this doesn’t work, you can mix some alcohol cleaner with the leather cleaner to create a slightly stronger solution to tackle the stains being treated.


  • Allow the leather seats to air-dry naturally. Avoid using heaters or fans, as excessive heat can cause the leather to stain and shrink.


  • Once the seats are dry, apply a small amount of leather conditioner using a clean, soft bamboo cloth. This is best massaged in in a circular motion to ensure it gets into the grain to add softness and suppleness to the seats.
  • Gently massage the conditioner into the leather to restore its natural oils and prevent drying.

Protective Measures:

  • Consider applying a leather protector or water repellent coating like leather guard to protect against future stains, dirt and grime build up.


  • Regular Maintenance: Clean and condition leather seats regularly, especially if they are frequently used, like aircraft seats, that can come under attack from all types of food, drinks and sweat from legs.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Stick to products specifically designed for leather to prevent damage. Do not use products containing quats, disinfectants can in most cases contain quats and these should never be used on leather or plastics as this causes discolouration of plastic surfaces and breaks down coatings on leather and removes fireproof coatings.

As you can see from this picture of this aircraft seat this is caused through incorrect cleaning using quarts and lack of protection and food being applied and has damaged and cracked the leather. 


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