Interior Decorating: Upholstery Saves and Tricks

December 4, 2017

Let’s pretend we aren’t just going to slip a seat cover over a ripped seat cushion and call it a day. That doesn’t really do much and may actually allow further damage to your interior. So what do you do? That really depends on what kind of interior you have.


Rips are easy to fix with cloth seats. A simple patch kit from your local auto parts store, a needle and some thread are all you need. You’ll be able to sew the patch in with a few minutes of work and you’re done. There are even iron in patches for those of us who tend to stab themselves more than the cloth they’re working with.

Stains are something different completely. The best thing you can do for really terrible stains is to replace the material if you can afford it. We’ll get to replacement in another section. For those who don’t want to replace it, try gently working in a vinegar and baking soda mixture, or some oxyclean. Pat the stain dry with a cloth from the outside of the stain, inward. It may take several treatments to fix the stain completely, but most stains will eventually come out.


Dealing with leather is a completely different animal than dealing with cloth. And yes, the pun was intentional. I’ll give you a moment.

That said, leather repairs are not outside of the typical person either. They do make patch kits but these are usually incredibly expensive. What we recommend doing is heading to your local cloth retailer, such as a Joann’s, and looking for pleather or leather that matches your car seats. Try to find something relatively thick. These clothes are made for clothing so they’ll be safe to have against your skin for long drives.

When patching a ripped leather chair you may find it easier to leave the chair bolted to the car. Leather is very difficult to sew and will take some serious strength to punch the needle through over and over again. You can do it, but it will take time.

If you’ve managed to stain your leather, this is a completely different problem. You may have to strip the leather to get the stain out. In all honesty, you’re probably better off removing the stained piece and sewing in a patch. If the stain is significant, it may be time to replace your seat.

When Replacing is Cheaper than Fixing

There are so many times when replacing a seat is simply cheaper than fixing it such as burns or seams splitting. For those with older vehicles, it is a rare time when you can’t find thousands of seats available on sites like Just yank them out, bolt them back in and you’re done for many older model vehicles.

For newer vehicles, this may be problematic. There are a great number of electrical gadgets on late model cars, many to do with the seat. This is often just a simple plug or two, but check your owner’s manual before you start.

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