Sweat. It's your body's natural cooling system. One problem with it though - it can damage your leather or cloth car seat and will leave your ride smelling funkier than James Brown doing the electric slide at your cousins wedding 🕺🏾.
Why does that happen? We've consulted a few sage advisors across the Internets so we could give you some background on why sweating on your car seats is a bad idea.
But first, what exactly is sweat really made of?
What is sweat made of?
There are two main types of sweat glands:
- Eccrine glands.
- Apocrine glands
Eccrine glands produce most of our sweat, which consists of water, salt, protein, urea, and ammonia. These glands are found over your entire body, and create sweat to moderate temperature - when it's warm, when we're exercising etc.
Apocrine glands create sweat that's a bit...well...stinkier. Actually, the sweat itself doesn't have any odor, but only creates the stank once it mixes with bacteria on our body. This type of sweat is mostly produced during stressful situations.
Why Sweat is Bad For Your Car Seat
It's all about the chemicals in your body, baby...
Our bodies are designed to fight off all sorts of infections and illnesses, while regulating core temperature, and generally it does an incredible job of that. One of the ways our bodies do that is through our largest organ - the skin.
There is one problem with this incredible organ, though - the oils it produces can wreak havoc on our car seat, particularly those made of leather.
"Body oils are pretty much God’s gift to humanity: they’re our very own personalized leather conditioners. Without those pesky oils at the end of your fingertips, our skin would have no lubrication, and dry out and wrinkle up like a raisin before whittling away into icky piles of dust (or just the latter part on the off chance Buffy the Vampire Slayer just staked you, and you are a vampire).
But on the other edge of this handy-dandy sword, we’re like Rogue from X-Men, destroying anything we touch. That actually might also be a plus to some people. You can take that part however you want.
There is one definite bad thing about this peculiar superpower: it messes up leather, big time. You’ve probably noticed it by those dark spots that came out of nowhere on your leather purse, or flakes and cracks on the armrests of your leather couch. Or anything that has lots of contact with skin. That’s how body oils affect leather. Give them a chance to accumulate, and in time they’ll tear a whole right through your leather and rot it straight to the gates of Hades itself.
Body oils and perspiration are made up with lots of salts, enzymes and fatty acids, which can amount for a pH level that is adamantly not leather’s style. Chemical reaction ensues any time your sweat and fingerprints touch your leather. Unfriendly pH oils penetrate and build up, and leather fibers weaken as it keeps building. Eventually, body oils affect leather by destroying it completely.
Adding to your woes, you probably won’t even notice this is happening until a lot of oils have already soaked in. The first symptoms you’re likely to observe are flaking or a darkening spot. If you let body oils affect leather over a long time, your leather will start to crack, at which point irreparable damage can occur." -Daniel Sutton, Leather Milk
Sweat Can Cause Cracks and Stains in Your Car Seat
Whether you have leather or cloth car seats, you'll want to make sure you clean them regularly.
"Leather is not just high-class, it’s high-maintenance. While the material is better at preventing stains, it needs to be cleaned and conditioned with particular products every few months.
If you don’t clean the leather, it eventually will show signs of wear due to the sweat, dust, and dirt that seep into its pores. Without conditioning, it will harden and perhaps crack." - ConsumerGuide.com
Cleaning May Not Work
"Cleaning your upholstered seats may be a little trickier than the floors. That's because sweat, soil, and food stains on fabric can be difficult to treat if they've been left too long. A light sweep with a hand-held steam cleaner can make a big difference (same goes for the floors once you've vacuumed up any baking soda).
You can also use one of a number of effective cleaning products designed to make your seats look like new. Follow the directions carefully for best results. To clean and protect leather upholstery, use a cleaning agent specific to that purpose.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cheese fries, so if you really want to keep your seats looking and smelling fresh, get yourself a set of seat protectors." -Advance Auto Parts
What Should You Do?
The best way to protect your car from damage is with a water-proof barrier (hint hint: not a towel) that will block moisture and oils from penetrating your leather seats in the first place.
Check out our review of the best car seat covers in this buying guide featuring the BEST car and truck seat covers so you can save your seats and protect your investment.