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Impossible to Remove Stain/Mark on White Seats

kishkaru

Member
Feb 3, 2020
144
99
The Bay, CA
I got my Model Y with white seats just over a month ago. Somehow I was able to stain/mark the front passenger seat with something. From the color, it looks like it could be dye from jeans but not certain. I did not put anything other than passengers on the front seat, so it should not be from cargo. I also don't have any pets. Unfortunately I didn't notice these stains until likely a few days after the event, when I was working at the front passenger side to clean the floor mats.

I researched and tried nearly every solution from this forum for cleaning the white seats, and had no luck. None of these solutions even made a little bit of change.

From least to most abrasive:

1) Dawn dish soap
2) Baby wipes
3) 91% IPA
4) Diluted and concentrated degreaser
5) Magic eraser

I thought the white seats were supposed to be easy to clean? As I understand, there's some kind of coating on the seat which is supposed to make it resistant to permanent dye transfer of the PU leather. I hear of folks who don't even think about the white seats, have pets, etc. that haven't stained the seats, claiming easy clean with just dish soap. And yet here I am within 1 month of ownership I managed to stain it.

From the Model Y owners manual ("Cleaning the Interior", page 171):
Polyurethane Seats

Wipe spills as soon as possible using a soft cloth
moistened with warm water and non-detergent soap.
Wipe gently in a circular motion. After cleaning, allow
the seats to air dry.
Be careful with dyes, such as from clothing or denim,
that come into contact with the seats. Dyes can diffuse
into the seat material over time and cause staining.

CAUTION: Aftermarket, non-Tesla seat covers may
inhibit the sensitivity of seat sensors and may
cause staining or damage

Cautions for Interior Cleaning


CAUTION: Using solvents (including alcohol),
bleach, citrus, naphtha, or silicone-based products
or additives on interior components can cause
damage.

When I took my vehicle to the Tesla Service Center (for unrelated reasons), I asked the Service Advisor to try to clean it off with whatever they use at the shop. Apparently they use a high-quality upholstery cleaner that works well. Unfortunately that did not work at all in my case, and they tried a few other solutions as well.

I was told by the Service Advisor that at this point the only solution is to replace the front passenger seat assembly, the entire thing including power electronics. Unfortunately, they don't have a way to replace just the seating areas. The cost for this for the front passenger white seat is $1870 (seat assembly) + $68.25 (labor) for a total of $1938.25.

I don't want to pay nearly $2k to replace a seat assembly for a brand new vehicle. If you have any other ideas of things I can try, please let me know!
 

2101Guy

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
1,447
1,250
USA
I’d try a local auto upholstery/convertible top type place. If they can’t clean it, they can certainly replace the actual seat cover.

less drastic: find a leather repair type place. Pretty sure they can use white airbrushing paint that should result in an invisible repair.
Or, try yourself for cheap
 

kishkaru

Member
Feb 3, 2020
144
99
The Bay, CA
I forgot to add the images to the initial post:

0yH51Z.jpg


Closeup of some of the marks:

0yHwzc.md.jpg


0yHbC1.md.jpg


0yHchH.md.jpg
 

kishkaru

Member
Feb 3, 2020
144
99
The Bay, CA
I’d try a local auto upholstery/convertible top type place. If they can’t clean it, they can certainly replace the actual seat cover.

less drastic: find a leather repair type place. Pretty sure they can use white airbrushing paint that should result in an invisible repair.
Or, try yourself for cheap

Thanks, I wasn't aware of the ability to airbrush paint. The big ? is whether it works for PU (synthetic) leather.
The other ? is whether the color will match. In my case, since the stains/marks are scattered throughout, the entire bottom section of the seat may need to be re-painted, which would make it stand out compared to the rest of the seat, or other seats. But maybe there's a specific one made for the Tesla white.
 

kishkaru

Member
Feb 3, 2020
144
99
The Bay, CA
I use Cadillac Boot & Shoe Care. This is a cleaner and polish. Note this is on a Bolt EV with "leather" seating. Removes the black stain from pants.

Also a great idea. Unfortunately, I've used this kind of leather conditioner before on shoes/boots, and while it works great, it usually permanently darkens the leather. Usually not an issue on shoes as you use the conditioner on both, but on a single white seats it will stick out. In your case, do you have black seats on your Bolt EV, or did you use the conditioner on all seats to even it out?
 

jeffbco

Member
Jun 7, 2020
592
310
Austin, TX
Find out who your high-end (Porsche, etc.) dealers use for leather / seat "fixes" and contact them. They deal with this all the time and are magicians.
 

ArizonaJon

Member
May 29, 2020
83
32
Tucson, AZ
Also a great idea. Unfortunately, I've used this kind of leather conditioner before on shoes/boots, and while it works great, it usually permanently darkens the leather. Usually not an issue on shoes as you use the conditioner on both, but on a single white seats it will stick out. In your case, do you have black seats on your Bolt EV, or did you use the conditioner on all seats to even it out?
I have dual color seats - a very light gray, almost white and a dark gray. I use it on the light gray. There is no darking. It matches the areas that did not need cleaning. Note the seat are not real leather in either the Bolt or the Tesla. Mercedes calls it Pleather.
 

origingalatic

Member
Jul 18, 2020
241
152
new york
have you tried magic eraser ? normally I wouldn't recommend it since it's quite abrasive. But since you have tried everything it seems, give that a shot. Start off with a small spot on the side, spray some cleaning solutions or Dr. Bronner soap solutions or detergent like Dawn.

If that failed, try asking advice in Reddit detailing https://www.reddit.com/r/AutoDetailing/
Bunch of pros and ethus there that maybe able to help you out.
 
Last edited:

JasontheBeaver

Jason Barker
Jan 11, 2018
381
359
Beaverton, Oregon
Lots of stab-in-the-dark comments in the thread, I'll clarify some things for you;
First off, if you've tried your list of cleaners, including a magic eraser, then your stains are almost assuredly permanent.
A professional who specializes in re-dying leather will be able to re-dye just the seat bottom and make it look really well, matching the rest of the car. Otherwise an upholstery shop can replace just the material on the bottom without the expense of replacing the entire seat.
I strongly discourage you from trying to paint the seat yourself, total disaster waiting to happen there.

Whether an automotive seat is real leather or vinyl is totally inconsequential to how you clean them because even real leather automotive seats are painted with a polyurethane coating, which makes them behave exactly like your Tesla vinyl seats. Call them faux-leather, vinyl, vegan leather, or whatever other gimmicky marketing words come up next, it's all the same on the surface, polyurethane.
There are a couple of exceptions to this... uncoated leather seats as are found in Ford King Ranch trucks and some other rare models of cars need to be cleaned and treated like raw leather as is found on shoes, purses, etc. How do you know? Just drop some water on the leather, if it changes color, it's untreated. These seats benefit from regular leather conditioning to replace the oils that keep them flexible, they'll also darken the leather somewhat as another poster stated.
The other exception to when its appropriate to use leather conditioner on automotive seats, is when they are perforated natural leather (as was found on the early Tesla X Models), this is because the leather conditioner soaks into those smalls holes and into the edges of the exposed raw leather, replacing oils and keeping them flexible.
Using leather conditioner on any other automotive seat is a complete waste of time and money.

Sadly, as you have discovered, polyurethane is a very durable coating for car seats, but it is not 100% impervious to staining. This is why Optimum invented a ceramic coating for exactly this purpose, to provide an additional barrier against those chemicals/inks/dyes/etc that can stain polyurethane. I know, too late for you now, but it clarifies what's going on and clears up some of the other posts in this thread.

 

Birdman325

Member
Aug 15, 2017
903
546
Toronto, Canada
Does anyone know if Tesla sells replacement white "covers"? (I am not sure if the white seat is a "cover" over the foam and the mechanicals or whether one would have to replace the entire seat (mechanism and all), but would be curious to know whether one could purchase just the white "cover" for the driver's seat, for example.
 

vinny84

Member
Aug 6, 2018
286
134
Central, NJ
Does anyone know if Tesla sells replacement white "covers"? (I am not sure if the white seat is a "cover" over the foam and the mechanicals or whether one would have to replace the entire seat (mechanism and all), but would be curious to know whether one could purchase just the white "cover" for the driver's seat, for example.
Tesla doesn’t sell seat covers. They sell the entire seat. One front seat is $1800 plus. Taptes sells white seat covers.
 

laservet

Member
Mar 9, 2020
279
182
Williamsburg, Virginia
I had almost white cream colored seats in my previous vehicle that were claimed to be impervious to stains. But a law of the universe is that if it is white something will stain it. Over a dozen years and the seats had more stains than I could count, and I was fanatical about keeping stuff/people who might stain it away. That's why I went for the black interior on my Y although I really, really love the look of the white.
 
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kishkaru

Member
Feb 3, 2020
144
99
The Bay, CA
Tesla doesn’t sell seat covers. They sell the entire seat. One front seat is $1800 plus. Taptes sells white seat covers.

You're not supposed to use seat covers in Teslas. From page 28 of the Model Y owner's manual "Front and Rear Seats":

Seat Covers

WARNING: Do not use seat covers in Model Y.
Doing so could restrict deployment of the seat-
mounted side air bags if a collision occurs. Also, if
the vehicle is equipped with an occupant
detection system that is used to determine the
status of the passenger front airbag, seat covers
may interfere with this system.
 
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