How to Soften Old Vinyl

by Cassandra Tribe
Hemera Technologies/ Images

Age and grime can cause vinyl-covered seats to harden. Left in this condition, it becomes easier for the vinyl to tear. Vinyl upholstery, like those found on vintage furniture or in cars, can be expensive to re-do. Softening old vinyl is not a difficult process, but is time consuming. Once done, the effort required to maintain the suppleness of the vinyl takes only a little time per month.

Step 1

Brush the surface of the vinyl free of any loose debris with a soft, bristled brush.

Step 2

Vacuum the entire vinyl surface. Use crevice attachments to clean out any seams or creases in the vinyl.

Step 3

Spray the surface with a vinyl cleaner and wipe the vinyl clean with a dry, clean cloth. Alternatively, mix one drop of liquid dish soap with a cup of warm water and wipe the vinyl with the mixture using a clean cloth. Wipe the soapy film off using a separate cloth.

Apply the vinyl conditioner to a clean cloth and rub it over the vinyl. Wait for the conditioner to absorb and wipe the vinyl dry. Repeat until the vinyl has softened.


  • Wipe a vinyl protectant over the entire surface after it has softened to preserve its softness.


  • Do not use a stiff bristled brush to remove debris or the vinyl could tear.
  • Always test any cleaning product on a small, unseen area to make sure it will not damage the appearance of the vinyl.

Items you will need

  • Small, soft brush
  • Vacuum
  • Crevice cleaning attachments
  • 2 clean cloths
  • Vinyl cleaner or liquid dish soap and water
  • Vinyl conditioner
  • Vinyl protectant

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