Leather Vs. Fabric Seats: A Detailed Comparison

Read our leather vs. fabric seats article to learn about all these differences and choose which seat is the right fit for you.

Leather car seats offer a sense of luxury and elegance that fabric seats can’t hope to match. But leather also comes with a far bigger price tag, adds the maintenance cost, and can be too expensive for most car buyers.

On the other hand, cloth car seats are reasonably priced, comfortable, and don’t require much maintenance cost. Apart from these, their differences include, durability, resale value, eco-friendliness, and stain-remittance.


Leather Vs. Fabric Seats

A Brief Introduction to Leather Seats

Leather is the Marilyn Monroe of seat materials. It has a distinguished quality that makes you feel you’re in a luxury car. Also, I love the smell of leather interiors. For me, the smell of new car seats made of real leather is incomparable and intoxicating.

However, they’re expensive as hell and the price tag will make a lot of car owners hesitate. But you’ll get a good return on investment as well.

Benefits of leather seats include:

  • Best for aesthetics
  • Better resale value
  • Difficult to stain
  • Durable
  • Gives a luxurious look
  • Comfortable


A Brief in Introduction to Fabric Seats

Cloth seats are like the ‘Toyota Corolla’ of car seats. They’re not the most desirable option out there, but perfect for the everyday job. But that’s not the only reason.

They’re suitable for warmer climates as they don’t get hot easily. There are mainly 2 common types of cloth seats. Nylon and Polyester.


Affordability is the best point of nylon.  They won’t give the car the best looks but will get the job done for sure. However, they retain odor, which can be a problem. But you can always use a car freshener to remove the car smell.


Polyester car seats are affordable, durable, waterproof, and can withstand tear and wear well. But it’s not good at dealing with stains and can absorb unpleasant odors as well.

Benefits of cloth car seats include:

  • An affordable option
  • Well-suited to hot weather
  • Easy to maintain

The Battle of Comfort Leather Vs Cloth Seats

To give you a better idea of which one suits your needs best, we’ll compare them feature-by-feature here.

Style and Aesthetics

Leather car seats are a symbol of luxury and sophistication and are miles ahead of cloth seats when it comes to aesthetics. So, if you want an elegant look for your interior, go for leather.

However, if you want something for everyday use that will give your car a casual look, cloth seats are the best option for you. Also, you can use car seat covers for the fabric seat.


Though real leather upholstery is a luxury option and is associated with comfort, I’m a bit conflicted in this section. There’s no denying that leather is extremely soft and certainly preferable for long trips.

However, on hot summer days, I’d prefer cloth seats as real leather seats tend to become extremely hot, especially when driving under direct sunlight. It can even burn your bare skin in certain cases.

But cloth car seats are more breathable and can keep you cool. Also, cloth seats are a bit farmer and offer better support, so people with back pain may prefer the cloth ones.

Ultimately, you have to choose which one you find more comfortable depending on the climate and your personal preferences. 


Leather seats will last longer than cloth ones. But you need to condition them on a regular basis to prevent cracks and wrinkles.

Also, make sure sharp objects are not used in the vehicle, as they can damage leather seats and the repairs can be quite expensive.

However, cloth seats are more resistant to scratches. In short, leather seats are more durable but they require more care as well.


Since leather isn’t porous, it’s easy to vacuum and clean leather seats. You can use a wet piece of cloth to clean the seats.

However, cloth upholstery seats, especially polyester trap dirt easily and are harder to vacuum. Also, if you spill coffee or drink on them, they will be hard to remove. Leather car seats can repel stains and deal with spills better.

Nevertheless, regular cleaning is recommended for both leather and cloth seats as that will help increase their longevity.

Cost and Resale Value

Leather seats are more expensive to buy and maintain as well and found in only luxury vehicles. But they offer the best resell value. While cloth seats offer some affordable options, they have very little resale value.

Which One Is More Environment-Friendly? Leather Vs. Fabric Seats

Leather upholstery takes a lot of resources to make and go through a lot of chemical process that is harmful to our environment. But top-grain leather survives far longer than cloth seats and produce less waste than the cloth fabric options.

Another thing is many car buyers aren’t comfortable using animal skin and prefer vegan-friendly options such as faux leather, and Alcantara. Luxury companies like Mercedes Benz and BMW offer vegan options for the car’s interior.


Leather Vs. Fabric Seats

Features Leather Clothes
Cost Expensive Affordable
Durability Highly durable Not as durable as the leather
Aesthetics Premium look and feel Standard look
Comfort Great for long trips, not ideal for a warmer climate The best option in warmer areas
Resale Value High Very little


Who Should Get Leather Seats

You should buy leather car seats if you:

  • Want a luxurious and posh look for your vehicle
  • Value durability highly
  • Have no issues with paying a big upfront amount and paying for maintenance
  • Live in a cold climate


Who Should Get Fabric Seats

You should buy cloth car seats if you:

  • Prefer affordable and easily repairable seats
  • Have ethical concerns using animal products in your car
  • Live in a hot climate
  • Want breathable seat material


Frequently Asked Questions of Leather Vs. Fabric Seats

What are luxury car seats made of?

Usually, genuine leather seats are used in luxury cars. However, you can also find Alcantara and vinyl seats in a lot of high-end cars.

Do cloth car seats smell?

They sometimes can smell as they often retain unpleasant odor.

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!