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If you love cars, you’ve probably heard of Alcantara. This suede-like material has gained popularity in the automotive industry, especially in high-performance models. It often covers seats and interior components of sports cars like Porsches and Ferraris. But here’s why wrapping high-touch points like steering wheels and gear shifter knobs in Alcantara is gross.

What is Alcantara, and how does it compare to leather and suede?

Alcantara seats in a Lamborghini Urus Performante
Alcantara-covered seats in a Lamborghini Urus Performante | Alcantara S.p.A.

Alcantara is the brand name of a synthetic microfiber textile used in cars. According to Leather Dictionary, it’s “made from polyester and polystyrene, which originated in Japan.” You might have heard this fabric referred to as “vegan suede” or “faux leather” due to its similarities in texture and appearance.

One significant difference between Alcantara and leather or suede is that Alcantara is not made from animals. So it’s more environmentally friendly because it doesn’t contribute to animal cruelty. 

In addition, some drivers agree Alcantara is more lightweight and comfortable than leather, making it an ideal choice for car interiors. The fabric is also known for its high friction, allowing for better grip when zooming through corners and curves. Plus, it’s more moisture-resistant than suede and easier to clean, thanks to its synthetic fibers.

However, Alcantara still requires proper maintenance to keep it looking new. That brings us to the main point of this article.

Why should you think twice before putting Alcantara on your steering wheel?

Alcantara steering wheel
Steering wheel in a Porsche 718 Boxster S | Joseph Branston/T3 Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Although Alcantara is an excellent material for car interiors, it might not be ideal for high-touch points like steering wheels, gear shifter knobs, and armrests. That’s because it’s porous, soaking up sweat, body oils, and dirt from clothing and making the fabric look grimy if not maintained. 

Furthermore, its high-friction quality can wear down the microfiber over time, causing a loss of friction and affecting the driver’s grip — the opposite of the material’s intended effect. Some car owners have complained that severely worn Alcantara has become smooth and slippery. The last thing you want while driving is for your hands to slide off the steering wheel.

But this synthetic material boasts plenty of benefits

Despite the concerns over worn fabric, Alcantara has several positive attributes that make it an attractive choice for car interiors. For starters, it’s comfortable, simulating genuine suede, yet much lighter in weight and easier to clean. 

It’s also fire-resistant and produces less waste during the manufacturing process, Carwow reports. Overall, Alcantara is a premium fabric that can give a car’s interior an added touch of luxury and functionality. 

How do you clean Alcantara?

If you must cover every inch of your car’s interior with Alcantara, know how to maintain it. Cleaning it is relatively simple, like cleaning microfiber furniture.

According to the manufacturer, “Dust the material with care. Moisten a soft cloth or a sponge in clean water, wring it thoroughly, and run it over the whole Alcantara material, making sure not to wet it excessively. Rinse the cloth or sponge and repeat as necessary. Leave to dry overnight.”

Whether you opt for microfiber, leather, or another upholstery, choosing car materials and accessories wisely will optimize your comfort and safety. You might even save on maintenance costs.


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