How to Clean Tesla Seats


Premium seating materials now come standard across all the Tesla lineup models. Tesla seating surfaces are designed to repel stains, however, Tesla does recommend regular cleaning to maintain an as-new appearance. It’s essential to keep them clean and protected from the elements to keep them at their best. Learning how to clean your Tesla seats properly will go a long way in ensuring that you do not have to replace these costly materials prematurely.

You should wipe any spills and chemical residues from interior surfaces of your Tesla as soon as possible. Use a soft cloth that’s been dampened with warm water and a non-detergent soap. Tesla recommends wiping in a circular motion, then wiping dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Micro-fiber towels are a great choice.

In the article below, you will learn about the best methods for cleaning Tesla car seats, including ways that you can protect your seats from common sources of dirt or damage like spills, pets, and UV light from sun exposure.

Precautions Regarding Your Tesla Seats

Tesla warns that aftermarket seat covers may inhibit the occupancy sensor’s sensitivity sensor. They may also cause staining or other damage, so be cautious of what seat covers you purchase, if you plan to do so.

Tesla Active Road Reduction

I believe this is in 2021+ Model X and S only, but they are also equipped with microphones in the front seats for active road noise reduction. These must not be exposed to liquids. Make sure when cleaning in these areas that you do not over-saturate the area of the seats where these microphones are located. Note the blue highlighted areas below for where these microphones are located.

Blue Jean Stains on your Tesla Seats and Other Common Stains

This is common on the white interior seats. Tesla recommends promptly treating dye transfer from clothing. It also mentions again to avoid harsh chemicals including certain cosmetics. I’ve heard sun tan lotion can also cause staining.

How to Clean Vegan Leather Tesla Seats

In 2019, Tesla made the announcement that moving forward, the seats in the Model 3 would be made of 100% polyurethane; this is a vegan-friendly alternative to genuine leather and, as such, requires special care during the cleaning process.

Improper cleaning practices, including the use of harsh chemicals, can significantly impact the material’s life expectancy. The seat’s color can fade to the extent that you may need to either replace the seats entirely or live with the effects.

Tesla’s vegan leather seats require careful cleaning practices that differ from what you would do if you were simply cleaning a basic cloth seat, which is covered below. 

Vacuum the Car and Seats

Before doing anything else, you will need to vacuum the seats. Otherwise, debris lodged within the seat’s fabrics will be smeared against the surface and only further grounded into the car seat. Be sure to vacuum any loose debris first.

You can certainly use a household vacuum, but this can be hard to maneuver. More suitable alternatives include:

  • Shop Vacuums: A good shop vacuum, like the one found here on Amazon, will have a lot more suction power than most household vacuums. 
  • Local Car Washes: You can always drive to a local car wash, where there are usually powerful vacuums available. 
  • Handheld Vacuums: These are quite useful for getting into places that are difficult to reach with larger vacuums, like the space underneath the car seat or the space between the seat and the center console.

Removing Pet Hair from Seats

Pet hair can be challenging to remove, as it sure does tend to stick around. Fortunately, there are many methods for removing pet hair from your Tesla’s seats that won’t harm their vegan leather quality.

You may notice some persistent strands of hair, even after you have vacuumed the entire car out. You can pick the remaining strands up by using a sticky pet hair remover. These come in handy for removing pet hair from articles of clothing as well.

Use Warm Water for Routine Cleaning

Avoid harsh chemicals as much as possible. These will only further degrade the fabric, making matters worse. For routine cleaning, you are encouraged to use only warm water.

Follow these steps for routine seat cleaning:

  1. Wet a microfiber cloth with warm water.
  2. Gently wipe across the surface of the fabric using the wet microfiber cloth.
  3. Use another, dry cloth to wipe the surface dry. 

Use a Mild Soap or Detergent for Deep Cleaning

If the need arises for you to use something more potent than just water to remove tougher stains, you should start by trying a mild detergent and water solution; this should help refresh the car’s inside without potentially degrading the material the seats are made of.

First, you’ll need to make or choose your desired mild detergent solution: 

  • Natural Solution: Mix 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water in a clean spray bottle
  • Laundry Detergent: These products are already formulated to handle potentially sensitive materials like artificial leather. Dilute the detergent with warm water, approximately one teaspoon to every 16 ounces of water. Add the mixture to a spray bottle.
  • All-Purpose Cleaners: Opt for Biokleen Spray, which is marketed as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional cleaners.

Note: You should also have a second spray bottle with clean, warm water present for rinsing purposes. 

Then, follow these steps to clean your seats:

  1. Test out your cleaning solution by applying it to a small area of the seat that is not visible. If it doesn’t appear to stain the material, you can proceed by applying the cleaner to small sections one-by-one until all the seats are cleaned. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the solution into the seats. 
  2. Don’t leave the cleaning solutions to air dry; this can cause the surface of the seats to become stained with soap marks. After you have cleaned a section, immediately rinse it off with warm water. Wipe the seat dry with another clean cloth. 

Note: Always use separate cloths for cleaning and rinsing, and don’t be afraid to switch to a new fresh, clean cloth periodically.

Spot Cleaning Tesla Seats

You may have accidentally spilled some coffee on your beautiful Tesla seats. Now, what do you do? First of all, don’t panic! This is where many people make the mistake of using a harsh cleaning product that only worsens the situation by degrading the fabric. 

Here are some tips for removing spills and stains from your Tesla seats:

  • The solution to your problem is likely already present in your kitchen: dish detergent. Add a mild soap like dish detergent to either a microfiber towel or a sponge and apply to the stain. 
  • Something else that often works is a mixture of equal parts vinegar and alcohol.
  • If the seating has any grooves in it, then you can find success with a toothbrush. The toothbrush bristles will be able to work their way into those tough-to-reach spots in the seating fabric.
  • Use a faux leather cleaner. Products such as TriNova Conditioner are specifically designed to remove dirt and grit from artificial leather seats. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which recommend wiping in a circular motion until the solution has absorbed into the fabric.

Cleaning Foldable Rear Tesla Seats

The Tesla Model X, Y, and 3 are the current models of the lineup that have rear foldable seats that are much like those seen in SUVs and compact SUVs. Anytime you clean your front seats, this would also be an excellent time to remember that these seats need to be cleaned as well. 

For cleaning, all you will have to do is remove any mats from the rear of the vehicle before performing a thorough cleaning of the surface. There will be no need for you to crawl into the back of your car to reach the third row of seating for cleaning.

How to Clean Cloth Tesla Seats

Until the last few years, Tesla did supply most of the models in its lineup with cloth seating, which is commonly used in makes and models throughout the auto industry. Compared to faux leather, cloth seating is cheaper and doesn’t necessarily require the same degree of gentle cleaning practices.

However, the instructions for cleaning cloth seating are much the same as those for cleaning faux leather. You will want to apply a properly diluted all-purpose cleaner over areas of persistent staining. General washing calls for warm water or mild soap. You should be able to get away with using a soft bristle brush on stubborn stains, which would be risky if you had faux leather.

The maintenance schedule for cloth seating is also less intensive. Routine washing and immediate spill removal are certainly encouraged. Still, you shouldn’t have to apply a conditioner or protectant every 6-12 months like you would if you had either genuine leather or faux leather seating in your Tesla.

Professional Tesla Seat Cleaning

There is also an abundance of auto cleaning and detailing experts whose expertise you may benefit from if you would like your vehicle to undergo a thorough washing beyond your current capabilities. 

Professional auto detailing typically costs from around $50-125. Costs can vary, though, depending upon which specific services you render (i.e., just cleaning the seats and upholstery).

A Note on How to Clean Tesla Leather Seats

Older Tesla vehicle owners with leather seats should note that leather is prone to dye-transfer. This can cause discoloration, particularly on light colored leather. Tesla’s white and tan leather is coated with an anti-soiling treatment. Using detergents or commercially available leather cleaners and conditioners is not recommended because they can discolor or dry out the leather. Be sure to stick to the recommendation of warm water or non-detergent cleaners.

How Often Should You Clean Your Tesla Seats?

As you can anticipate, the step-up to premium seating materials does come with an added cost. Although synthetic leather is both cheaper and more eco-friendly than genuine leather, it is still pricier than the cloth material that is standard among lower-trim options in the auto industry. 

Even if surface damage is salvageable, as mentioned above, you can expect to pay as much as $50-$125 for professional cleaning and detailing to bring car seats back to (or near to) their original quality. Because these fees can quickly add up, it becomes even more important to keep your Tesla’s seats clean. 

Additionally, if you neglect to clean your car’s interior for too long, it can also negatively impact the resale or trade-in value of your vehicle.

With this said, keeping a regular cleaning schedule is of the utmost importance. Here is what your cleaning or maintenance schedule should look like for your Tesla car seats:

  • As messes occur: Any spills or splotches need to be taken care of as soon as they are noticed. Even waiting several hours to clean a minor stain is not encouraged.
  • Weekly/biweekly: Grab a duster and remove any dust or dirt that has settled on the seats’ surface. Then finish off with a quick vacuuming of the seats and the rest of the vehicle as well; this will help ensure that all the dust that you stirred up will be removed from the vehicle.
  • Monthly: Clean the seats with warm water and/or mild cleaning products as necessary; this will keep your seats looking nice and fresh. This should include a deep cleaning of spots like the space between the console and the edge of the seat, where dust and debris may be hiding out.
  • Every six to 12 months: You have the option to apply a protectant that is specifically designed for faux leather; this is not required but will help protect your seating from common sources of degradation such as sunlight, general wear and tear, etc.

Other Tesla Seat Maintenance Tips

Of course, beyond cleaning, there are other ways to maintain the health of your Tesla’s vegan leather seats:

Apply a Protectant on the Seats 

If you haven’t done so already, you should apply a surface protectant to your Tesla’s vegan leather seats, such as:

Applying a conditioner to your seats offer several benefits:

  • It will help stave off the fading effects of sunlight.
  • The solution guards the leather against general wear and tear.
  • The leather will continue to remain soft.

If you search online, you will find several products designed to protect vegan leather. As far as specific instructions go, your best bet will be to follow the manufacturer’s directions on the labeling. However, here are some general tips to using the conditioner on your seats properly:

  • Test out the effects of the conditioner by applying it to a section of seating that is unused. If it doesn’t cause the fabric to become stained, then you will know that you are applying the correct concentration.
  • Spray a few drops onto a microfiber cloth.
  • Gently spread the cloth across the surface of the seat, being sure to cover the entire seat.
  • Wiping motions should be circular.

Use Protective Seat Covers

You can further protect your car seats by fitting them with protective seat covers. These are especially favored among those with small children and pets, considering that spills are bound to happen at some point.

Some of the most popular choices among Tesla owners are:

As you can see above, seat covers specifically designed for a given model come with a high price tag. It is common for owners to outfit half of their seats with the cover while leaving the rest bare. Many owners only cover the seats where they know their pets and/or children will be regularly sitting.

Use Mats in the Truck and Back Seats

If you use the trunk or rear seats often to transport cargo, this would also be an excellent opportunity to invest in a mat to cover the trunk and rear seats. Outdoor enthusiasts and pet owners, in particular, are encouraged to protect the rear seats with a mat of some sort. 

Here are some ways to protect the trunk and rear seats of your Tesla:

Keep Food and Beverages Out

You are also encouraged to keep foods and beverages out of your car as much as possible. It is always tempting to eat while driving, purely for the sake of convenience. Unfortunately, this is a common source of spills and messes, which should certainly be kept to a minimum on premium seating materials.

Invest in a Back Seat Organizer 

It is also a good idea to get a back seat organizer or backpack if you have kids in the car. You can stow away toys, food, and beverage items in here while they are not in use; this will help ensure that items are not left out where they can spill and cause a mess.

Conclusion

Cleaning the car seats should be an integral part of your routine maintenance process. Taking these steps will preserve the quality of your Tesla seats throughout their anticipated lifetime.

In summary, Tesla seats need to be cleaned in a way that does not damage the fabric. Use warm water for routine cleaning. If you need something a little stronger, move up to a mild detergent solution. Every time you use a new cleaner to clean up a spill, first test it out by applying a little bit on a section of seating hidden from plain view. You want to make sure it does cause discoloration or any other damage to the seats. Tesla recommends never using cleaners containing alcohol or bleach.

As far as maintaining your car seats, remember a few of these tips from above: 

  • Apply a protectant/fabric conditioner to help stave off damage from UV rays and spills (optional).
  • Regularly vacuum the vehicle; make sure you vacuum the seats and upholstery before you clean them. 
  • Look into buying a seat protector, especially if you have young children or pets; this will make the entire cleaning process a lot easier and improve your vehicle’s trade-in or resale value.

Fabville

Kevin has been involved in the custom automotive scene since he bought his first mini-truck in high school and began modifying it. He also has interest in sustainability, DIY projects, and various forms of fabrication. Seeing improved technology of batteries, he has made a concentrated effort over the last few years to transition away from fossil fuels. From lawn care to automotive.

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