Long gone are the days of only having the option of choosing between leather and fabric for the seats in your car. Nowadays, there are several different materials available to choose from when deciding on your interior. Not only do you want to consider what looks and feels the best when you’re sitting in it, but you should also think about which material is the easiest to take care of. This could include categories ranging from durability to ease of being vacuumed. Below, the auto interior experts at McDowells Specialty Repairs have detailed the pros and cons of each of the main interior material options. Check it out!


Leather is a material that not only looks good but is also extremely easy to clean. This is why many car buyers opt for leather seats in their new car despite the extra cost that may come with it. Because it’s so smooth, you can generally just wipe off anything that spills onto the seat. It also takes a lot more to stain leather seats than most other materials and doesn’t absorb smells. However, the main downside to leather seats is that you have to take some preventative maintenance measures to avoid cracking in the leather. This includes using a special cleaning chemical, as well as leather conditioner.


Although vinyl hadn’t been used in car interiors until fairly recently, it is quickly gaining traction. Vinyl can be made to look like leather and then is called faux leather, or it can just be regular vinyl. Faux leather is becoming very popular in cars as an alternative to leather for those who want a vegan option. Similar to leather, its “fake” counterpart is easy to clean because of its smoothness and doesn’t stain easily. Where the two differ, though, is that vinyl will not dry out and crack, making maintenance a lot easier.


Now, into the fabric materials! Polyester seats, also called microsuede, are very soft and comfortable for those sitting in them. They are often chosen because they look very upscale and high-end. That being said, polyester seats are very difficult to clean. Dirt and food can be ground down into the fabric, and it becomes a struggle to remove the small pieces of debris. Fabric seats also absorb smells much easier than leather and vinyl seats. Because of this, you’ll want to clean them much more often and consider using a chemical cleaner to break up the dirt.


While more resistant to staining than polyester is, nylon is another fabric seat material that gets dirty easily. Like polyester, nylon absorbs smells easily and is prone to easy staining. Fabric car seats in general are harder to clean and require cleaning more often than leather and vinyl upholstery.

If you’re looking for someone to clean or repair your upholstery, give us a call! McDowells specializes in fixing minor tears and burns, dash and door panel damage, and extensive color restoration and re-upholstery. Contact us today with any questions you have!

(208) 378-1530