Leather seat care and cleaning
Are you looking for a solution to discolored or damaged leather in your car or home? Our 30 years of experience repairing this type of damage makes us uniquely qualified to help you. But if an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure then you should find the following information helpful.
Leather interiors in cars are more popular than ever. Industry’s figures show that more than 35% of cars sold in the US have leather interiors. In some lines, it’s 100%. Fortunately, leather tanning and coating systems have improved greatly over years past making leather seats more durable than ever. Nevertheless, as with any coated material, leather is subject to wear and not all leathers are created equal so it’s not unusual to see damaged leather seats.
The most common wear area is on the outer bolster of the driver’s seat where constant abrasion from entering and exiting rubs off the color. This is easily fixed by reapplying the color with the appropriate finish. Learn more about that here.
If you have this kind of damage, repair it as soon as possible. The finish acts as a protective barrier to the leather, which is, after all, a natural material and allows moisture, oils and further abrasion to break down the leather until it splits open and requires expensive replacement.
Other forms of repairable damage include cuts and scrapes from sharp objects and pet damage. Stains from spills or ink marks which, due to leather’s porous nature are almost impossible to remove without stripping the finish, can be redyed. All of these things compromise the coating and speed up the further degradation of the seat covers. Click here to see how all of these things can be professionally repaired.
At the very least, all leather is still subject to natural aging from exposure to sunlight and extremes in temperature and humidity. Dirt can make its way into the pores and have an abrasive effect on a microscopic level. Oils and salt from sweat causes damage over time. For these reasons it is necessary to protect your leather upholstery on a regular basis by applying the proper cleaners and conditioners.
Many people first think of saddle soap when they think of treating leather. For many years this was the product of choice. But eventually the tanning process changed as did the coatings and saddle soap became ineffective and even harmful to automotive grade leathers. For best results only products specifically designed to clean and protect automotive leather should be used. We recommend Leatherique Prestine Clean and Leatherique Rejuvenating Oil.
Never apply conditioner before cleaning. For light duty cleaning apply your cleaner with a damp terry cloth towel and rub gently to loosen dirt then wipe clean with a clean damp cloth. Allow to dry, then apply the conditioner, rubbing gently then buffing off the excess with a clean cloth.
In the case of heavily soiled seats use a medium bristle brush and generous amounts of cleanser to loosen the dirt then clean with a clean towel. Repeat if necessary and follow with your conditioner.
In extreme cases it is possible to use a steam cleaner to remove grime from the pores. This process must be followed by conditioner after it dries and is best left to a professional.
How often you do this depends on the use your car receives. Generally, two or three times a year is enough but a convertible in a southern climate or the family hauler that regularly carries five kids and the dog will need more frequent treatment.
NOTICE! Never use silicone or petroleum based products on leather! These products will clog the pores of the leather and eventually harm the finish and the leather itself.
Now, if you’re looking to restore the leather in an older car, that’s another story. Read on.
For expert leather care and reconditioning call Doug at Unionville Auto FX. 860-930-3618.
Unionville Auto FX
32 Depot Pl